Toru's TESOL Life

My Reflective Thought on TESOL-related Lecture,Books,and Articles. Also, Useful Information Links. This blog stops posting new articles now. My current blog is as follows. This blog is mainly on thought about my teaching days and private life.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ellis R's articles

Ellis R is one of most famous thorists and researchers in the world, and was a fuclty in TUJ, i have not read many articles written by him. I remember now when i read his book (Ellis 2003) on TBL, i soon gave up reading it because of lots of terminology i could not understand. Though i did not plan to read his articles, i happend to encountered his two articles below.

Ellis,R.(1995). Appraising second language acquisition theory in relation to language pedagoy. In Cook, G. and Seidlhoffer, B (Eds.), Principles and practice in applied linguistics studies in honour of Henry Widdowson Oxford: Oxford University Press 73-106
Though he reviews UG theory from verious perspectives in this article, interesting point is about why UG theory is difficult to be applied toward teaching context. He explains about that in contrast with Widdowson's theory of grammar.

Ellis,R.(2005). Principles of instucted language learning. System 33 209-214
This article do not seem to be cited a lot, but his paper Prof. Nation passed out in his class cite this.
He suggest 10 principles for effective second language teaching based on current SLA thinking. We can use it as a guidance for teaching, and as a base on which we read the articles cited in this article. Though it covers wide range topics, it does not mean the content is shallow, because every line in passages seems to reflect on what he has thought on SLA and SL teaching in his life. The deeper we read it, the mode we can get from it (I'be not yet read it deep enough to get something though).


Importance of Output

Though I have heard "output hypothesis" (Swain, 1985), I could not have any chance to read her article. Laufer(1998) put emphasis on mental effort EFL learners bring to learn vocabulary citing Swain and Swain et al's articles, I have read her articles today.

Swain,M and Laptikin,S. (1995). Problems in output and the cognitive processes they generate: a step toward second language learning (Applied linguistics 16 372-91)
They discuss learners notice a "gap" from what they would like to explain and what they can express in their interlanguage, which result in modified output (stretched IL).Those process between the first output and the second output is part of the process of second language learning. They argues the deep mental process learned need to have in speaking and writing, and the the process is much more than just comprehension like in listening and reading. While from listening to speaking, for example, learners have to move from the stage of semantic processing for comprehension to the stage of syntactic processing for expressing themselves.

Swain, M (1995). Three functions of output in second language learning In Cook, G. and Seidlhoffer, B (Eds.), Principles and practice in applied linguistics studies in honour of Henry Widdowson Oxford: Oxford University Press 125-44
Though what it describes is basically the same as Swain and Laptkin (1995), she divide the function of output into three; noticing, hypothesis-testing, and metalinguistic function. Notice the "gap" and take a risk of uttering some "new" expressions to test whether or not it is appropriate and conprehensible for listeners. The former two occurred when learners interact with each other focusing on meaning. But the third one is when they focus on form, that is the content on which they talk is about the language itself. She argues all three functions of output contribute to second language acquisition.

What i was impressed about the two articles are output functions not only for improving fluency but also second language acquisition itself! To put differently, output have an effect on the development of interlangauge process, not just representing the existing knowledge learners have acquired until that time!

It is in line with Widdowson's argument; usage and use. He comments usage is important but as an aid for make communication natural. In his perspective, usage and use, or competence and performance (in Chomsky's word) cannot exist independently, but they are interconnected.

What is interesting is other articles by Talone,E. and Liu,G.(1995) In Cook, G. and Seidlhoffer, B (Eds.), Principles and practice in applied linguistics studies in honour of Henry Widdowson Oxford: Oxford University Press 107-124
Their longitudinal study of Chinese boy names "Bob" reveal intriguing insights about development of interlanguage deeply connected to social contexts. They ask a question, "Do the different interactional contexts simply give Bob different opportunities to show what he already knows? or Do the different interactional contexts cause Bob's competence to develop differently?" They found that the context where Bob used the items (i.e. SVO)for the first time in his life is the the context where he seems to acquire the items. And Bob gradually began to use the item in other contexts. What is interesting is the order of items they use is not the same as the order many SLA researchers agree upon. Thus they argues the flexibility of developmental sequences.

Why he use the new item is not only because of comprehensible input, but also comprehensible output(Swain, 1985) where learners notice the "gap" resulting in modified output to make the utterance comprehensible to interlocutors. They succeed in describing the actual context where acquiring occurs and interlanguage develops.

