December 2011 Foreword

In this, the final quarterly edition of 2011, we have the opportunity to engage with a wealth of research, perspectives, approaches and theories which all have clear implications for the field of English language teaching across Asia.

In Word-Meaning Inference: A Longitudinal Investigation of Inference Accuracy and Strategy Use, Hamada and Park, recognising the importance of strategies employed to infer meaning when reading in a second language, investigate the word-meaning inference behaviours of three college-level ESL students. The findings of this qualitative study are discussed in relation to previous literature, and implications for teachers and future research are highlighted.

The second article, The Impact of Assessment Change on Language Learning Strategies: The Views of a Small Group of Chinese Graduate Students Studying in the UK by Jiang and Sharpling, qualitatively investigates the experiences and perceptions of Chinese students studying at a UK University vis-i -vis the shifting assessment orientations that they inevitably encounter, both before arriving in the UK and during their time there. The authors offer substantial insights into the influence of assessment on the choice and development of language learning strategies, as well as the diverse factors that influence the experiences, learning behaviours, perceptions and values of the students in their study.

In Second Language Development through Technology Mediated Strategic Interaction, Johnson and deHaan give a detailed account of the design and implementation of technology-mediated strategic interaction tools for a group of Japanese university students. They give an overview of problems that Japanese university students in their context typically face, problems that, according to their theoretical discussions and initial results, can be more effectively met with approaches that are driven by a deep understanding of the fundamental nature of language learning alongside contextual awareness.

The next article is Nguyen s Learner Self-management Procedures Reported by Advanced and Intermediate ESL Students, in which the author reports the results of a New Zealand based study of intermediate and advanced ESL students self-management procedures, adding to a growing amount of literature in the field. Various research tools were used to gain insights into students practices. Similarities and differences between the two groups of learners are identified and critically discussed in relation to current understandings, theories and debates.

In The Effect of Collaboration on the Cohesion and Coherence of L2 Narrative Discourse between English NS and Korean L2 English Users, Crosthwaiteinvestigates differences between native English speakers and Korean English learners in terms of cohesive reference maintenance and the role of scaffolding on the accuracy of the latter s discursive performances. To achieve this, spoken data are analysed and compared in to identify specific grammatical forms that have an important role in maintaining coherent reference to discourse referents. From this, the role of scaffolding is analysed to ascertain its role in maintaining coherence and accuracy among the Korean speakers. Findings from this study suggest an important role for scaffolding in enhancing coherence and easing difficulties managing accurate reference maintenance.

The sixth article, Socio-Economic Orientations in Foreign Language Learning Motivation: The Case of Yemen by Attamimi and Rahim, draws attention to the notion of cultural capital, parental economic status and motivation to learn English in a dual-survey study which is supported by interviews. The authors discuss a number of areas of motivation that incorporate cultural capital, student orientations, students feelings of or against integrativeness with the target language community (or out-groups). Results are presented in the form of quantitative summaries and discussion.

In An Analysis of L2 Motivation, Test Validity and Language Proficiency Identity (LPID): A Vygotskian Approach, Haggerty investigates learners attitudes, beliefs and motivations in relation to their experiences with high-stakes language assessments. The author s account advocates the incorporation of Vygotsky s notion of language proficiency identity into research into the impact of assessment and learning experiences on various aspects of identity, values and motivation. The resulting discussion raises questions about test validity and current assessment practices while at the same time reporting the impact that language tests appear to have on Korean learners in different stages of education.

In the next article, Input Enhancement, Noticing, and Incidental Vocabulary, Petchko investigates input enhancement in reading classes by investigating the role of textually enhancing target words (non-words in this study) in noticing, meaning recognition and meaning recall. The author gives a considerable overview of the importance of this area of research for the language teaching community before discussing the implications of this study s findings and recommending future research directions.

Wang s Shattering the hierarchical education system: The creation of a poststructural feminist English classroom draws our attention to a pedagogical approach designed to improve Taiwanese students English proficiency, critical thinking faculties and satisfaction through their learning experiences in English. The author s poststructural feminist model is discussed and justified drawing on cultural aspects of classroom learning in the Taiwanese context and the results, gained through a variety of methods, appear to show that this approach has been implemented successfully to enhance students learning, thinking and experiences.

The next article, English only? inda kali eh! (not likely!) Changing the paradigm by O Hara-Davies, is both a personal account of realisations that led to shifts in the author s orientations to language teaching and a call for the field to recognise the importance of heightened awareness of the issues raised by voices in our field and beyond. The author takes an autoethnographic approach to reporting her evolution from a native speaker teacher with a limited awareness of her own limitations and shortcomings to a more critically aware teacher whose approach embodies linguistic and cultural differences. A key result of this account is to help reposition the native speaker expert as often lacking contextual cultural and linguistic awareness, and having to adapt to overcome these shortcomings, rather than the learners.

In the final article, Students Reactions to School Based Oral Assessment: Bridging the Gap in Malaysia, Sidhu, Fook and Sidhu use quantitative and qualitative research tools to investigate Malaysian students perceptions, opinions and understandings of the Malaysian School Based Oral English Test (SBOET), which represented a shift towards formative testing in 2002. The study is one of the first to research the effects of the introduction of this assessment policy shift, and its findings are reported on a number of levels, informing the perceived effectiveness of the tests, their implementation (including dissemination of information about them) and their perceived value. An engaging discussion of classroom oral assessment is offered, as are suggestions for improving the implementation of the SBOET, and handling educational policy shifts in general.

Perhaps the unifying thread that connects the research presented in this edition, apart from relating to English teaching and Asia, is that each article incorporates our growing understanding of language and language learning into contextualised approaches to English teaching, learning, assessment, use and/or policy. In turn, these authors contribute to our growing understanding of the knowledge that they exploit.

Robert Baird
Production Editor