June 2011 Foreword

Welcome to the June 2011 Issue of AEJ. We are happy to present another very varied issue with contributions from a broad variety of locations and authors across Asia. In the first paper, John Adamson, Howard Brown & Naoki Fujimoto-Adamson (Archiving Self Access: Methodological Considerations) provide an interesting illustration of an ethnographic approach to investigating a Self Access Learning Center in a Japanese University, using qualitative interviews and conversational narratives. Among the advantages of this approach is the provision of voice and agency to local stakeholders whose voice might often not be heard. The study also addresses the continuous improvement of practice.

Deepti Gupta and Getachew Seyoum Woldemariam (The Influence of Motivation and Attitude on Writing Strategy Use of Undergraduate EFL Students: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives) examine the influence of motivation and attitude on the writing strategy use of undergraduate EFL students at Jimma University, Ethiopia. They found that motivated students demonstrated a high level of enjoyment, confidence, perceived ability, and positive attitude towards effective teaching methods of writing and employed writing strategies most frequently. They also found a link between high writing strategy use and effort, high scores and early support and encouragement from significant others.

In another paper focusing on writing in a neighboring country, Ahmed Mahmoud Aliweh (The Effect of Electronic Portfolios on Promoting Egyptian EFL College Students Writing Competence and Autonomy) examined the effect of electronic portfolios on enhancing Egyptian EFL college students writing competence and autonomy. Interestingly, while Aliweh could not identify significant effects on students writing competence and learning autonomy, he still provides a convincing argumentation for both using Electronic Portfolios and for investigating their effect differently.

Wenxia Zhang, Meihua Liu, Shan Zhao, and Qiong Xie suggest that although numerous studies have been conducted on language learning strategy use and its relationships with individual learner characteristics, not much research has been done in the area of English test-taking strategy use, which merits further investigation in that it may greatly influence learners test performance. In English Test-taking Strategy Use and Students Test Performance, Zhang et. al. report on a study in a Chinese university of English test-taking strategy use and its effect on students test performance. They find that students test performance was significantly correlated with compensation and social strategies and that metacognitive strategies were particularly influential.

A regular contributor to AEJ from Oman over the years, Mohamed El-Okda (Developing Pragmatic Competence: Challenges and Solutions) investigates perceived challenges faced by teachers finding that they face difficulties in this area in related to their pre-service education program, in-service training, textbooks, teacher guides, tests and opportunities for learners exposure to natural language use outside the classroom. Arguing that pragmatic competence is both teachable and testable, El-Okda suggests strategies for overcoming those difficulties.
In Discourse Markers in the ESL Classroom: A Survey of Teachers Attitudes, Loretta Fung explores the pedagogic values of discourse markers, considering the attitudes of Hong Kong teachers towards them. Fung concludes that they are underused in existing teaching materials and teaching. Fung identifies the need to develop learners linguistic awareness of DMs, to modify existing teaching materials and prepare learners to develop more effective communication by learning how to use them across contexts.

In the Relationship between Iranian EFL Teachers’ Sense of Self-Efficacy and their Pedagogical Success in Language Institutes, Afsaneh Ghanizadeh and Fatemeh Moafian, examine the relationship between EFL teachers’ self-efficacy and their pedagogical success in Language Institutes and the relationship between age, teaching experience and self-efficacy. The survey-based study revealed a significant relationship between teachers’ success and their self-efficacy and between teachers’ self-efficacy, teaching experience and age.

Hui-Ju Wu (Anxiety and Reading Comprehension Performance in English as a Foreign Language) investigates the relationship between language anxiety, reading anxiety and reading performance. The results indicated that lower LA and RA go with higher performance. Creating a low-anxiety classroom environment can therefore be expected to help improve students reading comprehension performance. Wu also found that coping with RA appears to require more time than coping with LA.

Manfred Wu(Learners Beliefs and the Use of Metacognitive Language-learning Strategies of Chinese-speaking ESL Learners) investigated the relationship between beliefs about language learning and the use of the metacognitive language-learning strategies in a vocational education context in Hong Kong. Integrative Motivation and Language and Communication Strategies were found to have the strongest positive relationships with MCLLS use. It was also found that Self-efficacyand Learning and Communication Strategieswere good predictors of the use of many MCLLSs. The importance of boosting self-efficacy (whether for students or teachers) is therefore once again underlined in this same issue.

Saad Torki (Teachers’ intention vs. learners’ attention: Do learners attend to what teachers want them to attend to in an EFL vocabulary class?) investigates the relationship between teachers’ intention and learner’s attention in a vocabulary class. The study adopted a multi-instrumental approach, relying on uptake to obtain strong evidence of intake. The results showed that learners appear to focus on meaning at the expense of spelling and pronunciation in this context. Torki proposes a more holistic approach to lexis which includes greater attention to form (pronunciation and spelling).

Yuko Yamashita and David Hirsh (Second Language and Cognition: Conceptual Categorization of Count/mass Nouns in English with Japanese University Students) explore count/mass noun distinction with Japanese students. The study examines the notion of cognitive individuation (count nouns are conceptualized in the mind of the speaker as individuated while mass nouns are not). The study also provides insights into effective ways to help students make count/mass noun distinctions in English.

In the final paper, Bee-Hoon Tan (Innovating Writing Centers and Online Writing Labs outside North America) discusses two successful centers in North America and surveys the emergence of writing centers in Asia. The study highlights common difficulties such as countering concepts of writing centers as simply places where a client can go for proofreading and grammar correction.