September 2008 Foreword

In this third issue of 2008, Dr. Eva Bernat provides our editorial opinion paper, Beyond beliefs:Psycho-cognitive, sociocultural and emergent ecological approaches to learner perceptions in foreign language acquisition. Like all our Ed. Op. pieces, this paper is a statement of one of our associate editor s educational values and beliefs. Bernat argues for a pluralist sociocognitive framework to provide a more holistic view both in the SLA field in general and in language learner belief studies. We will be happy to publish any well-argued responses to this very comprehensive comparative overview of our field. In line with the views expressed here, the AEJ editorial team is very keen to attract a broader range of submissions.
AEJ has published a wide range of papers on task-based learning from across Asia, indicating that TBL is not easily classified as a Western incursion into Asia. It appears to be best classified as an approach that is based on widely applicable principles of SLA that can be redefined within local contexts. Parviz Birjandi and Saeideh Ahangari, in the Effects of Task Repetition on the Fluency, Complexity and Accuracy of Iranian EFL Learners Oral Discourse, add to our growing collection of pieces on task-based learning from across Asia. The paper underlines the relationship between theory and practice by highlighting the practical consequences of the limited attentional capacities available to students performing new tasks, and the way that the different components of language production and comprehension compete for such limited capacities. The value of task-repetition is once again supported in this paper.
Omid Akbari, in Teaching Vocabulary Items through Contextualization and Picture to Elementary Iranian EFL Students, investigates the effectiveness of teaching vocabulary items through pictures and contextualization to elementary Iranian EFL students. The results should also be of interest beyond this context, confirming that using pictures seemed to be more effective than contextualization at this level. This need not be interpreted to mean that providing context is unnecessary, as pictures can be seen as a means of providing memorable context for learners.
In Relations Network in the Interactive ESL Class: Analysis of Individuals, Groups, and a Whole Classroom Network, Li Na, Wang Lin-yao and Yao Ji-wei look at classroom interaction from the perspective of both individuals and whole groups. They conclude that Cooper s empathy model and Rovai s sense of classroom community are useful paradigms for organizing an interactive class in ESL. An individual s relationship to groups is commonly seen as a cultural dimension that varies across contexts, so this paper provides a good opportunity for a replicated study in another cultural setting.
Babak Mahdavy (The Role of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in Listening Proficiency: A Comparison of TOEFL and IELTS Listening Tests from an MI Perspective) compares TOEFL and IELTS listening tests in relation to Multiple Intelligences Development. These quantitative results appear to suggest that despite the differences between IELTS and TOEFL listening tests, only linguistic intelligence has a statistically significant influence on listening proficiency as measured by TOEFL and IELTS and that teachers of intermediate level students need to focus on bottom-up processing. Again further confirmation of these findings would be interesting, possibly using a qualitative research design.
__Shan-fang Guo in Differential Effects of Etymological Elaboration and Rote Memorization on Idiom Acquisition in College EFL Learners investigates differential effects of etymological elaboration and rote memorization on idiom acquisition and retention in Chinese college EFL learners. Guo finds that etymological familiarity appears to assist acquisition more than rote memorization. One important implication to consider for teaching practice is the finding that etymological familiarity leads to superior retention rates.
The next paper is not the first paper to ask why many Chinese learners of English are only instrumentally motivated.Yang Yunbao and Howard Nicholas in A Review of Interest In The Learning Of English in the Chinese Context try to explain the causes of the current high investment and low efficiency in English learning. One interesting explanation is that the examinations and tests drive the decline in intrinsic motivation causing students to lose their interest in learning English . This paper emphasizes the importance of promoting interest and how to keep it alive for improved learning.
__Examinations have long been held responsible for negative effects on institutional learning, but even as we advance further into the 21st century, it is often difficult to bring about change in traditional systems. Dina Al-Jamal and Nedal Ghadi look at positive and negative washback in English Language General Secondary Certificate Examination Washback in Jordan. Their study examined the nature and scope of the impact on English second secondary language teachers in one district in Jordan. Findings indicated that both the GSCE and the other related factors have affected English language teachers method selection with a slight statistical difference in favor of the GSCE washback effect . Widespread use of an unproductive grammar-translation method in teaching English was also revealed. Radical changes in training, supervision and testing are proposed as a solution to remedy this situation.
Galon Melendy in Motivating Writers: The Power Of Choice further underlines the importance of motivation in institutional settings and comes up with an interesting and very simple solution that could have an important impact in many contexts. AEJ would like to encourage submissions reporting similar action research that brings about real improvement in learning. This action research study illustrates the effectiveness of the power of choice of proximal academic goals as a strategy for boosting student motivation in an undergraduate composition and rhetoric course . When students were given the choice between selecting easier or more difficult assessment tasks the majority of students took up the challenge and went for the most difficult option.
Seyed Hassan Talebi and Mojtaba Maghsudi in Monolingual and Bilingual English Learners in one Classroom: Who is at a Disadvantage? investigate an important issue in our increasingly international environment. It was concluded that monolingual students need to be provided with more support so that they do not lag behind their bilingual peers in reading comprehension tasks in mixed-mono/bilingual classrooms.
Finally OyaBuyukyavuz and Sevim Inal (A Descriptive Study on Turkish Teachers of English Regarding Their Professional Needs, Efforts for Development and Available Resources) provide yet another study that confirms the inadequacy of professional development in national EFL systems. The study revealed that Turkish EFL teachers associate professional improvement with studying textbooks on grammar. It was also found that the in-service seminars organized by the Ministry of National Education failed to meet the professional needs of teachers. Publishing journal articles may not change this situation, but perhaps we need to sustain the hope, tempered with realism, that when a sufficient number of similar studies has been published, this will help provide some impetus for radical change.

Roger Nunn
Senior Associate Editor
Asian EFL Journal