Moreover, they criticize the other SLA theorists who think contextual variation as just a parameter to change learners performance, think learners competence isolated from their performance. Tarone and Liu think the very context have an effect on the performance/competence and IL development, and argues that SLA theory should embrace contextual variation and the process of development of IL.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Skehan's Task-Based Learning

Peter Skehan (1998) A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning (Oxford Applied Linguistics)

This chapter is what i learned in a course named TESOL Method and Material 1 in TUJ. But at that time, this article is hard to understand for me. So I have hoped to read it again sometime. I read it yesterday. But still I couldn't understand it fully, but it turned out it is because of not my English proficiency, but this articles' perspective and content.

In the article he summarizes researches about Task-based learning, and do not offer readers his clear opinions and statements on TBL. That's why i could not feel refreshed after reading it.

But it was meaningful as a sort of guide to search other in-depth articles about TBL. Also it shows some results about investigation on Tasks characteristics such as accuracy, fluency, and complexity. What appeals to me is many tasks are not almighty, but have strong and weak side (For example, personal tasks helps to improve learner's fluency, but it is weak for developing their complexity). Implication we could elicit from this fact is that we should orchestrate a variety of tasks depending on students' proficiency and needs.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

I went to see the movie "An Innonvenient Truth" by Gore, previous vice president in U.S. There is no up and down personal story, not love romance, no crime, what was featured in the film is mainly from his lecture using Power Point and Video someimes inserted into the lecture. But the fact that earth is hurt, and the earth is our precious place we live moved me. The last picture introduced by him taken by a spacecraft named "Cassini" is really touch for me. It is taken from as far as Saturn, so the earth is really tiny, but... it really moved me.


Native Speaker Vocabulary Acquisition

Nagy, William E. and Anderson, Richard C (1984) How many words are there in printed school English? Reading Research Quarterly 19(3) 304-330

Today I read their article above.They made an attempt to estimate the number of words school children are likely to encounter from grade 3 to grade 9 through a variety of stats methods most of which i cannot understand. Just reading was frustrating with complicated estimation! How about researching it? It must have made authors mad! But it ends up with the result that

1) printed school English contains 88,500 distinct word families.
2)at least 1000 words families, for active reader, around 3000 or 4000 words families are encountered in a school year. In A school year! I was surprised at the big number! And they also commented that
3) the least able and motivated children in the middle grades might read 100,000 words a year. Though it includes already known, familiar words,the number is also big!

I heard from Prof. Nation, and Prof. Laufer, that educated native speaker learn 1000 words per year until they become 20 with thier vocabulary size 20,000. Though the way of defining "word" and "word family" is different from researcher to researcher,it is clear that native speaker receive tremendous exposure of input. This article make it clear that written input school children take is incredibly big.

What is interesting is they also suggest that direct vocabulary instruction is not worth doing because time and energy available for such direct instrcution is limited and they cannot cover the marvelous size of vocabulary school children encounter in their 6 years. Of course L2 vocabulary learning is different from L1 vocabulary learning, but it is intriguig suggestion.

Native speakers may learn tremendous vocabularies through comprehensible input big enough to connect words with other words to establish a kind of semantic mapping (lexis network) in their brain.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Vocabulary Articles continued

Batia Laufer(1994), The development of passive and active vocabulary in a second language: same or different? (Applied linguitics 19(2) 255-271)
Passive vocabulary (measured by Vocabulary Level Test) and Controlled active vocabulary (measured by the production version of the Level Test) are expanding as learner receive vocaburaly instrucion in EFL environment, but it does not contribute to growth of Free active vocabulary (measured by LFP(Lexical Frequency Profile)intermediately.

Svenja Adolphs and Novert Schmitt (2003), Lexican coverage of spoken discourse. (Applied linguistics 24(4) 425-438)
BNC and CANCODE are used to measure the coverage of spoken texts. On the basis on CANCODE, only 95.91% can be covered by 3000 spoken word families, that figure is much bigger than previsouly considerd number with about 2000 word families more than 98 coverage. Spoken language might require leanrers to cover higher percentage of lexis because the on-line processing constraints time for them to get the meaning across with each other.

Nation, P (2006), How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? (The Canadian Modern Language 63(1) September, 59-82)
RANGE program is used to analyze the coverage of tokens, types, and word families, and turns out that 8000-9000 words are needed for comprehension of written text and 6000-7000 for spoken text. Repeated unknown words may be decrease the percent of coverage of text because those words could be learnd during reading.

Nick Ellis (1995) Vocabulary acquisitoin: Psychological perspectives and pedagogical implications (The langauge teacher 19(2) 12-16)
balanced mixture of implicit and explicit learning for vocabulary acquisition is recommended. He cite Krashen to emphasize the importance of incidental learning, and at the same time introduce elicit the concept of "noticing" and "deep processing" to put the emphasis on deliberate learning.

