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Proceedings of the 19th TESOL Arabia Conference From KG to College to Career

Editors Peter McLaren, Mashael Al-Hamly, Christine Coombe, Peter Davidson, Cindy Gunn & Salah Troudi


Published by TESOL Arabia C/O TESOL Arabia Secretariat IC&E PO Box 29884 Dubai United Arab Emirates Copyright Š 2014 TESOL Arabia and the individual authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher, TESOL Arabia. Responsibility for the content of the articles lies with the original authors. ISBN: 978-9948-20-635-4 Cite as: McLaren, P., Al-Hamly, M., Coombe, C., Davidson, P., & Gunn, C. & Troudi, S. (Eds.). (2014). Proceedings of the 19th TESOL Arabia Conference: From KG to College to Career. Dubai: TESOL Arabia Publications. Printed by: Printex Printing Press.


Table of Contents Note from the Editors


Chapter 1: TESOL Arabia Discussion 2013 Racquel Warner & Rehab Rajab


SECTION ONE: Practical Approaches to Teaching and Learning English Language Skills


Chapter 2: Activities for Bookworms: Strategies in Extensive Reading Iman Abdulsattar, Rasha Abdulmunem Azeez & Alison Camacho


Chapter 3: Teaching Authentic Text through Literature Circles Kevin M. Maher


Chapter 4: Using Quizlet Flashcards to Study Vocabulary Andrew Imrie


Chapter 5: Do Two Wrongs Make a Write(r)? An Investigation into the Efficacy of Written Corrective Feedback on the Linguistic Accuracy of Students’ Academic Writing Anthony Jonathan Solloway


Chapter 6: Reading Counts: Developing a Habit of Reading Helene Demirci, Melanie Gobert & Louise Sikkens


Chapter 7: Comparison of the Students' Performance in Dynamic vs. Static Listening Comprehension Tests among EFL Learners Sabhi Hidri


Chapter 8: Dealing with Students’ Behavior in the Classroom Sufian Abu-Rmaileh



Chapter 9: Teaching and Assessing Coherence in Academic Writing Nahed Ghazzoul


SECTION TWO: Technology in the Language Classroom


Chapter 10: Educational Technology-Teachers’ & Students’ Views: A Small-Scale Research Project Conducted at Saudi Aramco’s Dhahran North Training Centre Barraq Ali


Chapter 11: A Qualitative Examination of Teachers’ Perceptions of the Introduction of a New Learning Technology (the Apple iPad) in a Higher Education Institute in the Gulf Region Elspeth Cavalcanti


Chapter 12: Learning English with iPads: Challenges and Opportunities Matthew A. Robby & Christina Gitsaki


Chapter 13: Learning English through a Tumblr Blog Tamatha Roman


Chapter 14: Digital Natives: How Learners see their iPad Almin Piric & Peter B. McLaren


Chapter 15: Turn on, Tune in, Flip out: The Pros and Cons of Flipping your Classroom Peter Davidson


SECTION THREE: Teacher Education


Chapter 16: Knowing Your Trainees: Tapping into Teachers’ Needs Héla Châabouni Fourati



Chapter 17: Re-Conceptualizing Teacher Continuing Professional Learning Mohamed Azaza


Chapter 18: Are You a First-Time Mentor Teacher? Jamie G. Sturges


Chapter 19: Emotional Intelligence in ELT Teacher Education Rana Raddawi & Salah Troudi


SECTION FOUR: Critical Issues and Considerations


Chapter 20: Investigating Three Aspects of Student Diversity Edith Flahive


Chapter 21: Teaching English as Inquiry: Applications and Challenges Maha Elhami


Chapter 22: Critical Thinking for ESOL Writing Courses Matthew A. Carey


Chapter 23: Tertiary English Medium Instruction to Arab Learners in the UAE: A Policy Perspective Mick King


Chapter 24: TEFL Status Quo & Language Policy in Tunisia: State of the Art Samira Abdelaziz Boukadi


SECTION FIVE: Discourse Analysis & Corpus Tools


Chapter 25: Helping Higher-Level English Language Learners with Information Structure in Written Discourse Alissa Nostas, Mariah Fairley & Susanne Rizzo



Chapter 26: Introducing Corpus Tools in Iraqi EFL Classrooms Eric Friginal & Nidham Sheet Hameed


Chapter 27: Analysing a Corpus of Iraqi Student Writing Sabah S. Mustafa & Eric Friginal


SECTION SIX: Learner Autonomy


Chapter 28: UAE University Speaking Center – Peer Tutor Perspectives George S. Murdoch


Chapter 29: An Investigation of Students’ Beliefs about Autonomy in the UAE Context Fawzi Al Ghazali & Siân Etherington




Chapter 30: Motivation in Learning and the Reluctant Student Christopher N. Pinkerton


Chapter 31: CLIL as Foundation for Consistent Academic Success Philline Deraney & Hanadi AbdelSalam


Chapter 32: American Sign Language Vicky A. Allen


Contributor Profiles



Notes from the Editors Peter McLaren, Mashael Al-Hamly, Christine Coombe, Peter Davidson, Cindy Gunn & Salah Troudi This volume contains an eclectic mix of articles representing the wide range of topics presented at the 19th TESOL Arabia Conference: From KG to College to Career held in Dubai, UAE, in March 2013. The articles are arranged by theme and cover: Practical Approaches to Teaching and Learning English Language Skills Technology in the Language Classroom Teacher Education Critical Issues and Considerations Discourse Analysis and Corpus Tools Learner Autonomy Other Issues The 32 articles in this volume are essential reading for English language teachers in the MENA region and beyond. The authors highlight the high level of academic discourse, the changing face of English language and content teaching, and the challenges of incorporating technology prevalent in, and beyond, the region today. TESOL Arabia Discussion 2013 The opening chapter by Racquel Warner and Rehab Rajab is a report on the annual TESOL Arabia forum where delegates participated in a discussion about the challenges of conducting meaningful professional development on a tight budget and also a highly topical debate around the subject of e-assessments on mobile devices. SECTION ONE: Practical Approaches to Teaching and Learning English Language Skills In their chapter entitled Activities for Bookworms: Strategies in Extensive Reading, Abdulsattar, Abdulmunem and Camacho define extensive reading and outline the many benefits it can bring to the learning of English. They then go on to describe five different techniques that could be used in the classroom to engage ESL/ EFL learners in extensive reading activities.


Kevin M. Maher in his chapter, Teaching Authentic Text through Literature Circles, describes the nature and ‘Literature Circles’ and how they can be conducted. He argues cogently that teachers can enhance language learning by adopting this approach both inside and outside the classroom. The next chapter, Using Quizlet Flashcards to Study Vocabulary, by Andrew Imrie, reports on a study which indicated that students who used digital ‘Quizlet’ flashcards learnt more vocabulary than students who used paper-based flashcards, or did not use flashcards at all. Follow up interviews also revealed that students liked using the digital flashcards on their smartphones. In chapter five, Do Two Wrongs Make a Write(r)? An Investigation into the Efficacy of Written Corrective Feedback on the Linguistic Accuracy of Students’ Academic Writing, Anthony Jonathan Solloway reports on a study conducted at a major tertiary institution in the UAE. This study investigated whether providing students with relatively focused, indirect, coded written corrective feedback on their in-class English L2 compositions results in any discernible improvement in their grammatical and orthographical accuracy in subsequent writings. In their chapter entitled, Reading Counts: Developing a Habit of Reading, Helene Demirci, Melanie Gobert and Louise Sikkens return us to an extensive reading theme with a report on findings of a pilot study carried out to encourage English Foundation students to read graded readers linked to a propriety software tool. This chapter illustrates the wide reaching positive effects of integrating an extensive reading program into an EFL program. Sabhi Hidri focuses on listening in his chapter, Comparison of the Students’ Performance in Dynamic vs. Static Listening Comprehension Test among EFL Learners. He presents the results of a large-scale study conducted with first-year EFL students in Tunisia which examined and compared their performance on both types of listening comprehension tests. Sufian Abu-Rmaileh looks at another practical aspect of teaching English and other subjects: that of classroom control. In his chapter, Dealing with Students’ Behaviour in the Classroom, he explains the reasons behind students’ behavioral problems and offers situations and scenarios that have actually happened in a classroom and how to deal with them. He also discusses ways teachers can successfully maintain their authority. Chapter nine, by Nahed Ghazzoul, entitled, Teaching and Assessing Coherence in Academic Writing, deals with the teaching and evaluation of written English, in this case specifically academic writing. VIII

SECTION TWO: Technology in the Language Classroom In his chapter entitled, Educational Technology-Teachers’ & Students’ Views: A Small-Scale Research Project Conducted at Saudi Aramco’s Dhahran North Training Center, Barraq Ali describes his investigation into TESOL teachers’ and students’ perceptions of the use of educational technology at Saudi Aramco’s Dhahran North Industrial Training Center. His findings indicate that the participants see more advantages than disadvantages to using educational technology in teaching and learning English as a foreign language. The theme of exploring attitudes to technology is continued by Elspeth Cavalcanti in her chapter, A Qualitative Examination of Teacher’s Perceptions of the Introduction of a New Learning Technology (the Apple iPad) in a Higher Education Institute in the Gulf Region. In the next chapter, Matthew A. Robby and Christina Gitsaki also consider the impact of the iPad. In, Learning English with iPads: Challenges and Opportunities, they report on the implementation of the iPad initiative at a federal college in the UAE, focusing specifically on how the use of this mobile technology has influenced student engagement, motivation and learning. Tamatha Roman looks at another aspect of technology and how it can be used in language. In her chapter, Learning English Through a Tumblr Blog, she first gives some background on the use of blogging as a classroom tool in general terms and then focuses on Tumblr in particular. She concludes with a classroom example of effective use of Tumblr with her students. We return to the hot topic of the iPad initiative with, Digital Natives: How learners see their iPad by Almin Piric and Peter McLaren. This chapter describes an investigation into learners’ attitudes towards iPad technology and how they tended to use this technology both inside and outside the classroom. The section on classroom technology concludes with Peter Davidson’s chapter, Turn on, Tune in, Flip out: The Pros and Cons of Flipping your Classroom, where he discusses the advantages and also disadvantages of the ‘flipped’ classroom and how it inverts the traditional modes of course delivery and teaching.


SECTION THREE: Teacher Education Héla Châabouni Fourati in, Knowing Your Trainees: Tapping into Teachers’ Needs, describes the implementation of a needs analysis for primary teachers faced with re-training in Tunisia. This chapter highlights the importance of understanding the needs of teachers undergoing such in-service training. In his chapter entitled, Re-Conceptualizing Teacher Continuing Professional Learning, Mohamed Azaza proposes that there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift: from Teacher Development to Teacher Learning. He covers three aspects that he believes need to be the focus of teachers’ continued professional learning to support this paradigm shift: professional learning discourse, approach, and research. In her chapter, Are You a First-Time Mentor Teacher, Jamie G. Sturges shares her experiences of being a first-time mentor teacher. Having found no literature to guide her in this experience, this article is an attempt to present concerns relevant to first-time mentor teachers while at the same time offering practical and personal advice based on Jamie’s own experiences. Rana Raddawi and Salah Troudi consider the fact that emotional intelligence or EQ is often overlooked in teacher education. In, Emotional Intelligence and Teacher Education, they describe exactly what emotional intelligence is, how it should be central to every teacher’s approach and also discuss ways of implementing greater EQ as part of the teacher’s basic toolkit of effective strategies and approaches. SECTION FOUR: Critical Issues and Considerations Edith Flahive’s chapter, Investigating Three Aspects of Student Diversity, identifies three categories of diversity that have implications for teaching and learning (learning styles, approaches and levels of intellectual development). She examines the pedagogical implications of these models and suggests a series of learning tasks that address all three forms of diversity. Maha Elhami discusses the various advantages and also challenges of Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) in her chapter, Teaching English as Inquiry: Applications and Challenges. In the next chapter, Critical Thinking for ESOL writing Classes, Matthew A. Carey looks at the issue of critical thinking and how it can be applied in English Language Teaching. After defining what critical thinking is, he X

outlines a number of strategies that can be implemented to get students to think critically on an ESOL writing course. Mick King reviews the various issues surrounding the phenomenon of English as a Medium of Instruction in his chapter, Tertiary English Medium Instruction to Arab Learners in the UAE: A Policy Perspective. He first considers the context of EMI in the UAE and then looks critically at the policy aspects of the debate. Samira Abdelaziz Boukadi takes a critical look at the current state of language policy in Tunisia. Her chapter, TEFL Status Quo & Language Policy in Tunisia: State of the Art, explores this issue via both quantitative and qualitative methodology to better understand where Tunisian language policy is at present and where it might be best to go in the future, based upon research such as this. SECTION FIVE: Discourse Analysis and Corpus Tools In their chapter, Helping Higher-Level English Language Learners with Information Structure in Written Discourse, Alissa Nostas, Mariah Fairley and Susanne Rizzo examine how information is presented in written texts through various patterns, and they identify some common lexical and grammatical means that writers employ to achieve these patterns. They then discuss some of the learning and teaching issues associated with information structure and consider various approaches, activities and materials that could be used to help students to structure their writing to produce essays and assignments which are more coherent. In, Introducing Corpus Tools in Iraqi EFL Classrooms, Eric Friginal and Nidham Sheet Hameed discuss their experiences developing corpusbased materials for EFL and applied linguistics classrooms at the University of Baghdad, Iraq. After describing their study they conclude with suggestions employing research applications related to corpora and corpus tools in different contexts. In the next chapter, Sabah S. Mustafa and Eric Friginal report on the results of corpus-based analysis comparing the writing of essays written by non-native speakers in Iraq, with essays written by native speakers in the United States. In, Analysing a Corpus of Iraqi Student Writing, they also discuss how the results of this study could be generalized to inform curriculum and assessment decisions regarding the teaching of writing to non-native speakers in other parts of the world.


SECTION SIX: Learner Autonomy In his chapter, UAE University Speaking Centre: Peer Tutoring Perspectives, George S. Murdoch discusses UAE University's speaking centre project. The chapter starts by detailing the goals and objectives of the speaking centre as well as describing the role of peer tutors. The chapter also reports on the views of tutors concerning the impact and benefits of such a centre. The next chapter is, An Investigation of Students’ Beliefs about Autonomy in the UAE Context. Authors Fawzi Al Ghazali and Siân Etherington suggest that students in the UAE view autonomy differently from their peers elsewhere and do not see a reliance of teacher input as a lack of student autonomy. SECTION SEVEN: Other Issues Christopher N. Pinkerton in, Motivation in Learning and the Reluctant Student, examines suppositions and conclusions about factors influencing student motivation. He then addresses some of the unique challenges faced by instructors in the Gulf and shares what he considers to be the elements of a dynamic classroom and pathways to individual student engagement. In their chapter entitled, CLIL as Foundation for Consistent Academic Success, Philline Deraney and Hanadi AbdelSalam report on the findings of a 4-year longitudinal study investigating the effect of the integration of both content and language into the academic curriculum. The findings of the study reveal positive effects on students' performance. Vicky A. Allen explores the use of American Sign Language as a tool to help teachers facilitate and enhance the teaching of English as a foreign language by accommodating both visual and kinesthetic learning styles in the classroom.


The Editors Peter B. McLaren, Ed.D, teaches English at UAE University. He taught elsewhere in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Egypt England. His research interests are critical issues, reading increasingly the adaptation of technology in the classroom. He presented and published on these topics.

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Mashael Al-Hamly, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and the Vice Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at Kuwait University. She has a Ph.D in Computer Assisted Language Learning from the University of East Anglia in England. Dr. Al-Hamly teaches English Language and Linguistics to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as to the community-centre adult learners at the Faculty of Arts, Kuwait University. She has published in regional as well as international journals in the areas of Computer-Assisted Language Learning, testing and translation studies. Christine Coombe has a Ph.D in Foreign/Second Language Education from The Ohio State University. She is currently on the English faculty of Dubai Men's College. Christine has served as President of TESOL Arabia and President of the TESOL International Association (2011-2012). Most recently she received the 2013 International Assessment Award for her numerous publications and charitable initiatives in the field. Peter Davidson teaches at Zayed University in Dubai, having previously taught in New Zealand, Japan, the England and Turkey. He recently coedited The Fundamentals of Language Assessment (2009), and The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Assessment (2012). He is particularly interested in language testing, faculty evaluation, and 21st century education. Cindy Gunn is a Professor in the Department of English and the Director of the Faculty Development Center at American University of Sharjah. Before joining AUS she worked in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. Her research interests include reflective teaching, materials development and educational technology. Salah Troudi is an academic at the University of Exeter. His research interests are in critical applied linguistics, curriculum studies, and language policies. He is the director of the Ed.D TESOL in Dubai and editor of a number of journals in TESOL and language education.


TESOL Arabia Discussion 2013 Racquel Warner & Rehab Rajab Middlesex University in Dubai and the Institute of Applied Technology, Dubai. Annually the TESOL Arabia conference creates a forum for delegates to participate in a discussion forum about trending topics within the field of TESOL. At the 2013 conference the two topics chosen by majority vote were professional development on a tight budget and e-assessments on mobile devices. From the discussions it was evident that these two topics are important to TESOL practitioners who were willing to propose solutions where challenges were presented and to discuss implication where change was inevitable. In the first discussion, “Professional Development on a Tight Budget� was the topic explored by a panel made up of Marion Engin, Les Kirkham, Hedi Guefrachi and Phil Cozens, all experts on the topic of PD. They discussed how the recession had redefined PD provisions in educational institutions; the new role educators should take in seeking PD options, given the budget constraints, and they suggested a number of new tools and creative tactics to keep teachers learning and growing. Professional development (PD) was accepted as an integral part of teacher education because ongoing learning and training have consistently assured an appreciable level of expertise and enabled teachers to keep their professional skills and knowledge current. Despite the importance of PD in education, the sector was not spared from the impact of the worldwide recession that started in 2008. Furloughs, staff restructuring and voluntary retirement ravaged the human resource base at many institutions due to shrinking budgets. A related casualty of this reduced financial capacity was PD provision across many institutions in the UAE for the foreseeable future. The absence of financial support for professional growth severely impacts teachers’ ability to meet new challenges. This makes it more difficult to achieve anticipated educational outcomes and is not what we want for our teachers or students. However, the financial crisis could be regarded as a blessing in disguise because for the first time educators were allowed to explore PD options that best suited their personal and professional needs. Research has shown that PD is most effective in improving teaching and learning, where teachers are cognizant of their need to expand their teaching repertoire and are willing to seek development opportunities to this end (Joyce, et al, 1997). Where teachers expand and develop their own teaching repertoires and are clear in their purposes, it is more likely that they will provide an increased range of learning opportunities for students (Joyce, et al, 1997). Given this paradigm shift in PD there are several innovative ways to encourage PD on a budget. One of the most effective, and cost efficient, ways to help teachers refresh their knowledge and pedagogical practice is to encourage 1

exchange of information and ideas between the teachers in their own school. Teachers have been showing growing interest in alternative types of professional development, such as study groups or mentoring and coaching. These differ from traditional professional development in several respects, but primarily because the cost is a lot less. Alternative PD activities often take place during the regular school day, teachers’ planning time or even in the process of classroom instruction. By locating opportunities for professional development within a teacher's regular workday, alternative professional development provisions may be more likely than traditional forms to make connections with classroom teaching, and they have the potential of being more sustainable. Another option to facilitate PD on a reduced budget, which has been gaining momentum, is online teacher development courses or e-learning, which allow educators to accumulate PD credits while studying at their own convenience with online resources. Given the demands on their time and energy teachers prefer PD opportunities that provide the flexibility of time, content and learning outcomes. With the quantum progression in technology, PD through e-learning continues to offer many additional benefits such as substantial cost savings, flexibility, and convenience. The online options such as webinars, interactive websites, online conferences, Google hangouts, collaborative learning communities and online courses are just a few possibilities teachers have at their disposal. Social networking tools also provide a new dimension for PD. The use of social media tools such as Twitter and social bookmarking sites allow educators to participate in reformed approaches to professional development which facilitate the exchange ideas that is otherwise geographically restricted and that connects the best practices in the field of education. Such tools offer both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities to interact with other educators and free or low-cost content. Most interestingly they bypass the challenges of traditional professional development such as time and money constraints, uninterested participants, and an overemphasis on irrelevant or boring content because these tools and content are driven by practitioners, not just expert consultants. Online PD has proven to be a true personalised learning method if well utilised. It should be pointed out that although traditional forms of professional development were quite common prior to the recession, they are widely criticized as being ineffective in providing teachers with sufficient time, activities, and the content necessary for increasing teacher's knowledge and fostering meaningful changes in their classroom practice (Loucks-Horsley, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998). With the budgetary constraints brought on by the recession, educators are proving that this is not an insurmountable obstacle. In fact PD is experiencing a sustainable reform which will continue to guarantee ongoing development in innovative and creative ways that can increase collaboration among staff members and connect educators all around the world in the sharing of resources. 2

It was commonly felt that technology was providing a solution for professional development in institutions that were experiencing budget cuts. This same technological revolution was also heralding pedagogical change with e-learning, and by extension e-assessment, now being a necessary mode of student engagement in most institutions. In the second discussion session the trend of “E-assessment on mobile devices” stirred many responses among the panelists and audience. Dr. Michele Estable from the Higher Colleges of Technology, Ahmed Al Rahl from The Applied Technology High School in Dubai and Peter Davidson from Zayed University reviewed some critical factors in considering the use of e-assessment in general, but more specifically the discussion explored the possibility of e-assessment on mobile devices in the UAE. One of the core values in education is the need to align assessments with content, skills, and knowledge in order to maintain validity and reliability. There is good research evidence to show that well designed assessment systems lead to improved student performance and ensure the success of students. If this is the case it is imperative to open a discussion about the use of e-assessments in educational institutions in the UAE because the latest ICT initiative in UAE schools has been the introduction of iPad devices for all students. The UAE takes pride in being on the cutting edge of education by using ICT to support learning. Students use tools such as word processors, graphic software, statistical software tools and online research tools as an essential part of learning. However, when it comes to assessments students are restricted to the traditional pen and paper model of assessment. While the ramifications of this practice are being explored by researchers and experienced by teachers, it is necessary that all stakeholders consider the option of using ICT to create a bridge between learning, teaching and assessment. E-assessment is considered by some as just the flip side of the eLearning coin. Gipps (2003: 26) reasons that “if teaching and its associated resources become electronic, then assessment too will need to take that route, to ensure alignment between the modes of teaching and assessment.” The commonly held understanding of e-assessment is the use of computers and computer software to assess learners' work. JISC (2007) define e-assessment as “the end-to-end electronic assessment processes where ICT is used for the presentation of assessment activity and the recording of responses” (p.6). Mr. Al Rahl and Dr. Estable expressed concern about the reductionist view often held by educators about e-assessment as just being computerized multiple-choice quizzes. On the contrary the E-assessment Association in Scotland (EAA) defines e-assessment as: a single term [which] describes a range of learning and assessment activities that have distinct meanings in their own contexts e.g. electronic marking, online assessment, computer-aided assessment and direct on-screen testing. (EAA, 2013)


This would suggest that contemporary e-assessment models are designed to assess knowledge, skills, attitudes and competences in imaginative and challenging ways that are contextually relevant. The movement away from paper tests to computer based assessments is evidently a rapidly growing trend in education which cannot be ignored. Any discussion about assessments will always explore the benefits and the drawbacks. The same, by extension, is true of the e-assessment debate which engenders very contrasting views. Supporters of e-assessment have posited that the advantages include immediate feedback to students and staff, enhanced learning opportunities through knowledge tracking, real time evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of a course and convergence with other computer−based or online materials. It has also been pointed out by James, et al., (2002) that e-assessment can provide more complex scenarios such as computer simulations, images and sounds, with which students can interact. Paper based tests do not have this component. Some who are opposed to e-assessment argue that interactive assessment activities are time−intensive to produce in much the same way as interactive learning activities are, and make additional demands on institutional resources and support. They contend that entertainment and assessment are mutually exclusive and regardless of how interactive e-assessments are, a lack of computer skills among some learners could negatively influence results. Brosnan (1999, pp. 48−49) posits that: computer anxiety can lead to simplification of conceptual reasoning, heightened polarisation and extremity of judgement and pre−emption of attention, working memory and processing resources. Individuals high in computer anxiety will therefore under-perform in computer-based versions of assessment. Another disadvantage of e-assessments is the time it takes to set up the assessments to ensure reliability, validity and ease of administration. To achieve these standards it is essential to equally monitor the quality of question designs and assessment scoring methods with the same rigour as regulation of student conduct in the assessment. As with any assessment poor question construction, inconsistent grading of tasks and questions, or assessments that are inaccessible to some candidates, can adversely affect the results. Effective procedures for e-assessment begin by ensuring that the assessment design is fit for the purpose of the assessment, revising examination regulations and information given to candidates, and then providing appropriate training for all staff involved in invigilation and technical support. This huge investment of preparation time is viewed as a negation of the efficiencies e-assessment claims to bring to the teaching and learning environment which Brown et al. (1997) see as a profound change in working practices for academics. 4

The major concern identified by the panelists however, was the support systems that are in place to administer e-assessments for summative assessments in the UAE. It is obvious that formative or diagnostic assessments require less institution wide support and can be managed by individual academics or departments. A growing body of evidence indicates that well designed and welldeployed diagnostic and formative e-assessments can foster more effective learning for a wider diversity of learners (Nicol, 2006; Sharpe, et al., 2006). However, summative e-assessment requires a larger degree of institutional contingency in case of technical glitches, hacking and system shutdowns. In case of these occurrences there could be legal ramifications which would have to be written into policy documents and contracts with external providers. What was clear from the discussion was that while e-assessment was a growing trend, it should not be employed in a fatalistic or disorganised way. Educators and administrators should appreciate the potential of e-assessment tools and systems but should also balance this with an awareness of their pedagogic benefits and pitfalls. The imminent challenge to be faced over the next decade is choosing the most appropriate ways of using ICT to offer a wider choice of assessment methods that are aligned with teaching and learning but which assure the quality and integrity of the educational system in the UAE. References Brosnan, M. (1999). Computer anxiety in students: Should computer−based assessment be used at all? In Brown, S., Race, P. &Bull, J. (1999) (Eds). Computer-assisted assessment in higher education. London: Kogan−Page. E-assessment Association (EAA) (2013). E-assessment Toolkit. Retrieved September 2013 from: Gipps, C. (2003). Should universities adopt ICT-based assessment? Exchange. Spring, 2003. pp. 26−27. James, R., McInnis, C. and Devlin, M. (2002). Assessing Learning in Australian Universities. Canberra: Australian Universities Teaching Committee. Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) (2006). E-assessment: An overview of ISC activities. Retrieved September, 17, 2013 from: Joyce, B., Calhoun, E. and Hopkins, D. (1997) Models of Teaching: Tools for Learning. Buckingham: Open University Press. Loucks-Horsley, S., Hewson, P. W., Love, N., & Stiles, K. E. (1998). Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press


Nicol, D. J. (2006). Increasing success in first year courses: assessment redesign, self-regulation and learning technologies, paper presented at ASCILITE Conference, Sydney, 3-6 December, 2006. Retrieved September 17, 2013 from: Sharpe, R., Benfield, G., Roberts, G. and Francis, R. (2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: a review of UK literature and practice undertaken for the Higher Education Academy. Retrieved September 17, 2013 from:


SECTION ONE Practical Approaches to Teaching & Learning English Language Skills


Activities for Bookworms: Strategies in Extensive Reading Iman Abdulsattar, Rasha Abdulmunem Azeez & Alison Camacho University of Baghdad & Georgia State University Abstract Reading fluency is a challenging skill that requires students to both interpret and understand the information from the text at the same time. It has a great impact on academic success as typical university students are required to read hundreds of pages for every class; nonetheless, it is not always an easy skill to teach. This article examines an extensive reading approach to teaching reading and describes five specific activities that can be incorporated into a reading class to improve reading fluency, including the benefits and drawbacks of each activity. Introduction A mastery of several skills is required of university students in order for them to achieve success with their academic endeavors. Without a doubt, good writing, critical thinking, time-management, note-taking, research, oral communication and processing skills are all necessary to make progress with academic studies. Nevertheless, there is one skill that is of particular importance: reading. No matter whether the student is majoring in English, philosophy, biology, or law, reading assignments are commonplace. In fact, university students typically encounter hundreds of pages of assigned readings per week. This workload is challenging for native speakers of English to complete, but how about nonnative speakers of English? Nonnative speakers often find this aspect of their studies to be especially challenging. Therefore, they need to develop a specific skill set in order to master a heavy reading load. One of the main skills that can aid them in this process is reading fluency. Reading fluency is an essential skill for success in any academic program. Language teachers can support students with their reading fluency by incorporating extensive reading strategies in their reading courses. This article highlights extensive reading strategies that language teachers can incorporate in any reading class to help students develop reading fluency. It begins with some background information about extensive reading, including the benefits of this approach. The authors also explain some factors to consider when developing an extensive reading course and selecting materials for the course as well as five specific techniques that can be incorporated into reading classes to make them engaging and rewarding for students. Background: What is Extensive Reading? Extensive reading is, in a sense, exactly as the term implies: reading extensively. In other words, reading a lot of material. However, there is more to this definition. Day and Bamford (2004) describe extensive reading as “an approach to language teaching in which learners read a lot of easy material in the new language� (p.1). 8

