June 2008 Foreword

We are pleased to present another eleven studies in this June Quarterly Issue. Given the large number of submissions we now process, the authors of these papers have often had to wait between one and two years since acceptance to see their papers in print. We hope that, in spite of the wait time, publishing after an increasingly rigorous review has its own rewards: we are now able to accept less than 15% of all submissions and have two senior associate editors, twelve associate editors and more than fifty review editors working as volunteers in our team.
To open this issue, Giao Quynh Tran investigates the pragmatic and discourse transfer of compliment response strategies in the way Vietnamese learners of English communicate with Australians in Pragmatic And Discourse Transfer Of Combination Of Compliment Response Strategies In Second Language Learning And Usage. Tran uses a new methodology the Naturalized Role-play to investigate this. The study concludes that pragmatic and discourse transfer was significantly different from the way strategies were combined in English CRs but closely resembled how Vietnamese speakers combined CR strategies. The study also offers a new approach to pragmatic and discourse transfer which could be used for similar studies in other contexts.
Guofang Wan, Rex Tanimoto and Rosalyn Anstine Templeton, in Creating Constructivist Learning Environment for Japanese EFL Students: A Digital Story Program, share their experience of an innovative approach to materials creation and EFL study. They assess the effectiveness of a web-based multimedia English program to teach EFL in a Japanese university. Their initial results, which are based on a survey of students perceptions, are promising, suggesting that the program creates a positive learning environment for their students and warrants further investigation.
In Research on EFL Writing Strategy Using SRP: An Empirical Study in DUT (Dalian University of Technology), Liu Wenyu and Lu Wang focus on the writing strategies of Chinese college EFL writers. The study analyzes the relationship between writing proficiency, writing strategy and writing scores using a Stimulated Recall Protocol (SRP) approach. They find significant differences in strategy use between English major and non-English major writers that should be of use both for EFL teachers, and also for learner training. They conclude that both global and local writing strategies need to be emphasized in teaching EFL writing, arguing that only when writers handle both types of strategies do they improve their writing proficiency.
Hanmin Tsai, in Improving an EFL Class: Starting from Classroom Observations, considers ways of making classroom observation optimally effective. The results indicate that classroom observations are most effective when pre-observation discussions take place between the observer and the observee. Effectiveness is further enhanced when the observer is not overly critical, and when ample opportunities are given to recall their practices and respond to any comments. Constant discussion and negotiation is hence the key to building the mutual respect and trust needed to generate improvement.
In How Does Context Contribute To EFL Learners Assessment Of Vocabulary Gain?, Berrin Ui§kun provides a detailed description of the development and trial of three measurement techniques that provide varying degrees of context for the assessment of lexical knowledge. The author highlights the importance not only of language proficiency but also the ability to exploit different kinds of contextual information. While such a detailed study does not lend itself to simple conclusions, there are many interesting issues raised for the discriminate reader. One of these is Ui§kun s discussion of what it means to know a word.
In The Application of Learning Portfolio Assessment for Students in the Technological and Vocational Education System, Ya-huei Wang and Hung-Chang Liao investigate whether students assessed through a portfolio system experience greater satisfaction than those under traditional test assessment. Their results indicate that students appreciation of instructional objectives, material/method, teacher s qualities, class climate and environment, assessment, is indeed enhanced. This is an important finding given the typically low motivation often observed in technological and vocational streams.
Bexi Perdomo, in The Effectiveness of Recasts on the Teaching of EFL, examines the effectiveness of oral recasts in the EFL classroom. Her results provide evidence in support of the effectiveness of recast compared to explicit negative feedback. Perdomo also highlights the need to explore proficiency arguing that the appropriate choice of feedback is partially dependent on students proficiency.
In Scaffolding Language, Scaffolding Writing: A Genre Approach to Teaching Narrative Writing, Fei-wen Cheng provides interesting evidence in one context suggesting that explicit knowledge of genre, in this case in narrative writing, is more effective than a process approach. In her Taiwanese study, the results indicated that students essays exhibited large gains in some specific rhetorical moves, as well as in content development, textual coherence and language usage, confirming the findings of previous studies on advanced L2 learners.
Traditional techniques of vocabulary learning such as rote learning are sometimes considered outdated and inappropriate even for low level learners. Saeed Mehrpour, in A Comparison of the Effects of Two Vocabulary Teaching Techniques, compares the impact of different instructional vocabulary techniques on a low-proficiency group of fifty Iranian learners of English as a foreign language. Mehrpour concludes that rote-memorization of word-lists can work better than sentence-making practice, for Iranian learners of English at low levels of proficiency.
Finally, we offer two articles in support of our commitment to making alternative voices heard in our field. In my editorial opinion piece, I explore this commitment by examining a recent issue of AEJ to determine to what degree our own academic discourse community, in this case the editorial team at AEJ, accepted the first-person voice. The findings suggest that, while the use of the first-person was rather limited, in some cases the review process even encouraged it. A completely different type of alternative authorial voice is evident in Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew s paper, a non-research piece providing an alternative perspective on Singapore s response to its perceived geographical constraints. It examines the state discourses through an examination of the current language textbooks used in its schools, discussing the key metaphors of statehood and the promotion of moral values such as peace, cooperation and social harmony in an increasingly globalized, divisive, and unpredictable world.

Roger Nunn
Senior Associate Editor
Asian EFL Journal