Nation,P(1992) What vocabulary size is needed to read unsimplified texts for pleasure? (Reading in a Foreign Language 8(2) 1992)
It looks like Nation(2006). Around 5000 words are needed for enjoying umsimplified novel. Some tips to bridge the gap between those high requirement and learner's existing vocabulary size is presented such as simplificatin, pre-teaching, and the like.

Coxhead (2000) Developing and evaluation an academic word list (TESOL quarterly 34(2))
This article explains the history of developing the process of AWL mainly emerged from UWL (Xue and Nation 1984), and discuss the strength of AWL that can cover about 10% of academic text across a variety of discipline.

Laufer & Paribakht (1998) The relationship between passive and active vocabularies: Effects of language learning context (Language learning 48(3) September 1998 365-391
Three vocabulary measurements (Vocab Level Test, Productive version of it, and LFP) are used to compare proficiency levels of learners in EFL(Israeli) contexts and ESL(Canada) contexts. In Canada the effect of knowledge of their L1(French) is also investigated. Surprisingly, there is no difference or EFL learners have slightly larger vocab size, because many reader are likely to predict that ESL environment help learenrs expand their passive and productive vocabulary compared to EFL surroundings.


Friday, February 16, 2007

L2 Motivation Studies articles

Tremblay and Gardner (1995)Expanding the motivation construct in language learning (The Modern Language Journal 79(4) Winter 1995 505-518) expand the construct of motivation in learning language from Gardner's (1985)original construct, adding valence, goal salience, self-efficacy, foreign language dominance, and the like. However, they confirm that original model(Gardner, 1985)explaining the integrative motivation is valid.

Clement, Dornyei, and Noels(1994) Motivation,self-confidence ,and group cohesion in the foreign language classroom (Language learning 44(3) Sptember 1994 417-448) conduct a motivation research at EFL environment (Hungary) and find that integrative orientation(motivation) is rejected as a strong factor to have an effect on students' motivation, and linguistic self confidence and Appraisal of classroom environment turned out to be a big factor to foreign language behavior and competence and vise versa (They refer to correlation with each other, not causal one).

Gardner,R.C.(2001). Public lecture at Temple University Japan is summary of lecture at TUJ. He reviews many researches in L2 learning motivation in terms of concept of past, present, and future. This article is interesting because various personal narrative is inserted and basic figure and data can been seen there. It is also helpful to use it as a sort of compass to pursue motivation research.

Dornyei and Otto (1998)Working papers in applied linguistics, Thames Valley University, London, Vol4, 43-69 criticize the existing construct of L2 motivation due to its reductionist paradigm, tendency to explain learner's action in a static state. In other words, they argue that L2 motivation is more complex and dynamic process. About this issue, Dorneyi (2000) discuss that time is one of the most challenging tasks motivation researchers have to address in order to account for the diachronic nature of motivation.


Testing a Vocab Test

Three articles are about testing a existing a Vocab test.

Read(1988) Measuring the vocabulary knowledge of second language learners (RELC journal 12-25) examined the Vocab Level Test(1983) and confirm that the test is valid and useful to put students in proper levels in a language program. He also points out check list could work as an alternative to the level test.

Beglar and Hunt (1999)(Language Testing 16(2) 131-162) created a new form based on 4 versions of Nation(1983, 1990)'s level test, N,Schmit made in 1993(cited at N.Schmitt et al(2001)), and confirm the validity and reliability. The created version's scores are highly correlated with reading section in TOEFL, than listening section of it.

Laufer and Nation (1999) (Language Testing 16(1) 33-51)
is about productive version of Vocab Level test (1983, 1990). The productive version is already used at Laufer and Nation (1995), and this article is to confirm the validity and reliability of it. It turns out that it is reliable and valid.

In last article, Schmitt, N, Schmitt, D and Clapham, C (2001) (Language Testing 18(1) 55-88) conduct the validity research of Vocbulary Level Test N.Schmitt made based on Nation(1983, 1990), and confirm that both is valid to assess a single construct, from the data collected around the world, based on the previous study by Beglar and Hunt (1999) that researches data from Japanese students.

How the level test has been made and updated is complicated, but these four articles show the processes.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Several articles on Vorabulary

In vocabulary class i learned several things about vocabulary, like vocab size to listen and read in second langauge, testing the Vocab test itself, implication toward vocab teaching, and the like. Below are several article i read recently.