They go on to explain that extensive reading involves allowing the students to select their own reading material and to read it at their own pace. They also emphasize that students should read for the “general, overall meaning” and for pleasure. They should avoid reading material that is too challenging or boring to them. In fact, with this approach, the use of a dictionary is discouraged, and students are instructed to “ignore unknown or difficult words” and to “skip them and continue reading” (Ono, Day, & Harsch, 2004, p. 14). A comparison between extensive reading and intensive reading can further one’s understanding of this approach. Intensive reading refers to an approach where the readers take a text and study it intensely, sentence by sentence. In Palmer’s (1964) words, “readers take a text, study it line by line, referring at every moment to our dictionary and our grammar, comparing, analyzing, translating, and retaining every expression that it contains” (p. 111). This approach to reading is done at a slower speed to get more information. Teachers who incorporate this approach teach discrete reading skills and strategies such as skimming and scanning, and they focus on the language of the text. It usually involves reading short passages, using the dictionary and analyzing the language. The Benefits of Extensive Reading Both an intensive reading approach and an extensive reading approach can benefit language learners; nevertheless, reading extensively has some specific benefits that cannot be gained exclusively by an intensive reading approach. One of those primary benefits is improved reading speed. When students read extensively, they read faster, focusing on meaningful phrases rather than on each individual word. This has been proven to be very effective in increasing reading fluency and speed. In fact, in a study conducted by Iwahori (2008) in which she incorporated an extensive reading approach in a Japanese high school classroom, the results showed that an extensive reading approach was effective in improving both students’ reading rate and general language proficiency. For this study, Iwahori had her students read 28 books over a 7 week period. The provided books (comic books and graded readers) were based on a range of topics that the students found pleasurable, and they were at an achievable readability level. Pretests and posttests on language proficiency and reading speed were given as part of the study, and a positive outcome on the influence of extensive reading on reading speed and fluency resulted. In addition to increased reading fluency and speed, an extensive reading approach can also increase enjoyment and motivation. Students may start to like reading and enjoy language learning. Extensive reading also benefits students in their development of other skills such as their writing, spelling, critical thinking, and grammar skills. An increased cultural competency is another benefit. Many works of fiction and nonfiction offer the reader insight into another culture or time period. This helps students to gain cultural knowledge and competence, an awareness that often comes hand in hand with language 9

learning. An increase in vocabulary and structure knowledge and retention is another benefit. As Ono, Day, and Harsch (2004) point out, “studies show that when students read extensively, they not only improve their reading fluency, but they also build new vocabulary knowledge and expand their understanding of words they knew before” (p. 13). Finally, one of the main benefits of extensive reading is the pleasure and sense of accomplishment that comes with the activity itself. The pleasure that comes from reading a book, cover to cover, in a foreign language is immeasurable. As Susser and Robb (1990) explain, “even learners who are far from fluent derive pleasure from the very experience of reading a book in a foreign language. Students in extensive reading courses regularly comment on their joy at having finished whole books in the target language” (para. 15). With the myriad benefits that extensive reading provides, language instructors should consider adapting this approach to benefit their language learners. A Modified Extensive Reading Course & Materials Selection As described in the definition, a “true” extensive reading course would involve a separate course solely dedicated to reading extensively. In the course, the students would select their own reading materials and complete activities like book reports and reading logs. The students might be encouraged to create a book club with students who are reading the same materials in an attempt to create a community of readers; however, this may be difficult as each student has his or her own personal interests and will most likely choose different books. Therefore, a course in which every student is reading something different may not be feasible for some programs. In addition, many students are not at ease with the self-sufficiency rendered by extensive reading (Day & Bamford, 1998). They may not be too keen on the lack of structure and whole class instruction and the autonomy that comes with an extensive reading class. Nevertheless, there are some alternatives. First of all, instead of creating a separate course titled “extensive reading”, an extensive reading component can be added as part of an existing course. For example, if the students are taking an academic writing class that has a sustained content focus like history, the instructor could ask the students to select and read a historical novel to supplement the course. Another alternative is to create a book club as an extracurricular activity. An instructor could lead the club, suggest books for students, and facilitate discussions about the reading materials. Instructors could also construct bulletin boards, social media pages, or websites about extensive reading, including book recommendations and supplemental readings. Still, probably the most practical approach would be for the program or teacher to select the reading materials but use an extensive reading approach during the lessons. In other words, a course could be created in which all the students read the same materials (e.g. 2 pre-selected books for the semester), but the teacher incorporates and extensive reading approach to class. For example, the teacher will ask the students to avoid dictionary use while reading, and class activities 10

will involve discussion questions and critical thinking activities rather than instruction on discreet reading techniques, vocabulary, or sentence by sentence comprehension. If this approach is adopted, it is very important for the instructor to select appropriate reading materials. To do this, many factors need to be considered, including proficiency level, gender, age, interests, and culture. For example, a novel about a teenage girl may not be appropriate for a class composed primarily of middle-aged males. Books connected to social issues and books that connect to themes in other courses often work well. For example, at Georgia State University, the novel "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie works well for university bound students as it makes them aware of Native American culture and the social problems Native Americans face today. At the University of Baghdad, the novel "Hard Times" by Charles Dickens works well as it not only gives some historical insight about life during the Victorian age, but it also gives the students cultural awareness and competence about England. Developing an extensive reading course can be a challenging task; nevertheless, with the wide-ranging benefits these types of courses provide, instructors and administrators should consider putting extensive reading into action in their language classrooms. Five Engaging Techniques in Extensive Reading Numerous activities have been implemented in extensive reading courses in order to encourage students to read, participate, and perceive the messages and themes of specific literary works. The following section outlines five extensive reading activities that instructors from the University of Baghdad (UB) and Georgia State University (GSU) put into practice in their reading classes. It includes descriptions of the activities as well as explanations about the benefits and challenges that come with incorporating each activity. Activity 1: Poster Presentations Poster presentations are excellent activities for extensive reading classes as they require students to think critically about the reading and to use several skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening, etc.). Much like a poster presentation at a professional conference, students are asked to prepare posters and brief presentations based on themes or characters from their assigned novel. On the presentation day, half of the class posts their posters on the classroom walls while the other half of the class walks around the room and listens to the presentations. At a halfway point during the lesson, they switch roles, and the half of the class that was walking around puts their posters on the walls and gives their presentations. There are many options for the actual poster assignment. For example, instructors at GSU and UB asked students to create a poster about a specific character in the novel that they read. For this assignment, the students had to divide their posters into three sections. In the first section, the students chose three adjectives to describe their chosen characters. The adjectives needed to reflect the character's personality in the 11

book, and the students were required to demonstrate examples of things the character said or did in the book that made them choose those particular adjectives. The second part of the poster included a comparison of the student's chosen character with another character in the book. For this part of the poster, the students were required to explain the important similarities and differences between the two characters. The third section of the poster consisted of a prediction about the student’s chosen character in twenty years. The students were required to give reasons for their predictions based on the themes and events from the novel. Poster presentations are invaluable components to extensive reading classes for many reasons. Firstly, they give the students a lot of speaking practice because they get to repeat their presentations to various students. In addition, the students become very familiar with the themes and characters from the book as they are required to think critically as they design the content of their posters. This activity also allows students to be imaginative and creative, and it gives the instructors the opportunity to see their students shine. In fact, both instructors from GSU and UB experienced a sense of surprise when they conducted this activity because some shy and lazy students came out of their shells and excelled at it. Despite the many benefits of such task, there are some challenges. If the class consists of a large number of students, then this activity takes a lot of valuable class time. In addition, not all students are artistic and creative, so they may not like the activity. Also, some shy students may make mistakes during the presentations and forget the information required to be discussed and presented by them. Finally, grading can be very difficult and time consuming for the instructors, especially in large classes. It may be difficult for the teacher to see everyone's full presentation, and hence the grading would also become problematic. Activity 2: Drama and Debate Drama and debate activities also work very well in extensive reading classes. For a drama activity, the instructor can ask the students to act out a scene from a novel or play that they have read. They can even create, write and act out an additional scene to the novel or the play. The teacher could also create a simulated debate based on the themes from the novel. For this activity, the class can be divided into two teams where both teams are required to develop reasons of support for their side of the debate. During the lesson, a simulated debate can take place. To illustrate, in teaching "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian", a banned book in some states, the instructor asked the students to act out a mock parent-teacher conference meeting. She divided the class into parents who supported the use of the book as part of the curriculum and parents who wanted the book to be banned. During the lesson, the students were required to take the role of the parents and debate whether the book should be banned or not. 12

Both drama and debate activities encourage group collaboration and increase the students' speaking practice. Critical thinking skills are also necessary with these types of activities. Nevertheless, in the event of group acting, there could be some shy students that might not perform the acting well and thus would reduce the excellence of the performance. Another drawback of these activities is that they can be quite time consuming as script writing and a performance could take several classes for practice. Activity 3: Using Realia The use of realia, which are objects from real life used for classroom instruction, can be extremely useful in an extensive reading class. One activity with realia requires the teacher to bring a number of items from home and present them at the front of the class. Each item should represent or reflect a certain character from the book. It could also represent a particular incident or theme in the book. For this activity, the students are asked to look at the items and then spend five minutes to write about one particular object, reflecting on how the object relates to a character, theme or event from the book. When the time is up, the students are asked to read and discuss their responses. This activity is very easy to incorporate because the teacher only needs to bring objects from home and does not have to do extensive preparation for the activity before the class begins. Also, odd objects in the classroom often spark interest and curiosity in the students, and they often come up with interesting and unbelievable ideas for the activity. However, this activity may be difficult for some students because they are required to think critically and come up with creative responses. Activity 4: Reflective Drawings For this activity, the instructor asks the students to draw an incident in the novel or any character of crucial importance. They need to envision the character or the incident from the book and give it a symbolic or a reflective drawing. When class begins, each student is asked to show his/her drawing and discuss it in front of the class. This activity is beneficial to students because it allows them to be creative and to use their critical thinking skills, especially for those who give a symbolic drawing. Furthermore, this activity enhances the students' speaking practice because they get to manifest and prove what and why they have drawn that particular part of the novel or the play. This activity also creates a joyous atmosphere in the class, which can be considered a vent from the usual routine lectures and hence increase participation. However, students who are not good at drawing may be challenged with such an activity. Therefore, teachers need to consider some alternative options such as using magazine pictures to complete the assignment. 13

Activity 5: Book Club Another useful activity that can be incorporated into an extensive reading class is a book club project. For this activity, the teacher should divide the class into groups. Each group is responsible for a different chapter from the assigned novel and a specific day to lead the book club activity. Before the designated book club day, the group will create a handout which includes discussion questions, vocabulary activities and possibly a reflection activity or a special task based on their assigned chapter. On the designated book club day, the group will lead the discussion, dividing the class into small groups and going over the handout with their groups. The book club activity promotes group collaboration, autonomy and responsibility. It is also beneficial for the teacher because it is so hands-off: the students are in charge on book club days. Finally, this activity gives the students plenty of speaking practice as they are required to speak a lot as they design their book club handout and as they lead the group discussions. However, there are some drawbacks. Not all students like group work, and it is sometimes very difficult for them to collaborate and come up with a useful handout for their book club day. Also, the discussion questions and activities on the student-designed handout might not be of high quality; therefore, it is important for the instructor to preview the handout before the students use it in class. Conclusion Adopting an extensive reading approach in language classes can have numerous benefits, particularly with increasing reading fluency and speed. This approach provides instructors with a forum to be creative and to give their students ample opportunities to showcase their creativity, critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills amongst others. Language teachers should consider the benefits an extensive reading approach can bring to their programs and their students. References Bamford, J. & Day, R. R. (2004). Extensive reading activities for teaching language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Day, R. R., & Bamford, J. (1998). Extensive reading in the second language classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Iwahori, Y. (2008). Developing reading fluency: A study of extensive reading in EFL. Reading in a Foreign Language, 20(1), 70 – 91. Ono, L., Day, R., & Harsch, K. (2004). Tips for reading extensively. English Teaching Forum 42 (4):12 – 18. Palmer, H. E. (1964). The principles of language-study. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Susser, B. & Robb, T. N. (1990). EFL extensive reading instruction: Research and procedure. JALT Journal 12 (2). Retrieved from:


Teaching Authentic Text through Literature Circles Kevin M. Maher University of Macau Abstract Literature Circles can greatly assist students in a fun and memorable way to acquire and retain language. They create discussion and cultural awareness from students reading and examining authentic text collectively. Students additionally immerse themselves in the lives and stories of characters, while encountering the target language in its natural context. For literature circles, each student is given a role to work on before each class. They include titles such as Group Leader, Summarizer, Real-Life Connector, Graphic Organizer, Passage Person, Culture Collector, Word Wizard, Character Creator, or the ‘If Person’, among others. Each student is responsible to type their ‘rolework’ which is subsequently used in class, in addition to being submitted to be the instructor for assessment. A bonding occurs between collaborative learners as they examine the language, text, and culture of the assigned literature book. The teacher enhances this awareness by developing additional material after the literature circles through teacher-generated idiom quizzes, discussion questions, inference questions, and literature skits. This paper will examine various ways for a teacher to enhance language learning by using literature circle in the classroom. Introduction This paper will address the nature of Literature Circles utilized in foreign language teaching. How will it help them acquire English as a foreign or second language? What will they gain by reading authentic text in the form of a literature book, and how will the cooperative and social nature of a literature circle assist in their language learning? This paper will address all of these issues and see if this endeavor is something another language teacher would prefer to utilize with their own students. This paper will be in three sections. The first discusses why should students even study novels? What do students have to gain through studying this type of authentic text? Secondly, what benefits exist from the collaborative nature of literature circles? Lastly, how can teachers set up their own literature circle, and what is the best approach to do so? Through this process, teachers can determine if such an activity can benefit their own students in their own classrooms.


Why Study Novels? Novels can have a strong role in the language acquisition process. This section will argue the role and purpose that literature, novels, and authentic texts can have in the foreign language classroom. A Case for Authentic Text Krashen (1982) stresses the goal of language teaching should be with authentic and meaningful input, not just grammatical form. Krashen (1985) recommends novels or short stories so that students can increase their literary development as well as become more familiar with literary styles. Additionally, if language students are interested in a specific target language, then literature can present the sociocultural features with its many language nuisances. Bibby (2013) sees the role of literature as a model to transmit important perspectives of the language community that the students are already studying. Additionally it reinforces the grammar and vocabulary from the authentic text. In this sense, a novel can teach grammar and vocabulary better in context than in isolation. Iida (2012) found that among many university teachers in Japan, the grammar-translation way of studying English prevails over communication. However, Iida stresses that teachers who use literature are more holistic in their teaching approach. Students gain a better understanding of the actual usage of language through authentic texts. While any reading is useful for students, there is also some disagreement on graded readers versus authentic text. Claflin (2012) found that graded readers were very safe for many students. However, Claflin argues that authentic text is full of descriptive language and wordplay, specific to the cultures. He also states how these are hurdles for the student because of the background knowledge needed. However, a teacher can bridge these gaps, teaching social commentary, issues, slang, and such. Furr (2004) suggests that for literature circle purposes, students should study the same text. This is contrary to extensive reading and graded reader programs where students are free to read whatever they choose. According to Furr, when using the same books, the instructor can assist student understanding through filling in those gaps. Native language teachers can bridge these gaps collectively in the classroom. Critical Thinking Skills As students study novels guided by a teacher, they can further explore themes and issues that the book uncovers. In this way, Shang (2006) mentions that students can enhance their critical thinking and English fluency simultaneously. Kim (2003) states how important this is, as traditionally, many EFL students are unfamiliar with how to read, question, and analyze texts. Many EFL students’ backgrounds come from a traditional educational systems which stress 17

memorizing the linguistic aspects of English. Chiang & Huang (2005) believe that one of the greatest challenges today is to teach students to read, write, and think critically. They believe that literature circles are one of the most effective tools for critical thinking. Bibby (2013) believes that literature and literature circles can provide students with the ability to interact with literary text, promote their L2 communicative competence, and allow them to interpret a text and critically evaluate it. Brown (2009) sees that a literature circle is a way for students to practice thinking and discussing. If they are given class materials demanding it, and the classroom environment is setup for it, then students will utilize more critical thinking skills. Builds background knowledge, cultural awareness, and teaches cultural norms According to Shang (2006), students can build cultural background knowledge through reading a novel. For example, a teacher can elicit questions related to the content of the novel. A schematic understanding can occur. In this way, literature is used to understand the target culture (Iida, 2012). It becomes a prism to view the context of the times of the novel. It presents the sociocultural features and the aspirations of the society from where the literature originates (Bibby, 2013). When this occurs, students become introduced to the social norms and the practices of the target L2 culture (Allington & Swann, 2009). Links and Connections with Story Characters In addition to enhancing critical thinking skills and building background knowledge students can also connect and identify with characters from the story. According to Lin (2004), students link personal experiences to the contents of the stories, which assist in their own personal development. Because of this awareness, Brown (2009) states, that through student discussion, students often change their opinions and viewpoints on various topics, simply from reading and discussing the novel. This enhances critical thinking skills. Additionally, literature allows students to reflect on their own learning, their own lives, and the target language. It allows students to question, connect, interpret, and explore (Langer, 1997). When students study literature, they develop an ability to comprehend texts and reflect on their own personal values and judgments (Bibby, 2013). Increased Awareness of Global Issues Lastly, studying authentic text, such as novels, students can help students develop a stronger awareness of global issues. According to Iida (2012), literature promotes critical awareness as students assess, discuss, and evaluate issues within the text. The teacher can approach issues such as deforestation or global problems, or anything commonly talked about in the mass media (Brown, 2009). 18

Through the reading experience, students can identify more with these issues, particularly through characters that students come to know. The Collaborative Nature of Literature Circles In addition to the pedagogic reasons for studying novels, literature circles offer comradely and shared purposes among its participants. The proceeding section focuses on the collaborative nature that students benefit from by studying literature together. Literature Circles and Collaboration of its Participants One of the critically important aspects of literature circles is in relation to how students must work together with a common purpose to understand the authentic text that they study. Students discuss the characters and their backgrounds, looking for explanations for their behavior (Brown, 2009). As learners review and examine the text, they prepare their individual roles focusing on words, phrases, passages, and what is specific to their role. Within this preparation for literature circles, and through discussion itself, students experience incidental learning and self-directed noticing through meaningful input of the authentic text (Shelton-Strong, 2012). This collaborative nature of literature circles enhances their language learning inadvertently. The Magic of Community Members of a literature circle listen to peers and discuss their own interpretations of the text (Sander-Brunner, 2004). They interact with the literature, and have an extended discussion on such issues (Bibby, 2013). The more students engage with the text and share with each other, the more they acquire language in a very collaborative and communicative way. Furr (2007) stresses how students engage with the story, and eagerly begin to point to passages to support their arguments, and to question each other what the text really means. Additionally, if the authentic text is in English, students absorb the language nuisances of the characters and of the author’s writing style. Because of the very nature of literature circles, Vgotsky’s (1978) zone of proximal development applies. Students, who may not understand the text and passages by themselves, are suddenly required to make meaning of the material through collaboration. They make meaning from the text together, that they may not have made on their own. Reading in Context and increasing Vocabulary In addition to discussing texts, students also have an opportunity to recycle new words that they have learned from the text (Mark, 2007). Since they study the same literature texts, they encounter the same words. According to Nation 19

(2009), recycling vocabulary is important to learning new words. Additionally, Nation discusses how students’ reading in context increases their word knowledge, as well as prediction done through reading. As they see the language in a natural context, it’s easier to later give a similar output. Setting up Literature Circles With awareness of the benefits of studying authentic text through literature, as well as seeing the collaborative nature and community of literature circles, it is imperative to setup the literature circle well, so that it benefits the students’ language learning. This section will address how to organize and run a literature circle in a language-oriented classroom. Pre-Reading the Text Kim (2003) recommends vocabulary lists which might be unfamiliar to them and their cultural meaning. I would recommend this, and additionally idiom lists for the students. Teachers can discuss and describe idioms within the context of the text, that students might have a difficulty understanding themselves. Depending on the strength of a teacher’s students, a set number of pages can be assigned to read each week. Students will have assigned ‘rolework’ to prepare based on their specific focus as assigned by the teacher or their group. Student Roles Each week, students are assigned a specific role. Various researchers utilize many common roles or sometimes unique and creative roles. Some mentioned are: Questioner or Discussion Leader, Illustrator, Passage Master, Connector, Summarizer and Word Wizard (Daniels, 2002). Furr (2007) uses Discussion Leader, Summarizer, Connector, Word Master, Passage Person, and Culture Connector. However, for my own literature circles, I have utilized many of theirs, as well as created my own roles. For my own students, I require to hand-in something I call ‘rolework’ prior to their literature circles. I assess their contribution to the group through this, plus they distribute typed copies to their members. My students are in literature circles of five members, which mean only five of these roles, are selected for each five week cycle. The following are some of the roles I assign, and the rolework they must submit beforehand: The Discussion Leader: Rolework consists of 10 discussion questions submitted to me, and distributed among their group. Questions are expected to generate interesting discussions among members. This person is additionally responsible for time management during the literature circle. If the allotted time 20

isn’t used sufficiently, then this person is held accountable for a failed literature circle, and their participation points will be affected. Vocabulary Wizard: Rolework consists of 10 new vocabulary words or phrases. Students list the new words with definitions, than distribute a quiz to test their members on those newly taught vocabulary words. Real Life Connector: Rolework consists of typing three real life connections from the reading text to that person’s own personal life. For example, if a character has a disagreement with another character, that literature circle member might describe a real life argument that was similar to the story. Passage Person: Rolework consists of identifying six important passages that the group member finds relevant and important for group discussion. These may be confusing and difficult to understand passages, or passages with a complex storyline. Anything is acceptable, but it should be something that creates good discussion for their group. Visualizer: Rolework consists of copying and pasting 10 images from the internet that help visualize words that are relevant to the text. Examples may include photos of foreign products or cultural items. Examples may include hoola-hoops, jack-o-lanterns, burritos, or anything found within the text. Graphic Organizer: Rolework consists of either drawing or mapping out a timeline of events. Students will discuss the sequence in their groups, for better understand of the cause-effect relationships between events. Culture Connector: Rolework consists of identifying at least five cultural differences between the students’ native culture, and the culture contained within the literature. Summarizer: Rolework will consist of a summary of what was read for that week of assigned reading. This should be in paragraph form, grammatically structured, and well-written. The IF Person: Rolework consists of four ‘what if’ scenarios to generate further discussion. For example, if you were the main character with a particular social dilemma, what would you do in that situation. Students inquire of the group for further discussion. Character Organizer: Rolework is to organize the characters and list all major and minor characters, and what has happened to them up to that date in the story. This role is most important if the literature has many characters for students to remember.


Character Creator: Rolework consists of creating new characters and placing them within the read text. Students must study the text to place the new character realistically within the storyline. This role is best near the end of the novel, to spice it up. It’s a confusing role near the beginning of a literature book, when students haven’t become familiar enough with the actual characters. Teacher’s Role in a Literature Circle The teacher’s role as one who listens to the various groups, and tries to gain a sense of what they need for further scaffolding with teacher support (Mark, 2007). This is critical to a student-focused lesson over a teacher-focused lesson. In this way, students can work at their own pace, and focus on their own language interests. Teachers can meet them half-way with what they actually need, as opposed to trying to anticipate what they need. If students are struggling with any idioms, cultural differences, or complexities within the text, than the teacher has a very specific student-directed task to teach the class more elaborately and specifically. Reading Cycles Shelton-Strong (2009) discusses the reading cycles. He particularly mentions the importance of negotiating with the students on how much to cover for reading each week. Depending on the difficulty of the text, a teacher might want to assign less or more than before. In regards to running the literature circle itself, I’ve found that cycles of 5 weeks of 5 people works best in each group. In this way, each member takes on a different role each week. After five weeks, students are mixed with different groups to run another cycle. Assigning time depends on the teacher, but generally I find that the first few weeks of running literature circles, it’s best to have low expectations of around 20-25 minutes. After they experience the roles and the characteristics of the circles, students will naturally nearly double their times, and I find that 40-45 minutes is more appropriate for them to discuss all that they need or want to discuss. Near the end of the novel, when less prediction and less informationgathering taking place, time may decrease again to 20-25 minutes. Regardless, it’s critical to write the exact time on the board for time management purposes, particularly for the Discussion Leader’s sake. Other Non-Literature Circle tasks that Enhance Text Comprehension While the literature circle is essential for student-owned collaboration and discussion, there are other items that I’ve utilized in my own classes, which I believe enhance the learning process of the text. 22

Clarity Check Partners Prior to the literature circle itself, I create ‘clarity check partners’, who simply discuss anything confusing or difficult to understand about the text. This short step can assist the students on identifying confusing texts, which they can question in their own literature circle later. Another variation of this that I use near the initial weeks of literature circles, is ‘clarity groups,’ where all students with the same roles meet together to discuss how to approach their role. For example, all ‘passage people’ will come together to discuss what passages they chose, and how they will present it to their group. Comprehension and Inference Discussion Questions with a Quiz Usually after the literature circle, I also create a list of 20+ questions to check students’ comprehension and inference skills in relation to the text. I particularly search out that which I believe is critical to understanding the overall text. It’s a way to highlight what is most important to understand before they read more. For this, I create the questions that small groups or partners discuss together. After they’ve researched and discussed those questions, I follow it up with a quiz. Lit Skits “Lit Skits” are assigned weekly to different groups, where they must act out a scene of their choice from the reading. It’s a fun way to visualize and demonstrate a scene in an entertaining and memorable way. Conclusion In conclusion, literature circles can be utilized to strengthen student’s vocabulary, improve their understanding of the text’s culture, enhance critical thinking skills, create collaboration among participants, and deepen student’s extensive reading skills. As literature circles are student-focused and studentled, they directly appeal to students’ own personal and collective interests, their language needs, and their learning pace. I highly recommend any EFL teacher to assign and run a literature circle for their language-learning students. Lastly, studying literature collectively, can be a very bonding social experience for the students involved. Often it becomes a powerful memory of their Englishlearning life, their social development, and their reading skills to have conquered authentic text together with their language teacher and their classmates. References Allington, D., & Swann, J. (2009). Researching literary reading as social practice. Language and Literature, 18 (3), 219-230. 23

Bibby, S. (2012). Teaching literature in the language classroom: An introduction. The Journal of Literature in Language Teaching, 1, 5-9. Brown, H. (2009). Literature circles for critical thinking in global issues classes. In A.M. Stoke (Ed.), JALT2008 Proceedings. Tokyo: JALT. Chiang, M-H., & Huang, C-W. (2005). The effectiveness of literature circles in EFL setting: a classroom investigation. Proceedings of 2005 International Conference and Workshop on TEFL and Applied Linguistics, 78-87. Claflin, M. (2012). Bridging the gap between readers and native speaker literature. Extensive Reading World Congress Proceedings, 1, 15-159. Daniels, H. (2002). Literature circles: Voices and choice in book clubs and reading circles. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. Furr, M. (2004). Literature circles for the EFL classroom. Proceedings of the 2003 TESOL Arabia Conference. Retrieved from: Furr, M. (2007). Reading circles: Moving great stories from the periphery of the language classroom to its center. The Language Teacher, 31(5), 15-18. Iida, A. (2013). Critical review of literary reading and writing in a second language. The Journal of Literature in Language Teaching, 2, 5-11. Kim, H-R. (2003). Literature circles in EFL Curricula: Establishing a framework. The English Teacher, 32. Retrieved from: Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and practices of second language acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press. Krashen, S. (1985). The input hypothesis: Issues and implications. New York: Longman. Langer, J. (1997). Literacy acquisition through literature. Journal of Education Research, 126, 33-44. Lin, W. (2004). The theory and practice of “literature group.� Journal of Education Research, 126, 33-44. Mark, L. (2007). Building a community of EFL readers: Setting up literature circles in a Japanese university. In K. Bradford-Watts (Ed.) JALT2006 Proceedings. Tokyo: JALT. Nation, P. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing. New York: Routledge. Sanders-Brunner, M. (2004). Literature circles. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 20(7), 39-43. Shang, H. (2006). Content-based instruction in the EFL literature curriculum. The Internet TESL Journal, 12, 12(11). Retrieved May 15, 2013 from: Shelton-Strong, S. (2012). Literature circles in ELT. ELT Journal 66, 2. Doi:10.1093/elt/ccro49. Vgotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Using Quizlet Flashcards to Study Vocabulary Andrew Imrie Rikkyo University, Japan Abstract This article describes a study to test the hypothesis that students using the Quizlet vocabulary website would perform better on a vocabulary test than students using other, more traditional methods of vocabulary study. Students in three English classes at Rikkyo University in Japan were given 100 words to learn from their class textbook: one class used Quizlet digital flashcards, one class paper flashcards and one class acted as a control group. The students were pre-tested at the beginning of the semester using a Vocabulary Size Test (Nation & Beglar, 2007) to establish comparability between the classes and given a vocabulary test at the end of the semester to determine whether there was any advantage in using Quizlet. The results indicated that students who used the flashcards on Quizlet learnt more vocabulary than students who do not, and that students liked using digital flashcards on their smartphones. Introduction Vocabulary research (Nation, 2001) suggests that flashcards are an efficient means of acquiring and retaining new words. In recent years, a number of websites and computer programs have emerged allowing users to study vocabulary flashcards in digital form. Quizlet, an online learning tool that enables users to create their own vocabulary flashcards online, is one of the most popular, with 2.8 million registered users and over thirteen million usergenerated flashcards (Quizlet, 2012). Foster (2011) writes, “Quizlet enables users to interact, collaborate, and share sets of flashcards. With a simple, attractive, and intuitive interface, it is accessible to even the most technologically challenged teachers or learners� (Introduction, para. 1). Despite the user friendly nature of Quizlet, however, a survey of over 170 Japanese undergraduate students (Imrie, 2012) conducted by the author in the 2011-2012 academic year at two universities in Japan found that learners were not using Quizlet or any other online resource to study vocabulary. Yet, with easy access to computers and the prevalence of smartphones, the author hypothesized that students using Quizlet would outperform students using other, more traditional methods of vocabulary study. This paper presents the findings of a study established to test the effectiveness of the Quizlet flashcard system. In the 2011-2012 Autumn Semester at Rikkyo University in Japan three classes of university students were given 100 words from their course textbook to study for an end of semester vocabulary quiz: one class used Quizlet, one class used paper flashcards and one class acted as a control group, using non-flashcard methods such as word lists. The first part of this paper will highlight the advantages of using flashcards to study vocabulary and the reasons for using the Quizlet website. The second 25

part will explain the study, including the research methodology and a discussion of the results. Background Studying new vocabulary is a key part of learning a new language. Write Beglar and Hunt (2005: 7), “vocabulary acquisition is crucial, and in some sense, the central component in successful foreign language acquisition” (p. 7). Vocabulary flashcards are a deliberate approach to learning new words and typically have the L2 target word on one side of the card and the L1, or a definition of the word, on the other side. When a learner looks at the target word on one side of the card, he or she then attempts to recall the same word in the L1. A successful retrieval strengths the relationship between word and meaning, with more effort made by a learner to recall a word resulting in greater memory of that word (Pyc & Rawson, 2009). Nation (2001, p. 302) lists three advantages of this kind of direct learning approach: it is an efficient use of time, it allows learners to focus on a particular aspect of word knowledge, and it allows learners to control the repetition of vocabulary. Writes Nation (2008), ‘…the activity that can most effectively apply the findings of research on deliberate vocabulary learning is using word cards’ (p. 105). Put simply, using flashcards means that many words can be learned in a short time and words that are learned can be remembered for a long period (Nation, 2008). While a number of studies have looked at the use of flashcards to learn vocabulary (Nation, 2001), there are fewer studies, which have focused specifically on the use of digital flashcards. Recent studies include Bailey and Davey (2012), who used the flashcard program Anki in a number of English classes at a university in Japan and found neutral to positive student perceptions in terms of its effectiveness, and Dodigovic (2013), who suggests that students may benefit more from teacher-designed electronic flashcards than student-designed cards. Also, McLean, Hogg and Rush (2013), who found that the vocabulary learning system Word Engine had a positive effect on improving learners’ receptive vocabulary knowledge. From a review of the available literature, the author could find no previous study that specifically looked at the use of Quizlet electronic vocabulary flashcards compared to paper flashcards in preparing for a vocabulary test. The aim of this study, therefore, was to contribute to this emerging research on the use of digital flashcards by comparing the use of Quizlet flashcards (in combination with mobile phone technology) with other, more traditional methods of vocabulary study. Quizlet Quizlet is a free website where learners can create and study digital flashcards through a variety of study modes. These include a learn mode, where users type a word after being prompted by the definition, the speller mode, where learners have to type the word they hear, and the test mode, which generates a quiz from 26

a set of flashcards. There are also additional game modes to review vocabulary in a fun way. Users can also copy flashcard sets generated by other users and edit them to suit their own needs. Another function of Quizlet is the text-tospeech function, which means that all terms and definitions are available in audio for twenty languages including English, Japanese and Arabic. Quizlet was chosen over other online vocabulary flashcard options such as Anki, WordChamp and Study Buddy because of its accessibility and ease of use. Quizlet is also fully integrated with mobile technology and digital flashcards created with Quizlet can be downloaded to a mobile device such as an iPad or smartphone, using the official free Quizlet app. This facilitates independent study away from a computer, important in Japan where students commonly spend several hours a day commuting to and from university on the train. Quizlet was also attractive because it required no specialist knowledge of technology and learners could begin creating and practicing flashcards with only minimal guidance. From a research point of view, Quizlet provided a way of monitoring student use of the website, although this tracking did not extend to mobile devices. The Study The study at Rikkyo University was designed to test the hypothesis that students using Quizlet would perform better on a vocabulary quiz than students not using Quizlet. More specifically, the author was interested in whether the features of Quizlet, such as its compatibility with mobile technology, would outweigh more familiar methods such as paper flashcards or word lists. Also, the author was aware of the views of some teachers who felt that the act of writing out a word on a paper flashcard or word list was more likely to lead to word memorization than typing a word or using a digital flashcard made by another learner. The study was conducted between September 2012 and January 2013, during the Autumn Semester. The author used three required English classes for the study; henceforth known as Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. The author taught all three classes and selected 100 vocabulary items to be learned by the students for an end of semester vocabulary test. Students in Class 1 studied the vocabulary using Quizlet, students in Class 2 used paper flashcards and students in Class 3 acted as a control group and did not use flashcards. Methodology Participants & Vocabulary items The 55 students in the study (n=55) were all first year students at Rikkyo University in Japan, aged between 18 and 20 years of age. All three classes were second semester required English Presentation 2 classes, which was a follow up to an earlier course, Presentation 1. Rikkyo University streams students into four levels in terms of English ability, and two of the three classes were level three classes, while one was a level two class. On a more transparent measurement, the students in the study tended to have TOEIC scores between 27

