September 2007 Foreword

Welcome to the third issue of 2007, yet another very busy year for AEJ leading up to our last issue in December the Asian EFL Journal Conference Proceedings. In this issue we present a very wide variety of topics from a broad range of Asian sources. The first topic might appear rather unusual for an EFL journal. It has always been clear that foreign language learning can be a very stressful experience, but do some approaches require a health warning, especially where young children are concerned? In “Kindergarteners temperament and cortisol response to Structured English Immersion (SEI) programs in Taiwan”, Ishien, Chiou and, Shu-Ju examine levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone, in kindergarteners to discover its relationship with structured English immersion (SEI). Their findings raise the possibility that there is a link between cortisol increase and the instructional method.
Zhao Na looks at a related topic in A Study of High School Students English Learning Anxiety , pointing out that “anxiety has been found to be correlated with English-learning achievement among different groups of people in various contexts”. Zhao explores high school students English learning anxiety in Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classrooms, discovering that students experienced high anxiety in English learning and this is worse for male than for female students. It was also found that high anxiety plays a somewhat debilitative role in high school students language learning.
Those of us who have accompanied students overseas are aware that living and studying overseas can also be a stressful experience for some students. I have heard it argued recently that overseas study is unnecessary in our Internet age. In “Preparation for Long-Term Overseas Study: Toward an Integrated Approach”, Daniel McIntyre presents a model of instructional design that was developed for students in Japan who are preparing for long-term overseas study. His study has broader applications for other cultural groups and helps us understand why a carefully prepared overseas experience can be a valuable experience both linguistically and culturally.
In “A Developmental Analysis of a Concept Map, Speech, and Gesture”, John Unger explores the synthesis of gesture and speech with a concept map as a means of summarizing academic text by an adult non-native speaker of English. Unger’s data illustrate how gesture can work effectively with concept maps to enhance communication. Unger applies his findings to the EFL classroom asking whether a kind of metacognition of gesture interpretation be created for language learners.
In his contribution, Wu Man-fat, reports on the result of a survey on the relationship between metacognitive language-learning strategies (MCLLSs) and language-learning motivation (LLM) in “the Relationships between the Use of Metacognitive Language-learning Strategies and Language-learning Motivation among Chinese-speaking ESL learners at a Vocational Education Institute in Hong Kong”. His results suggest that integrative rather than instrumental motivation predicts the levels of strategy use.
In “Critical Thinking and Voice in EFL Writing”, Dr Nuray Alagozlu explores ways of improving writing skills by developing critical thinking, making reasoned judgments to assessing the validity of something and individual voice, authorial identity . The results suggest that EFL students need to be supported in terms of critical thinking skills, although they perceive themselves to be critical thinkers, to overcome the difficulties in writing and to cope with the requirements of the multicultural world.
English used as an international language is one of the regular themes in the Asian EFL Journal. Many of our students in Asia are more likely to hear English spoken by non-natives than by natives. In his contribution, Michiaki Omori investigates how nonnative speakers of English adapt to accented English in “The Effect of Short-Term Exposure on Familiarity with Accented English for Japanese EFL Learners”. The results indicate that nonnative speakers can familiarize themselves with accented English. Omori concludes that exposure to varieties of English can expand the flexibility of speech perception for EFL learners.
Massoud Rahimpour & Massoud Yaghoubi-Notash in “Examining gender-based variability in task-prompted, monologic L2 oral performance”, consider the monologic oral performance of male and female EFL learners. They find that fluency varied significantly due to gender and that teacher gender, participant gender, and topic significantly influenced the accuracy of participants spoken performance.
In a more technical linguistic contribution, “The Relationship between Syntactic Clustering of Obligatory/Null Subject Parameters and Proficiency Levels in L2 Acquisition: New Evidence from a Grammaticality Judgment Test”, Khalili and Youhanaee investigate Persian learners clustering acquisition of overt obligatory subjects and PRO in infinitival clauses in English as a second language. Their main finding is that the “two phenomena covary in the Persian learners indicating that properties of overt obligatory subjects and PRO in infinitival clauses are acquired through parameter resetting, rather than separately.”
Finally Karim Sadeghi, in a non-research piece, “The key for successful reader-writer interaction: Factors affecting reading comprehension in L2 revisited”, provides a framework for considering reading comprehension based on four interrelated variables that affect “the process and the product of the act of reading: the reader, the text, the context, and the writer”. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to provide both clarity and comprehensiveness to a very complex area of knowledge.

Roger Nunn
Senior Associate Editor
Asian EFL Journal