This paper is concerned with the improvement of English prosody of Japanese EFL learners. A new type of speaking training that combines shadowing with oral reading was introduced into English classes in order to raise learners' reproduction rates in shadowing practice and to efficiently improve their English pronunciation. Twenty Japanese university students participated in ten weekly training sessions utilizing this combination of practice techniques. For the purpose of gauging improvement over the ten-week period, a pre-test and a post-test were given before and after the ten weeks, respectively, in which they recorded their readings of the same short English passage. Their recordings were acoustically analyzed to examine any improvement in their English prosody. The results revealed that in the post-test they tended to enhance the contrast between neighboring stressed and unstressed syllables by using the duration, F0 (pitch), and/or intensity of each syllable. In addition, significant increase in duration and pitch range was observed in sentence-final words/segments with nuclear pitch accents, suggesting a better realization of English intonation and final lengthening. All of these findings show that the combined training method of shadowing with oral reading improved rhythm, intonation, and final lengthening in English produced by the Japanese EFL learners.
In this era of globalization, Dornyei (2005) proposed a new motivational concept composed of the Ideal and Ought-to L2 Selves and L2 Learning Experience to grasp motivation in various settings. However, the interrelationship among the three has not sufficiently been discussed, although there have been various empirical findings related to L2 Selves. Additionally, the possible role of pedagogical intervention in the development of L2 selves has not been focused on. Thus, the present study examined how these two L2 Selves would change in the classroom, in relation to the change of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which were thought to reflect learners' perceptions of learning experiences in the classroom. The study administered a questionnaire to 140 Japanese EFL university students twice in April and July, and compared mean differences of the variables between the two data-collection points. The results showed that L2 Selves tend to change in the classroom. Moreover, changes of the Ideal and Ought-to L2 Selves were also found to be related to changes of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
This article examined the effectiveness and transferability of language arts (LA) training in a picture description task. Study 1 explored the effects of LA training on participants' picture descriptions in L1. A total of 40 participants were divided into two groups (speakers/listeners), and the speakers were asked to describe pictures for the listeners in L1 before (without) and after (with) LA training. The results showed that LA training had a great impact on the improvement of 1) the quality of information conveyed; 2) focus distribution in the descriptions; 3) description order; and 4) listeners' judgment of the comprehensibility of the descriptions. Study 2 examined whether LA training conducted in L1 also had effects on picture descriptions in L2. Participants were 10 Japanese college students (speakers) and 10 international students (listeners). The same procedures as Study 1 were adopted. The results showed that LA training conducted in L1 had a positive impact on picture descriptions in L2, thereby confirming the transferability of the effects of LA training across the languages. These findings were then discussed in relation to cognitive processing mechanism. The author concluded this article by showing the implications of the studies reported to EFL teaching in Japan.
The aim of this paper is to consider the methodology used in research on word recognition in a foreign language. The focus is on gating experiments, which are widely used in L1 research. Although the task is highly evaluated, the successive presentation of additional input of the same target word has been criticized. I have considered the possibility of using a gating experiment as a method for investigating the process of L2 spoken word recognition, by considering two types of gating experiments. The result demonstrates that the successive presentation of the same words does not cause unsuitable data collection. Instead, the successive presentation gives us a relatively conservative result. This is largely consistent with a previous study on L1 word recognition and is in the opposite direction to what would be expected from the criticism directed at this method. It therefore seems appropriate to conclude that gating experiments are an effective method for investigating the process of L2 spoken word recognition, along with other experimental paradigms.
Vocabulary tests are classified into two groups; receptive vocabulary tests and productive vocabulary tests. It is more difficult to measure learners' vocabulary knowledge by productive tests than by receptive tests. The purpose of this study was to verify the validity and reliability of the Vocabulary Levels Dictation Test, compared to the Vocabulary Levels Test, on the basis of the CELT for Japanese EFL learners, given to 99 female college students who answered VLDT-Test forms A to D. Scores of VLDT and VLT were first converted into vocabulary size respectively and then calculated for their ratio of vocabulary size. As a result, the participants with higher scores in CELT obtained significantly higher average scores on the VLDT and VLT, so that VLDT, VLT and CELT indicated statistically significant correlations, and the VLDT score of the CELT higher-score participants indicated 50% of their VLT score, which agreed recent studies, while the VLDT score of the CELT lower-score participants showed only a 40% level. The conclusion was that VLDT could measure higher-level EFL learners' productive vocabulary knowledge properly, but a doubt was still left concerning applying VLDT to measure lower-level EFL learners'.