400 and 500. The classes met once a week for 14 weeks in the Autumn Semester. The students were required to read about a range of topics and to form ideas about them with a view to making a persuasive speech. Consequently, although the textbook ‘Ideas and Issues: Upper Intermediate’ was not specifically a presentation textbook, it did meet the goal of providing students with challenging content. From the textbook eight theme-based units, covering topics ranging from war to the environment, were studied during the semester. From these units the 100 words that the students had to learn were selected. The words chosen were checked against corpus frequencies and the General Service List (1953) and Academic Word List (2000), to ensure that they were unlikely to be known by the students before the course. Pre-test In order to establish comparability between the three classes, the students’ vocabulary size was measured in the first class at the beginning of the semester using the Vocabulary Size Test developed by Nation and Beglar (2007). The test contains 140 multiple choice vocabulary items and measures the first fourteen thousand word families in English. The test only takes 40 minutes to administer and the multiple-choice format allows a wide range of vocabulary to be sampled in a relatively short time. Learners’ scores on the test were multiplied by 100 to produce a written receptive vocabulary size in English for each student. Class 1: Quizlet Group Class 1 was a level three class and had 19 students, 7 female and 12 male (n=19). At the beginning of the semester, the author gave the students a word list containing the 100 vocabulary items to be learned for an end of semester test. In the second class, the students went to a computer room and collaborated to create digital flashcards for the 100 words they had to learn using the Quizlet website. The flashcards were made in English only. On one side of each flashcard was the target word and on the other side the students wrote the part of speech and word definition, which was taken from the textbook. The students then added the flashcards to a Quizlet class set up by the author, allowing all the students to use and access all the flashcards in the various study modes. Although the students now had the option to personalize the flashcards by adding the L1 and example sentences to the reverse of the card, a subsequent questionnaire suggests that most students studied with the card in its original form. Finally, the students were required to download the official Quizlet app to their mobile device. To encourage the students to download the 100 digital flashcards to their phone from the Quizlet website, the students were paid ¥300 (about $3), on production of a smartphone complete with Quizlet app and 100 digital flashcards. All the students bar one, who was unable to download the Quizlet app to her phone due an older version of iOS, downloaded the digital flashcards to a smartphone and received the payment. The students were told to prepare for a vocabulary test at the end of the semester and to use the Quizlet 28

website and digital flashcards on their smartphone to help them study. No more class time was allocated to prepare for the vocabulary test. Class 2: Paper Flashcards Group Class 2 was a level three class and had 17 students, 11 female and 6 male (n=17). The students in this class were given the same 100-item word list as the students in Class 1. In the second class of the semester, the author gave the students a blank set of paper vocabulary flashcards. In the same way that students in Class 1 were given class time to create digital flashcards using the Quizlet website, so students in Class 2 were given equivalent time in class to begin writing the 100 words they had to learn for the vocabulary test onto the blank cards. The students made the flashcards in the same style as students in Class 1. To encourage the students to complete the paper flashcards, the students were paid 짜300 (about $3), on production of a complete set of paper flashcards in the next class. All the students completed the paper flashcards and all received payment. The students were told to prepare for a vocabulary test at the end of the semester and to use the paper flashcards to help them study. No more class time was allocated to prepare for the vocabulary test. Class 3: Control Group Class 3 was a level two class and had 19 students, 8 female and 11 male (n=19). The author gave the same word list to students in Class 3 who were told to learn them for an end of semester vocabulary test. Class 3 acted as a control group to see what students could achieve on the vocabulary test without using flashcards. The author was interested in what methods the students would use without teacher help and whether a non-flashcard group would prove as successful as one of the flashcard groups. As such, the students were not told about Quizlet, nor were they given blank paper flashcards. However, in line with Class 1 and Class 2, the students were given time in class to look over the word list and to study the vocabulary in any way they chose. There was no specific task for the students to complete and no payment was offered. The students were told to prepare for a vocabulary study at the end of the semester. No more class time was allocated to prepare for the vocabulary test.


Table 1: Participants Class




Study Method



English Presentation 2 English Presentation 2 English Presentation 2


Quizlet Flashcards



Paper Flashcards




No specific instructions


2 3

End of Semester Vocabulary Test A vocabulary test was administered to the students in all three classes at the end of the semester. The purpose of the test was to discover whether the students using Quizlet would perform better on a vocabulary test than students not using Quizlet. The test was in English and contained all 100 words from the word list. The format of the test was multiple-choice, with a word definition and four possible answers for each question. The students had 20 minutes to complete the test. Results The Vocabulary Size Test (pre-test) showed that, despite individual differences, on average the students in the three classes had a very similar size of written receptive vocabulary in English.

Vocabulary Size Test Score 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

Class 1: Quizlet Class 2: Paper Flashcards Class 3: Control Class 1: Quizlet

Class 2: Paper Flashcards

Class 3: Control

With a maximum score of 140, students in Class 1 scored an average of 70.1, students in Class 2 70.9, and students in Class 3 71. This suggests that the 30

students in all three classes had knowledge of around 7,000 English word families. Put simply, the Vocabulary Size Test suggests that the students in Classes 1, 2 and 3 had statistically equivalent vocabulary sizes in English at the beginning of the study. Unlike the Vocabulary Size Test, the end of semester vocabulary test (post-test) showed a marked difference between the three classes. End of Semester Vocabulary Test 100 80 60

Class 1: Quizlet


Class 2: Paper Flashcards


Class 3: Control

0 Class 1: Quizlet

Class 2: Paper Flashcards

Class 3: Control

Students in Class 1, who used Quizlet, scored an average of 97% on the end of semester vocabulary test. In fact, ten of the nineteen students scored 100% on the test and of the remaining nine students, eight scored between 91% and 99%. Students in Class 2, who used paper flashcards, scored an average of 69% on the end of semester vocabulary test. Students in Class 3, the control group, who did not use vocabulary flashcards, scored an average of 56% on the test. Additional information on how the students studied for the test was gathered from data on the Quizlet website, a post-test questionnaire and several followup interviews with students in all three classes. Data from the Quizlet website showed that the students in Class 1 averaged between 30 and 100 study sessions on the site, while the questionnaire showed that most study was done by students using the digital flashcards on their smartphone while commuting to university. Class 1 students stated that they did this at least twice a week, increasing the frequency closer to the date of the vocabulary test. Students in Class 2 studied using their paper flashcards on the train to university but much less frequently, with the majority of students only checking their flashcards once every couple of weeks. One student even lost her flashcards and resorted to using the word list. Finally, students in Class 3 studied least of all and employed a variety of approaches with most study done at home. Some students wrote the Japanese equivalent word next to the English word on the word list, while several students tried to memorize the vocabulary by writing out the word and its associated definition a number of times. No students made their own flashcards. 31

Discussion The hypothesis that students using Quizlet would perform better on a vocabulary quiz after one university semester than students not using Quizlet is supported by the data. The students using Quizlet scored considerably higher on the vocabulary test than students in the other classes, including the students who used paper flashcards. Indeed, the students in Class 1 scored an average of 28% more than students in Class 2. It is worth noting that, at the beginning of the semester, students in all three classes were virtually identical in terms of vocabulary size, according to the Vocabulary Size Test. The first observation to make about these results is that it seems students are likely to learn and remember more vocabulary if they use the Quizlet vocabulary learning system. Consequently, this author would argue strongly in favour of using Quizlet at universities in Japan to help students study vocabulary, particularly when combined with smartphones. Interestingly, the only student in Class 1 who was unable to use the Quizlet flashcards on her iPhone scored lowest in the vocabulary test with 74%. This result, together with the Class 1 student questionnaire, which showed a preference for studying the flashcards on a phone over the website, suggests an important factor in the success of the Quizlet class could have been access to mobile technology. Limitations There are, however, some limitations to this study. First, the research was on a relatively small scale, involving only three classes and 55 students in total. A stronger conclusion would require a much larger pool of participants. Second, while it is clear that students using Quizlet performed much better on the end of semester vocabulary test, there was no follow up test to discover how well these words were retained by the students involved. It may be that any advantage was short term. Third, the study is limited by the educational context. All the students in the study were Japanese undergraduates, most with smartphones, and many with a long commute to university on the train. It would, therefore, be unwise to assume the same results in a different context. Fourth, the administration of the vocabulary test may have favoured the non-Quizlet classes. The author noted that the students in Class 1 all completed the vocabulary test within 10-12 minutes, while Classes 2 and 3 took the full 20 minutes. It seems likely that, had the test been shorter, the success of the students in Class 1 over the other classes may have been much more striking. Fifth, while students in Class 1 and Class 2 received payment at the beginning of the study, students in Class 3 did not. Although it seems unlikely that this action would have had much impact on the final test scores, it is possible that some students were more engaged with the process of learning vocabulary due to this intervention. Finally, it is worth noting that learning words with a view to passing a test is not quite the same as ‘knowing’ a word. As Nation (2001) points out, ‘knowing’ a word involves many things including the definition, collocations, frequency, register, 32

pronunciation and associations. While flashcard systems like Quizlet can help students learn the definition or spelling of a word, there are limitations to what can be achieved using this method in isolation. Conclusion This paper has described a study examining the use of Quizlet, an online vocabulary-learning tool, to study vocabulary during a Japanese university semester. The goal of the study was to test the hypothesis that students using Quizlet would perform better on a vocabulary test than students using more traditional forms of vocabulary study. Three classes prepared for a 100-item end of semester vocabulary test: one class used Quizlet to make digital flashcards, which were subsequently downloaded to their smartphone, one class used paper flashcards, and a third class acted as a control group, and did not use flashcards. All learners in the study took the Vocabulary Size Test as a pre-test at the beginning of the semester to establish comparability. The results of the study showed that students in Class 1 scored best on the vocabulary test, suggesting an advantage for learners who use Quizlet over those that do not. Moreover, a post-test questionnaire and interviews with students in the Quizlet class revealed a positive reaction to using digital flashcards on a smartphone, especially while commuting to university. An interesting future study that might prove profitable would be to compare students who use the Quizlet website to study vocabulary with students who only use flashcards on their mobile device. In conclusion, despite the limitations of the research, the study suggests a role for an online learning tool like Quizlet in helping students learn new words in English. References Bailey, R. & Davey, J. (2012). Internet-based spaced repetition learning in and out of the classroom: implementation and student perception. CELE Journal, (20).Retrieved from: Beglar, D. & Hunt, A. (2005). Six principles for teaching foreign language vocabulary: a commentary on Laufer, Meara, and Nation’s ‘Ten best ideas’. The Language Teacher, 29(07), 7-10. Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34(2), 213-238. Dodigovic, M. (2013). Vocabulary learning: An electronic word card study. Perspectives, 20(1), 13-21. Foster, H. (2011). Building learner-generated vocabulary logs with Quizlet. Retrieved September 22, 2013, from: -building-learner-generated-vocabulary-logs-quizlet Imrie, A. (2012). Using an online vocabulary learning tool: Quizlet. The Journal of Rikkyo University Language Center, 28, 49-61. 33

Nation, I. S. P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nation, I. S. P. & Beglar, D. (2007). A vocabulary size test. The Language Teacher, 31(7), 9-13. Nation, I. S. P. (2008). Teaching vocabulary: strategies and techniques. Boston, MA: Heinle. Pyc, M. & Rawson, K. (2009). Testing the retrieval effort hypothesis: does greater difficulty correctly recalling information lead to higher levels of memory? Journal of Memory and Language, 60(4), 437-447. Quizlet. (2012). Retrieved July 22, 2012, from: West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman, Green & Co.


Do Two Wrongs Make a Write(r)? An Investigation into the Efficacy of Written Corrective Feedback on the Linguistic Accuracy of Students’ Academic Writing Anthony Jonathan Solloway United Arab Emirates University Introduction Within the field of second language (L2) writing pedagogy there exists a substantial body of work – and an on-going debate of some not inconsiderable length and controversy – on the putative effects (or otherwise) of written corrective feedback (WCF) on the formal accuracy (surface-level mechanics and orthographic correctness) of student compositions (cf. e.g., the close to labyrinthine claims and counterclaims in the exchanges between Truscott, 1996; Ferris, 1999; Truscott, 1999; Chandler, 2003; Truscott, 2004; Chandler, 2004). There exists however something of a relative dearth of research into the efficacy of WCF in L2 writing – what Ferris (2004:49) refers to as a “controversial yet ubiquitous pedagogical issue” – with Arabic L1 students. Indeed, at the time of writing, the only papers within the L2 writing canon on WCF in an Arabic L1 context of which the present teacher-researcher is aware are Diab (2006), who conducted research into teachers’ and students’ error correction preferences in the Lebanon, and Gobert (2010) and Schneider (2010), both of whom carried out WCF research in classrooms in the United Arab Emirates. It is to this small subbody of Arabic L1 WCF literature to which the following study aims to contribute, a study which was informed and guided by one primary research question: # Does providing students with relatively focused, indirect, coded WCF on their in-class English L2 compositions result in any discernible improvement in grammatical and orthographic accuracy in their subsequent writing as opposed to their peers who receive no such feedback? Groups & treatments The students consisted of 4 intact (i.e., pre-existing) level II University Foundation Program writing groups totalling 53 subjects (n = 16, 12, 13, 12). These four groups were divided into two experimental groups (henceforth EI and EII) and two control groups (henceforth CI and CII). Groups were randomly assigned to either the treatment condition or the control condition by the flipping of a coin. As regards treatments, the active independent variable in this study was the type of feedback, with groups EI & EII receiving coded, indirect WCF during the treatment period, and CI & CII not receiving any feedback on grammatical, orthographic, or punctuation errors whatsoever. Instead, for a number of 35

reasons – not least in order to “satisfy ethical requirements” (Bitchener, Young, & Cameron 2005:195) – the two control groups were given feedback on the ideational content of their writing, its organisation, and basic structural features (topic sentences, thesis statements, main ideas and supporting details, transition vocabulary, paragraphing, etc.). To assay the effects of both treatments on grammatical accuracy, it was decided to compare the number of targeted errors in the students’ first draft of their first writing project (WP1, completed in week 8 of the academic calendar) with the first draft of their second project (WP2, completed in week 12). Thus, these two different treatments were applied in a period of 3 weeks, from academic week 9 to week 11, during the first (Fall) semester of the academic year 2012/13. In this study, all four groups had exactly the same classroom pedagogical activities, and, during the treatment period all four groups covered comparison tables and language of comparison, and in class completed, in 30 minutes, single-draft comparison/contrast essays on topics such as ‘The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia’, ‘Dragons and Hydras’, ‘Um Saeed and Um Allawi’ (two prominent, modern, Emirati cartoon characters), ‘Abu Dhabi and Dubai’, and ‘Burj Arab and the Petronas Towers’. Upon having their compositions returned with feedback, which as argued by Lalande (1982:141) “is indispensable if the strategies of guided-learning and problem-solving are to be invoked by the student,” students in the two control groups were given time to read – and, hopefully, digest – some of the comments made in response to their essay. Students in the two experimental groups were required, through the use of feedback and, if required, tutor-student conferences (see below), to correct their errors and then to show their corrections to the teacher-researcher. This practice is said to boast of a pedagogical aspect of some potential importance. Bitchener (2005:3), for example, writes: Requiring students to revise their writing in class immediately after they have received written feedback on their texts is one way of training students to become more independent and therefore more responsible for the linguistic quality of their writing. As Lalande (1982) and Lightbrown and Spada (1999) point out, such opportunities engage students at a teachable moment, that is, when they are working on their writing and are interested in the feedback they have received.” (original italics) Students in both treatment groups were not, however, required to rewrite their whole essay, or even sentences or clauses containing errors, except of course if the error was one of word order/sentence structure. The rationale for this lies in the fact that it has been suggested, reasonably, that in such experiments it is of paramount importance to attempt to have all students write as close to the same amount as is possible (e.g., Semke, 1984:201; Truscott, 1996:360; Guénette, 36

2007:48; Sheen, Wright, & Moldawa, 2009:566). This is since there always exists the possibility that any improvement in grammatical accuracy evinced on the part of participants in such experimental studies may have feasibly come about from sheer writing practice alone, that is, from ‘Time-On-Task’ (Truscott, 2004:337; Beuningen, Jong, & Kuiken, 2008:281; 282; 284; 292) and not as a result of corrections. Therefore, to eliminate, or at least to minimise, any possible effects of this potentially confounding variable, students in the experimental groups were only required to rewrite errors, as indicated indirectly by the coding scheme employed below. Table 1. Correction symbols Symbol ? VT S-V S S/P P^ P^ V^ V^ ART^ ART^ SUB^ SUB^ ART WW POS REDUP WO CASE

Kind of error Meaning not clear/Word salad Verb tense Subject-verb agreement Spelling Number Omitted punctuation

Example No to go house people were ? I see him yesterday. He drive to work everyday. Frist, we should make a list. I do not like insect. Second you must go to the bank.

Omitted verb

We happy when we go home.

Omitted article

UAE is a nice country.

Omitted subject

Like BBQs at the wadi.

Wrong article Wrong word Part of speech Reduplication of pronoun Word order Capitalisation

Ramadan depends on a moon. I wear binoculars to read. That was irresponsibility of you. This is a step you must follow it. I to go want on holiday. australia is a huge country.

Students in both conditions were permitted – indeed, encouraged – to seek the assistance of the current author and/or that of their fellow classmates after having their compositions returned. Ferris (2004:60) advises that “Students should be required to revise (or at least self-edit) their texts after receiving feedback, ideally in class where they can consult with their peers and instructor.” Such ‘conferences’ are a well-established part of the pedagogically-sound language classroom (e.g., Lalande, 1982:143), and, theoretically at least, offer a whole host of benefits. Bitchener (2005:3) for example asserts that “Opportunities to revise texts in class have the added advantage of providing students with another source of knowledge (the teacher) when they have exhausted their own efforts to correct problematic errors.” Bitchener (2005:3) also remarks that “one-on-one teacher-student conferences […] provide an opportunity for clarification, instruction and negotiation.”


Such mini-tutor-conferences also have a more practical function. As noted by Bruton (2009:136-137), “if the students are given clues rather than the instructor writing in the corrections, there is no guarantee that the student revisions will be correct […] especially if the error correction required is beyond the students’ capacity.” Results & Discussion Table 2. Results for EI/EII and CI/CII in WP1 & WP2 Error

EI & EII WP1 Total


SD (σ)





SD (σ)



SD (σ)

CI & CII WP2 Total


SD (σ)









































































































































































0.61 0.80







































NB Statistical analysis of results from WP1 (confidence limits of difference of the means) suggests that there were no significant differences between EI/EII & CI/CII As shown in table 2 above, the total number of errors for EI & EII fell from 1,504 in WP1 to 1,097 in WP2, a fall which is considered to be very statistically significant. However, the total number of errors for the two control groups (CI & CII) decreased from 1,587 in WP1 to 1,161 in WP2, which is extremely statistically significant. So, despite the array of theoretical benefits of WCF alluded to above by various researchers, such as the activation of problem solving skills, and despite the putative benefits of mini-conferences, such as the exploitation of ‘teachable’ moments, the two control groups actually evinced a decrease in errors of greater statistical significance than that of the two experimental groups. Thus, these results suggest that simply being allowed to write, and not being ‘hampered’ by the interventionist practice of WCF, permitted students in the two control groups in this study to increase the formal accuracy of their writing to a greater degree 38

than their experimental group counterparts, at least as measured by the error categories employed in this study. Conclusion Truscott (1996) contends, controversially, that WCF is not only ineffective but actually has something of a deleterious effect on students’ progress in writing. Whilst no evidence for that contention was found in the current study, when one considers the sheer amount of time and effort expended on WCF on the part of many writing instructors (Kepner, 1991; Lee, 1997; Ferris, 1999; Chandler, 2003), it is perhaps safe to say that WCF is not so much detrimental to learners as more harmful to teachers, many of whom, not heeding the warning of Hairston (1986:117), have allowed themselves to fall into the trap of becoming “composition slaves”. References Beuningen, van C. G., Jong, de N. H., & Kuiken, F. (2008). The effect of direct and indirect corrective feedback on L2 learners’ written accuracy. ITL – International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 156, 279-296. Bitchener, J. (2005). The extent to which classroom teaching options and independent learning activities can help L2 writers improve the accuracy of their writing. Supporting independent English language learning in the 21st century: Proceedings of the Independent Learning Association Conference Inaugural, 1-7. Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005). The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 191-205. Bruton, A. (2009). Designing research into the effects of grammar correction in L2 writing: Not so straightforward. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18, 136-140. Chandler, J. (2003). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12, 267-296. Chandler, J. (2004). A response to Truscott. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 345-348. Diab, R. L. (2006). Error correction and feedback in the EFL writing classroom: Comparing instructor and student preferences. English Teaching Forum, 44 (3), 2–13. Ferris, D. R. (1999). The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes: A response to Truscott (1996). Journal of Second Language Writing, 8, 1-10. Ferris, D. R. (2004). The “grammar correction” debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? (and what do we do in the meantime…?). Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 49-62.


Gobert, M. (2010). Grammar correction in ESL writing classrooms. In D. Anderson & C. Coombe (Eds.) Cultivating real writers: Emerging theory and practice for adult Arab learners (pp.121-133). Abu Dhabi: HCT Press. Guénette, D. (2007). Is feedback pedagogically correct? Research design issues in studies of feedback on writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16, 40-53. Hairston, M. (1986). On not being a composition slave. In C. W. Bridges (Ed.) Training the new teacher of college composition (pp.117-124). Urbana, IL: NCTE. Kepner, C. G. (1991). An experiment in the relationship of types of written feedback to the development of second-language writing skills. The Modern Language Journal, 75, 305-313. Lalande, J. F., II (1982). Reducing composition errors: An experiment. Modern Language Journal, 66, 140–149. Lee, I. (1997) ESL learners’ performance in error correction in writing: Some implications for teaching. System, 25, 465–477. Lightbown, P. and Spada, N. (1999). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Schneider, A. (2010). Developing an editing marking scheme: An evolving process. In D. Anderson & C. Coombe (Eds.) Cultivating real writers: Emerging theory and practice for adult Arab learners (pp.99-108). Abu Dhabi: HCT Press. Semke, H. (1984). The effects of the red pen. Foreign Language Annals, 17, 195– 202. Sheen, Y., Wright, D., & Moldawa, A. (2009) Differential effects of focused and unfocused written correction on the accurate use of grammatical forms by adult ESL learners. System, 37, 556-569. Truscott, J. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language Learning, 46, 327-369. Truscott, J. (1999). The case for ‘‘the case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes’’: A response to Ferris. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8, 111– 122. Truscott, J. (2004). Evidence and conjecture on the effects of correction: A response to Chandler. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 337-343.