What seems to be famous among many people is the fact that at least 95%, preferably 98% of knownwords in a text (less than one word in two lines in a page) is needed to get the general understanding of the text in listening and reading.
Adolphs, S and Schmitt, N (2003) comments that to reach the level of more than 96% coverage, around 5000 words are needed to get general understanding in listening. It is a bit surprising because 3000 words have been believed enough to achieve the general understanding.

Chung, T,M and Nation,P(2003) Technical vocabulary in specialised texts (Reading in a Foreign Language 15(2) October 2003 assess the technical vocab in Applied linguistics texts and Anatomy texts and found that so many words are used as technical words which is also used as "normal" words in daily life. More than 1/3 is technical words in Anatomy texts and more than 1/6 is technical words in Applied linguistics texts!

Nation, P (2000) Learning vocabulary in lexical sets: Dangers and Guidelines.(TESOL journal 9(2) 6-10)cautions against teaching several words within thematically or semantically related category, like "fast" and "rapid" (near synonyms), "bed" and "sleep" (free association), and "dark" and "light" (opposites)! Because many teachers including me have taught related vocab at the same time, this strategy is harfmful to students unless they establish one word in their brains.

Laufer, B and Nation, P (1995) Vocabulary sixe and use: Lexical richness in L2 written production. (Applied Linguistics 16(3)) come up with useful measurement to assess a learner's lexical richness named LFP (Lexical Rrequency Profile). In this article, they measure the validity and reliablity of LFP. In validity analysis, they show that the higher his/her proficiency is, the upper level of frequency (i.e low frequency words rather than 1st 1000 words level), he/she tend to use. They also show that 2nd 1000 words level is the very "threshold" .Both of low proficiency and high proficiency uses a lot of words within the level. In reliability analysis, they reveal that two composition the same learner has smilar(not significantly different) LFP in each level of frequency. They beautifully succeed in demostrating the validity and reliability of LFP, though it is just i cannot find out any pitfalls.

Waring, R and Takaki, M (2003)At what rate do learners learn and retain new vocabulary from reading a graded reader? (Reading in a Foreign Language 15(2) October 2003) conduct really interesting reseach! They substitute artifical words to several existing words in a text, and research how much learners memorized those words in intermeidate post test, and three-months-later test.
Bu doing that, they tried to assess the exact degree learners keep them in their brain for a long time. Because those artificial words cannot been met any other place, they cannot be learned in other places! Their implication is also intruiguing! Based on the result of many many words forgotten after the three month, they succeed in casting a doubt toward extensive reading, though they do not say ER is useless. But the result clearly shows that new words are learned if the words are repeated again and again (In Laufer's lecture at TUJ last week, she also says that from 1 to 2 books, from 100 to 200 words need to be read per week. She said that in case study of Grabe and Stoller (1997), a learner named Bill learned only 350 words after 450 reading hour in 5 month! That's really frustrating!) (It is clear that a learner must read at least one graded reader in a week according as Nation,P and Wang, K (1999) says). Such exposure seems to be impossible in EFL environment like in Japan, i guess. Though ER is not just for learning a new word, but also for reinforcing already known words as they say, how intensive reading, and deliberate vocab learning should be incorporated into ER should be considered more.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Laufer's Lecture

I took part in the distinguished lecture by Dr. Batia Laufer about second language vocabulary acquisition. She speaks really fluent and energetic English as her second language. Since i am now taking Prof.Nation's class, what he taught is smoothly into my brain, maybe Nation's lecture works as a sort of backgroud knowledge.

Thinking about vocabulary is interesting, because students and teachers think it important to learn/teach, but how to measure the depth,strength,and size of a learner's lexical knowledge and lexical competance is hard! For example, she emphasize on the distingction of form/meaning,recall(retreival)/recognition, and receptive vocab/productive vocab. Each way to test a learner's vocab puts some focus on something among these demention. For instance, Nation's Vocabulary Level Test measures a leanrer's meaning/recognition/passive vocab, and Nation and Laufer(1995)'s Vocab level test(Productive test) measures her/his form/recall(retreival)/productive vocab.

Examining a variety of test form is crucial to think what aspect of a learner's vocab we intend to assess like Ms.Morimoto's research.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Use, Voice, and Agency

Most of articles i have read about CALL is about positive side of it. But Dr.Skehan Focus on form, tasks and technology (Computer Assisted Language LEarning 2003 16(5) 391-411)point out the pitfalls of web-based learning from the perspective of current SLA thinking, especially of taks-based learning. That's interesting!

Other interesting point is that "voice" students project toward their audience in their writing reflects social contexts as Dr.Lam and Dr.Matsuda point out.