This report presents a new quantitative research method of investigating the English-learning behavior of students in a Web-based learning environment. Studies of computer-assisted language learning and their transition from classroom- to Web-based practices testify to the wide use of Web-based technologies. However, to the best of the author's knowledge, no accessible and practical methods have been identified that investigate the Web-based learning behavior of students. To address this need, this study performs and tests a new quantitative research method that combines access-log analysis and social-network analysis. To investigate the efficacy of the proposed research method, a Web-based learning environment was designed and integrated into in-class lessons. The in-class lessons were held once a week for a period of one and a half months, and 16 university students participated. Their access-log data on the Web-based learning environment were collected and analyzed, which allowed their learning patterns to be identified. In addition, their use of the Web-based materials was visualized to aid in understanding the topology of the Web-based learning environment. The results are used to determine the efficacy of the proposed research method.
The purpose of this study was to analyze students' liking and disliking patterns in English lessons using text mining and to explore how age would affect them. A total of 271 students were selected to participate in the present study. This study revealed several important findings in what they like most in English lessons: (a) The participating students generally enjoyed playing games, especially higher graders, (b) the participating students generally enjoyed speaking English, (c) higher graders preferred memorizing English, and (d) only middle graders enjoyed story activities. On the other hand, regarding what they dislike most in English lessons, the following findings were revealed: (a) The students, especially higher graders, felt frustrated when they didn't understand what the teachers were saying in English, (b) some students felt frustrated when English lessons were noisy, and (c) some students felt nervous when they made a presentation.
In this paper, we will illustrate and analyze how Project IRC (Interactive Reading Community), which aims to create a community of readers on the Internet among university students, could satisfy the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness proposed by Deci & Ryan (1996). These three needs are considered as fundamental sources for humans to be motivated to learn, and there are many reports that satisfying these needs could make students motivated to learn English. The IRC Project utilizes a website which has many features to enhance the quality of these three needs of human beings: database of reaction reports posted by IRC members can help students choose new books and encourage them to read and support their autonomous reading, the "Reading Marathon" feature allows students to visualize how much they have read and make them feel competent, and the exchange of reactions and comments about books over the Internet can create relationships among readers. Each of the authors will argue how educationally valuable it is to have students join the IRC project for motivating students to read in English.
Little academic research has been conducted regarding the assignment of homework to EFL students in Japan. The present study, consisting of two phases, explored methodology for effective English homework assignment in day-to-day practice. The first phase of the study examined how students and teachers in a high school English class perceived homework assignment. This phase, using a questionnaire that was based on students' perceptions regarding the completion of homework, involved the triangulation of two separate data sets with an evaluation of teacher interviews and post-interview questionnaires. Finally, 12 perceptions regarding the assignment of English homework were extracted from this phase of the study. In the second phase, these 12 perceptions were grouped into three categories using the KJ Method and 12 tips for effective homework assignment were subsequently developed.
Certain researchers in Japan and abroad argue the ability to quickly recognize words and phrases is necessary for fluent reading. They recommend increasing the frequency of encounters with words and phrases through extensive reading (ER) in order to expedite their recognition. Some previous studies demonstrated that frequently processing words and phrases increased their recognition speed. However, the question of whether ER increases the recognition speed of words and phrases has not yet been addressed. Therefore, the present study aims to investigate whether ER for Japanese EFL learners increases the recognition speed of words, collocations, formulaic sequences, and antonyms. The participants chose and read English graded readers outside the class freely for approximately four months and attempted the lexical, collocational, phrasal, and antonym decision tasks before and after the reading. The results revealed that ER of about 30,000 words significantly increased the recognition speed of words and collocations, but not that of formulaic sequences and antonyms. This implies that processing a high number of words and collocations through ER increases their recognition speed. Furthermore, our results suggest that ER does not particularly expedite the assimilation of formulaic sequences and antonyms, which should be learned mainly through explicit instruction and intentional learning.