Reading Counts: Developing a Habit of Reading Helene Demirci, Melanie Gobert & Louise Sikkens Abu Dhabi Men’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE Abstract This chapter describes a pilot study done by two teachers with the help of the library staff at a tertiary institution in the Gulf. The aim of the pilot was to get the male students reading. The challenges teachers face in the Gulf to get their students reading is described in terms of both the distractions of modern technology and the historical role of reading in the society. With the help of the library, the teachers set up a reading competition between two classes using a licensed software that tracked the number of words read by the students and awarded points to each student. At the end of the competition, students were awarded with certificates and recognized for being the one of the top three readers in the class, the top reader, and the top reading class. Later this program was expanded to include eight other teachers and ten other classes with equal success. For the first time, adult male students could be seen deep into their books. The library circulation statistics for graded reading material more than tripled when compared to the same period the previous year. It is widely held that the integration of an extensive reading program in an EFL program can have wide reaching positive effects on learners. Students who read more become better and more confident readers, but they also improve their reading, writing, listening, speaking, and vocabularies. Introduction Developing the habit of reading can be a challenge for any teacher, but faced with students from societies where there is a lack of a reading culture or reading habit in society because of the prized oral tradition (Shannon, 2004), it can be even more challenging. It is widely held that the integration of an extensive reading program in an EFL program can have wide reaching positive effects on learners. Bamford and Day (2003 p.1) remind us that “students who read more will not only become better and more confident readers, but they will also improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities and their vocabularies will get richer.” Therefore teachers need to make reading count. In a pilot study, two classes of male Emirati English Foundation students aged 17-30 were encouraged to read graded readers linked to a propriety software tool. This was utilized to create virtual certificates for students and by introducing competition between the classes to intrinsically motivate students to read graded readers at their reading and interest level outside the classroom independently. Motivating reluctant readers can be quite challenging in today’s world where reading competes with many technological distractions. Male students can be even more affected than female students when it comes to motivation and 41

reading especially when video games are factored into the equation. This action research project began as a means to increase our male students’ interest in extensive reading at a tertiary English language foundation program at a college in the United Arab Emirates. It began as a pilot in the initial stages and expanded to include 10 classes and 8 teachers in the second half of the academic year. The UAE Student It is easy for one to put all students in the United Arab Emirates together into one category, but in fact they are quite unique according to their backgrounds. First of all, many students in the UAE are non-nationals. Less than 20% of the population of the country are nationals (World Factbook, 2013). Many teachers in the UAE do not even teach Emiratis, but the many other different nationalities living in the country including, Asians, non-Emirati Arabs, and Western Europeans. In addition, the Higher Colleges of Technology’s system-wide test results seem to indicate that there is an urban/rural divide when it comes to Emirati students (Marsden, 2004). Students who come from the major cities, especially Dubai or Abu Dhabi, probably come into contact with English more and this is evident in system-wide test performance. Many Emiratis also send their children to private schools following a British, American, or Arab curriculum rather than public schools. There have been estimates that more than 50% of Emiratis attend private schools (Zaman, 2013). In system-wide testing performance of the Higher Colleges of Technology, males and females also seem to perform differently on benchmark assessments (Marsden, 2004). The females outperform the males in reading and writing and the males outperform the females in listening and speaking (Marsden 2004). This could also be related to the types of contact each gender has with the target language. Another consideration is linguistic heritage. Many of our Emirati students come from mixed-marriage homes where the mother may be of another Arab, Asian, or Western nationality. Our students will also vary on their ability to read in Arabic. Students who come from private school or high school backgrounds may not read Arabic to the same level as students who study in Arabic medium schools and this may mean that they have fewer skills to transfer from reading in Arabic to reading in English. In addition, many students may not read very well in Arabic for other reasons including Arabic diglossia. Arabic diglossia refers to the phenomenon of having different forms of the same language. Arabic has a high form, Classical Arabic, the language of the Qu’ran, Modern Standard Arabic, the written language that was modernized at the turn of the 18th century, and Spoken Vernacular Arabic which is the form of the language spoken at home (Saiegh-Haddad, 2004) The differences are grammatical, lexical, and phonemic (Saiegh-Haddad 2004). A further consideration that may affect our students reading ability in English is if they have an undiagnosed reading disability in 42

Arabic. About 10% of the population worldwide suffers from some type of reading disability (Abu-Rabia & Maroun, 2004). Falling IELTS Scores Evidence of our students’ poor performance in reading, which seems to be decreasing, can be found in the table below which shows the IELTS test takers’ results in reading for the Academic and General test modules for students whose first language is Arabic and for UAE test takers (see Table 1) (IELTS Analyis, 2007, 2008; IELTS Annual, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011). 2006 L1 Arabic Academic Module 5.52 UAE Academic Module 5.10 L1 Arabic GT Module 5.10 UAE GT Module 4.07

2007 5.31 4.96 5.04 4.02

2008 5.09 4.80 4.73 3.91

2009 4.96 4.69 4.89 3.72

2010 n.a. 4.80 n.a. 3.70

2011 5.00 4.80 4.60 3.50

Table 1. Mean reading bands for L1 Arabic and UAE IELTS test takers Extensive Reading It has been suggested that implementing an extensive reading program can improve spelling (Pellicer-Sanchez & Schmitt, 2010) and writing performance (Hafiz & Tudor, 1989), develop vocabulary (Rashidi & Piran, 2011) and grammar proficiency (Iwahori, 2008). In addition oral and aural abilities can be improved as well as overall reading comprehension. Reading speed can also be increased as familiarity with sight words increases. Bamford and Day (2003 p. 1) remind us that “students who read more will not only become better and more confident readers, but they will also improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities and their vocabularies will get richer.” In addition extensive reading can also be the “key to unlocking the all-important taste for foreign language reading” (Bamford & Day, 2002 p.136) helping to develop the habit of reading among language learners. Reading Challenge Pilot In the pilot of the Reading Challenge, which occurred during a spring semester, one Level 2 class and one Level 3 class plus their teachers participated. The choice of software for tracking the reading was Scholastic Reading Counts (SRC). This is a software program developed by Scholastic to encourage independent extensive reading in the United States particularly where English Language Learners (ELLs) are behind their school-age counterparts in reading. The software is a java-based platform and it tracks what the students read by a point system, has a large number of Scholastic reading books in the program (though schools may add their own books with quizzes written by the teachers or 43

librarian), gives virtual certificates for successful completion (60%) of a 10question quiz on a book read, and has a small cost per student for the initial license (approx. $5) and a smaller annual license renewal fee. Teachers and librarians may also track classes as well as individual students. This software was chosen because one of the participating teachers had previous experience with the program. Rationale for the Study One of the participating teachers was new to the college and was having difficulty covering the teaching plan whilst understanding the need to incorporate an element of extensive reading into the program. The library holds a very wide range of graded readers that were not being used. The teacher observed that the Independent Learning Centre (ILC) was very popular amongst students and teachers. The ILC is a dedicated area in the library where students can visit anytime to work independently on improving their language skills, there are extra staff to help students locate materials when a teacher is not present. Most teachers take students to the ILC at least one lesson period per week to practice independently. The teacher also observed that intensive reading methodology was the main source of reading practice in the classroom. Teachers justified this because it was thought the proper way to practice to ensure success in exams; the more practice reading texts and answering exam type questions the students did the more successful they would be (Macloud 2005). In fact this method in isolation was not meeting the needs of the students in that they were not as Krashen (1982) suggested being exposed to large amounts of second language input that was "meaningful", interesting, relevant, not grammatically sequenced, and in a low anxiety setting something which extensive reading provides because it meets the “requirements of optimal input� (Krashen1982 p.165) for reading. One of the participating teachers had past experience using SRC where students could read independently and collect points to show success so SRC was suggested as a method to capitalize on the popularity of the ILC and to promote independent extensive reading. As more thought was given to introducing the program the idea came to turn the reading program into a competition. This was readily agreed to by the other teacher and the library staff. Both teachers had observed how much their students liked in-class competitions and regularly used classroom games and competitions as a motivational strategy for learning vocabulary and grammar. Gustafson (2008), on the advice of her husband, used a competition to motivate her male middle school students to read. Further evidence of the motivational aspects of competitions on Emirati society is found in the traditional sporting and performance competitions, such as camel racing, sword dancing, Nabati poetry, falconry, and dhow racing, which are sponsored by the government and local rulers (Hurreiz, 2002). 44

In the reading competition, two classes of students competed for the most points and the top 3 readers were recognized from each class as well as the top reader overall. The prizes were symbolic, not tangible; the students received certificates. In the pilot, the Level 3 class won the top prize for most points and a student from Level 2 won the top prize overall for the top reader. Each student in every class was also given a certificate of participation. The certificates were awarded at a small ceremony in the library with the library supervisor and program supervisors present. Teacher Observations During the pilot study teachers observed that students were motivated by the competition. They went to the library to get their own books independently every week. Before the pilot study began, a survey administered to students revealed that 47% of students did not take books from the library. During the pilot study teachers and librarians observed students going into the library and selecting a book from a special trolley where the books were held. The students knew and shared with their friends how many points each book was worth, and they used the tracking system to check their points. They also proudly showed their teachers the virtual certificates produced by the software program when they successfully completed a quiz with a pass of 60%. This may not seem like remarkable behavior, but given that before the pilot very few students took books from the library, it was a break through. There were, however, some problems with the pilot. The number of books was limited by the number of suitable titles available from the publisher. Many titles were inappropriate due to the content (high school boyfriends and girlfriends) or culturally irrelevant (the father of my country, George Washington) as the books were written for primarily younger students studying in the USA. About 20 ESL graded readers were added from the college’s library, but a teacher and a librarian had to write the questions for the quizzes for each book. Also, the day before the end of the pilot, a teacher observed a top reader in her class sitting with a student who had not read many books telling his friend all of the answers for the quizzes that the top reader had read to elevate the standing of his friend in the final point count. This student’s score had to be readjusted and the points that occurred in a two-hour time frame the day before the competition ended were removed. Despite these problems, the pilot was deemed a success because the students went from reading zero books on their own outside of class to reading an average of six books during the eight week pilot, with the top reader reading 12 books. Library Challenges/Input The major role of the Library in assisting with the implementation of the pilot reading program, involved the organization of the reading material and the administration of the Scholastic Reading Counts (SRC) online system. After the 45

initial pilot, when M-Reader was introduced, this role increased to include the administration of more students in the dual reading programs. Initially, the SRC registration of individual students for the pilot reading program was time consuming as each student had to be registered manually. As the ILC technician become more confident and experienced, it was easier to upload and download Excel CSV class list files. Once M-Reader was introduced, and initial glitches with the uploading of the program were resolved, the process was completed quickly as all students were registered via the CSV lists. One of the major challenges, and still an on-going one, was locating appropriate reading materials of interest to and at the right level for the students. Due to their reading ability, there was a need for many lower level graded readers. It was extremely difficult to source books that the students would enjoy reading at the level required. As the students became more proficient, they were able to improve their level of reading and access books that were more appropriate to their ability and interests. Since the induction of the Reading Challenge, it has been an ongoing policy to buy any new graded readers that come onto the market to keep up with the reading needs of the students. In SRC, once a graded reader was purchased, a quiz needed to be created for each title. SRC had limited quizzes and many of the titles purchased needed quizzes written specifically for them. Initially, this required a great deal of time and energy. The advantage of this was that the teachers and librarian were able to adjust the language level so that the students were able to understand the questions accurately. Overall, the initial set up of the reading program was challenging. Locating, labeling and determining the level of the books, establishing word counts, registering students, dealing with IT issues and supporting the students took a great deal of organization. But, this initial effort has ensured that we have a reading program that is growing from strength to strength. Post Pilot Considerations After the success of the pilot study the participants realized it was essential that an extensive reading program be introduced to the foundations program at the college. It was also at this time that UAE tertiary education institutes implemented the iPad initiative. As the SRC program ran on java based software it does not work on the iPad, so new students would not be able to access the SRC program without access to a laptop. Before the iPad initiative was announced the college library purchased 125 SRC licenses and therefore were committed to using SRC with 125 students. As teachers researched for a way in which to integrate the iPad with the extensive reading program we discovered the site M-reader ( This is an extensive reading software program similar to SRC which is free of charge and was developed for use with the iPad. 46

M-reader is hosted by the Extensive Reading Foundation and there are as many as 3,200 graded reader quizzes available, with a tracking system tallying number of words read and reports for teachers and students. Any school can contact Tom Robb ( to have their school added to the system free of charge. The discovery and the development of M-reader came at the most opportune time as more classes could be integrated into the next phase of the extensive reading program. Therefore, teachers who were known to be advocates of extensive reading were invited to participate in the wider reaching initiative, participation was voluntary not mandatory. This resulted in 10 teachers volunteering to participate and a total of 271 students spread across Levels 1 to 3, with 101 students using SRC and 170 students using M-reader. With numbers of participants growing and in an attempt to spur the competition on, it was decided that a weekly leaderboard would be prepared by the library staff that would be advertised in the library and emailed to teachers once per week. This would inform everyone participating who the top reader was in each class and inform of the total number of words read in each class, thus the top class in each level would be known at the start of each week. The aim of the weekly leaderboard was to keep the competition fresh in the minds of the students and the teachers so that reading would be done consistently throughout the initiative and not just at the end. To reward successful readers and classes at the end of the initiative it was decided to give the winning class at each level a trophy and the top reader in each level a trophy. The top three readers would get a gold, silver or bronze medal and all participants would receive a certificate. These rewards had proven to be very motivating in the pilot study and it was thought that they were instrumental in the success of the initiative in the initial phases. In the initial phases it is also necessary to consider how to set up the program. Registering students can be time consuming; time should be given to allow the classes to settle in. Given that M-reader had been newly developed there were glitches which we hope will be rectified in the future. This was an issue as students were not familiar with the system which was considered to be less user-friendly and less aesthetically pleasing when compared to SRC initially. At the set up phase of the post-pilot study with respect to SRC there were problems finding lower level readers because it was designed for use with L1 students. The quizzes uploaded in the pilot were aimed at the Level 2 and Level 3 classes who participated in the pilot. Even though more quizzes were uploaded prior to the post pilot program, they were still not enough as many students, no matter what their English class level, wanted to begin with lower level books. It was time consuming to find the number of words in the graded readers to enter into the SRC program; teachers and librarians had to search many websites.


Conclusion Given the context in which we work and the falling IELTS scores mentioned, we believe it is time for teachers to seek new methodologies to help students improve their reading skills. Although focusing in intensive reading maybe a quick fix and manageable for teachers, this method in isolation does not meet the needs of the students. After a successful pilot study utilizing SRC it has been suggested that an extensive reading program would be a suitable method to meet the needs of students when it comes to developing a habit of reading and a way for students to experience reading for pleasure. There are issues to consider when embarking on this type of program, but the benefits most definitely outweigh drawbacks. References Abu-Rabia, S. & Maroun, L. (2004). The effect of cosanguineous marriage on reading disability in the Arab community. Dyslexia, 11, 1-21. Al-Homoud, F & Schmitt, N. (2009). Extensive reading in a challenging environment: A comparison of extensive reading and intensive reading approaches in Saudi Arabia. Language Teaching Research, 13(4), 383-401. Day, R. & Bamford, J. (2002). Top ten principles for teaching extensive reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 14(2). Hurreiz, S. (2002). Folklore and folklife in the United Arab Emirates. London: Routledge Curzon. IELTS Analysis of Test Data. (2007). Retrieved from: IELTS Analysis of Test Data. (2008). Retrieved from: IELTS Annual Review. (2006). Retrieved from: pdf IELTS Annual Review. (2009). Retrieved from: IELTS Annual Review. (2010). Retrieved from: IELTS Annual Review. (2011). Retrieved from: Iwahori, Y. (2008). Developing reading fluency: A study of extensive reading in EFL. Reading in a Foreign Language, 20, 70–91. Johnson, A. (2009). To what extent can graded readers motivate Emirati students to become extensive readers? A case study at Abu Dhabi Men’s College. In D. Anderson & M. McQuire (Eds.), Cultivating real readers (pp. 101-110). Abu Dhabi, UAE: HCT Press. Krashen (1982) Principles and practice in second language acquisition. Pergamon Press.


Macloud, M. (2005) Types of Reading. Available at: sive Marsden, N. (2004, August). Language levels of HCT students and implications for teaching in a second language. Paper presented at the Higher Colleges of Technology Annual Conference, Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, Dubai, UAE. Mori, S. (2002). Redefining motivation to read in a foreign language. Reading in a Foreign Language, 14(2). Available at: Pellicer-Sanchez, A. & Schmitt, N. (2010). Incidental vocabulary acquisition from an authentic novel: Do things fall apart? Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 31-55. Rashidi, N. & Piran, M. (2011). The effect of extensive and intensive reading on Iranian EFL learners’ vocabulary size and depth. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2, 471-482). Saiegh-Haddad, E. (2004). The impact of phonemic and lexical distance on the phonological analysis of words and pseudowords in a diglossic context. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24, 495-512 Shannon, J. (2003). Getting Gulf students to enjoy reading. Perspectives, 11(1), 21-24. The World Factbook. (2013). Retrieved from: Zaman, S. (2013, July 30). Sizable number of Emirati pupils in private schools. Gulf News. Retrieved from:


Comparison of the Students' Performance in Dynamic vs. Static Listening Comprehension Tests among EFL Learners Sabhi Hidri University of Social and Human Sciences of Tunis, Tunisia Abstract Based on the traditional and psychometric static assessment (SA) and Vygotsky’s notion of dynamic assessment (DA) in the Sociocultural Theory of Mind (STM), this study compares students’ performance in dynamic vs. static listening comprehension (LC) tests in an EFL context. While DA mediates the learners to process the test, SA does not allow any help. The study used two tests: static and dynamic administered to 662 and 60 test-takers respectively. Eleven raters scored this performance. The quantitative results of the study indicated that the testtakers performed better in the dynamic assessment rather than the static test, thus, depending, for instance, on the nature of tests and on the raters’ measurement behavior. The static LC test also proved to be an appropriate measurement procedure to assess the individual performance in LC but it did not offer ample opportunities for learning. Recommendations were made to improve the status of teaching and testing LC dynamically by encouraging the teachers to consider the teaching practices from a dynamic perspective. Introduction & Theoretical background This study compared two different approaches to the assessment of LC: dynamic and static. The first approach is echoed in the Vygotskian (1981/1986) tradition of STM (Block, 2003) where learners are mediated in their learning processes. The second approach is static and/or traditional where learners are not offered any kind of help. Proponents of DA maintain that language is a cognitive as well as social phenomenon and that learners should be helped to promote their higher mental functioning (Lantolf & Poehner, 2006); thus making of this assessment a democratic endeavour (Shohamy, 2001). The pendulum in language testing research has shifted towards the social dimension of language testing (Block, 2003; Johnson, 2006; McNamara & Rover, 2006). Dynamic learning can be traced back to Vygotsky’s theory of learning (1981; 1986). This new form of alternative assessment consists of teaching and testing learners in a joint activity in which they, teachers and learners, share, negotiate, and construct meaning together (Antón, 2003; Gibbons, 2003; Lantolf, 2009; Lidz, 2002; Leung, 2007). McNamara (2000, p. 4) contends that there are new directions in assessment. He maintains that “[Learners] may be observed in their normal activities of communication in the language classroom on routine pedagogical tasks.” Vygotsky’s theory of learning (1981/1986) emphasizes the importance of mediation, zone of proximal development (ZPD), and contingency in learning. These concepts are defined as follows: 50

ZPD lies at the core of dynamic learning. In the ZPD, mediation and scaffolding can occur to facilitate the process of learning (Lidz, 2002; Lantolf & Poehner, 2006). Scaffolding: Gibbons (2003) and Kozulin (2002) contend that scaffolding refers to the guidance offered by the teacher to the learner. This guidance can be manifested in the use of newly implemented skills and some strategies which the learner needs to process a task. Mediation: learners organize their ideas through a give and take process with other learners and teachers i.e., the potential for learning depends on this mediation (Tzuriel & Shamir, 2002). Many mediation strategies can be utilized in DA to facilitate processing the test. They are: Intent, meaning, transcendence, praise/encouragement, joint regard, sharing, task regulations, challenge, psychological differentiation, contingent responsivity, affective involvement and change (Karpov & Haywood, 1998) (see Lidz, 2002). In comparing the test-takers’ performance in both test modes, it should be mentioned that in DA, the examinees are not provided with any form of feedback from the examiners until the assessment phase is complete (Gibbons, 2003). In this kind of assessment, feedback is offered by the assessor throughout the assessment phase by constructing knowledge dynamically. This is called “mediated assistance” (Lantolf, 2000; Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2002). However, in SA, knowledge is constructed individually. The obtained scores may not provide enough inference about the learners’ cognitive processes. The obtained scores are accurate in making fair decisions about the students’ performance, not like the scores obtained from the dynamic test where tracing the potential of the individual estimate becomes difficult. Rationale of the study Addressing the comparison of both assessment modes has been given scant attention in language assessment. There is an exhaustive research on the assessment of traditional or static LC (Buck, 2001). However, there is hardly any work which has tackled the differences between DA and SA in language skills such as LC. The study addressed the following research questions: 1. How comparable is the test-takers’ performance in both test modes? 2. Does the rating behaviour change in both assessment modes? Method and data collection The participants who took part in this study were first-year students majoring in English from three universities in Tunisia. They studied LC as a separate skill and were tested three times a term. All the participants ranged in age from 20 to 23. All the raters were teachers of LC who had their MA degree in linguistics or 51

literature. Their teaching experience ranged from 1 to 14 years. They were engaged in training sessions in how to carry out and grade DA in pairs or in groups. A large population of 662 test-takers (Table 1) were selected to sit for the static test among which 60 test-takers sat also for the dynamic test. This dynamic test was carried out during regular class hours where the interaction was initiated between two test-takers and one teacher who was also the rater herself. As for the static test, it was administered as a final achievement test. Generally, the same question and prompt types were considered in both assessment modes. To compare the performance of the test-takers in both assessment modes, the Multi Facet Rasch Measurement (MFRM) was used. The FACETS program (version 3.61.0) (Linacre, 1996; 2007; Linacre & Wright, 2006) was employed to analyze all the scores obtained from the two tests. Table 1 Summary of the research questions, data collection and data analyses procedures Research questions 1. How comparable is the test-takers’ performance in both test modes? 2. Does the rating behaviour change in both assessment modes?

Data collection Two tests: Static administered to 662 test-takers. The test contained 40 items Dynamic: administered to 60 test-takers the test contained 20 items 11 raters in both test modes

Data analyses Quantitative analysis of scores in both tests Analysis of the ability estimates of the test takers Analysis of the measurement behaviour

Data analysis In the analysis of the FACETS, program, the following facets (rater, test-taker, test type, test item, and interactions among them) were specified. The analysis addressed the following: 1. Ability estimates of the candidates 2. The raters’ measurement behaviour The scores were analyzed to check the test-takers’ performance in both test modes to account for the ability estimates, i.e., whether this ability changed across both tests and whether the rating behavior impacted the test scores.


Results and discussion Facets analysis This section addresses the FACETS analyses. Figure 1 displays a visual map of the different facets (rater, test-taker, test type, test item, and interactions among them). The logit scale (measr), in column 1, showed the ability scale which ranged from -1, the least able, to +2 the most able. Column 2 indicated the candidate’s ability variation. The asterisks at the top presented the most able candidates while the ones at the bottom referred to the least able ones. The average of the ability estimates was anchored at 0. There were 200 cases of negative ability that ranged from below 0 to -1. Ninety seven. ------------------------------------------------------------------|Measr|+student |-Test Type|-Item |-Rater | LC | ------------------------------------------------------------------+ 2 + + + + + (2) + | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | . | | | | | + 1 + + + + + + | | . | | | | | | | . | | | | | | | . | | | | | | | . | | | | --- | | | *. | | | | | | | **. | | | | | | | ****. | | * | | | | | *******. | | ***** | | | | | ********** | | ********* | 10 2 7 | | * 0 * ********. * Static * ********* * 1 11 5 8 * 1 * | | *******. | | ********** | 3 4 6 9 | | | | ****. | | ***** | | | | | *** | | * | | | | | *. | | | | | | | *. | | | | | | | . | | | | --- | | | . | | | | | | | . | | | | | | | | | | | | + -1 + . + + + + (0) + ------------------------------------------------------------------|Measr| * = 12 |-Test Type| * = 1 |-Rater | LC | -------------------------------------------------------------------

Figure 1. The candidates’ abilities in the static test (The asterisk (*) indicates 12 candidates) Candidates had an ability that levelled 0 and the ability that levelled 0 and the rest number of candidates had an ability estimate that was above 0. Column 3 refers to the nature of the test, where the static test included 40 items, with the most difficult items being at the top and the least difficult ones being at the bottom (column 4). One asterisk indicated one test item. In column 5, the raters clustered in 3 rows with the most severe raters being at the top (in this case, raters 10, 2 and 7) and the least severe one being at the bottom (in this case,


raters 3, 4, 6 and 9). The last column is the LC scale, with 0 as wrong, 1 half correct and 2 fully correct. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------|Measr|+student |-Test Type|-Item |-Rater | LC | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ 4 + **** + + + + (2) + | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | **** | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | + 3 + * + + + + + | | | | | | | | | *** | | | | | | | *** | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ** | | | | | | | ** | | | | | | | | | | | | | | * | | | | | + 2 + *** + + + + + | | | | | | | | | ***** | | | | | | | | | | | | | | *** | | | | | | | | | | | | | | *** | | | | | | | ********* | | | | | | | * | | | | | | | ** | | | | | + 1 + *** + + + + --- + | | *** | | | | | | | ** | | | | | | | * | | | | | | | ** | | | | | | | * | | * | | | | | | | * | | | | | * | | | | | | | | | *** | | | | | | | *** | | | * 0 * * * Dynamic * * * 1 10 11 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 * 1 * | | | | ******* | | | | | | | * | | | | | | | *** | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | + -1 + + + + + (0) + ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|Measr| * = 1 |-Test Type| * = 1 |-Rater | LC | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Figure 2. The candidates’ abilities in the dynamic test (The asterisk (*) indicates 1 candidate) In the dynamic test, the logit scale (measr), in column 1, ranged from -1, the least able, to +4 the most able. The candidates’ ability was anchored at zero to present the average of the ability and the items’ difficulty which was itself anchored at 0. Only one case levelled 0 as an average difficulty. There was no case of negative ability, while the other candidates, 14, had an ability that ranged from 0 to +1 and four candidates’ ability levelled 4. In column 5, the raters clustered in one row, thus indicating that all the raters had approximately the 54

same measurement leniency, probably because of the nature of the test where there should not be any room for failure. The variation in the test-takers ability was in part due to the rating behavior which will be analyzed below. Table 2 Rater measurement report in both assessment modes Static Rater ID

Error Severity

Infit square

Dynamic mean

Rater ID

Error Severity

Infit square


3 -.10 .02 .88 11 -.02 .19 1.00 9 -.08 .02 .87 2 -.01 .15 .57 4 -.08 .03 .92 9 -.01 .18 1.15 6 -.07 .01 .93 3 -.01 .21 .83 11 -.02 .02 .93 7 -.01 .19 .86 5 .01 .03 1.11 10 .00 .14 1.33 1 .02 .04 .89 8 .00 .19 1.83 8 .03 .02 1.12 1 .01 .18 .68 10 .06 .03 1.11 6 .02 .18 .80 7 .07 .02 1.15 5 .02 .34 .85 2 .14 .02 1.09 4 .02 .27 .85 Mean .00 .03 1.00 .00 .20 .98 SD .07 .01 .11 .01 .05 .33 Notes: Reliability of separation index Notes: Reliability (not inter-rater) .00; = .87; fixed (all same) chi-square: Fixed (all same) chi-square: .0 d.f.: 10 138.2 d.f.: 10 significance significance (probability): p<1.00 (probability): p<.00 Table 2 presents the rater measurement report and it shows three statistics: severity, error and infit mean square for the 11 raters in both tests. The statistics are ordered according to the severity level. The severity mean logit value in both modes was .00, ranging from -.10 to .14 and from -.02 to .02 in the static and dynamic tests respectively. The mean of error was .03, ranging from .01 to .04 in the static test and .20 ranging from .14 to .38 in the dynamic test. In column 3, the severity span between the most severe rater, rater 3, and the most lenient, rater 2, was -.24 logits (.-10+.14= .24), while it was .04 logits between the most and least severe raters, raters 11 and 4 respectively, in the dynamic test. The error mean of the dynamic test was .20 and it varied considerably in comparison with the error mean of the static test, .03. In the static test, the mean infit square was 1.00, ranging from .88 to 1.15. The consistency value according to McNamara (1996) can be set using the mean with 2 SD in both directions. For instance, in the dynamic test, SD was .11 and the mean was 1.00 (.11x2=.22+1.00=1.4). Therefore, in column four, the fit value in static test ranged from .88 to 1.15, thus no rater was identified as misfitting. Similarly, the fit value in dynamic ranged from .57 to 1.83. The mean was .98 and the SD was 55

.33 (.33x2=66+.98=1.65). Thus, raters 2 and 8 were identified as misfitting, since the infit value was beyond the range of .65 and 1.65. Along with this misfitting, there was still some rating inconsistency in both modes of the test. Rater 3 was inconsistently lenient in both modes. However, rater 4 for instance was inconsistently lenient in the static test, but harsh in the dynamic test. The reliability of the separation index of the static test mode was high, .87, with the chi-square of 138.2 with 10 d.f. was significant at p<.00. In the dynamic test, the chi-square of 0 with d.f. was significant at p<1.00. Therefore, the raters were not similar in severity. Discussion and Conclusion To sum up, the following could be deduced: Concerning the ability estimates of the candidates, the first year candidates majoring in English at the university level had an ability that differed in both test modes with some students (8 cases) who had a good LC ability that ranged from +3 to +4 in the dynamic test. In the static test, students had a poor LC ability in comparison with the dynamic nature of the test. In the analysis of the relationship between the raters and test modes, most of the raters behaved differently; thus, resulting in some rating inconsistency. This was due to the rating experience of these raters, the nature of the test items. Results of the study called for a reconsideration of the assessment modes and techniques in the Tunisian classrooms given the fact that the test-takers performed better on the dynamic test than the static test. DA proved to be beneficial mainly when it yielded feedback about the learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cognitive and metacognitive strategies. In addition, DA contributed significantly to language processing. The different educational background of the raters affected the rating behavior in both test modes. These differences would call for a training of the raters so as to reduce the rating inconsistency. One of the implications brought to light in this study was the necessity to consider the classroom assessment practices in that the joint interactions between the learners should be considered as an assessment mode (Poehner, 2009). In the methodological implications, the use of the FACETS as a statistical tool helped diagnose the major inconsistency rating behavior of the raters. Limitations of the Study Results of the study could be generalizable to the Tunisian context. In addition, the different educational backgrounds of raters and students had an impact on the test scores. Thus, making this study a context-bound one. The language 56

processing of the dynamic test was assessed during regular class hours over a short period of time. If some more time was allowed between regular class hours, results of the study could have been different. Recommendations Teachers and test writers are called to use DA as a mode of learning and testing. In addition, using both types of assessment would be the most reliable and effective mode of testing. Research into the nature of joint interaction, whether in teaching or testing, should be highlighted. In dynamic work, much learning can take place; thus minimizing the role of the traditional teacher who does most of the talking in class. This teaching technique of dynamic work will serve as a basic tool of assessment for learning. References Ant贸n, M. (2003). Dynamic assessment of advanced foreign language learners. Paper presented at the American Association of Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C., March, 2003. Block, D. (2003). The Social Turn in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Buck, G. (2001). Assessing Listening Comprehension. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gibbons, P. (2003). Mediating Language Learning: Teacher Interactions with ESL Students in a Content-Based Classroom. TESOL Quarterly 37(2), 247-73. Johnson, K .E. (2006). The social turn and its challenges for second language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 235-56. Karpov, Y, V & Haywood, H. C. (1998). Two ways to elaborate Vygotsky's concept of mediation: Implications for instruction. American Psychologist, 53(1), 27-36. Kozulin, A. (2002). Sociocultural theory and the mediated learning experience, School Psychological International, 23(1), 7-35. Lantolf, P. (2009). Dynamic assessment: The dialectic integration of instruction and assessment. Language Teaching, 42:3, 355-368. Lantolf, J.P. & Poehner, M.E. (2006). Dynamic assessment in the foreign language classroom: A teacher's guide. CALPER University Park, Pennsylvania. Leung, C. (2007). Dynamic assessment: assessment for and as teaching. Language Assessment Quarterly, 4(3), 257-78. Lidz, C. S. (2002). Mediated learning experiences (MLE) as a basis for an alternative approach to assessment. School Psychology International, 23(1), 68-84. Linacre, J. M. (1996). Generalizability theory and many-facet Rasch measurement. In Engelhard, G. & Wilson, M. (Eds.), Objective measurement: Theory into practice, Volume 3 (pp. 85-98). Norwood, NJ: Ablex. 57

