September 2012 Foreword

by Wen-Chi Vivian Wu

I would like to welcome all Asian EFL Journal readers to the September 2012 issue of AEJ. This third issue of AEJ consists of eight articles and four book reviews, covering a wide range of the most recent issues worthy of notice in the field of English as a second/foreign language teaching and learning, including computer assisted language learning, corrective feedback writing, autobiographical writing, learner motivation, and phone-based communicative competency, etc. In addition to the various topics, we have also included contributors from a broad variety of geographic locations, spanning Asia, Africa, and North America.

In the first paper, Rasheed Al-Jarrah and Sayyah Al-Ahmad conducted a theory-driven analysis to locate composition writing errors of English majors in both form and content in the Jordanian EFL context. The authors claim that by situating error correction within the framework of Optimality Theory, a constraint-based approach can provide EFL teachers with the mechanics to revise their pedagogy in teaching writing skills. This article can serve as guidance for those EFL writing instructors who wish to incorporate feedback correction in their instruction.

Mohamed Ridha Ben Maad examined in his study one of the most significant and most frequently researched issues in the EFL field, which is motivation. Based on an experimental study, goal orientation was treated by the author as a researchable learner difference factor, which can influence acquisition of second language learners in terms of language tasks and motivation. The findings suggest a need to revisit the established task research format that confines task variation to design and sequencing factors and eclipses individual differences.

The third article written by Julian Chen emphasizes the need to adopt a more vivid and real-life instruction to boost the motivation of Taiwanese EFL learners. Chen s study mirrored the six key components of a Tasked-based Language Teaching (TBLT) design as well as capitalized on the cultural competence of Taiwanese students in L1 as a springboard for channeling their L1 knowledge into L2 production. Blogging was adopted by the author as a platform for students to jointly construct their sites, interact with peers, transfer their background knowledge from L1 to L2 in the process of task completion, and to develop their communicative and cross-cultural competence in a collaborative virtual community. Pedagogical implications for English teachers who are interested in adopting CMC task-based instruction in EFL contexts were also provided by the author.

To investigate the effectiveness of phone-based L2 interaction (PBI), which has rarely been researched in the current literature, Professor Kim studied a Korean EFL learner by engaging him into daily telephone conversations exclusively in English. By doing so, the author examined the development of an EFL learner s L2 communicative competence and the increase of the learners willingness to communicate (WTC). In addition to assessing communicative competence, grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence, the learner s changes inaffective variables, such as motivation, L2 anxiety, and self-confidence, were taken into consideration. The result of this study suggested that PBI can be effective for developing low-WTC EFL learners communicative competence and for increasing those learners WTC.

Professor Root investigated how the ideology of English (defined as a set of beliefs about the necessity of English language skills) could influence English language classroom interactions in South Korea by studying 26 Korean university students and their 27 native-English speaking teachers (NESTs). Six acts of participation in, and seven acts of opposition to, the ideology of English, as well as six acts of participation and five acts of awareness were identified, respectively, from the students and the teachers. Critical reflection was proposed by the author about how these acts influence classroom interactions between Korean students and NESTs.

To understand the structure of L1 and L2 language ability, Yo In’nami and Rie Koizumi conducted an extensive literature search to collect multi-trait, multi method (MTMM) studies. Empirical evidence showed that the unitary and higher-order models best defined both L1 and L2 ability. The support for the unitary model was surprising but consistent with the findings of Davidson (1988). Moderator variable analyses failed to identify clear relationships between the examined models and moderator variables.

Zahra Fotovatnia and Alireza Barouni Ebrahimi in their study analyzed learner and teacher beliefs about depth of vocabulary knowledge in L1 and L2 to see if and to what extent these aspects were taken as important, and whether there was any relationship between the ratings of these aspects in L2 and the learners actual performances. The findings might help learners and teachers more easily recognize possible gaps in their depth of vocabulary knowledge and their beliefs about it in accordance with a sound theoretical framework.

The final article of this issue deals with the importance of autobiographical writing. Through autobiographical writing, the participant also became a more confident and expressive writer in English. These findings suggest that EFL autobiographical writing in an appreciative writing group may position struggling writers as knowers and capable learners and contribute to rich understandings of their social identities. I hope you enjoy reading all the articles contained in this September 2012 issue and find them not only interesting but also stimulating. It is also the production editor s hope that this issue will help provide new insights into conducting future studies for researchers, and will trigger fresh ideas about innovative English pedagogy for practitioners in the EFL field, both of which will, accordingly, contribute to the ever-changing nature of global English Language instruction. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the contributors as well as the reviewers of this issue for all the work you have put into to make this issue possible.