The purpose of this study is to validate, in a Japanese EFL context, the L2 motivational self system (Dornyei, 2005) with some hypothesized relationship among (1) its underlying tenets, i.e., the ideal L2 self, the ought-to L2 self, and L2 learning experience (including L2 learning attitude and others' influence), (2) L2 learners' motivation, (3) L2 anxiety, (4) self-efficacy, and (5) the perceived amount of information related to learners' future self-guides. A total of 151 EFL Japanese university students participated in this study. The data, which were obtained through a questionnaire were analysed using a structural equation modeling (SEM) approach. The proposed SEM model showed that the perceived amount of information and self-efficacy have a positive influence on the ideal L2 self. It also revealed that the ideal L2 self and L2 learning attitude positively affect learners' motivation, while others' influence and the ought-to L2 self have a strong impact on L2 anxiety that negatively affects learners' motivation. On the basis of these findings, the authors argue that the L2 motivational self system can be developed into an integrative framework that explains not only L2 learners' motivation but also other affective variables such as anxiety and self-efficacy, all in one system.
This paper focuses on a longitudinal study of students' motivation, willingness to communicate (WTC), perceived competency (Can-Do), interest in language and interest in other subjects in an EFL classroom context among young Japanese learners. During the year 2008-2009, thrity-five hours of English classes were planned for 106 fifth grade students, aged 10 to 11, integrating themes associated with "countries in the world and Japan" that was aimed at creating an understanding of the importance of the mutually dependent relationship between Japan and other countries. A longitudinal study was conducted during year 2008-2009 in which questionnaires were given to students in April, July, November and February to examine changes in their motivation, interest, WTC and Can-Do. The result of descriptive statistics and repeated measurement of analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that students with longer study hours tended to either maintain or show a decline in their motivation, interest, WTC and Can-Do. In addition, cluster analysis which was carried out to describe the underlying individual differences in motivation, interest, Can-Do and WTC showed three distinct groups could be identified among the students. In addition to quantitative analysis, qualitative data in the form of Japanese teachers' observation notes was obtained in order to support the quantitative study, which also showed how students changed, as well as difficulties appearing in the classroom situation during the classroom practice.
The purpose of this study is to examine how pupils' motivational attitudes changes as the number of English activity classes increased and to investigate the relationship between their motivation and other subscales. A first survey was conducted at three elementary schools in April 2009, while a second survey took place at three schools (two of the previously used schools plus a new one) in March 2010 in Japan. The findings showed that there was not much difference in the motivational items in the two schools between 2009 and 2010 (the beginning and end of the 2009 academic year, respectively). However, while motivation did not increase at all in 2010, students tended to consider that learning English was more important in 2010. It indicated that the pupils started to recognize foreign language activities as a subject to learn, not to participate in. In terms of the relationship between motivation and other subscales, the result showed that most influential subscale on motivation was students' learning attitudes in both the 2009 and 2010 models. The two models also indicated that elementary homeroom teachers (HRTs) will need to increase children's interest in, and positive attitudes toward, English, and create a good atmosphere in the classroo.
Although English is frequently considered a necessary tool for engineers, engineering students have been shown to lack motivation when learning English. The present study used the L2 motivational self system of Dornyei (2009) and the self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan (2000) to examine the ways in which a group of engineering students was motivated to learn English, and the effect of a presentation-based course on their motivation. The results showed that the participating students were highly motivated to learn English, although their motivation was rather extrinsic or instrumental. However, they were anxious about using English and had little confidence in doing so. After the students completed a 1-year presentation-based English course, their perceived competence grew significantly, and they found English learning to be a more meaningful activity than they previously felt. The results also showed that compared to conventional English courses, the presentation-based course satisfied three psychological needs in the students. Thus, we concluded that the presentation activities were effective in motivating engineering students to learn English.
This study investigates Japanese college English learners' vobabulary learning strategy use, and aims to enhance their self-controlled learning strategy use by an e-portfolio system developed for the study. Learners are expected to facilitate their vocabulary learning strategy use by recording lexical information, monitoring understanding, and controlling vocabulary learning strategy use metacognitively based on word familiarity on the e-portfolio. Through 10-week English instructions, the participants in the study showed a significant increase in the use of note-taking strategy, oral rehearsal strategy, and language exposure strategy out of seven vocabulary learning strategies measured by a questionnaire. The results also showed that they gained targeted vocabulary knowledge by recording, editing, and metacognitively monitoring lexical information on the e-portfolio.
The purpose of the present study is to explore how Japanese EFL learners store and process formulaic sequences (FSs) in their mental lexicon. An oral reading task was conducted based on the holistic hypothesis that FSs are stored and retrieved as single lexicalized units. The hypothesized processing advantage of FSs was investigated by comparing reading latency and the rates of speech and errors for three types of sequences: formulaic, nonformulaic, and ungrammatical sequences. Our speech data revealed that FSs were processed significantly faster as for reading latency, thereby indicating that non-advanced EFL learners benefit from the processing advantage of FSs. As for speech rate, the participants read FSs significantly faster than the other sequences. This suggests that they have formed cohesive phonological representation of FSs in mind. These results confirmed psycholinguistic reality of FSs in L2 mental lexicon. It should be noted that sequence familiarity is one of the factors that would affect the processing of FSs as well as frequency. It is also noteworthy that the participants with lower proficiency enjoy the same processing advantage of FSs as those with higher proficiency, suggesting that FSs learning may start from the early stage of second language development.