Linacre, J. M. (2007). A userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide to FACETS Rasch model computer program. Retrieved from http// Linacre, J. M. & Wright, B. D. (2006). A userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide to FACETS: Rasch measurement computer program. Version 2.62. Chicago, IL: MESA. McNamara, T. (2000). Language Testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McNamara, T., & Roever, K. (2006). Language testing: The social dimension. Oxford: Blackwell. Shohamy, E. (2001). Democratic assessment as an alternative. Language Testing, 18(4), 373-91. Sternberg, R. J. & Grigorenko, E.L. (2002). Dynamic Testing. The Nature and Measurement of Learning Potential. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tzuriel, D. & Shamir, A. (2002). The effects of mediation in computer assisted dynamic assessment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 18, 21-32. Vygotsky, L. (1981). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Dealing with Students’ Behavior in the Classroom Sufian Abu-Rmaileh UAE University Abstract When teachers start teaching the first few days of class, they are faced with many issues and challenges that affect the learning and teaching process (Hatfield, 2003). Some of those issues range from the simple to the highly critical and detrimental to the education process. Issues like lack of participation, tardiness, lack of interest, aggressiveness, disrupting class, moving around the classroom and others affect the morale of the students and teachers alike. Discipline, one of the most prevailing problem facing students is something that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. Many teachers have tried to deal with such an issue and failed. This is due to the fact that many teachers cannot or are not able to deal with or overcome such a problem. Excellent teachers are those who make sure that such problems are dealt with effectively and professionally. They are in the trenches with the students ‘in sickness and in health.’ Willing teachers are the ones who are open and approachable, trying to help students with matters pertaining to their education and to matter relevant to their personal lives. The current presentation will look at the educational, personal/attitudinal and cognitive/mental reasons why students cannot focus on learning (Slavin, 1980, Slavin, 1985). Participants will look at some classroom behavioral scenarios and try and find ways to deal with those scenarios. Finally, participants will look at ways of establishing authority in the classroom, providing participants with techniques they can take with them and use. Introduction It is amazing how new or potential teachers spend so many years in school, studying to become a teacher. They come into their classrooms with eyes that say. “Yes, I am ready. Bring it on.” What enthusiasm and energy they possess. These new teachers go into class, trying to establish an environment that is open and conducive to learning. Teachers bring with them all the theories and techniques of teaching that they learned at school so they can help and support students. However, all that preparation they do and all that learning and knowledge they get does not prepare them for the first day they actually become teachers and enter the classroom. Unfortunately, new teachers become so preoccupied with classroom behavioral issues that not much learning takes place. The much needed time to focus on learning is wasted dealing with many peripheral issues. Clashes among students and the teacher seem to focus on rules of behavior instead of the course material. Discipline, being one of the major issues affecting classroom interaction, is a serious issue that cannot be ignored or trifled with. Over the years, researchers, 59

teachers, and administrators have attempted to help teachers overcome, or at least reduce behavioral problems and the need to take disciplinary action against misbehaving students. Educators and educational researchers have tried to explain why these problems occur and how to motivate students not to repeat the behavior. Reasons for students’ lack of focus on learning There are many reasons as to why students lack the focus that is needed of them in the classroom. Some of these reasons are educational, attitudinal/personal, or cognitive as discussed next. Educational Educational issues have to deal with the student him/herself, while others are based on the schools educational environment (Bligh, 1971). Not all students are the same, even when they are placed in the same grade level. Each student’s educational experience differs from the other. Some have higher levels than others. The way students work and learn also differs from one student to the other. When it comes to the student’s disposition to learning, it is noticed that many times students are not prepared for the learning process or for the place where learning is taking place (Ingersoll, 1999). Because of this, the student may lack focus. He/she may also work aimlessly without any clear immediate or future goals. The student feels lost or misdirected. This would affect the preparedness of the student. It would also affect the student’s participation. The student would become a passive participant in the learning process. He/she would feel inundated with information and because of the lack of focus, his/her ability to process information diminishes. In addition to the student’s lack of participation, the school environment could add to the student’s lack of involvement. If the school does not lend the student the support he/she warrants, then this would add to the student’s drift away from the learning process. Many classrooms do not utilize a cooperative learning environment where students can work together to support their learning (Slavin, 1985). Student-centered support is not present. Students are treated as passive learners who are not involved in their learning (Oliver and Utermohlen, 1995). They are in the classroom as receivers of knowledge and not full participants in their education. No critical or higher level thinking is expected of them. Learning is superficial with no essence to it. No deep discussion of the learned material takes place (Oliver, 1999). Students who are not prepared, not focused or goaloriented do not participate (Abu-Rmaileh, 2007, Young, 2002). Also, students who are not educationally supported, either because they are treated as passive learners or because the curriculum is not diverse affect students learning. Consequently, this affects their behavior and their attitude towards school and towards their learning. 60

Attitudinal/Personal Personal and attitudinal issues can highly affect the studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s disposition to learning. Many of the personal concerns that affect students is the lack of preparation that students have for what they are facing in the school. Many times, when students move from one grade to another, they find it difficult to adjust to new situations or new experiences. In an environment where there is a high percentage of students move from one city or country to another for one reason or the other make it difficult for students to cope with the changes. They become stressed out and overwhelmed (Perry, Hladkyj, Perkum and Pelletier, 2001). This may also help students resist change or even act against it and against those who represent that change, including school. In addition to their lack of adjustment, students lose confidence in their abilities, thus, affecting their self-esteem (Slavin, 1980). They become easily distracted by any outside stimulant they encounter. They start having problems with their teachers and their peers. They become less focused on their learning and more involved in peripheral matters that distract them from their learning. Students can become indifferent to their academic performance (Druian and Butler, 1987). They stop caring whether they pass or fail. They start taking risks with their performance by not doing what is expected of them. Finally, when students do not care about their academic performance, they start falling behind by not following what is happening in the classroom. Their time management skills arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t able to adjust to the fast pace of learning, making them lag behind in their learning and fail (Lazarus, 1966). Their indifference becomes a barrier to their learning and becomes a facilitator to misbehavior and acting out. Cognitive/Mental Many students find themselves in a grade level that is not appropriate for their educational level. This could either be because they were improperly assessed or because they were able to pass and go forward without the proper understanding of what they learned. Some students could also be gifted and what they do in class is too easy and not challenging for them. Some may take a few minutes to complete a task while others need the whole class period. Teachers need to work with all kinds of students, allowing them the required time to complete tasks (Wilson, 2009), and giving the faster students more tasks so that they are not bored. Whether the material is too challenging or boring affects the way the student behaves in class. They may stay on task or act out because things are too difficult or too easy. Another issue that affects studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; disposition to learning is motivation. Teachers are supposed to motivate students and encourage them to work harder. Teachers employ different techniques to help motivate such students. However, 61

some students lack motivation for one reason or the other. Whatever the teacher does goes on deaf ears. Those students start creating problems and misbehaving in class. They hassle teachers, students, staff and their families. They stop participating in school and class activities. They may end up failing or leaving school (Hatfield, 2003). In addition to all the problems that the students have in class, other problems like having short attention span can affect them. Some students lack the focus or the concentration they need to absorb the material learned. They are slower than other students. They may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). Andries, 2006 states that if these students are not focussed on the task at hand, they cannot keep up with the rest of the students. Because they cannot keep up, they end up hassling other students, trying to get quick answers effortlessly or waste other students’ time. Finally, at times teachers do not give enough information or instructions on how to complete a task. They either think that the instructions they gave are enough or that the task is too obvious that it is taken for granted that everyone can do it. However, some students want more information about the task than others. For one reason or the other, students don’t ask their teachers to explain things. They start working on the task, not knowing what to do. They get frustrated and anxious. They may even not do the work and start talking to others, wasting their time. They may act out against students, teachers and school property. Some typical classroom scenarios In this section, some scenarios of student behavior that teachers typically face in the classroom are presented. These scenarios will be looked at in terms of how a typical teacher should have done or the preventive tools the teacher should have utilized to avoid such a behavior. Then, a corrective rationale is given for each situation. Again here, different teachers would have approached such issues in different ways depending on the severity, level, gender and age of the students. Situation 1 (I was going over verbs and nouns in some reading extracts. In the middle of going over some sentences, two girls were turned around engaging in some sort of conversation. Had it not run on so long, I would have let it go, but they just kept going. I stopped and stared at them for a few seconds. The girls just kept going, so I asked, “What are you two girls talking about?” I had to do this once before with them and they paused and said “the homework.” The first time was an obvious lie. They did settle down though. Today they said “her pencil.” They were serious. I did not waste time getting the details, but they settled down for a while, but then started to talk again while I was giving some instructions. They 62

received lunch detention, as I had already had to settle them down once that day.) Preventative rationale A few simple measures if taken, would have prevented this incident from happening. The teacher should have engaged the students in active work and not allowed them to keep the conversation going. The teacher should have approached them and made him/herself closely visible to the students so that they do not get off task. The teacher should have also let the students notice that they were seen being off task, and that he/she is aware of what is going on. A good teacher is the one who manages the classroom while moving around and not sitting at his desk. Another preventive rationale that always works is to write the rules about participation on a poster and hang it in the homeroom. Once the rules are visible to the students, the teacher would keep reminding them of those rules. Finally, an alert teacher would recognize those students who like to chat and would seat them apart from each other. A vigilant teacher would not have a problem recognizing students who are talkative. A seating chart would have helped the teacher separate talkative students from each other. Corrective rationale Sometimes even the best teacher cannot prevent an incident from happening for one reason or the other. Once an issue affects the mood and the continuity of the classroom, the teacher can do some things to correct the situation. One thing a teacher can do is to detect students who are close friends from the onset of the semester. Once he/she has done that, then separate them, not allowing them to sit together. Once a seating chart is made, class goes smoother as each student would know where to sit, allowing for less close contact with friends. The teacher needs to also make sure that there is direct eye contact with the students involved. They need to know that the teacher knows what is going on and that he/she is aware of the situation. Once the students notice the teacher noticing them, the teacher would use effective body language to try and warn them. A stern stare or coming closer to the studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s station, not as a threat, but as a warning would suffice. Another technique is for the teacher to call on the students and ask a random question about what was being explained or any non-threatening, nonconfronting question that the students can easily answer. This would break the students' conversation and bring them back to the classroom activity.


Finally, the teacher could use the pausing technique. The teacher could stop talking, trying to make class dead silent so that the students would know that their conversation is affecting class. The teacher can start teaching when he/she feels that the students are ready to resume class. Situation 2 (As the teacher was taking attendance, a student poked his head in the door. Students always do this, either to say hi to me or to say something to one of their friends as they rush off to class. This boy proceeded to walk past the front of the room and as he turned the corner down the aisle in the middle of the room, he started cursing out at a student in the back row. This boy was clearly looking for a fight. The student sitting is his chair kept saying that he would see him somewhere else, but not here. Another student put his arms around the instigating student and began to escort him out of class. The boy looking for a fight was then escorted to the office. The boy in our class said that while exiting the office one day, he had accidentally run into that student and apparently it was something the kid wanted to fight over.) Preventative rationale In a situation like the above, the teacher should have done and followed a few simple techniques to prevent a situation like this from happening. When it is time for students to get to class, a proactive teacher would stand at the entrance of the classroom and greet students as they come in. When the teacher does that, he/she would let in the students he/she knows they are in class. This would prevent outsiders from coming in. Stopping any student who is not in your class from entering would have prevented the above situation from happening. The unwanted student and the unwanted situation would have been averted. Once class starts, the teacher should shut the door and proceed with the lesson. When the door is shut, it is difficult for an outsider to come in. Even if the outsider attempts to come in, the teacher would hear the door being opened and would react based on that. Finally, the teacher should possess a certain wittiness and ability to multitask. The teacher should be able to take attendance and be vigilant as to what is happening in the classroom. He/she should be able to notice any outsider coming into the classroom before that outsider gets to the middle of the room. "Eyes wide open" is the idea here. Corrective rationale The best thing to do to correct this situation is to immediately remove the disruptive student from the classroom. The teacher should calm the rest of the 64

class and escort the disruptive student to the office. By doing this, the teacher would de-escalate the situation and avoid further potential confrontations. Once the student is in the office, the teacher explains to the administrator the situation. Then, the teacher and the school administrator would have a â&#x20AC;&#x153;chat timeâ&#x20AC;? with the disruptive student, informing him of the school's policy on bullying or any form of violent behavior against other students. One good thing to do here is to seek the studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opinion about the punishment he should receive. Involving the student in his own discipline would help the student realize his mistake and allow him to be a participant in a decision that will decide his future at the school. Doing this would also help the student see the consequences of his actions and perhaps not repeat it again. Finally, the discipline administrator should write a school contract with the student about the terms of the punishment. This would help the student see the punishment on paper. It would also help him in being a reminder and a deterrent not to repeat such an action because the contract will be inserted in the student permanent record. Situation 3 (After homeroom, the teacher left the room to make photocopies of handouts for her next class. When she returned at the beginning of first period, she finds two girls displaying angry/violent behaviors. Girl A is hitting girl B over the head with a stapler.) Preventative rationale This situation would have been easily prevented by following the policy of never leaving the classroom unattended. The teacher should do his/her best not to leave the classroom. The teacher should be visible to the students and the students visible to him/her at all times. At least when the teacher is there, fewer behavioral problems may occur. Teachers should also have clear assignments written on the board for students to work on immediately upon entering the classroom. If the teacher needs to leave the classroom for any reason, the students would have tasks to accomplish while the teacher is away from the room. The students would be too occupied to have confrontations with each other, knowing the fact that they need to work on and complete some assignments before the teacher returns. Finally, classroom teachers ought to create a classroom community by having students think about and describe the proper behavior in the classroom. This is especially important when the teacher is out of class for whatever reason. This 65

community would be responsible for creating classroom policies that may be posted on the board or written on a poster hung on the wall of the classroom. Corrective rationale Once the teacher realizes something dangerous like the above situation is taking place, the teacher should immediately blow a whistle to gain the immediate attention of the assaulting student. This would immediately freeze the action that the student is doing. In the absence of a whistle, the teacher should use as few words as possible to stop the fight with words like “STOP NOW” are great. The loud sound would immediately grab the attention of the student. After the action is stopped, the teacher should escort the assailant to the office. The student is referred to the school’s counselor or to the discipline officer in charge of such behavior. The teacher explains the situation to the administrators and heads back to class so that no further escalation occurs. School administrators should have the students reflect on their behavior and identify why their behavior was inappropriate. The students should then read school policies on assault or attempted assault on other students and perhaps sign a contact based on whatever policies are in place. Ways to effectively establish and maintain authority In order for teachers to establish, maintain and warrant authority, the have to take certain steps that sustain such right. Good teachers are the ones who are systematic in what they do, and they do not have as much trouble handling misbehavior. If teachers follow the following points, they will not face as many disciplinary problems as those who don't. 1. Good teachers are the ones who do their best to know their students’ names and backgrounds the first week of school. Calling students by their names brings the students nearer to the teacher because students feel distinguished and acknowledged by the teacher, building a closer relationship with him/her (Lowman, 1984). In addition, students who think that the teacher can recognize them and their names tend to behave better because they know the teacher can recognize them. 2. Teachers ought to treat all students equally. Discriminating among students for one reason or the other would make students feel bad and angry about such behaviour and they may act up because of that. Teachers should not even show a hint of discrimination because students can sense it (Hogan, 2007). When all students are dealt with in the same manner, students would not have any standing against the teacher. 3. Even when teachers treat students equally that does not mean that they should not recognize individual differences amongst students. Each student carries baggage with them because of the different experiences 66

they go through. These individual differences may affect the way the student behaves or the way he/she approaches the learning process. Recognizing such differences and helping students cope with school changes helps reduce class inattentiveness and misbehaving. 4. Teachers need to deal with students in a professional way. They should not take issues personally. If it becomes personal, it hurts more. If the students feel that the actions are taken against them in a personal way, they become more defiant and more willing to challenge the teacher and the system. The teacher is the one the students regard highly and look up to (Mckinney, 2009), and if things turn personal, this highly regarded teacher would not be anymore. 5. Teachers should include all students in class participation. Everyone deserves a chance to be involved in their learning. A veteran teacher knows how and when to involve students without embarrassing them. To encourage reluctant students to get involved, teachers should ask students obvious questions or questions that they know they can answer perfectly well. This would entice the students to pay more attention and participate rather than sitting passively in the classroom or even worst, misbehaving (Beckman, 1990). 6. It is imperative that teachers clearly spell out classroom expectations. From the onset if students know what to expect, they are less likely that they would defy the rules. For that reason, a disclosure statement signed at the beginning of the semester of the rules and policies practiced in the classroom would help the students act properly. Less misunderstanding would take place and self-interpretations would lessen. Classroom management and teaching techniques New teachers and some veteran teachers may require help in the way they handle their classrooms. Managing a new set of students in a new course or semester may require a great deal of work on the part of the teacher. Good teachers are the ones who are willing to work hard so that they can maintain their authority in the classroom. Some helpful techniques for proper classroom management are discussed below. 1. As was mentioned earlier, providing students with a detailed course syllabus and a disclosure statement of expectations, rules and policies would help teachers not misinterpret things (Bart, 2013). It would also help students know what is expected of them. Moreover, when students start each lesson, they need direction as to what to expect in each of those lessons. Teachers who start their lessons with an outline of material to be covered would have direction as where the class is headed and can follow along with the teacher, allowing less time for wandering eyes and inattentiveness. 2. Many times students are afraid or shy to ask questions in the classroom, fearing that they would look stupid or be ridiculed by the teacher or their 67

peers. Teachers need to let students know that it is alright to ask questions. Teachers ought to provide students with adequate opportunities for questions and answers. And when students respond to questions, their efforts should be recognized either orally or in writing. This would make students proud of their work and more willing to take ownership of their effort and become more attentive and involved in the classroom. 3. When teachers give directions, teach or answer student questions, they ought to do so by speaking directly to the students in a non-threatening way. The teacher should come out as someone who is there to help them and not as someone who is there to harm, ridicule or shame them. Once the students realize that the teacher is on their side, they become more cooperative and willing to work with the teacher. They would feel that they are in a safe environment where they can do well and succeed in what they are asked to do. 4. In a never-ending educational change, using a mix of teaching tools is a must. As mentioned above, each classroom is made up of a mix of students with individual differences and multiple intelligences that require the use of a variety of tools to help keep the students focused on the learning process. A teacher who diversifies the curriculum and the tools used to disseminate knowledge is better equipped to meet the needs of the students. Utilizing technology in the classroom is a must nowadays. With smart phones, iPads, smart boards and applications found for those tools, the teacher has no choice but to use them (Abu-Rmaileh and Hamdan, 2007). Using technology would help teachers get a hold of the classroom and help wow and grab their attention. 5. Not all students like to work alone. They require help and support from the teacher. Because they are afraid of ridicule or that they are shy, some students do not approach the teacher and ask for help. They would rather fail than ask for help. When vigilant teachers notice such an issue, teachers ought to allow students to team together to work in pairs or in groups to do assignments or projects. A good cooperative learning environment helps students get over the awkwardness of working alone. They can blend with the group instead of sitting alone pretending to work or sometimes create a fuss in the classroom. When students work alone or in groups, the teacher should be observant of what is going on in the classroom. They ought to monitor the whole classroom, looking for issues that may disrupt the learning process. The teacher needs to make sure that all students are participating and that no one is horsing around or wasting other students' time. 6. As discussed above, some students lack the courage to approach the teacher in the classroom and ask for assistance. They may pretend to work or pretend to understand, when they are in fact lost and frustrated. Lack of confidence may seep in and turn this to defiance and misbehavior. Encouraging students to make an appointment to voice their concerns or frustrations would help motivate students to come out of their shells and 68

participate in classroom activities. Furthermore, if teachers can provide their students with their emails, office hours and a phone number where they can call, those students would feel better about themselves, the teacher and the whole educational process. This would build the students' self-confidence and self-esteem and would allow them to focus more on their learning and not act improperly. Implications for classroom teachers It is imperative that when teachers deal with students they deal with them fairly and equitably. They need to treat them with the utmost respect even when they mess up their work or misbehave. In order to do that, teachers need to build an unbroken trust with their students. They need to do certain things that would make students work properly with them without prejudice. Some of the things teachers need to do include the following: 1. Teachers need to be available to their students all the time. They need to be available via email, phone or text messaging. They should also be approachable where students can easily get access to them in a nonthreatening, safe environment. Teachers should also be able to provide students with immediate oral and written feedback on their work and on their behaviour (Brooks, Nolan, and Gallagher, 2000). If the student is doing well or even misbehaving, they need to know it. Teachers cannot postpone things to the last minute and then surprise students with consequences that he/she thought they got away with. When the students are aware of their mistakes or are praised for what they do, they tend to either work harder to improve or misbehave. 2. Many students lack the ability to manage their time. They do not have the organizational skills they need to succeed at school. For that reason, teachers need to help students learn how to organize their work and manage the different activities, curricular or extracurricular, that they need. By helping students organize their schedules and improve their study skills habits they make things easier for the students. Students would be more inclined to do what is asked of them and tend to follow the instructions given to them by taking notes or asking questions about the things they don't understand. 3. As mentioned above, some students may lack the skills to succeed. Teachers are there for them, but, let's face it, teachers too are overwhelmed and inundated with work. They do not have the time to help each and every student. For that reason, it is important that teachers refer students to other sources for extra help. They can turn them to the library, the Independent Learning Centre, the internet, school counsellors, administrators and others. They can also ask students to help one another. Peer tutoring or pair and group work make ease the pressure off of the teachers' backs (Cartwright, 2013). It is also a great way to assist those who are reluctant to approach their teachers. 69

4. To help become more approachable and develop trust with the students, teachers can involve students in the decision-making process. Students do not need to be involved in major decisions like the curriculum or the pacing of teaching material or things detrimental to the learning process. Decisions like when to take a quiz, when to turn in an assignment or a project, or even terms of punishment, etc. would be fine. The idea behind students' involvement in the decision-making process is that when students help make decisions, they own the information they provide. They can live with a decision that they made. It becomes less of a headache to argue about the results of the decision both for the teacher and the students. The complaints and the bickering are lowered. 5. It is important that teachers treat all students with respect. When teachers respect students, the students respect them back. There is no reason to insult students even when they misbehave. There are civil, agreed upon consequences that are adhered to by the teachers, administrators, parents, and students. There is no need to go into name calling or use derogatory words that offend students. It is even more important to show respect toward studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; backgrounds and cultures. In every educational situation we have students who come from diverse backgrounds. It is important for the teacher to recognize such issues and make sure the students get the respect that they command. Just because they are different, we shouldn't treat them in unfairly. However, when it comes to individual differences, we make accommodations that would support such students and not hinder their educational efforts. Conclusion Teachers are the ones who set the pace and the behavior in the classroom. They are the ones in charge of disseminating the learning material. They set rules, guidelines and policies. They are in charge of the learning process. However, as much as they try to help students, some students cannot make it. This could be because of educational, attitudinal or cognitive problems that students face. Because of these problems, students either fail or act up in class. It is up to the teacher to notice this and try and help the students in whatever way they can. Moreover, the way the teacher brings the student back on track needs careful consideration. Specific techniques are required to help those students who are lagging behind. It is imperative that teachers follow those techniques and be consistent in the way they deal with the students. Finally, when teachers respect students, act fairly and are approachable, they build trust with the students and can help direct their learning experiences. Good teachers are the ones who get out of their way to help students catch up on things they lack. Being transparent with all students allows those students to work in an environment free of stress and full of positive experiences. 70

References Abu-Rmaileh, S. (2007). Motivating low level students. In Jendli, A., Troudi, S., & Coombe, C. (Eds.). The power of Language: Perspectives from Arabia. (pp. 327-341). Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Abu-Rmaileh, S. & Hamdan, K. (2007). Technology and its effect on student test results. Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In Coombe, C., Davidson, P, & Lloyd, D., (Eds.). Proceedings of the 9th and 10th Current trends in English language testing (CTELT) Conferences, Vol. 5. (pp. 193-204). Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Andries, D. (2006). Classroom behavior strategies: Teaching strategies helpful when dealing with students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or attention deficit disorder. Retrieved September 23, 2009, from: _2 Bart, M. (2013). Classroom management strategies for working with difficult students. Retrieved October 02, 2013, from: Beckman, M. (1990). Collaborative learning: preparation for the workplace and democracy?" College Teaching, 38/4: 128-133. Bligh, D. A. (1971). What's the use of lecturing? Devon, England: Teaching Services Centre. University of Exeter. Brooks, D., Nolan, D. & Gallagher, S. (2000). Web Teaching, 2nd Edition. New York: Plenum Press. Cartwright, N. (2013). Students supporting each other. Retrieved September 18, 2013, from: Druian, G. & Butler, J. A. (1987). Effective schooling practices and at-risk youth: What the research shows. Retrieved Sept. 20, 2009 from: Hatfield, J. (2003). Office of research and evaluation: Research 2002-2003. Minneapolis, MN: General College, University of Minnesota. Hogan, M. (2007). The effects of perceived disruptive behavior on classroom civility. University Ombuds Office. University of Arkansas: Fayetteville, AR. Ingersoll, M. R. (1999). The problem of underqualified teachers in American secondary schools. Educational Researcher, Vol. 28, No. 2 (March), pp. 2637. Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill. Lowman, J. (1984). Mastering the techniques of teaching. San Francisco: JosseyBass.


McKinney, K. (2009). Dealing with disruptive behavior in the classroom, Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology, Instructional Technology & Development Center. Retrieved Sept. 18, 2009 from: Oliver, H. & Utermohlen, R. (1995). An innovative teaching strategy: Using critical thinking to give students a guide to the future. (Eric Document Reproduction Services No. 389 702). Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring Strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), pp. 240 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 254. Perry, R. P., Hladkyj, S., Pekrun, R. H., & Pelletier, S. T. (2001). Academic control in the achievement of college students: A longitudinal field study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(4), 776-789. Slavin, R.E. (1980). Cooperative learning. Review of Educational Research, 50 (2), 315-342. Slavin, R. E. (1985). Cooperative learning: Applying contact theory in desegregated schools. Journal of Social Issues, 41(3), 45-62. Young, J. R. (2002). Homework? What homework? The Chronicle of Higher Education, 49 (15), A35-A37. Wilson, D.M. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in the age of testing. Harvard Education Letter, 25(3):4-7, May/June.