Though Dr.Warschauerdiscuss that in 21st century integrative CALL, principal objective of instruction is not only accuracy and fluency, but also "agency", which means foster learners who could give a mark on a world using L2 in addition to just understand and acquire L2.

I cannot shape and accommodate the three paragraphs above into my thinking, but all three seems to have some common underlying concept. Use (Skehan), Voice(Lam and Matsuda), and Agency (Warschauer) seems to refer to "something".


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Writing and blog

After writing a draft of lit review about writing and computers, i go on to collecting info about relationships between writing and blog/blogging. At first i though there are really few researches about it, but it seems that several articles have already been published even in Japan. So i will be able to find out some articles around the world.

Blog/bloggin is a new topic for me as a blogger, so the topic is interesting also for reflecting myself, why and how i have blogged.

Also, i hope to find out some insight using data of students who have blogged. For example, vocab gain at the beggining and at the end of course is worthy of being researched, i guess.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Meeting my Relatives

My father has stayed in Tokyo on business, and He and I went to Kawasaki-city to meet my relatives, his aunt and her husband. They are so impressive. They laugh lightheartedly, have lots of humor, but enbrace clear believes and perspectives toward their lives. After enjoying the visiting and saying good-by to them, my father went to an airport to go back to Hokkaido, and I stayed a short time in an area around Kawasaki-station. The pictures are the ones in the area, which has a flavor of, how do you say, post-modernism, or surrealism, though they cannot reflect the flavor because of my lack of technique to take pictures.

After that, i went to Shinjuku to eat a tasty ramen with my friend, and went to Temple to join editing committee. That is for collecting, editting, and publishing great grammar activities collected from ideas by Graduate students. Well i have to held a meeting one more, but the next one will be the last one before the anthology's publishing.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Writing and Computer

I read a part of a book and some articles about relationship between writing and computer. The book ("Teaching and Researching Writing" 2002)covers overall topics on writing, but it seems not give me in-depth picture about the influence of computer techonology especially connceted with other computers through internet, on writing. The site (Dr.Lam's site and Dr.Warschauer's site)my respectable friend tell me offer me a lot of info about the relationship, especially for those who write something in Web2.0 era, and in post-process writing era. (Dr.Casanave's book about writing i learned before make me relearned what is the era.)

I would like to keep on writing lit review in terms of some computer technology, such as Computer-assisted communication discussion (CACD), Web writing, e-mail exchanges, and Chat site (mainly in line with Dr.Warschauer's categorization).

And i would check some more articles and books about the relationships mainly from CALL perspectives, 'cause it is likely to give me insight about the relations.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thank you, Sidney Sheldon

Thank you, Sidney Sheldon

One of the most favorite author passed away today.

I started reading translated version of his books since junior high. It appeals a lot because of lots of up-down story telling. And then, i started reading his original books which are for ESL/EFL learners. Such books are on my father's shelf because he already give up improving his English. Luckily, i took his books there, and read it while listening their script. It was amazing to know such a wonderful way of learning English! It is just opposite of a way of learning it in a classroom!Gradually, i was able to read his original books. His intriguing story telling compensate my luck of English proficiency, to finish those books. About one month before, i read his last book, "The other side of me". I was moved a lot by his exciting and respectful life. His real life is so up-down as characters in his books, but i was tremendously impressed by his risk-taking, and sincere way of living.

I would like to express my condolence to him. Thank you Sidney Sheldon for giving me a chance to know such a wonderful world.


EIKEN(STEP) research

Also today, i browsed several articles featured in STEP bulletin.

What is the most touchy and interesting article is by Dr. Akiyama, about evaluation of speaking test using Item Response Theory(IRT). What he read to research this topic, contains what i have read in Language testing class, and on my own. Moreover, his topic-evaluation of test he conducted-is just what i chose as s topic as my class paper! I would like to read some articles he read and i have not yet read. Also, his research encouraged me to research about this topic regardless of using IRT or CTT(classical testing theory).

Several articles i read are about vocabulary and test scores, and use correlation or ANOVA. Corpus analysis is also used to research vocabulary, but it would be hard to make a picture many audience understand. Correlation is used for comparing vocabulary test scores and proficiency tests scores, and Anova is used for comparing vocabulary learning strategy and proficiency tests scores.

For me, it seems that sophisticated stats analysis such as Manova, Factor Analysis, Structural equation model, covariance structural analysis, and IRT can make audience understand, because it seems to draw a big picture. For example, Dr. Okada's aritcle,Dr.Matsumoto's article and Ms.Suzuki and Dr.Kumazawa's article seem to succeed in showing a big picture for audience to understand them.

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