Shadowing practice has been introduced into English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classroom learning method and a number of empirical studies support its efficacy. However, these studies focused on sentence processing, while a number of intervening variables made it difficult to verify which factors might help learners to perceive and produce second language (L2) sounds. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of auditory word repetition in order to understand the cognitive processes in L2 repetition and clarify some effective means of repetitive practice that suit Japanese EFL learners. Forty Japanese university students participated in an auditory word repetition experiment and three factors of repetition (number of repetitions, repetition method, and processing orientation) were discussed. The results showed that a greater number of repetitions led to swifter and more stable responses, but did not improve accuracy. In addition, vocal repetition helped learners to produce each word quickle and correctly in an on-line condition. Finally, a positive learning effect could be seen when repetition followed semantic processing. The three factors of repetition seemed to have mutually complementary relationships and the overall findings underscored the importance of well-repetition tasks for Japanese EFL learners.
The present study was to examine if working memory capacity was related to the performance of Japanese EFL learners on listening comprehension sub-skills. More specifically, the study focused on L1 and L2 working memory capacity, and its effect on two dimensions in L2 listening comprehension: literal comprehension and inferential comprehension. The study also investigates the extent to which the role of working memory in the processing of L2 listening varies according to different levels of L2 proficiency. The results of the correlation and regression analysis suggested that the individual differences in working memory capacity were related to inferential comprehension in the higher-level group, and both inferential and literal comprehension in the lower-level group. The results of the study will discuss the implication of these findings and suggest that working memory resources can be allocated to the execution of top-down processing in the case of the higher-level listeners, and both top-down and bottom-up processing in the case of the lower-level listeners.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the difference in impact on the reading ability of Japanese EFL readers between two pre-learning programs, one enriching only background knowledge and the other enriching both background and linguistic knowledge, aimed at interactive reading performance. The study was conducted in the spring semester of 2009 and in the autumn semester of 2010. Participants of both years were first-year students at a four-year college. Though the students in both groups received the same instruction to form and/or activate interactive reading conception, students in one group enriched their background knowledge of the content area of the text from the Internet individually as a pre-learning exercise, while students in the other group enriched their background knowledge and linguistic knowledge of the text through reading a passage with similar background and linguistic features to the target text as a pre-learning exercise. The results of this study showed that though both groups improved their reading ability, there was no significant difference in the rate of growth of reading ability between the two groups. Hence, it can be said that neither one of the two different pre-learning programs made a greater difference in the students' reading ability.
The present study focuses on discourse markers (DMs) in its consideration of the issue of authentic texts as a primary input source for learners. DMs are considered to be characteristic items in natural speech, whose use can be indicative of authenticity. In order to judge the authenticity of texts, the study investigates the presentation of DMs in EFL textbooks for Japanese college students and adult learners, and compares it with the distribution of DMs in spoken corpora. The frequency analysis of DMs in nine EFL textbooks revealed that there were significant differences between the dialogue in the textbooks and the speech data of native speakers. Although this finding replicates those of previous studies, quantitative and qualitative analyses on the textbook dialogue and the speech data of Japanese EFL learners suggest that the proficiency level of target users is a key factor in considering what kind of and how many DMs should be incorporated into textbooks. From the perspective of language acquisition, it would be preferable to carefully select frequent and easy-to-use items, and to design textbooks according to learners' proficiency. In other words, there are several important questions regarding authentic texts as the one and only model for textbook language.
The purpose of this study is two-fold: (1) to analyze the literary expressions in a literary teaching material for rapid reading included in an authorized textbook for high school students using a checklist this study proposes, and (2) to discuss how these expressions are dealt with in the questions in the attached materials. "The Hare's Gift," included in Powwow English Course I (new edition), is taken as the model text in this study. The study shows that although the model text contains a variety of literary expressions, the attached materials do not examine them specifically (exceptions are two questions which invite students to read between the lines). Previous studies have shown that focus on literary expressions or appreciating them is an indispensable practice in literary reading. This study concludes that the attached materials (and teaching practice) should be improved by adding more questions for literary expressions to the conventional questions. This improvement will provide learners with the opportunity to learn literary reading and gain more knowledge of English. In the final part of this study, sample questions are presented for each discussed literary expressions.
Various types of paper-and-pencil exercises are often used in English classes in Japan. This study aims to identify which types of exercises for both reading and grammar classes are supported by students, explain the perceptions of high school students, and describe the nature of the student-friendly exercises. This study identifies eight exercise formats and 17 exercise items for reading and 10 formats and 11 items for grammar, both of the exercise items being supported by Japanese high school students studying English as a foreign language. In addition, this study provides seven tips for developing exercise formats and items. These findings can help teachers develop and implement learner-centered exercises for reading and grammar.