Teaching and Assessing Coherence in Academic Writing Nahed Ghazzoul Al-Zaytoonah University, Amman, Jordan Introduction In the academic world, demands for writing are more complex than generally realized. Students from school to college are often required to combine structural units to compose larger coherent structures. In most academic settings, however, the educational system assumes that students can meet the demands of the written task, while in fact they cannot. The task of organizing the ideas into a coherent piece of writing is formidable for most ESL/EFL students. This is an important issue when we know that we rarely teach coherence in writing, while virtually all written exams test it. It is important therefore to investigate the causes of incoherence in ESL/EFL writing to identify patterns for teaching and assessing coherence in writing. In this paper, I will demonstrate the use of what I call the 'menu of the topic' (MOT) as part of a developed theoretical and analytical framework for teaching and assessing coherence in ESL/EFL writing. The MOT tool, proposed on the basis of an experimental investigation, demonstrates how ideas are related to each other by virtue of their relevance and appropriateness to the discussed topic, and on the basis of shared knowledge between the reader and the writer via the written text. MOT is combined with Sinclair’s (1992–1993) model of encapsulation–prospection to investigate the coherent relationships between the sentences at the microstructural level. By citing examples from the English writing of Arabic speaking students, this paper will demonstrate how the MOT model operates in authentic classroom contexts. Coherence and MOT As a convenient starting point, let us review some literature that relates directly to MOT and coherence. Coherence, according to Bubmann (1983), means hanging together. It is defined as the “syntactic, semantic and pragmatic connectedness of a series of sentences or utterings, respectively” (p. 537). It is used to discuss the level to which a text and the features associated with its internal structure make sense as a whole. In that sense, coherence refers to what happens when the internal and external relations hold together to enable the reader to make sense of what s/he is reading. Similarly, (Wikborg, 1985) states that to be fully coherent, a text “must … have a topic, that is, a proposition to which all the other propositions in a text unit relate” (p. 362). A coherent text in this paper is considered a feature of the underlying structure of the text, and entirely understood by the reader for whom it has been set for. 73

Hence, coherence is related to the pragmatic meaning based on an implicature and not inherent in the language itself (Krhutovẚ, 2009, pp. 158-159). This implicature operates on the basis of professionally shared knowledge in a particular situation which I call ‘menu of the topic’ (MOT). In that sense coherence is "based on the text as well as on additional information" (Tárnyiková, 2002, p.55) that the writer brings from his knowledge of the world about a certain topic. As such, the term MOT is developed to refer to the generally assumed knowledge shared between the reader and the writer about a certain topic that creates internal consistency in the written text. It is assumed that certain terms are interpreted in light of their relevance to the main script, and this contributes to the creation of coherence at the micro structural level by helping writers interpret and predict a coming situation. MOT is similar to Frames (Minsky, 1975), Scripts (Abelson, 1976), and Semantic Field (Palmer, 1981), but these are tight and sharply defined, while the MOT term is used in a broader sense. Whereas the term frame “is generally treated as an essential stable set of facts about the world, a script is more programmatic in that it incorporates ‘a standard sequence of events that describes a situation” (cited in Brown and Yule, 1983, p. 243). Similarly, the semantic field (Palmer 1981) is a specific concept which refers to lexical terms. It comprises a set of words that relate to the same area of meaning; for some theorists (Palmer, 1981), they must fit the same sorts of slots in the sentence and they must be incompatible with each other. Colours, terms, days of the week, and kinds of animals would be examples. The semantic field of kinship might include words and concepts like ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘brother’, ‘sister’, ‘aunt’ and all similar terms that might more likely to co-occur with each other in a topic. On the other hand, the MOT model presupposes that for some topics there are certain terms which are obviously relevant to, or associated with the main script of the topic. These terms are not treated as an essential stable set of facts (frames), or a standard sequence of events (scripts), nor are a limited set of lexical terms (semantic field); they rather refer to a broader semantic meaning which might include words, phrases, and clauses. They relate to each other by the virtue of their relevance and appropriateness to the discussed topic. So, if the topic is about the kinship, for instance, it might include besides what is mentioned in the semantic field (see above) a broader range of ideas such as ‘love’, ‘duty’, ‘holidays’, ‘household’, ‘family problems’, etc. The interesting point about MOT is that it is manageable in terms of teaching and broad in its scope. Teachers can stimulate the students' semantic repertoire about a certain topic, and in return, each student presents his/her unique range of words, phrases, and clauses, called a semantic grid, which suits his/her individual experience, and cognitive knowledge of the topic in English. As such, this semantic grid, can 74

be postulated in a hierarchical organization of information where the learner relates the assigned topic to the MOT. Thus, the concept of MOT means that coherence lies in the sequence of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences through which readers can perceive connections and understand the structure, and consequently the meaning as they read. MOT and Prospection-Encapsulation MOT can be combined with Sinclair’s (1993) model of encapsulation and prospection to teach coherence at the microstructural level. His model concentrates on sentence-to-sentence coherence, and on text structure. It further focuses on how "texts can be organized and how their dynamism may be created and fuelled” (p. 8). He argues that structure is necessary because the writer cannot say everything at once. In texts, readers need guidance to both what has gone before and what is coming next. The sentence, thus, “is regarded as the likeliest unit to carry the status of ‘text of the moment’” (Sinclair, 1993, p.6). The model involves the processes of encapsulation, prospection, overlay and verbal echo. In this paper, I shall review what only relates to encapsulation and prospection for their relevance to the study I undertake. Encapsulation is a process in which a sentence refers back to its predecessor and holds the meaning of the previous one. Each new sentence encapsulates the previous one by an act of reference. By “referring to the whole of the previous sentence, a new sentence uses it as part of the subject matter. This removes its discourse function, leaving only the meaning which it has created” (Sinclair, 1993, p. 7). This indicates that in the process of ‘progressive encapsulation’ each sentence in turn encapsulates all the previous sentences back to the beginning. The last sentence is thus expected to be “a manifestation of the entire text” (p. 8). In general, encapsulation can be implied by the writer and inferred by the reader, and if “no such inference suggests itself, the text is interpreted as not coherent at this point” (p. 7). Therefore, encapsulation has a much wider implication than anaphoric reference. On the other hand, prospection occurs when the structure of a sentence “leads the addressee to expect something specific in the next sentence” (p. 12). Prospection is considered a central organizing principle in the structure of written texts. According to this definition, the prospecting sentence provides a structure within which the meaning of the next sentence is placed. In other words, prospection as a rhetorical device commits the writer at one point in the text to a future ‘discourse action’. To conclude this brief overview of the literature, it can be said that Sinclair’s (1993) model of encapsulation-prospection seems simple on application and suits different type of texts. It focuses on sentence-to-sentence relations to 75

analyse coherence in written texts on the microstructural level. Together with MOT, they help students and teachers alike to follow particular steps in creating coherence at the microstructural level. Application of MOT & Encapsulation-Prospection To clarify the role of the MOT in creating coherence, and consider the way it works, let us consider in detail the following examples which are taken from a writing of a student’s essay: “S1. Everyone has his own attitude toward any subject. S2. This attitude is due to his thoughts and personality which regarded as the major factors in establishing it. S3. This will be clear when I compare between my parents attitude toward the marriage, study, and work, and my attitude. S4.First of all my parents’ opinion about the marriage. S5. They look at from one angle; that it is an economic company and it based on money. The more the husband has the better he well be. S6.They always say that if you marry a rich man, he will be the bread-winer and you will be the Queen of your kingdom. S7. There will be no need to suffer from going out to work and earn money”. In this example, the student is asked to write an essay in response to the question: ‘Write an essay comparing and contrasting your parents’ attitude towards something with your attitude to the same thing’. Thus, the expected MOT for this composition is about the contrast in ideas between the writer and his/her parents, the menu will be then: ‘work’, ‘relationships with the opposite sex’, study, ‘marriage’, ‘love’, ‘travel’, ‘money’ ‘home’, and similar subjects. Readers might consider these elements as default information that is assumed to be present in the student’s composition. But does the example fulfil the expectations set forth by MOT? In fact, the first two sentences of the student’s essay, according to the scenario account of comparing and contrasting between the writer and his/her parents’, show that he succeeds, to some extent, in meeting the expected menu. For example, the words in bold in the text accord with the reader’s expectations of the topics the student might write about: thought, personality, I compare between my parents attitude, marriage, study, and work, my attitude, marriage, economic company, based on money, marry a rich man, and work . In the first, second and third sentences, the student mentions the points of contrast between him/her and the parents. S/he discusses in the second 76

paragraph her/his first idea about marriage. So we can say that S4 in the second paragraph is supposed to be a prospection sentence that opens the door of discussion by suggesting the idea of ‘marriage’ as the first point of difference between the student and his/her parents. The reader is given to understand that the discussion will expand in the prospected S5 and more information will be given about the points of difference in SS 6 and 7. However, the expectations created in S4 are fulfilled partially in the three following sentences, because the semantic grid created by the student does not meet the expectations of the reader. For example, in a topic about marriage, the reader might expect the MOT to be “engagement, party, love, wife, husband, children, stable, social life, settling down, sharing life, sharing house with someone, etc.” However, the student uses a lexical chain such as “economic company, money, husband, marry, a rich man, and work”, that belongs, in part, to the semantic field of the presupposed MOT. Despite the fact that readers might expect the MOT of the topic marriage to be bigger and wider, coherence is sustained. In relation to the process of Encapsulation prospection, the following extract is taken from a student’s writing and it exemplifies the process of encapsulation: S1) In our modern society materialism overcomes everything and achieving the Material success is so wonderful in our modern age, because material success leads to happiness and relief. S2) Mony is important for the person who has aims, hopes and dreams and is able to achieve his happiness. The structure of S2 includes the entire meaning of S1. The meaning is encapsulated in different places as seen in bold. To show how the meaning of S1 is held in S2, I shall replace the equivalence of S2 by S1 as follows: S2) Material success is important for the person who has aims, hopes and dreams because material success leads to happiness and relief. The encapsulated sentence can be considered now as part of the subject matter of the current sentence. Hence, the reader can retrieve the previous parts of the text from the current one. Encapsulation is, thus, a default process that happens most of the time, as Sinclair (1993) confirms. If the sentence is not encapsulating a previous one, it is looking forwards and setting the scene for the successive ones. Such a sentence is considered as prospection. However, if we are going to consider MOT of this sentence, we might expect to find information about: money, materialism, love, family life, children, caring and sharing, business, sickness, fortune, etc. That is to say, the semantic grid is wider than that of encapsulation and prospection, and this in turn creates internal consistency.


The example below also shows how prospection works: S1) Many factors have contributed to the spread of the English language. S2) For example, English is the language of business, education, internet and tourism. S1 makes a prospection by introducing the phrase ‘Many factors’, and S2 begins the fulfilment of the prospection. The reader of S1 expects S2 to offer more specific information about the ‘factors that contribute to the spread of the English Language’. S2 meets this prospection by providing examples about the factors that contribute to the spread of the English language. Hence, S2 can be interpreted in light of S1. It is expected that the rest of the topic will tackle these factors individually. So continuity of meaning between S1 and business, education, internet and tourism. S2 contributes to coherence in the text. However, when applying the MOT tool on this sentence, we expect to read information about: foreign language, factors, reasons, success, spread, students, business, education, internet and tourism, ..etc., this provides English teachers and learners with more valuable insights to the way of assessing and teaching coherence Sinclair’s (1993) model of sentence-by-sentence coherence, as mentioned above, permits sentences to encapsulate and anticipate at the same time. The following sentences are analysed by Sinclair and taken from Quirk (1990). Sentence 7.2 (his numbers) in the sequence below exemplifies instances of encapsulation and prospection at the same time: 6.2 A Finnish manufacturer would not dream of using Finnish to market a product in France, nor would a Spanish firm rely on Spanish to attract customers in Italy or Sweden. 7.1 This very obvious ethos is not going to change with 1992, rather the importance of the precept will 7.2 be sharply enhanced. 7.3 The single market will make trading conditions even more competitive (Sinclair, 1993: 25) The phrase in bold in S7.1 refers back to the entire meaning in S6.2 and therefore encapsulates it. Sinclair divides this sentence into two parts (7.1a, and 7.2b). The word ‘rather’ announces the beginning of 7.2b and encapsulates S7.1a. At the same time, the phrase ‘sharply enhanced’ anticipates the discussion in 7.3. 78

The expectations of MOT for this text will be: market, product, promote, sell, advertise, manufacturer, trade, commercial, customers, supermarkets, culture, the ethics of trading, conditions...etc. In fact, considering the items of encapsulation-prospection, we see that MOT provides a wider range than encapsulation-prospection and helps the reader create topic focus and organization. Conclusion In this paper, MOT was introduced as a new linguistic tool to assess and teach coherence in ESL/EFL classes. MOT is not culturally bound; instead it is related to the professional language of the written topic. By demonstrating examples from the English writing of Arabic speaking students, this paper showed classroom instructors the way MOT operates to code coherence in academic writing, and reduces vagueness of the meaning. It is expected that this new tool will help ESL/EFL instructors in teaching and assessing coherence. In this paper, I also tried to assemble some of the new ingredients that can provide a good basis for the analysis of coherence in academic texts. By demonstrating examples, I tried to show the way encapsulation-prospection interacts to create the hierarchical and the sequential organization of the text. Prospection is employed as a foreshadowing that allows a reader to anticipate meaning in the next sentence, whereas encapsulation is used to retrieve previously stated data. Most of the relationships between the sentences contribute to the flow of the information transmitted by the text to warrant coherence. The linguistic function of the MOT is a property of the text, which enables the readers and English language teachers to establish and assess coherence straightforwardly. MOT depends on the way elements are arranged within the sentences, and how these sentences interlock, building on the preceding ones while at the same time advancing discourse. In that sense, it is believed that there is a strong relationship between encapsulation-prospection and MOT. Such a term has, no doubt, its pitfalls. For example, this tool has been tried by me and other colleagues, but others might question the reliability of the applied analytical method. More teachers need to check the applicability of this tool in their teaching classes and provide the field with more feedback. Nevertheless, I hope that the losses in terms of explanation, will be outweighed by the gains in terms of manner of analysis, and assessment, or in the way MOT operates to reduce the complex and cognitive demands of coherence.


References Abelson, R.P. (1976). Scripts Processing in Attitude Formation and Decision -Making. In J.S. Carroll & J.W. Payne (Eds.) Cognitive and Social Behaviour (pp. 33-45). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. Brown, G. & Yule, G. (1983). Discourse Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bubmann, H. (1983). Dictionary of Linguistics. Stuttgart: Kroner. Tárnyiková, J. (2002). From Text to Texture. An Introduction to Processing Strategies. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého. Krhutovẚ, M. (2009). Cohesion and Coherence in Written Texts For Professional and Academic Purposes. In O. Dontcheva-Navratilova, & R. Povolnᾴ, (Eds.) Coherence and Cohesion in Spoken and Written Discourse (pp. 154-166). Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Minsky, M. (1975). A Framework for Representing Knowledge. In P.H. Winston (Ed.). The Psychology of Computer Vision (pp. 211-227). New York: McGraw-Hill. Palmer, F.R. (1981). Semantics (2nd Ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. Quirk, R. (1990). British Must Get Their Tongues Around 1992. The European -Weekend, June, 1-3. Sinclair, J.M. (1993). Written Discourse Structure. In J.M. Sinclair, M. Hoey, and G. Fox, (Eds.) Techniques of Description: Spoken and Written Discourse (pp. 6-31). London: Routledge. Sinclair, J.M. (1992). Trust The Text. In M. Davies, & L. Ravelliv (Eds.) Advances in Systemic Linguistics: Recent Theory and Practice (pp. 5-19). London and New York: Pinter. Wikborg, E. (1985a). Types of Coherence Breaks in University Student Writing. In N.E. Enkvist (Ed.) Coherence and Composition: A Symposium (pp. 93 -133). Finland: Research Institute of Ǻbo Akademi Foundation. _________ (1985b). Unspecified Topic in University Student Essays. Text, 5, 359 -370.


SECTION TWO Technology in Language Education


Educational Technology-Teachers’ & Students’ Views: A Small-Scale Research Project Conducted at Saudi Aramco’s Dhahran North Training Centre Barraq Ali Saudi Aramco Introduction The aim of this small scale research project was to find out what the TESOL teachers and students at Saudi Aramco’s Dhahran North Industrial Training Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, think of and feel about the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at their training center. The technology in question is represented by computers, smart boards, CD players, overhead projectors, the Internet and the company’s e-learning courses. Another objective of the research was to explore the concerns of these teachers and their students regarding ICT, engage them in brief discussions of these concerns and encourage them to suggest solutions to the problems and challenges they had faced using the technology. Research Context Dhahran North Industrial Training Center is one of several training centers that form the Saudi Aramco training organization. All except one in Dhahran cater for male Saudi students. The organization is charged with the task of preparing Saudi high school and vocational college graduates for future employment in the company. To achieve this task, the training organization runs a two-year apprenticeship program (one year for vocational college graduates) during which the company’s apprentices receive only English language instruction for the duration of levels 2, 3 & 4. At level 5, the apprentices start receiving instruction in IT, Mathematics and Science. Having completed level 5, some apprentices are placed in job skills programs in other units in order to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform technical roles for the company after the completion of their training. The rest of the apprentices move up to levels 6 and then 7 to complete the training program that will enable them to perform administrative roles in the company’s various departments at the end of their training. To explore the research participants’ thoughts, opinions, feelings, attitudes and concerns, eight interviews with eight TESOL teachers were conducted. Four of these teachers had taught lower levels (2, 3 & 4). The other four participants taught the upper levels (5, 6 & 7). To investigate the perceptions of the students, two group interviews were conducted. The first group was made up of students from the lower levels (2, 3 & 4) and the second was comprised of students from the upper levels (5, 6 & 7). Each of the above levels was represented by one student that had been randomly chosen by the researcher. 82

Table 1 – Teachers

Jordanian Jordanian

Male Male

Length of Service with Saudi Aramco 5 years 12 years



3 years



5 years


Male Male Male Male

2 2 2 2

Real Names (used with permission Fayis Al Suboh Abdallah Al Fadaan Muhammed Al Kharoof Muhammed Sayid Hassan Stewart Morris Richard Harriman Steve Gattey Uthman Haroon



years years years years

Table 2 – Students Real Names (used with permission Ahmed Al Harazi Abdallah Al Qahtani Sami Al Zahrani Abdallah Al Subai Jabir Al Marri Khalid Al Dossary

Focus Group



Saudi Saudi

1 1

2 3

Saudi Saudi Saudi Saudi

1 2 2 2

4 5 6 7

Advantages In discussing the advantages of classroom technology, the teachers thought that the students they taught liked to see something visual rather than just looking at books. The technology tools were more interesting and more interactive than books and they made the students feel involved in classroom activities. The interviewees also pointed out that they were able to do a variety of activities using tools such the smart board. They could display pictures, documents and moving images on it. Richard, one of the interviewees, stated that, “Technology has provided me with a nexus point of data – movies, photos, video clips and aural material that could be stored on my computer’s hard drive then shared with the students.”


Learners’ Collaboration & Engagement Another important use of technology was the ability of the learners to make use of it in a collaborative manner. When one student or a group of students sent a piece of writing done in the classroom with the help of the teacher to the rest of their classmates, it gave all of them confidence and a sense of independence. Using technology to entertain the students where need be was another important benefit. Steve, for example, stated that, he was “able to alleviate the stress and fatigue by showing them an entertaining video clip towards the end of the class. My students appreciated it, which improved my relations with them.” Having the smart board installed in front of the learners helped to focus their attention and engagement in the learning process. Learner-Centered Approach (LCA) The use of technology also encouraged the adoption of the learner-centered approach (LCA) in the classroom. Uthman stated that,” the use of these ICT tools encourages the use of the learner-centered approach (LCA) in the classroom. This approach gives the students more time to talk and participate in classroom activities and reduces teacher talk. The tools also help the teachers use games and vocabulary exercises and allow the students to come up to the front of the class and use the interactive board.” E-Learning Saudi Aramco provided its training centers with E-learning courses that both the teachers and students found useful. These courses ranged from language courses to health and safety ones and can be accessed by the students in the center and outside it. In this regard, Fawaz said, “I feel that both the Saudi Aramco e-learning courses and other online courses are very useful resources. Our learners are quite keen on these courses because they give them the opportunity to work unsupervised, which gives them a sense of freedom and independence.” Learning Styles The teachers also believed that classroom technology catered for learners’ different learning styles. The students who wanted to work on their own were able to do so. Others who enjoyed collaborative work could work with their classmates on group projects. Those who found language games appealing had the ample opportunity to indulge themselves, while those who wanted to receive immediate feedback on their work spent time working on interactive tasks. Finally, the teachers stressed that the most notable advantage of technology is that it helped the students learn by doing. The learning by doing concept and approach is succinctly encapsulated in the saying “What I hear I forget; what I see I remember; what I do, I understand.” 84

The Internet-a Distractor? The most notable disadvantage cited was how the Internet could be a great distracter. Stewart was concerned that, “the Internet distracted the students because it was so easy for these young apprentices to get side-tracked by what the Net offers”. Stewart’s concern was echoed by other teachers who express their belief that access to the Internet did indeed distract their students from the task at hand. The other problem the teachers discussed was the difficulty of managing and supervising classes efficiently when the learners worked at various pace and on different tasks. The Smart Board Some teachers were not happy with the smart board. They thought it was cumbersome and the writing on it was not as clear as an MS Word for a task like writing a short text with the class. Furthermore, the teacher had to face the board and not the students when writing on it, whereas he was facing the learners when using MS Word. In addition, orientating the board correctly seemed to be both essential but time-consuming. Here is Steve talking about the Promethean board which is an advanced model of smart boards: I see disadvantages in using the Promethean interactive board and not many advantages. To begin with, the writing is not as clear as using MS Word for a task like writing a paragraph with the class. I have to face the board and not the students when I am writing on it, whereas I face the learners when I use MS Word. Moreover, orientating the Promethean board correctly seems to be both essential and problematic, which is not the case with the computer and projector. Technology Malfunctions The teachers also cited various problems that are inherent in any context when technology is in use. Technical problems and break-downs could disrupt the flow of the learning process, especially when sometimes fixing technical glitches took a long time. Khalid, an apprentice interviewee, believed that, “technical problems adversely affect both the teaching and learning processes. When they occur, the teacher has no choice but to go back to the traditional tools: the chalkboard, textbooks and handouts. Going back to these tools makes one feel that he has made no progress at all. This is very frustrating.”


Computer Viruses & Technology Dependency Computer software is vulnerable to computer virus attacks. It was also noticed by some teachers that some of their colleagues had the tendency to rely too heavily on the technology tools available in their classrooms. The implication is that some teachers failed to prepare their lessons and sometimes tried to ‘wing it’ it by walking into the classroom and getting the students to play online games or showing them irrelevant YouTube video clips. Similarly, the students, enticed by the ease of accessing the Internet, failed to put in the required effort to complete assigned tasks. Convenient & Time-Saving Not unlike their teachers, the students in the two interview groups saw several advantages in using ICT in their training. They first pointed out the benefits of convenience and time-saving. As Khalid (Level 5) remarked, “One can access the Internet wherever they are: at school, at home, in a coffee shop or a public library.” The speed at which a student can complete a task using a computer was another attraction. Color, variety, interaction and animation were all features the young students (age group 18-22) found very appealing and in their opinions helped to stimulate learning, engage the learners and improve retention rates. Harmful Material & Plagiarism The most serious disadvantage cited by the students was the fact that some material obtained online was unreliable, of dubious nature and morally and socially harmful. These tools have a few disadvantages and one of them is that some of the data you obtain online comes from unreliable or obscure sources and some is rather harmful. Another disadvantage is the fact that these educational technologies are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain compared to traditional tools such as the chalkboard which is not as costly to buy and maintain. (Ahmed, Level 7). The temptation to plagiarize from the Net was great. It was pointed out that some learners resorted to plagiarism mainly because they were too lazy to do the work themselves or did not have adequate language skills to produce their own work. Training Sufficient and systematic training on the use of technology tools was lacking in the training organization. In fact, in some cases no training whatsoever was provided leaving users to teach themselves through trial and error, sometimes individually and sometimes in groups. 86

Technical Support Experience showed that amazing amount of resources was needed to make technology tools work smoothly and efficiently. The majority of such resources were not available at the training center. Sufficient, efficient and timely technical support was missing most of the time and there was a lack of awareness on the part of management of the importance of providing such support. This was clearly expressed by one of the teachers, Abdullah, when asked to comment on the level of technical support available at the center. He said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;In addition to the lack of the necessary training on the use of technology, I do not have easy access to the necessary technical support which ensures that these tools remain in good working conditions. Conclusion To sum up, it seems that the participants in this small-scale project, both teachers and students, see more advantages than disadvantages in using educational technology in teaching and learning English as a foreign language. These advantages include the ability to access online material for reference and research, the interactivity of the tools which encourages learning by doing and make the material more student-centered and engaging. The students also thought the multi-media provided by these tools made their classes more engaging and interesting. On their part, the teachers liked technology because it gave them the opportunity to access a wealth of material online, which made their classes interesting and engaging. An important advantage highlighted by a teacher participant is that technology affordances made it easier to cater for the studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; varying learning styles. For example, those who learn visually found that images and videos help them absorb the material quicker. On the other hand, those who are kinesthetic found that games and repetition drills very useful. Technology made it easier for some students to collaborate with their classmates or to work independently if they chose to do so. The most notable disadvantage cited by the research participants is the possibility that access to the Internet could have a disruptive effect on learning. Learners with such access were most likely to go off task and start surfing the Net for games and other material easily available online. A less notable disadvantage was the likelihood of technology breakdowns leaving both teachers and students unable to achieve lesson objectives. What made these breakdowns even more disruptive was the lack of immediate technical support from IT. The smart board was a technology that not every participant found easy to use. In fact, one of the teachers complained that orienting the board was as essential as it is problematic. In addition, some students thought that the writing on the board was not as clear as typing using MS Word, which was then projected on the board itself. The last of the disadvantages quoted by the student participants was that the easy access to the Internet made plagiarism an attractive option for 87

those who were unwilling or incapable of putting the necessary effort to produce work of their own. Finally, some students were concerned that some online material was unreliable and some was morally objectionable.


A Qualitative Examination of Teachers’ Perceptions of the Introduction of a New Learning Technology (the Apple iPad) in a Higher Education Institute in the Gulf Region. Elspeth Cavalcanti Higher Colleges of Technology Abstract A qualitative study of experienced higher education EFL teachers’ perceptions of the implementation of a new technology (the Apple iPad) is reported. Underlying the study was a research-based exploratory background that highlighted the importance of acknowledging teachers’ perceptions for the successful integration of a new learning technology into classrooms. An initial qualitative survey was administered to 38 teachers working in the Foundations program at an institute of Higher Education. Building on the findings from this survey, 3 teachers were selected and open-ended interviews were conducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and combined to form a pool of contextualized statements of the teachers’ perceptions of how the technology was introduced. The pool of statements was analyzed using a phenomenological research approach. A number of qualitatively different perceptions of the introduction of this new technology were identified. The teachers’ recommendations are of interest because they constitute valuable suggestions for future projects involving the introduction of new technologies. Their suggestions are supported by existing research in the area. Research question What perceptions do teachers have of how a new technology was introduced into the higher education institution at which they work? Introduction My theoretical perspective, or philosophical stance, has informed the methodology I have chosen and, as stated by Crotty (2009, p.66), this provides a context for the process involved and a basis for its logic and criteria. I hold the view that meaning or truth comes into existence in and out of our engagement with the realities of the world. ‘There is no objective truth waiting for us to discover it (…) Meaning is not discovered but constructed and it is clear that different people may construct meaning in different ways, even in relation to the same phenomenon’ (Crotty, 2009, p.9). I will relate the perceptions that a group of teachers held to the introduction of a new technology through an interpretivist lens. I aim to understand and report the perceptions held by this particular group of teachers who were involved in this innovation. The new technology was the Apple 89

iPad but it is not the device that I will focus on, nor in fact how it was introduced, but rather on the teachers’ perceptions of the process and how it affected them and what impact they perceived it had on their professional identity, i.e., how they perceive themselves as teachers and what factors contribute to these perceptions. Clark et al. (2013) suggest that professional identity is not a stable entity; it is complex, personal, and shaped by contextual factors. According to Beijaard et al. (2000), teachers’ perceptions of their own professional identity affect their efficacy and professional development as well as their ability and willingness to cope with educational change and to implement innovations in their own teaching practice. I believe that a teacher’s professional identity is what gives them confidence. If the context in which they are operating is damaging to their professional identity they can suffer and as a consequence, so can the learners. This study is about beliefs and change and the teachers’ reaction to it and participation in this process. I believe that everything we come into contact with and interact with has an effect on us as people and consequently affects our professional lives and professionalism as well. I want to look at what the teachers perceived about the implementation of the new learning technology and how it affected them. In order to achieve my aims in this small- scale research project I carried out an open- format online questionnaire involving 24 participants and subsequently, interviews with three participants from the original survey. I analyzed the responses from the survey and identified recurring themes. I used a phenomenological approach to analyze the interviews and then drew a comparison between the findings from the two instruments. The context of the study Cohen et al. state that behaviour and, thereby, data are socially situated, context-related, context dependent and context rich. To understand a situation researchers need to understand the context because situations affect behavior and perspectives and vice versa (2010, p. 167). To this end, I will provide some background information about the context in which the teachers were working and living. In April 2012, the then Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research for the UAE took the decision that the three federal higher education institutions (two universities and one college of technology) would move into mobile learning. The hope was that learners, whose ages ranged on average from 17 – 23, at the federal institutions would find new ways of learning and would develop new techniques and strategies that would enhance their academic growth. This initiative took into account the changing world of education and also recognized young people’s aptitude for mobile learning. 90

In this study I will be focusing on teachers at one particular college situated in the capital of the UAE. The UAE is a very young country and it is not so long ago that the majority of its inhabitants were illiterate. The elementary and high school system in the country is very traditional and much emphasis is put on rote learning and on the teacher to impart the information that needs to be learnt. Little emphasis is placed on creating a learner-centred environment or on promoting critical thinking. In contrast, the higher education institute promotes independent learning, a student-centred curriculum, lifelong learning and critical thinking. Integrated project work forms a significant part of the Bachelors curriculum in order to achieve this. Students are also involved in off campus field trips and visits to widen their horizons, stimulate thinking and foster the interest in learning. Paul and Elder define critical thinking as being self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored and self-corrective thinking….it entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome “our native egocentrism and sociocentrism” (Paul & Elder, 2007, p.5). However, to the majority of the students who enter the Foundations program, these concepts are very foreign indeed. The medium of instruction at the college is English, which is also a challenge to many of the students. The management structure of the institution reflects the traditional middleeastern ethos of the country in that it tends to be somewhat top down or autocratic. The teachers at the institution are used to being given directives and following them. Literature review from related fields In this section I will look at literature related to teachers’ perceptions of learning technologies, change in Higher Education and models for the introduction and acceptance of technology. For the purposes of this paper I will not make a distinction between e-learning and m- learning and will use the term learning technologies instead. Teachers’ perceptions of learning technologies and associated philosophies In their article on adopting disruptive technologies in traditional universities, Archer, Garrison and Anderson put the emphasis on the teachers. Existing and emerging e-learning technologies are having intense, immediate, and disruptive transformations on education systems and “nowhere is the impact felt more than on the practitioners who teach” (Archer, Garrison, & Anderson, 1999, p. 43). Kanuka (2003) posits that there are seen to be advantages and disadvantages to the use of learning technologies in teaching: commonly cited advantages of elearning technologies include an ability to provide just-in-time learning; increased access; removal of time, place and situational barriers; cost effectiveness; greater accountability; increased interaction; provision of future employment skills for students; and effective support for life-long learning. He also argues that, conversely, the growing lists of concerns include 91

commercialization of teaching; lack of face-time between students and teachers; techno-centric models prioritized over face-to-face culture; devaluation of oral discourse/ discussion practices; centralization of decision-making and service provision; concerns that complex and deep learning cannot be satisfactorily achieved without real-time classroom experience; increased technological and pedagogical uniformity; surveillance options that violate privacy policies; recontextualization of established cultural practices, such as education as a cultural discourse; and concern about the growing digital divide .When this kind of schism occurs, it can be useful to pause for a moment and consider the nature of the disagreement. “If we reflect on our own as well as others’ opinions about both technology and education through a philosophical lens these kinds of differences can be ‘reduced to perspectives on philosophies-in-practice” (Kanuka, 2003, p. 98). Draper (1993) asserts that an examination of our opinion, or philosophy-inpractice, is more than an academic exercise. Our philosophy determines how we perceive and deal with our preferred teaching methods – which included how (or if) we choose and use e-learning technologies. However, the teachers in this study were in a slightly different position. The introduction of the new technology was imposed and their individual philosophies on the use of e-learning/mlearning were not taken into consideration. E-learning can be defined as online learning or learning using technology whereas m-learning is learning using a mobile technological device such as a tablet or a mobile phone. Kanuka (2003) ascertains that this is not an unusual situation. She proposes that individual teachers can determine the content and scope of what they are going to teach and that they choose the e-learning technologies that will best suit their learners. She goes on to say that these decisions are embedded in our philosophical views about both education and technology, underlying these views is our interpretation of the world and our actions within it. As such, knowing our philosophical views is important. “And yet, many educators’ philosophies are often unrecognized” (by themselves and their management) (Kanuka, 2003, p. 92). If we pursue this line of thought we can see that although the educators might be choosing what they are going to teach they are not basing their choices on philosophies or beliefs about teaching. More importantly, educational practices concerned with using and choosing e-learning technologies could be conducted more effectively if basic philosophical differences were understood. A common mistake in the attempt to integrate technology into teaching contexts is that the emphasis is put onto what to do with the technology rather than on why we are doing it. Zinn (1990) said that a philosophy of teaching and technology can be defined as a conceptual framework that embodies certain values from which we view the many aspects of education, including the field of e-learning. Draper (1993) and Elias& Merriam (1980) conclude that a philosophy of elearning technology is necessary because too often educators are concerned with what to do with e-learning technologies without examining sufficiently why they should do it (The findings and conclusion section will show that it is possible that this was the case in this study.) 92

