March 2008 Foreword

In this first issue of 2008 we are delighted to be able to present such a wide variety of studies conducted by Asian researchers. This issue marks the tenth anniversary of the Asian EFL Journal. We are both proud of our growth as an academic forum for teachers and researchers, and grateful for the hard work and dedication of our reviewers and editorial team.

Lee and Oxford, in Understanding EFL Learners Strategy Use and Strategy Awareness, focus on the influence of strategy awareness, English-learning self-image and the importance of English in the Korean context. They found that students who valued English as important, evaluated their own proficiency as high and were already aware of a variety of language learning strategies employed learning strategies more frequently than those who did not. While gender and major were expected to be helpful indicators of successful learning, Lee and Oxford found that they did not affect strategy use and awareness unless combined with other variables, concluding that emphasizing strategy use based on gender or majors could be promoting a stereotype.

In Using Dictation to Improve Language Proficiency, Mohammad Rahimi revisits an old debate about the value of dictation as both a teaching and a testing tool. Rahimi focuses on the former. Rahimi concludes that dictation can be considered a good learning technique to improve learners proficiency. In the study, improvement was recorded in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension, while the control group showed improvement only in vocabulary. As Rahimi points out, improvements in proficiency are difficult to pin down to a single cause and the period of incubation needs careful consideration. The fact that the post-test was done after around ten months leads to different possible interpretations.

In their study, Bouangeune, Sakigawa and Hirakawa look at the challenges facing an English education system which is in its infancy. The research for Determinants and issues in student achievement in English at Lao Secondary Education Level was located in Laos and investigates the proficiency level of Lao secondary school students. They identify a need to focus more on the learning of basic vocabulary, and to simplify the textbooks.

Otoshi and Heffernan, in Factors Predicting Effective Oral Presentations in EFL Classrooms discuss the criteria EFL learners consider to be important when making presentations. They provide a useful checklist as a basis for similar studies. This paper underlines the importance of involving students in the learning process and, as it allows students criteria to lead the process, raises important issues about the effectiveness of involving students in assessment.

Chi Yen Chiu, in The Discourse of an English Teacher in a Cyber Writing Course: Roles and Autonomy, investigates the relationships of teacher roles and learner autonomy in a course in which the written e-mail text was the only means of communication. Teaching roles were not found to provide opportunities for promoting learner autonomy but the counseling roles adopted were found to create the kind of supportive learning environment that helped develop autonomy in language learning.

AEJ is always happy to receive papers that not only identify problems but also suggest feasible solutions. Nguyen Thi Mai Hoa, in Mentoring beginning EFL teachers at tertiary level in Vietnam, argues that in contrast to some Western countries, mentoring is underemployed in beginning teacher education in Vietnam. Her study aims at raising awareness of the benefits of providing guidance to teachers who are starting up in the profession and, more importantly, this paper suggests a solution to the problem identified, providing a blueprint for implementing a mentoring programme.

Zhu Xinhua s study, Is Syntactic Maturity a Reliable Measurement To Investigate The Relationship Between English Speaking And Writing?, revealed that measures of syntactic maturity can differentiate between proficiency levels and is therefore a useful measurement tool for other researchers in this area. Zhu Xinhua does also point out the limitations of this method for distinguishing between the two modes.

Mahmood Rouhani, in Another look at the C Test: A Validation Study with Iranian EFL Learners, investigates the validity of the C-Test for the assessment of global language proficiency. This study, while focusing on Iranian learners, should be of interest to other researchers on the C-Test across national borders. His results indicated that the C-Test enjoyed high reliability and acceptable content relevance and fairly high criterion-related validity. On the other hand, Rouhani concluded that at least in this context, the C-Test texts did not behave consistently with examinees across proficiency levels, failing to discriminate well, for example, between participants of lower and upper intermediate levels.

In Lexical Collocations and their Relation to Speaking Proficiency, Jeng-yih (Tim) Hsu and Chu-yao Chiu explore the knowledge and use of English lexical collocations in relation to speaking proficiency. Their findings support a view that knowledge of such phenomena as collocation is a significant component of proficiency. While there was a significant correlation between these Taiwanese EFL learners knowledge of lexical collocations and their speaking proficiency, no significant correlation was found between the subjects actual use of lexical collocations and their speaking proficiency.

Lu-Fang Lin, in The Study of English Learners Synthesizing Process While Reading, examines the ability to retell synthetic information in familiar and unfamiliar topic passages. Her study confirms the view that macrostructure formation occurred as an integral part of comprehension. The impact of cross-cultural knowledge was also confirmed. However, the study did not find that non-native students had more difficulty in synthesizing information at intra- and inter-sentential levels.

Nilton Hitotuzi, in An Economical Approach towards Interaction in the L2 Classroom: A Task-based Learning Experiment, considers the advantages (as an alternative to task-repetition) of keeping learners engaged in meaningful interaction in the classroom for an extended period of time. Hitotuzi opts for a holistic model that considers different phases within micro-task frameworks which then feed important cumulative data into a macro-task cycle. This is another interesting example of the growing perception that different tasks, or tasks and exercises of different kinds and sizes, need to be considered within some kind of broad framework to respond to a broad range of SLA criteria for effective language learning.

Finally, Daniela Nikolova in English-teaching in Elementary Schools in Japan: A Review of a Current Government Survey, presents a critical overview of the current situation in English-Teaching in public elementary schools in Japan. This piece adopts what AEJ currently calls an alternative approach to article writing in that it emphasizes a first person view of a critical EFL situation. Nikolova briefly reviews the history of English language education in Japan and underlines the challenges that the most recent English Language programs face in current school curricula. Nikolova makes suggestions for radical changes in the English curriculum.

Dr. Roger Nunn
Senior Associate Editor
Asian EFL Journal