Recently, English rhythmic perception and production have been recognized as useful for native-like pronunciation, but how can learners achieve them? The first objective of this study is to clarify whether musical aptitude, in particular, tonal/rhythmic perception and rhythmic short-term memory (STM), are related to Japanese children’s receptive/productive prosodic abilities in English. The second objective is to determine whether musically trained children have a higher musical aptitude than untrained children. In the study, 53 children attending a private elementary school were individually given tests on productive rhythmic STM and productive English prosody. They were also given tests on receptive musical aptitude and receptive English prosody in class. The results of multiple regression analysis showed that either musical perception or productive rhythmic STM significantly explained English prosodic perception/production, e.g., focus, chunking, and intonation. It was also observed that musically trained children were statistically better in tonal/rhythmic perception. Though further evidence is required, these results indicate that early musical training could help improve English prosodic ability.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the characteristics of nonnative semantic representation. Homograph norms of word association were compared between native speakers of English and Japanese EFL learners. All participants were told to write down any word in the order that came to mind when they read each homograph. The study consisted of two parts: Analysis 1 compared the first three associations produced by Japanese EFL learners, classified into responses written either in their first language (L1) or second language (L2). A large proportion of first associations was written in Japanese, but in the second and third associations, the responses written in English increased in number. Analysis 2 compared the first associations of native speakers and Japanese EFL learners, categorized as dominant and subordinate meanings of homographs. Some dominant meanings for native speakers were considered subordinate meanings by Japanese EFL learners (e.g., for “passage”, many Japanese EFL learners first wrote “book” instead of “way”). The results showed that: 1) most L2 stimulus words were first associated with L1; and 2) the dominant and subordinate meanings were, in some cases, different for L1 and L2 semantic representations.
WritingMaertiX (WMX), which we have developed and will report about in this paper, is a versatile and easy-to-use multi-function software package for recording, visualizing, and analyzing learners’ writing process. WMX applies keystroke logging to gather all information concerning to real-time writing processes of writers, and can literally “replay” the writing process by reusing the recorded keystroke information. Additionally, WMX is endowed with a sophisticated function for analyzing the writing process by automatically calculating the number of words over time and the frequencies of revisions. These time series data can also be visualized using WMX. We have also provided alternative tools for analyzing the writing process data such as (a) a semi-automatic tool for calculation of the number of words over time, (b) an original function for R (a statistical tool), which also automatically calculates the number of words over time. This paper introduces the background and the rationale for developing WMX, and its specifications. We also report the results of some surveys using WMX, demonstrating how it works in reality. We believe that our new tool, WMX, which is freely available to every researcher, teaching practitioner, and even every autonomous learner who is interested in real-time writing processes, will evoke improvements in foreign language writing research, teaching, and learning.
The present study aims to examine the relationship between teachers’ first language (L1) use and students’ anxiety about English during foreign language activities at elementary schools. More specifically, this study investigates whether teachers’ L1 use is an effective way to control the level of students’ anxiety, and, if so, what particular type of teachers’ L1 use can lead to increase or decrease their anxiety. Data were collected by administering a research questionnaire to 366 participants and analyzing audio recordings of 12 classes. The results of the research questionnaire showed that two factors of anxiety exist: negative evaluation anxiety and foreign language learning anxiety. A high level of foreign language learning anxiety and a medium level of negative evaluation anxiety were found to optimize students’ learning motivation. Analyses of the transcripts showed that teachers’ use of L1 affects students’ anxiety levels. The results also showed that teachers use L1 in two ways, for directing and facilitating the class. The direction use of L1 is used for students with low foreign language learning anxiety and low negative evaluation anxiety, while the facilitation use of L1 is used for teaching motivated students and maintaining students’ desirable levels of anxiety.
Using online text-based chat rooms for language learning can offer an additional platform to practice L2. Recent research shows that inherent features of chat rooms act as facilitative conditions for language interaction (Blake, 2000; Kitade, 2000). This paper reports the accuracy rate and the use of self-repair across online text-based chat rooms and face-to-face. Error-free clause was measured among three different tasks (personal, narration, decision making) with that of online chat rooms and face-to-face. The data of self-initiated self-repair was also collected to indicate how the learners were repairing themselves for accuracy. As a result, online text-based chat room tasks in personal and narration tasks had significantly higher accuracy than that of face-to-face. However, the number of self-initiated self-repair were higher for face-to-face. The finding suggests that the use of text-based chat rooms can produce accurate output compared to that of face-to-face. The number of self-initiated self-repair did not show a relationship with the accuracy result which could imply that chat logs do not show what the learners are actually producing and that covert self-initiated self-repair in the chat log needs to be taken into consideration to fully understand the learners’ output process.
The present study attempted to investigate whether or not Japanese learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) process congruent (i.e., being able to translate directly from first language (L1) into second language (L2)) collocations faster than incongruent (i.e., not being able to translate directly from L1 into L2) ones in order to ascertain the learners are capable of utilizing the cognitive advantage of congruent collocations in sentence processing. A self-paced reading task was administered to twenty one Japanese EFL learners to assess reaction times to words and collocations, and the reaction times were analyzed. There were no statistically significant differences of reaction times between congruent collocations and incongruent ones. At the same time, however, a delayed effect was detected in that Japanese EFL learners processed words immediately after congruent collocations significantly faster than those immediately after incongruent ones. The results suggest that Japanese EFL learners are capable of utilizing the cognitive advantage of processing congruent collocations in a sentence.
The present study attempted to confirm the validity of the Foreign Language Grammatical Carefulness Scale (FLGCS) developed by Kusanagi et al. (in press). According to Kusanagi et al. (in press), Grammatical Carefulness (GC) is defined as a personal trait reflecting learners’ behavioral and psychological aspects of language use, and it consists of three subscales: phonological carefulness, lexical-syntactic carefulness, and pragmatic carefulness. Although the initial validation concerning factorial, content, and criterion-based validity has been done, the criterion-based validation did not take into account the correlation between the performance focusing on the specific aspects of language use and each subscale under the GCS. In order to examine the validity of the subscales of GCS, this study applied two types of task: a discourse completion task (DCT) and a reading and underlining task (RUT), which are considered to measure pragmatic and lexical-syntactic aspects of learners’ performance respectively. It was found that the two subscales (lexical-syntactic and pragmatic) and the scores of the two tasks were weakly correlated, which means that this study found additional evidence showing the validity of FLGCS.
This paper reports a lesson practice aimed to reduce unwillingness to speak English by the use of communicative tasks. The data was collected before and after a semester. The unwillingness to speak English was assessed by the Isoda’s (2009) questionnaire which consisted of three constructs (i.e., high anxiety, low perceived competence, and avoidance of speaking). One English lesson was constructed from the pre-task, main task, and post-task sequence (Willis, 2006). In the pre-task activity, the teacher introduced the topic, content, or other useful information such as words and expressions for the lesson to accomplish the main task comfortably. The main task was achieved by information-gap speaking task, followed by form-focused post-task activities (Willis, 1996). Results showed that the practice succeeded to reduce the score of low perceived competence. It was, however, not effective for the high anxiety and the tendency to avoid speaking. Post-hoc analyses implied that the effectiveness of the lesson was differed by learners’ attitudes toward speaking English before the intervention.