Technology acceptance Venkatesh, Davis, & Morris ( 2007) and Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis (2003) present literature on technology acceptance that documents a rich collection of models and theories that could be used to explain the adoption of information technology innovations .These models and theories are used in scientific research into the acceptance of technology and are not suitable for the type of research being carried out in this study, but it is important to know the background and to be able to position the research in context. It is interesting to note that these models posit that technology acceptance can be explained by the subject’s intention and the belief that most people who are important to him or her think he or he should display certain behavior. Change The implementation of this new technology can be viewed as a major change in the institution. Before the change, every student and teacher had a laptop and although Blackboard Vista was used for partial or total delivery of many courses and the use of technology was widely accepted to be good teaching practice. Technology was used in tandem with traditional course-books and teaching methods. The major change that happened was that overnight one division of the institution was destined to become paperless. No textbooks, handouts or papers would be allowed in the classroom. There are a number of general barriers that can reduce peer acceptance of an innovation. Lewin (1947) argues that before people can undergo change they must unfreeze their typical attitudes and behaviours – a process that can be threatening. This is probably because, according to Kotter and Schlesinger (2008 p.132) “Even changes that appear to be ‘positive’ or ‘rational’ involve loss and uncertainty” – so it is possible that staff feel threatened by the pressure of learning a new system. According to Carnie, (2000 p. 266) ‘It is not the change that causes the problem, rather it is the transition from the pre-change to the post-change situation’. Sembi (2012) concurs that it is this transition from working within the confines of a ‘comfort zone’ to trying something new that can be the biggest challenge of all. Methodology Choice of methodology and methods In this paper I conceptualize perceptions of technology and its introduction as an object of study for research and propose phenomenology as a highly suitable method for studying this construct. I propose the theoretical and methodological approach of phenomenology as a framework for developing a research agenda on perceptions of experiences with a new technology. I describe a research design consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of phenomenology including methods for collecting and analyzing data as well as ethical and validity 93

considerations specific to this research design. However, in order to add further weight and depth to my study I am not just using phenomenology, but instead a mixed method approach using an open-format online questionnaire and an interview. To comprehend technology’s impact on societies generally and on teaching and learning more specifically, it is vital to understand individuals’ experiences with technology. Jonassen’s argument underlined that ‘‘since experiencing a mediated event is substantively different from direct experience of an event, the resulting phenomena or conscious perceptions must be substantively different’’ (Jonassen, 1984, p.166). A mediated event is one where the participant is acting through or dependent on an intervening agency, in this case educational technology. Put differently, experiences with technology generally, and with teaching and learning with technology specifically, are phenomena distinct from experiences with traditional forms of teaching and learning. This necessitates studying experiences with media and technology in-depth to understand their role in and impact on teaching and learning. Heidegger (1962) used phenomenology to describe our being in the world and to describe perceptions. Validity Ashworth (1999) and Peshkin (1988) advocate formulating a subjectivity statement at the beginning of a phenomenological study as a useful starting point to deliberately search for and highlight one’s prejudgments and facilitate a bracketing process throughout the investigation. The researcher is supposed to engage in epoche throughout the study and it is most important to bracket one’s subjectivity during data analysis. Epoche is an attempt to place common sense and previous knowledge about phenomena in brackets (hence the term, bracketing) to arrive at an unprejudiced description of the essence of an experience. Thus, before commencing data analysis, the researcher should revisit his/her subjectivity statement and reflect on all his/her prior experiences related to the phenomenon, in order to more consciously keep them in brackets and minimize their impact on the findings. Before embarking on the interviews I constructed a subjectivity statement in an attempt to do as Ashworth and Peskin advise and consciously confront my preconceptions about the subject and thus be able to more successfully bracket my prejudices: The teachers will resent having the way they teach imposed on them. They will be scared of the new technology and will feel threatened by it. They might refuse to adopt the technology and continue teaching as they always have done. By reflecting on my pre-conceptions and writing this statement before I 94

interviewed the participants I raised my own awareness of what I was expecting to hear and therefore reminded myself of what a neutral stance would be. By reading the statement again before I started analyzing the data and by reading it numerous times during the process, I believe that I managed to put myself nearer the neutral position that is required in order to make a phenomenological study valid. Data analysis The initial survey was analysed by identifying the themes that emerged. The teachers were asked to write down how they felt about teaching with iPads and if they felt they were prepared for the task ahead of them. Six months later, three interviews were carried out and the data was analysed in the following way. First, the interviews were transcribed and the data was horizontalised. In other words, the transcripts were read multiple times with an attempt to view them with a fresh eye each time. Each statement relating to the participant’s perceptions about the introduction of the new technology was noted and given equal value. I asked a colleague to peer review my horizontalization in an attempt to check that I had chosen relevant statements. Next, the data was transformed into statements representing meaning units. Cilesiz (2011,p.499) explains meaning units as being “words/phrases that represent only one meaning” and goes on to say that the process of identifying these units involves “splitting statements whenever there is a transition in meaning.” The final step or synthesis was to identify similarities in the participants’ experiences and to compile these commonalities or shared meaning units into a composite textural description which is a unified narrative written in the third person. This unified narrative is included in the appendix. Findings A number of recurring themes were identified in the four questions in the initial questionnaire that was administered in the first week of the iPad roll out. The questionnaire was sent to all 38 English teachers on the Foundations program. 34 teachers started the survey and 24 (80%) finished it. Not all of them answered all the questions. Question 1: How do you feel about teaching with an iPad this semester? (22 responses) Three teachers responded that they were anxious, two that they were challenged, two that they were apprehensive, one stated that he/she was nervous and one that he/she was positive but nervous, another teacher was irritated. One was ‘confident, happy and relieved’ possibly because he/she had survived the first week! Four teachers commented on the use of the iPad and their feelings are 95

summed up in this quotation from a teacher: It (the iPad) would be fine if it were used where appropriate. Integrated and not as the missing link in education….and if things were set up properly in the college. It is important to remember that the teachers no longer had access to coursebooks and that they were told not to use any paper or paper based materials in class. This would probably account for the feelings of anxiety and apprehensiveness. Question 2: Do you feel that you have been given adequate support to prepare for the roll out of the iPad? (22 responses) The responses were fairly negative. Ranging from, “Not anyone’s fault, we’re all new to this, but no” to “inadequate”, “not really” and “absolutely not!” Again, one teacher sums up the responses very succinctly. I think we were given as much support as the people chosen to roll it out had to offer. Unfortunately, I believe that no-one was prepared for the amount of work … Obviously these comments provide valuable advice for future projects, but it is important to remember that the managers implementing this new technology were not consulted on the practicalities, or on the time frame they were given. Unfortunately, this is not unusual in the context in which they work. I think very few of those managing this implementation would disagree with the responses above. Nor would they be surprised by them. Question 3: Please tell me what you have found most helpful (21 responses) The theme that emerged here was the support that the teachers found by working with each other in small groups. These are some responses, ‘networking with other teachers’, ‘talking to other teachers’, ‘working with other teachers’. One teacher said; The two days at the end of the iPad torture! We all got together and helped each other to figure things out…we’re still doing this. The ‘iPad torture’ to which he/she is referring was an intensive two weeks of training at the beginning of the autumn semester run mainly by the IT department. Question 4: Please tell me what you have found least helpful (21 responses) The responses to this final question support what was said in question 3. Out of 96

the 21 respondents, 18 cited the training sessions and conferences related to iPads as being the least helpful. One respondent stated that the least helpful element was, “The fanaticism that claims that this device is going to revolutionize education.” A positive aspect of the implementation that is highlighted by the responses to questions 3 and 4 is that the teachers appeared to form themselves into a community of practice to cope with the situation they were in. This community continued to grow in strength and number as the semester went on and its usefulness is referred to in the ensuing interviews that were carried out at the beginning of the following semester, six months after the initial roll out. The findings of the interviews are summarized in the composite textural description or synthesis. It is a time consuming process to examine the data in this way but the final synthesis provides the essence of the teachers’ perceptions (at this time). If the process were to be carried out again the essence or essences could be different. It can be seen that the themes that were identified in the responses to that survey are very similar to the essences captured in the composite textural description .In particular, the overwhelming feeling of anxiety and the perception held by the teachers that they were unprepared for the project. (See appendix p. for the synthesis.) It can be seen from the synthesis that the teachers perceived that the implementation of the new device was not handled well and that this led to feelings of anxiety. The way it was introduced can be seen to have had, in some cases, a negative impact on their professional identity. The teachers (and managers) involved in this project adapted extremely quickly to their situation. As mentioned in the literature review, according to Kotter and Schlesinger (2008 p.132) “Even changes that appear to be ‘positive’ or ‘rational’ involve loss and uncertainty” – so it is possible that staff feel threatened by the pressure of learning a new system. I would venture that very few educators would see the blanket implementation of this mobile device to be either ‘positive’ or ‘rational’ but there was no choice in this context. However, despite this, the teachers found a way to work with the challenges and ensure that the students were not disadvantaged. It is important to note though that this was not without cost. The stress and anxiety felt by all those involved in this project was significant. Considerations of ethics Ethical considerations are vital for any research endeavor. Before embarking on the survey and the interviews I applied for, and was granted, ethical clearance from the University of Exeter and from the institution where I carried out the study. All the names have been removed from the transcripts and the information will only be shared in this paper. The participants signed an 97

informed consent before they agreed to participate in the study and it is clearly stated in this document that they can withdraw from the study at any time if they wish to do so. Recommendations Implied recommendations can be drawn from the perceptions that were gathered in the six stages of data analysis. Firstly, the introduction of new technology should have its basis in a theory of education. The technology should be used, where appropriate, to fulfill the learning objectives rather than the use of the device becoming the aim. “Theory without practice leads to an empty idealism, and action without philosophical reflection leads to mindless activism” (Elias & Merriam, 1980, p.4) and Zinn (1990) states that a common mistake in the attempt to integrate technology into teaching contexts is that the emphasis is put onto what to do with the technology rather than on why we are doing it. Technology, in this case the iPad, should not be used for its own sake, it is one tool among many that can be exploited to advance learning. Blended learning in conjunction with traditional teaching methods is suggested as being a more measured approach to the introduction of new technology. (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004, p.96) define it in this way, “blended learning is both simple and complex. At its simplest, blended learning is the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences.” There are also implied recommendations in relation to the way change is managed. Sembi (2012) suggests that a successful implementation of a new technology should involve informing all colleagues about the innovation early on and that no-one should be left out. Where possible, case studies of early adopters of similar technologies should be disseminated. It is accepted that this is difficult in this case as the iPad is still a relatively new phenomenon in higher education. It is also suggested that a pilot project would be beneficial rather than a blanket implementation involving all students and teachers. The recommendations that arise from the initial survey are related to professional development and how teachers should be introduced to and trained in new technology. It was clear that sessions in large groups administered by IT specialists were not considered desirable. In preference, the teachers wanted hands-on sessions given by teachers or small working groups where they could exchange ideas and best practice. Discussion and conclusion The research question asked what perceptions teachers hold concerning the introduction of a new technology and the findings show many, varied perceptions regarding the process. The findings have implications for the success of the project as Parr (1999) suggests that teachers’ perceptions of learning 98

technologies are likely to be vital factors in the successful integration of learning technologies. For successful integration leading to enhanced learning outcomes teachers need to perceive learning technologies as part of a student-centred/ conceptual change teaching approach. The learning technologies need to be perceived as tools in the learning context, but not the only tool. It is not enough to teach teachers how to use the technology. Carr-Chellman & Dyer (2000) state that research in this area shows that experienced teachers need professional development in modern research knowledge about the nature of learning and how learning technologies can be used to encourage enhanced learning outcomes in students. The study is limited in that out of the initial 38 teachers who were surveyed, only five were interviewed and only three of the interviews were used in the phenomenological analysis. Although the findings from the interviews supported the findings from the survey, I believe the results would have been more powerful if the themes occurred in the responses from more teachers. Time constraints restricted me from carrying out and analyzing more interviews, but if I were to pursue this line of research I would make this a priority. I believe that the methodology and methods used in this study were appropriate and relevant and that they served to answer the research question. The epistemology inherent in the theoretical perspective is that meaning is constructed and that an individual’s perception of an event or phenomenon is fundamental to explaining it. The theoretical perspective of phenomenology serves to classify and describe phenomena rather than look for their causes or theoretical explanations for them. Further research involving teachers’ perceptions of learning technologies and their implementation is warranted in a number of areas. The impact of relevant professional development programs on experienced teachers’ perceptions of learning technologies and their implementation could be assessed. Other areas of interest might be the essence of the experience of effective technology integration from the perspective of the students and experiences with new technologies in the classroom from the perspective of both teachers and students. References Ashworth, P. (1999). “Bracketing” in phenomenology: Renouncing assumptions in hearing about student cheating. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in education, 12(6), 707-721 Archer, W., Garrison, R., & Anderson, T. (1999). Adoting disruptive technologies in traditional universities; continuing education as an incubator for innovation. Canadian Journal of University, 13-30. Beijaard, D., Verloop, N., & Vermunt, J.D. (2000) Teachers' perceptions of professional identity: An exploratory study from a personal knowledge perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education 16, 749-764. 99

Carr-Chellman, A.A., & Dyer, D. (2000). The pain and the ecstacy: Pre-service teacher perceptions on changing teacher roles and technology. Educational Technology and Society, 3(2) Clark, M., Hyde, A., & Drennan, J. (2013). Professional identity in higher education. The Academic Profession in Europe: New Tasks, New Challenges. Springer Science & Business Media, Dodrecht. Cilesiz, S. (2011). A phenomenological approach to experiences with technology: current state, promise and future directions for research. Education Technical Research Development 59: 487-510 Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2010). Research methods in Education. New York, USA: Routledge. Crotty, M. (2009). The Foundations of Social Research. London, UK: Sage. Draper, J.A. (1993). Valuing what we do as practitioners. In T.Barer-Stein and J.A. Elias, J.L., & Merriam, S. (1980). Philosophical foundations of adult education. Malabar, FL: Robert E. Krieger. Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2007). A Miniature Guide for Students and Faculty to the Foundations of Analytic Thinking: How to Take Thinking Apart and what to Look for when You Do; the Elements of Thinking and the Standards They Must Meet. Foundation Critical Thinking. Garrison, D., & Kanuka, H. (2003) Blended Learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. Internet and Higher Education 7, 95-105. Springer-Verlag. Heidigger, M.(1962) Being and Time (Trans) New York: Harper & Row Jonassen, D. (1984) The mediation of experience and educational technology: A philosophical analysis. Educational Communications and Technology Journal, 32(3), 153-167 Kanuka, H. (n.d.). Understanding e-learning technologies in practice through philosophies in practice. In Theory and Practice of online learning (pp. 91122). Kotter, J.P, & Schlesinger, L.V. (2008) Choosing Strategies for Change. Harvard Business Review July/Aug: 130-139 Lewin, K. 1947. Frontiers in group dynamics: Concept, method and reality in social sciences: social equilibrium and social change. Human Relations 1: 5-41 Parr, J.M. (1999). Going to school the technological way: Co-constructed classrooms and student perceptions of learning with technology. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20(4), 365-377 Peshkin, A. (1988). In search of subjectivity- one's own. Educational Researcher, 17(7),17-21. Sembi, P. S. (2012). Implementing change: an autobiographical case study of introducing a technology innovation within a West Midlands HEI. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 36(1). Venkatesh, V., Davis. F.D., & Morris, M.G. (2007) Dead or Alive? The Development, Trajectory and Future of Technology Adoption Research. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 8(4), 267 100

Zinn, L.M. (1990). Identifying your philosophical orientation. In M. Galbraith (Ed.), Adult Learning Methods (pp. 39-77). Malabar, FL: Krieger Appendix Synthesis It is perceived that the details of the implementation of the new technology were revealed to some teachers before others and that no clear directive was issued by the management. The feeling is that people did not understand the dimensions of the project but it quickly became apparent that the device was to replace traditional teaching aids such as books and there is a perception that this led to feelings of anxiety. There is a feeling that the implementation was not handled well and that this was due to lack of clear leadership. There is an impression that information regarding the implementation should have come from the top and not been left to teachers to disseminate. The perception appears to be that the way the implementation was handled caused stress and anxiety amongst the teachers. The teachers do not perceive this to have been a deliberate action. The feeling is that the initial professional development was of little use and frustrating for those giving it and receiving it. The perception was that the teachers had to learn to adapt quickly and they did. There is a feeling that the new technology could have been introduced gradually and trialed. The perception that there was no rationale or philosophy of education on which the implementation was based was recognized. Technological problems in the classrooms, and the time wasted as a result of this, was perceived to be of major concern. It was perceived that teachers had to teach without using paper or books. There was a strong feeling that if they went against this directive there would be negative repercussions for them. The teachers feel that the students like the device. There is a feeling that the teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; voice is being ignored as they ask for the device to be used in conjunction with other teaching methods. There is not a feeling that the device should be withdrawn and there is a perception that it is useful in some contexts and situations.


Learning English with iPads: Challenges and Opportunities Matthew A. Robby & Christina Gitsaki Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE Abstract Mobile technologies are being increasingly used in the language classroom in an effort to promote student engagement and language learning. This paper provides an overview of the use of iPads in a post-secondary English language program and the impact this initiative has had on English language learning. Introduction In May 2012, the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) announced the adoption of iPads in the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s three Federal Institutions. The iPad initiative project (see Cochran, Ben Halim, Khalil, & Gilroy, 2012; Gitsaki, Robby, Priest, Hamdan, & Ben-Chabane, 2013) which was implemented from September 2012 is the most significant adoption of mobile technology in the higher education sector not only in the UAE and the Gulf region, but also internationally. The initiative is also unique in that it involved post-secondary students of English as a Second Language (ESL). This paper reports on the implementation of the iPads in one of the higher education institutions in the UAE and the impact of the mobile technology on student engagement, motivation and learning. Aims of the Study The iPad adoption in one of the higher education institutions involved over 6,200 students of English as a second language. A longitudinal applied research project was designed to describe and monitor implementation, processes, use of iPad apps by students, and to periodically determine the progress towards student achievement and changes in language development. This applied research also aimed to support planning, development, and refinement of the iPad project and to identify strengths and areas for further adjustments and enhanced support. Methodology The iPad evaluation project design utilized objective, ethical, and wellestablished research-based methods and rigorous evidence standards. This formative and summative evaluation was designed to determine the extent of â&#x20AC;&#x153;treatment effectâ&#x20AC;? for the ESL students that were involved in the project. The research relied on multiple measures and mixed methods to help triangulate evidence and corroborate results to accurately determine the impact of the iPad on student learning. 102

A student survey was designed to reliably measure changes in self-reported usage of iPad apps and iPad activities, to determine changes in motivation and engagement for in-class and out-of-class learning activities, and to help examine changes in the perceptions/ratings of satisfaction, helpfulness, and impact of the iPad on key student learning outcomes and the development of English language skills. The project also collected further quantitative evidence from: (a) assessments and course work grades; (b) class attendance and (c) use of language learning apps. The analysis of test scores and grades was used to determine the extent that educationally meaningful improvements occurred in rates of progression in the ESL program and for measuring outcomes and changes in reading, grammar, vocabulary, writing, and listening and speaking skills. Analysis also correlated the level of iPad use with changes in motivation and engagement as well as learning outcomes. Overall, the research sought to isolate the effects of the program to the extent possible and apply evidence standards to determine for what students and under what circumstances the effectiveness of the iPad can be maximized. This paper reports on the results from the first phase of the project (Semester 1, 2012). Results and Discussion The student survey was administered in November 2012. It was online and in a format that was compatible with iPads. Student participation in the survey was voluntary and confidential. The survey was completed by 1,805 students out of 6,172 students in the ESL program. At the 95% confidence level, there is a very low margin of error of only +/- 1.9%, so results are generalizable and can â&#x20AC;&#x153;stronglyâ&#x20AC;? represent all students in the program. With regards to the use of the iPad in the classroom for learning English, twothirds of the students reported using the iPad every day to do reading, to look up new words and to interact with other students. About half of the students also reported that they used the iPad every day to practice new vocabulary and access Blackboard materials, while about two-fifths of the students used the iPad daily to take notes, work on grammar, practice writing and write in blogs. The least popular activities to do on the iPad were practicing listening and creating movies and presentations (see Figures 1 & 2). Chi square and Phi were used to examine any gender differences in the use of the iPad for learning English. No differences were found with regards to: doing English reading, working on grammar exercises, practicing new English vocabulary, looking up unknown words, taking notes during English lessons, practicing writing, playing audio to practice listening, and accessing blackboard materials. Statistically significant differences by gender were found for the following activities: providing written comments in blogs every day (males 34.7% vs. females 40.4%), creating movies or presentations every day (males 18% vs. 103

females 13.6%), and interacting with other students every day (males 64% vs. females 71%). There were also some statistically significant differences in terms of Level of proficiency (Levels 1-4) with regards to the daily use of the iPads for the following activities: Taking notes (L1=53%, L2=47%, L3=41%, L4=37%); Working on grammar exercises (L1=53%, L2=47%, L3=39%, L4=30%); Practicing using new English vocabulary (L1=64%, L2=52%, L3=49%, L4=46%); Providing written comments in blogs (L1=49%, L2=41%, L3=36%, L4=36%); Accessing Blackboard materials (L1=51%, L2=55%, L3=45%, L4=42%); and Interacting with other students (L1=76%, L2=74%, L3=67%, L4=66%). Overall results showed that the lower the level of the students, the higher the use of the iPad for certain activities. 100 0 to 2 Times a Month


1 to 2 Times a Week

Every Day

80 70 60 50 40 62

30 29

20 10 0



17 11

take notes



9 do English reading

63 50

42 17


work on grammar practice using new vocabulary

8 look up words

Figure 1. Student Survey: Self-reported use of the iPad in the classroom.


100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

0 to 2 Times a Month


practice writing


69 32 46






write in blogs

Every Day



41 43

1 to 2 Times a Week


13 18


Play audio to create movies or interact with practice listening presentations other students

access Blackboard materials

Figure 2. Student Survey: Self-reported use of the iPad in the classroom. In terms of out-of-class learning activities, two-thirds of the students reported they used the iPad to do homework every day, while about half of the students used the iPad to review English lessons, to practice vocabulary and to practice writing daily. About 41% of the students reported using the iPad daily to read in English, while a third of the students used the iPad every day to access online resources and play English language games (see Figure 3). 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

0 to 2 Times a Month


29 6 do English homework




1 to 2 Times a Week

10 review English lessons


44 10 review new English vocabulary

38 46

41 19 read in English

Every Day

32 34


30 33


16 practice writing

play games access onto help learn line English resources

Figure 3. Student Survey: Self-reported use of the iPad outside the classroom.


There were no statistically significant differences with regards to gender for the following activities: reviewing new vocabulary words, reading in English at home, and accessing on-line resources. A number of significant differences by gender were found with female students engaging more frequently in the following activities: doing English homework every day (males 52.9% vs. females 71.2%), reviewing English lessons every day (males 41.9% vs. females 49.3%), and practicing writing in English ever day (males 42% vs. females 48.3%). The only activity where male students reported significantly more use of the iPad than the females, was playing online games (males 37.4% vs. females 32.4%). There were no statistically significant differences for Level of proficiency, apart from doing English homework (L1=73%, L2=70%, L3=67%, L4=62%) with lower level students reporting a higher use of the iPad for engaging in English homework at home. The student survey also sought to explore whether the use of the iPad improved studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; motivation to learn English and engagement in language learning activities. The overwhelming majority of the students reported that the use of the iPad had indeed motivated them to learn English, to attend class regularly and to do more study. The majority of students also reported that the use of the iPad improved their study skills, their confidence to learn English and helped them manage their time more effectively (see Figure 4). 100 Strongly Disagree to Disagree

90 88


Strongly Agree to Agree







60 50 40 30 26

20 10




23 16

0 I am more motivated to learn English

I am more I am doing my study skills I manage my I have greater motivated to more studying have improved time more confidence for attend class effectively learning English

Figure 4. Student Survey: Student motivation and engagement.


In addition to the above analyses, multiple regression analysis was performed to: Identify and understand the best predictors of student motivation and engagement; Better understand the inter-relationships between variables and student motivation and engagement; Provide initial explanation for key factors associated with motivation and engagement for learning English; and Identify new hypotheses for additional testing during the later stages of the iPad project. A total of 57 key variables were used in the regression analysis to identify significant predictive models (see Table 1). The results of the regression analysis are shown in Tables 2-4 below. Table 1. List of 57 variables used in the regression analysis.

With regards to overall motivation to learn English, students who reported high motivation also reported that they often used the iPad to practice new vocabulary, do English homework, and read in English. Teacher expectations and helpfulness were also found to be good predictors of high student motivation (see Table 2). 107

Table 2. Dependent Variable: I go to class most of the time motivated to learn English. Model Key Predictor Variables 1

I often use the iPad in class to practice new vocabulary.

2 3 4

I often use the iPad out-of-class to do English homework. My teacher expects me to try my best in class. I often use the iPad to read English at home.


My teacher is helpful for improving my English.

Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) N = 1,021; Adj. R-Squared = .249 The use of the iPad was a strong predictor of student motivation with students reporting that because of using the iPad they were more motivated to learn English, they felt more confident in their ability to learn English, their writing skills and grammar skills had improved, they had better study skills and they were better able to manage their time effectively (see Tables 3 and 4). Table 3. Dependent Variable: Because of using the iPad, I am more motivated to learn English. Model Key Predictor Variables 1

Because of using the iPad, I am more motivated to attend class.


Because of using the iPad, I have greater confidence for learning English. 3 I like using the iPad for learning English. 4 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my writing skills. 5 Teacher has been helpful for improving my English. Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) N = 1,020; Adj. R-Squared = .576 Table 4. Dependent Variable: Because of using the iPad, I do more studying. Model Key Predictor Variables 1 Because of using the iPad, my study skills have improved. 2 Because of using the iPad, I manage my time more effectively. 3 I often use the iPad out-of-class to review English lessons. 5 Use of the iPad has helped me improve my grammar skills. Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) N = 1,108; Adj. R-Squared = .366


Students were also asked to report whether the use of the iPad had improved their English language skills. Again the results were very positive with 80-90% of students reporting that their English reading, writing, listening, grammar and vocabulary skills had improved because of the use of the iPad (see Figure 5). 100

Strongly Disagree to Disagree

Strongly Agree to Agree

90 90 85





70 60 50 40 30 20 10





10 0 reading

grammar skills

vocabulary skills

listening skills

writing skills

Figure 5. Student Survey: Self-reported improvement of English language skills. The regression analysis showed that the best predictors for the improvement of studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reading and writing skills were using the iPad to practice grammar, listening and vocabulary (see Tables 5 and 6). Table 5. Dependent Variable: Self-Reported Reading Skills. Model Key Predictor Variables 1 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my grammar skills. 2 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my listening skills. 3 Because of using the iPad, my study skills have improved. 4 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my vocabulary skills. Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter â&#x2030;¤.010, Probability of F to remove â&#x2030;Ľ.100) N = 1,253; Adj. R-Squared = .496


Table 6. Dependent Variable: Self-Reported Writing Skills. Model Key Predictor Variables 1 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my vocabulary skills. 2 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my listening skills. 3 Because of using the iPad, I am more motivated to learn English. 4 My use of the iPad has helped me improve my grammar skills. Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) N = 1,252; Adj. R-Squared = .407 To determine how the use of the iPad had positively impacted on students’ English language development, regression analysis was performed using students’ reading score, their writing score and their overall score in the ESL course. The strongest relationships between the dependent variables (i.e., reading score, writing score, & overall score in the ESL course) and the 57 independent variables are shown below in Tables 7-9. Students who attended class regularly, who had caring teachers, and who used the iPad to practice new vocabulary and read English at home, were more likely to achieve a high reading score (see Table 7). Students who had greater confidence in their ability to learn English, who liked using the iPad and who managed their time more effectively were more likely to achieve a high score in writing (see Table 8). Finally, attending class regularly and having a helpful teacher who expects students to do their best emerged as the best predictors of overall success in learning English (see Table 9). Table 7. Dependent variable: Final Assessment - Reading Score. Model Key Predictor Variables 1 Overall attendance. 2 My teachers show that they care about me. 3 Use of the iPad in class to practice new English vocabulary. 4 Use of the iPad to read English at home. Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) N = 798; Adj. R-Squared = .162


Table 8. Dependent variable: Final Assessment - Writing Score. Model Key Predictor Variables 1 Because of using the iPad, I have greater confidence for learning English. 2 I like using the iPad for learning English. 3 Because of using the iPad, I manage my time more effectively. Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) N = 793; Adj. R-Squared = .241 Table 9. Dependent Variable: Overall Score in the ESL Course. Model Key Predictor Variables 1 Overall attendance 2 My teacher has been helpful for improving my English 3 My teachers expect me to do my best in class 4 Use of the iPad has helped me improve my vocabulary skills Method: Stepwise (Criteria: Probability of F to enter ≤.010, Probability of F to remove ≥.100) Students were also asked to rate the overall helpfulness of the various resources available to them in the ESL program. Figure 6 shows that the majority of students considered their teacher to be the most helpful resource followed by accessing internet resources, using Blackboard Vista (BBV) and iPad apps. These results help to reinforce the fact that even in a technology-rich environment, the teacher remains the key factor in student learning and attainment. 100 Least Helpful


A Little Helpful

Most Helpful

80 80

70 60









41 33


20 10 0


17 teacher


9 iPad apps

iPad on-line games



Figure 6. Helpfulness of support for improving English.


iPad internet resources

Conclusion Looking at the results from the first round of data collection (November 2012), we can draw the following preliminary conclusions: The use of the iPad has had a positive impact on studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; motivation and engagement, study skills, English language development, and access to support and resources in and out of class. The teacher remains the key factor for enhancing student learning and English language performance with the iPad. Variation in the student use of the iPad to engage in in-class and out-ofclass activities is statistically significant and "slightly" correlated with differences found on the end of semester assessment in student performance in the ESL course. These preliminary findings suggest hypotheses for further testing during the end of the academic year and beyond to better understand the pattern of language growth and change relative to the use of the iPad for language development. The initial results reported in this paper include some interesting relationships (for example, students using the iPad to read at home and end of semester reading scores; reviewing vocabulary and teacher expectations emerging as predictors of student success in the regression models). Nevertheless, a more detailed analysis will need to be performed to replicate level of use measures involving specific activities as well as an overall index score for level of use, and therefore to determine what predictors are found (as hypothesized) for assessment results; that is, for end of semester scores by skill and change scores of growth while controlling for the influence of a range of factors to better isolate the effects of the iPad. Further research is needed in order to be able to make definite statements about the effectiveness of the iPad and describe the effect size in a way that is easily interpreted for the use of the iPad. There is natural variation built into the self-reported use of the iPad and we need to try and triangulate these measures with multiple measures and process variables to provide greater confidence in the findings in order to determine for what students and under what circumstances and conditions the effectiveness of the iPad as an instructional support tool can be maximized. References Cochran, T., Ben Halim, T., Khalil, K., & Gilroy, B. (2012). iPad implementation framework (Version 1.67). United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University, Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE. Gitsaki, C., Robby, M.A., Priest, T., Hamdan, K., & Ben-Chabane, Y. (2013). The UAE iPad initiative. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, 10(2), 23-41.


