December 2008 Foreword

The publication of the 2008 Asian EFL Journal Conference Proceedings marks the culmination of an arduous year long process involving conference planning, vetting of presentation proposals, the very successful Pusan Conference itself in April and, finally, the preparation of this year s refereed Proceedings. Much of this work is done behind the scenes and all too often goes unacknowledged. We are especially grateful to the conference planning committee and to the team of readers who provided valuable feedback during the review process. The final scholarly product appearing here in this volume of the Asian EFL Journal owes much to their hard work and respect for the voluntary academic process of engaged peer review thank you and bravo!
This year s 2008 Asian EFL Conference was yet another success in what has come to be known as one of the finest annual meetings in our field. In addition to our three plenary speakers (Rod Ellis, Rebecca Oxford and Z.N. Patil) we had 18 very well received presentations from a variety of teaching and research contexts throughout Asia and beyond. Our conference theme, Innovation and Tradition in ELT in the New Millennium, attracted more than 400 participants. These participants were privy not only to the stimulating keynote addresses by leading figures in SLA but also to the important ELT work being done by presenters from such countries as Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, the U.S, China, and Pakistan. For many of the presenters who shared their research, approaches, materials and ideas with participants and peers, the Conference is a springboard for getting the initial feedback needed for drafting the manuscripts for formal publication. It is indeed a very stimulating and important process, and I have taken great pleasure in seeing it through to fruition as this year s Proceedings editor.
For the 2008 AEJ Conference Proceedings, we are pleased to present twelve papers for this December quarterly issue. The issue is bookended by two of our Conference s plenary speakers. We open with an article from Rod Ellis who has been anchoring our annual conference since 2005. In Learner Beliefs and Language Learning, Ellis reminds us that the relationship between beliefs and learning is complex, dynamic and continually changing, and one that is not always as direct as we might think. Fusing his own research findings with two other studies, he explores the great complexities of learner beliefs as they relate to developing proficiency. Ellis concludes by noting that teachers cannot ignore learner beliefs (or their own!), and that we must work toward understanding and reconciling any differences in belief systems between teachers and learners. Ellis highlights the importance of qualitative research methods such as diaries and interviews as the best way to investigate learner beliefs. We conclude the issue with Z.N. Patil s written version of his plenary talk on Rethinking the objectives of teaching English in Asia. Drawing on his EFL experience in Japan and Vietnam, Patil presents his personal views on the importance of confidence building, fluency and appropriateness over accuracy.
In between these plenary papers, we offer a range of articles from different contexts. Nolan Weil s contribution on Vocabulary Size, Background Characteristics, and Reading Skill of Korean Intensive English Students is based on a think-aloud procedure, and yields interesting results for the application of metacognitive strategies for L2 readers – students with larger vocabularies are not always the best readers. Reima Al-Jarf reports on two studies based on her work in Saudi Arabia. In A Call for New Benchmarks at Saudi Language and Translation Schools, she provides recommendations in the form of new admissions benchmarks to address shortcomings in the recent open admission policy of Saudi schools. In her second piece, The Impact of English as an International Language (EIL) upon Arabic in Saudi Arabia, Al-Jarf investigates how college students in Saudi Arabia perceived the status of English and Arabic. Among her findings was that the position of the English language in higher education, especially in science and technology, places pressure on the Arabic language, and she notes that more needs to be done to protect and develop the Arabic language in the face of modern realities. In a third article based on data collected from Saudi EFL learners, Nora Binghadeer shares the results of her comparative investigation of pitch range in An Acoustic Analysis of Pitch Range in the Production of Native and Nonnative Speakers of English.
Reporting on Language Learning Strategies Used by Students at Different Proficiency Levels, Ya-Ling Wu finds that students of higher proficiency are more likely to employ learning strategies and identifies cognitive strategies as central to the relationship between language learning strategy and proficiency. This article is followed by a report of successful ESP collaboration between a language teacher and a physics teacher. In this study, Collaborative Teaching in an ESP Program, Ching-ning Chien, Wei Lee and Li-hua Kao found that an experimental class of students taught by both the language and subject teacher demonstrated more positive attitudes and higher motivation toward English than a control class taught only by a language teacher.
In Speech Acts: A Contrastive Study of Speech Acts in Urdu and English, Muhammad Akram draws socio-cultural implications for language teachers through his study of the intentions of speakers and their utterances. Sripathum Noom-ura, in Teaching Listening-Speaking Skills to Thai Students with Low English Proficiency, shares her findings in working with low-level students, reminding us that progress is possible even in difficult teaching situations given appropriate and manageable intervention. Though a context-specific study, implications can be clearly drawn for those us facing similar EFL realities.
Finally, two co-authored papers from Taiwan offer solutions for engaging learners more fully in language learning. First, in One Page Plus, One More Character, Pin-hsiang Natalie Wu and Wen-chi Vivian Wu describe how the study of literature can be enhanced by shifting the interpretive focus to the learner. Then, through analysis of their quantitatively generated data, Wen-chi Vivian Wu and Pin-hsiang Natalie Wu suggest recommendations on how student motivation can be improved through changes to the learning environment in Creating an Authentic EFL Learning Environment to Enhance Student Motivation to Study English.
Ultimately, it is the fine work of our contributing presenters and authors on which the 2008 AEJ Conference Proceedings depends. We applaud their collective effort, and thank each author for considering the Asian EFL Journal as a venue for sharing their insights.

Darren Lingley
2008 Conference Proceedings Editor
Asian EFL Journal