Hall, G. E., & Hord, S.M. (2001). Implementing change: Patterns, principals, and potholes. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon. Hord, S., Rutherford, W.L., Huling-Austin, L., & Hall, G.E. (1987). Taking charge of change. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Higher Colleges of Technology Š 2013, Higher Colleges of Technology


Learning English through a Tumblr Blog Tamatha Roman Kanda University of International Studies Abstract This paper examines the usage of Tumblr, a simple blog platform, as a tool for the English language classroom. Tumblr has gained popularity over the last few years as a social networking site for the younger generation and, more recently, as a teaching tool with a multitude of possibilities. Using Tumblr in the language classroom allows students the opportunity to easily share their lives through an English blog, as well as take ownership over their own learning and create a sense of community. In its simplest form, students are able to read and post both text and pictures, while teachers can monitor the posts and provide direct feedback. However, Tumblr can also be used for a variety of other purposes including responding to prompts, chain posting, movie or book reviews, challenge posts, and much more. This paper will explore the idea of using blogging as a classroom tool; explain what Tumblr is and how it can encourage English language learning through blogging; and showcase a classroom example utilizing challenge posts. Introduction As technology becomes more readily accessible to classrooms all over the world, teachers are seeking creative ways to utilize the available resources and cater to the population at hand. E-learning, which combines technology with language learning, has found its way into the classroom through resources such as Skype, Avatars, Smartphones, iPads, and YouTube (Chhabra, 2012). Blogging is another popular device used in the English language classroom, allowing learners to communicate in an interactive space inside and outside of the classroom. In recent years, one such blogging site, Tumblr, has gained popularity due to its simplicity and relative ease in incorporating it into the classroom (Experian Marketing Services, 2012). In this article the author: 1) introduces Tumblr as a potential English classroom tool, 2) discusses how it can encourage English language learning through blogging and 3) highlights one real world example taken from a university EFL classroom. Blogging in the English Classroom In the EFL language classroom, there are obvious time constraints. Students rarely get a chance to speak their second language outside of the classroom, limiting their interaction time to seemingly fractions of a week. For example, the majority of students involved in this study only get the chance to use English in two 90-minute classes per week; this time decreases as students advance in their studies and focus more on job hunting. Furthermore, inside any classroom, L2 communication can also take a backseat to informal announcements, teacher 114

talk, discipline, and L1 usage. Finally, factors such as classroom size and curriculum requirements may affect the amount of actual L2 communication from student to student. Given these limitations, blogging has been embraced as an alternative way to provide students with further opportunities to interact in the target language. The rise in popularity among sites such as Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr, as well as others, would attest to this trend. Although it was more difficult to integrate blogs into the classroom five years ago, lower costs and easier access have eased some of the challenges. Many students around the world have access to a Smartphone, and often, personal blogs of their own. With this easier access in mind, more attention is being focused on the potential advantages blogs bring to the language classroom; for example the input and output of meaningful language, an increase in motivation, and a space to create and build community (Chartrand, 2012). Through blogging and using other Social Networking Sites (SNSs), students have access to an ongoing stream of meaningful language input and output. Whether it is from native speakers or L2 speakers, the language used in blogging and SNSs is authentic, current, and relevant to students’ lives. In addition, students must often practice and or draft what they want to say or write, especially L2 speakers. Thus, blogging can encourage autonomous language training without forcing the student to conduct repetitive drills, and allow a space for continual feedback. They have a global audience and a space to freely create, edit, and reflect upon the authentic work of millions of blog participants (Alm, 2006; Lowe, 2004; Pinkman, 2005). SNSs such as Facebook and Twitter have also allowed users to express themselves and interact with others in online communities. These online communities allow relationships to both develop and to be maintained (Thorne, 2011). Given the limitations mentioned earlier, it is unlikely that EFL students have the opportunity to communicate with every member in their class; hence their sense of community in the classroom might be non-existent. In some instances students may see the classroom as uncomfortable and judging, depending on how they feel about the other members. Blogging, however, can offer a non-threatening space for students to get to know each other. Without seeing each other’s faces, students may feel more comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their feelings with their classmates. These mutual feelings of ease can therefore shape and develop a sense of community helping to create an extended learning space in which students are given a greater audience both inside and outside of the classroom (Blackstone, Spiri, & Naganuma, 2007). Furthermore, this extended learning space can often result in a “blog community” whereby students feel a sense of accomplishment in their united goals (Murray, 2007). Of course, blogs have the potential to lead to negative results, such as issues with privacy in a very public domain, and communication breakdowns due to the solely written aspect of interactions. 115

However, with careful security and explicit directions to the students, some of these issues can be avoided. Finally, the fact that research shows that over 90% of people use an SSN site on a daily basis, suggests that such sites are intrinsically interesting and relevant to students (Richardson, 2010; Woo, Herrington, Agostinho, & Reeves, 2007). Using them requires personal investment as users get to express themselves in authentic and meaningful ways (Chartrand, 2012; Rogers, 2008). This in turn can serve as a powerful motivator to students who may come to regard blogging tasks as something they would enjoy doing in their free time regardless of their mandatory nature. What is Tumblr? Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking site with over 118 million blogs worldwide, at the time of this writing (Tumblr, 2013). In 2012, it was the fourth most popular SSN site, behind Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (Experian Marketing Services, 2012), with over half of its users under the age of 25. This specific blogging site is free for users, and offers a simple interface that capitalizes on short-form blogs: smaller entries with pictures and/or video. Similar to a Facebook Newsfeed, Tumblr posts in reverse chronological order, creating a stacked history of the writerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work. Signing up for a Tumblr account and creating a blog requires few steps. Users are asked to submit an email address and password, similar to other blog sites, and then are led through the simple steps of creating a blog. Tumblr offers several free formats to customize the blog at hand, but users also have the option of pulling from other websites for designs and applications. One such free application, for example, Disqus, permits readers of blogs to leave comments and pictures. In an English language classroom, Tumblr has many advantages. First and foremost, users are not required to sign up for an account with Tumblr in order to interact with posted blogs. This saves a lot of time and trouble in the preblogging stage. Instead, students are able to simply add their blog entry by posting a reply to a predetermined post. In this study, the teacher created blog posts based on class material, and students were asked to reply to each of the teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s posts. Another advantage, as mentioned above, is that Tumblr uses an interface that is easy to navigate, with large icons, simple English, and few options to select from. Blogs can also be password protected, allowing teachers and students to keep their posts confidential in our digital world. Finally, as with other blogging sites, Tumblr offers an environmentally-friendly alternative for the classroom, eliminating the need for written journals.


Educational Activities with Tumblr In its simplest form, using only the reply function of Tumblr, teachers are able to promote a lot of English learning activities inside and outside of the classroom. Some examples are outlined below. Question/ picture/ video prompts: One of the easiest ways to use Tumblr in the classroom is for the teacher to post a picture, video, link, or song for students to respond to. Students can respond to it based on a prompt, questions the teacher gives them beforehand, or just their general impressions as related to the class. As an example, for a Media class, teachers may post a video of a recent news event and have students share their reactions to the clip. For a vocabulary class, teachers could post a song and ask students to each identify one word that they do not know from the song and reply with a definition. Students can also be asked to respond to other sources, for example PowerPoint or word documents, which can be embedded or linked from Tumblr using resources off the Internet. Chain posting: For this activity, the teacher or one student starts the first sentence (or first few sentences) of a chain story or activity. The next student comments and adds to the responses, and so on, in a serial fashion. These posts can be used for explaining recipes, directions, scientific cycles, as well as story writing in general. Engaging in this type of activity gives students a chance to develop their skills in transitioning, coherence and cohesiveness, as well as other literary devices the teacher may wish to focus on. Book/ movie reviews: This activity is especially useful for a class which uses a lot of books or movies as its main medium. After viewing a movie or reading a short story, for example, students can share their opinions about it on the Tumblr blog. The teacher may provide specific questions for the students to reflect upon, or guide students to compare the movie or book to other works they have seen or read. One of the advantages here is that students are able to see their peersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reviews, which may lead to discussion and debate inside the classroom or on the blog itself. Of course, there are a myriad of activities beyond the ones discussed above, many of which can be found on search engines. In addition, if students are able to create their own Tumblr blogs, depending on their proficiency and access to the Internet, then more complicated activities can be used. These could include students creating their own portfolios on Tumblr, or leading online classroom activities in general. Classroom Example Another activity, called â&#x20AC;&#x153;blog challengesâ&#x20AC;? uses Tumblr for an extended learning activity to be completed outside of the classroom (see Appendix A). This activity 117

is used with third year, university-level course students in the International Communication Department at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. Students in this course have advanced English skills, having already taken prerequisite courses in Reading, Writing, International Communication, and Media English. The course, entitled Japan’s Environmental Impact, is a content elective focused on developing students’ knowledge on environmental issues that affect the university, Japan, and the world as a whole. The blog challenges are, essentially, environmentally-based challenges, assigned bi-weekly, and based on the class material. In this sense, a ‘challenge’ is simply an activity that students must try to complete in their own time and reflect upon it after its completion. For this class, the topics are disposable waste, sharks, fast food, water, and clothing and cosmetics. Accordingly, some of the challenges used include the following: Do not use plastic bottles, plastic bags, or disposable chopsticks for one week. Visit a convenience store and find out what happens to the leftover food at the end of the day. Watch the documentary “Shark Water.” Wear no cosmetics to class on Tuesday. Students complete the challenge in their time, by a certain due date. If they feel uncomfortable with the challenge, or cannot fully succeed in doing it, they are asked to reflect on why it was unsuccessful. The challenges offer a good opportunity for the students to pay attention to their own environmental impact and to reinforce the English that was taught in the classroom. That is, students reuse learned vocabulary, build new genre-specific vocabulary through completing the challenges, engage in English conversations about the challenges, and use critical thinking skills to write English reflections on the challenges. Using Tumblr, students are provided with questions to guide their reflection about the challenge and whether it was a success or a failure. Some questions include the following: Was the challenge difficult or easy? What did you learn from completing this challenge? What do you think this challenge says about Japan’s environmental impact? Based on what you learned from this challenge, what can we do about its related environmental issues? In this case the teacher also provided a word limit and required students to read other blog entries. Below are two unedited excerpts from students’ posts. The first is from the challenge “Don’t eat seafood for one week.” The second is from the challenge, “Watch the documentary ‘Shark Water.’”: 118

Now we can see a lot of things especially seafood to go to the supermarket. But I did not focus on that where it is the coming from? or how it is made from? etc. We tend to forget there is the limited resources to show it in the shelf at supermarket. Supermarket is the magical space because there are always many items there all time. So supermarket gave me illusion of seafood or other goods are infinity. But it is not true. We have own culture. There are people who poach sharks for a living. Shark finning makes money. It is not necessarily bad for them! In this movie, man who from China said, “Shark finning is not bad, and I will continue to eat it.” We can’t change their mind easily. It is equal for Japan to poach whales. We have to accept the fact. However if this situation will continue, sharks will be extinct within 20-30 years. I have never considered sharks are facing to extinct. We really don’t have idea about sharks. First of all we should learn the facts like sharks are not dangerous, or it may extinct in the future. That means we won’t be able to eat sharks, it will bring destroy food chains someday. Teachers may also choose to grade/assess students’ reflections, for example by developing a rubric for the written responses, evaluating grammar, reviewing content or analyzing use of new classroom vocabulary. In this case, however, the teacher felt uncomfortable formally grading blog entries for two reasons: First, the challenge blogs are meant to supplement the class material which is already graded on other factors. Therefore, the challenges are designed to encourage autonomous learning without the pressure of assessment. Second, while no formal assessment criteria are provided, certain benchmarks are expected. For example, students are required to write a certain number of words per blog entry. In addition, individual comments noting grammatical, organizational, or content-related errors are recorded by the teacher on each blog entry. As well common mistakes noted by the teacher throughout each week inform mini grammar lessons in the actual classroom. The environmental blog challenges have been a great success for two reasons. First, students are making connections from the classroom to these outside challenges. As they reflect on whether their challenge is successful or not, students use class material (i.e. vocabulary, documentary clips, jigsaw readings) and critical thinking skills to support and contrast the ideas in their entries. Furthermore, English discussions have been sparked in and outside of the classroom as to what was learned through completing the challenges. Second, students write with passion. Even students who are quite introverted in class find a voice within the class blog, as shown in other studies. It is sometimes difficult as a teacher to grasp whether or not the class material is critically understood by their students. However, in allowing time for reflection, this study has shown that students are more perceptive than it may seem in class. 119

Conclusion In conclusion, blogging provides teachers an easy platform as English educators to extend their lessons beyond the classroom. Blogs have the potential to encourage meaningful input and output, help create online communities, and motivate students through a popular means of expression. More specifically, by using Tumblr, students have had the chance to use a popular SSN site, and engage in activities such as chain posting or challenges that encourage their English language development. The range of activities that can be facilitated through Tumblr are endless, and many more activities not listed above are available through a number of web sites. Finally, as shown from the classroom activity presented above, using a blog as an extended learning tool can help students connect material with the outside world and reflect on their own learning. References Alm, A. (2006). Call for autonomy, competence and relatedness: Motivating language learning environments in Web 2.0. The JALT CALL Journal, 2(3), 29-38. Blackstone, B., Spiri, J. & Naganuma, N. (2007). Blogs in English language teaching and learning: Pedagogical uses and student responses. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 6(2), 1-20. Chartrand, R. (2012). Social networking sites for language learners: Creating meaningful output with Web 2.0 tools. Knowledge Management & ELearning: An International Journal, 4(1), 97-101. Chhabra, P. (2012). Use of e-learning tools in teaching English. International Journal of Computing & Business Research, (2229-6166), Retrieved from Experian Marketing Services. (2012). The 2012 digital marketer: Benchmark and trend report. Retrieved from Lowe, C. (2004). Moving to the public: Weblogs in the writing classroom. In L.J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs. Retrieved from Murray, A. (2007). Blog communities. The Language Teacher, 31(12), 26-27. Pinkman, K. (2005). Using blogs in the foreign language classroom: Encouraging learner independence. The JALT CALL Journal, 1(1), 12-24. Rogers, A. (2008). Using technology to facilitate process writing and interaction among adult students. Profile, 9(1): 197-218. Thorne, S. L. (2011). Community formation and the world as its own model. Modern Language Journal, 95: 304-307. Tumblr. (2013). About Tumblr. Retrieved from


Woo, Y., Herrington, J., Agostinho, S., & Reeves, T. C. (2007). Implementing authentic tasks in web-based learning environments. Educause Quarterly, 30(3), 36-43. Appendix


Digital Natives: How Learners see their iPad Almin Piric & Peter B. McLaren UAE University Introduction The advent of iPad technology in classrooms across the UAE's main tertiary institutions (Zayed University, the Higher Colleges of Technology and the United Arab Emirates University) in 2012 resulted in a series of challenges for those implementing these changes in pedagogy and related technology. Opinions ranged from resistance to enthusiastic adoption of the latest innovations and most points of view between these two extremes. This is in keeping with the burgeoning body of literature on the subject where, for example, Fang (2009) highlighted the ever-present danger of technology becoming a disruptive influence and correlating negatively to student learning and cognitive understanding, yet at the same time also saw the potential presented by such radical changes in the teaching and learning environment. He believed that mobile technologies could help to create more independent learners and perhaps lead us towards Meurant's (2010) conception that the end result of EFL/ ESL tuition ought not to be merely about linguistic competence but more to do with improving the learner’s digital literacy. Therefore, this small-scale research project started from the basic assumption that regardless of a teacher's opinions about, and abilities with, iPads and their various educational and language teaching applications, that it is inevitably the students – their needs and technological abilities – that drive the process forward. As such, this paper sought out students' opinions, at one UAE tertiary institution (on separate male and female campuses), regarding the efficacy of using iPad technology both inside and outside the classroom; probing whether, and in what ways, this could enhance language learning, motivation, enjoyment and the prospect of learning independently outside of class hours. At present there is a danger of many teachers being seen to use the iPad regardless of its impact on teaching and learning. Therefore, it was thought that a deeper understanding of how students viewed, and used, this technology could help to focus pedagogic energies in the most fruitful direction. Several themes emerged from the research. It was clear that the learners did indeed enjoy using their iPads and found many of the educational activities more stimulating than paper and pencil alternatives. That said, there was danger that students liked the iPad simply because they saw it as easier to use – looking up words instead of remembering them; photographing model sentences rather than actually writing them down, etc. However, the very fact that this lightweight, portable device was seen as motivating by the learners suggested that perhaps 122

the real issue is not whether we use iPads, but how judiciously we use them, and how Meurant’s (2010) target of genuine digital literacy might be achieved. Context/ Situation The United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) brought iPads into Foundations level classrooms in the Fall semester of 2012. Teachers were expected to incorporate this relatively new technology into the curriculum as seamlessly as possible regardless of prior experience with the device and its various educational applications. The iPad was presented as being a convenient tool for every day teaching use. Many teachers had little or no previous experience of using this technology and were expected to learn as they progressed through the semester. This was also largely the case for the students. The University General Requirements Unit (UGRU); now rebranded as the University Foundations Program (UFP), is a program designed for students who are not yet ready to enter mainstream, English-medium, university level classes. It aims to provide students with the linguistic and other skills required to take such courses. The English department consists of three levels – each one semester long – that target raising English proficiency levels so that students can score band 5 or higher on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination administered at the end of level 3. The research contained herein was conducted across both male and female campuses and was confined to Level 1 English classes to minimize the possibility of other extraneous variables – such as language ability, or previous educational experience – influencing the students’ responses. However, inevitably there is a distinct, albeit minimized, probability of students at the same entry level still having quite varied levels of proficiency. The survey was conducted at the end of the semester. In the end due to drop-outs and unequal class sizes the sample size was a little unbalanced with 50 female and only 31 male respondents. Methodology The study consisted of a one-off questionnaire. Students were presented with 18 statements about iPad use, grouped into 3 main categories, and were asked to respond to the statements by selecting their level of agreement on a 5-point Likert Scale. We chose to make use of a Likert scale as it is comparatively uncomplicated to administer and interpret and, after all, "was originally developed to measure attitudes." (Dörnyei, 2001, p.200). The scale ranged conventionally from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree; with scores nearer to one (1) representing agreement while those closer to five (5) indicating disagreement. The three categories were: General Attitude (e.g. No. 1. I like using the iPad in class to study English.); Uses of the iPad (e.g. No. 9. It is easier to read on an iPad than in a book.); and Drawbacks (e.g. No. 14. I sometimes use the iPad in class for other things, such as sending emails, surfing the internet, 123

etc.). Several antagonistic pairs were included as a basic validity check. As such, if a student agreed with statement one saying that they enjoyed using the iPad in class and disagreed with statements such as, “I don’t like using the iPad to study English” then they were deemed to demonstrate an understanding of the questions and concepts contained in the questionnaire. Two respondents, one male and one female respectively, failed to show the required level of understanding and engagement and their surveys were thus discarded. A fourth category: most used apps, asked students to list the apps they used most both in and out of class and those that they use in their free time (when they are definitely not studying English), and whether they tended to use English or Arabic when using their iPad. Basic descriptive statistics were then used to glean results from the raw data. As above Strongly Agree gave a score of 1, Agree counted as 2, and so on up to Strongly Disagree at 5. This allows the reader to identify low scores as agreement and high scores as disagreement. Thus each statement elicited a mean score for both male and female respondents, as well as a combined score. The individual mean scores allowed for male/ female comparisons, while the combined score shows the overall attitude toward the statement. For example, statement one: I like using the iPad to study English, where female students scored an average of 1.829, while male students recorded 2.857, could indicate that female students were more in favour of using iPads than their male counterparts (see Findings below). However, other responses suggested that a more cogent supposition might be that female students actually prefer studying in comparison to the men’s campus students. We were also conscious of both the "Hawthorne effect" (Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2000, p.127) – shown to good effect when the majority of students disagreed with the statement, “My teachers don’t use the iPad very well” – despite most teachers suffering through a steep technological learning curve themselves – and language difficulties. Although an Arabic translation may have been preferable, it was seen as less disruptive and equally, if not more, effective to administer the questionnaire in class and explain the import of each statement. Participation was optional and all returned forms were entirely anonymous. A Paradigm Shift? By committing to memory and examining huge amounts of orally transmitted material, young educated Greek citizens both preserved the extant cultural knowledge of their society and increased personal and societal knowledge. Unlike the judges at his trial, Socrates held this entire system in esteem not so much from a concern for preserving tradition as from a belief that only the arduous process of memorization was sufficiently rigorous to form the basis of personal knowledge that could be refined in dialogue with a teacher. (Wolf, 2010, p. 75) 124

In her thought-provoking and accessible book on the science of reading (Proust and the Squid, 2010 – see above) Maryanne Wolf relates the reservations of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates at a time when more and more people were beginning to commit facts and opinions to paper rather than to remember such things via the memorization of oral traditions and through spoken debate. Socrates saw the shift away from the oral to the written word as the primary conduit of knowledge and learning, as potentially disastrous, as once committed to paper the necessity to internalise such knowledge was rendered obsolete. Wolf (2010, p.70) began to, “realise that questions raised more than two millennia ago by Socrates about literacy address many concerns of the early twenty-first century.” She goes on to state that these concerns could well mirror her own worries regarding, “the immersion of our children into a digital world.” (Wolf, 2010, p.70) Yet, few well-informed citizens of the modern era – whether they are involved in the pedagogic transmission of knowledge or not – would argue that the incredible diffusion of literacy across many languages and diverse parts of the globe since the spread of more comprehensive systems of education can be viewed as a bad thing. Wolf (2010) herself acknowledged that Socrates may have been correct in assuming that certain traits would be lost. Indeed, very few people in modern, or indeed post-modern, societies today have the ability to recite at length epic poems full of traditional knowledge and racial legend: possibly because in a more technological age – and let us remember that reading, writing and printing are themselves forms of technology unknown for the majority of human history and pre-history – we have no need to. However, what Socrates did not expect or predict was that the popularization over time of the written word as a means of education and recording information has also had a potentially positive impact on our cognitive processes. Vygotsky (Kozulin, 1998), no opponent of many of the tenets of the Socratic method, believed that the actual process of writing down information resulted in new ways of thinking about that knowledge, of refining those concepts, and even in new ways of thinking about things in general. In short, for all that may have been lost, might we not have gained just as much, or even more, by embracing the ‘technology’ of writing? This shift, after Wolf (2010), has obvious parallels to the present debate over the role of mobile and other technologies in language, and other forms of, education. Meurant, writing about the contemporary situation in the Republic of Korea makes a convincing argument for viewing the current changes in technological innovation as heralding another major, or even paradigm, shift in not so much literacy itself – although that might well be argued – but in second language literacy;


The primary uses of English by non-native speakers will increasingly and in my opinion predominantly – be computer-mediated. These will be for information, in the use of online resources, and for communication, in distance (and perhaps local but augmented) telecommunication with other mainly non-native speakers. Recognizing this, there is a need to strongly develop L2 Digital Literacy in English (2010, p.195). If Meurant (2009, 2010), among others, has indeed highlighted a shift in L2 teaching and learning priorities – away from L1 norms and proficiencies more towards a convergence of language and digital processing skills – then this has obvious implications for the classroom in both positive and negative ways. Fang (2009), believed that the technology itself could be as much of a distraction as it could a learning and, hopefully motivational, tool. He saw many opportunities for the students to be off-task and more concerned with messenger, instagram or emailing their friends; to say nothing of the opportunities that digital technology represents for less than ethical learning behaviors, yet still felt that with judicious use the iPad, and other wireless devices, had a lot to offer. His summary of the challenges and opportunities thus presented harks back to the very notion captured above by Wolf (2010) and in Meurant’s (2010) conception of digital literacy (even the digital natives of this title) when he states that; Rather than seeing distraction as a challenge, educators can see it as an opportunity to reflect upon and change the design of their entire instructional approach. Creative and innovative educators can use technology innovations to help reform teaching, similar to the way Guttenberg’s press helped bring about scientific revolution and modern authorship (Fang, 2009, p. 6). Equally, unless we unwittingly accept the various claims put forward for digital, mobile and iPad learning – and one must always be critical and skeptical to a degree of any claims advanced by the manufacturers and sponsors of these devices – then we must also consider the possible downside of such technological innovation. Back in the 1980s – obviously pre-iPad – Clarke (1983) found no evidence that contemporary technology facilitated learning and language uptake. Later Mayer and Moreno (2002) and Mayer (2003) reported concerns, in line with Fang’s (2009) later work at a more technologically advanced period, that classroom technology (laptops, etc.) were in fact causing considerable student distraction. However, Mayer and Moreno (2002) and Mayer (2003) also concluded that should that distraction be taken care of – by careful teacher monitoring, more engaging materials, etc. – then students were more likely to succeed in the transference of salient knowledge if the technological tools being used included both visual and aural stimuli. In other words the more interactive the better: a finding consistent 126

with Kozma’s (1994) assertion, and not dissimilar to many contemporary claims for iPad-mediated learning, suggesting that such approaches may well incorporate inherently stimulating and motivating materials and methodologies. Findings and Implications It was, perhaps, unsurprising that student attitudes’ towards their iPads were universally positive. The crux of the matter for us in this piece of small-scale research was whether they were reporting these attitudes for the right reasons – right according to their teachers’ current perceptions at least – or because they felt that being able to take a snap-shot and ‘google’ a dictionary entry was somehow making their study lives easier: the path of digital least resistance. Interestingly, the responses to question one – a simple enquiry as to whether students ‘liked’ or enjoyed using the iPad in class – received a far higher numerical rating (2.857) from the male students than the female respondents (1.829). This result could suggest that the female students, with a score nearer to 1 (strong agreement) were reporting greater interest in, and success with, their iPads as a learning device, than the males (see Methodology above). However, this, and question 15 about iBooks, were the only occasions where such an obvious discrepancy between the genders manifested itself. One tentative theory for this could be that the female students might, on average, have simply been more attuned to studying – with or without an iPad – than their male counterparts, who recorded a very low score (1.5 as compared to 2.468) indicating approval of the use of digital books, which could perhaps also suggest that the male students were displaying a very high disapproval rating for traditional reading instruction. Questions 13, 15 (see above) and 17, dealing with student use of the iPad, were all negatively phrased and the high values (disagreement) recorded across the board suggested the learners were unaffected by issues that one might have thought they – initially, at least – would have found troublesome. Students universally claimed that using iPads didn’t mean that they wrote less (even though some of their teachers suspect that is the case), it wasn’t in any way seen as harder to read from a small backlit screen, and generally students found iBooks preferable to paper-based ones. Albeit, with the male learners championing this aspect of digital learning to a greater degree (and somewhat contradicting their collective response to question one). In terms of the potential drawbacks of the iPad student responses were surprisingly honest. The respective scores (2.642 and 2.427 respectively) were not spectacularly low (moving towards agreement) but were lower than we might have expected given that the students know that such behaviour is frowned upon. They were very clearly confessing to their misdemeanour and highlighting Fang’s (2009) worry that such devices can offer endless distraction. 127

Although gender differences were not a primary focus of this survey it was interesting to note that the results gathered suggested a general preference amongst the male students for using the iPad (with the exception of their responses to question one), as compared to the female students’ attitudes. Male students also claimed to use English on the iPad more than Arabic to a greater extent than their female counterparts. However, as above, such results could equally well indicate a greater aversion from the male learners to study via traditional methods (paper and pencil, books, paper dictionaries, etc.), rather than a wholesale adoption of mobile learning technologies. This supposition was leant some credence by the responses dealing with the students’ favourite applications. In the classroom the most used apps tended to reflect the teacher’s use: iBooks, Dropbox, etc.; whereas the preponderance of social media applications reported for out of class use threw up an interesting conundrum. If students are using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram a lot of the time, then is that likely to be disruptive to our classroom practice (see statement 14), or can it be harnessed to encourage genuine, independent, mobile, learning in English – leading to genuine modern ‘digital literacy’, in the vein envisaged by Meurant (2010)? Conclusions We have seen from this small-scale piece of research that generally male students at the institution in question were more attuned to the idea of studying via iPad technology than their female colleagues. It was suggested that this might be because female students were more engaged by traditional learning methods, or just more interested in their coursework, than the young men in this study. However, if young male students, and to a lesser degree female students, are motivated to use the iPad to study – not just to take shortcuts and play games – then this opens up an avenue that teachers can exploit. That said, it has also been suggested that institutions explore methods of blocking non-educational apps during classroom time and that further and extensive teacher training is required in order for the majority of teachers to begin to use this technology in more engaging and interactive ways. It was also felt that a degree of empirical research needs to be carried out into whether or not use of the iPad enhances, or perhaps, retards students’ language skills: most especially in writing and spelling. After all, Meurant’s (2010) digital literacy and a possible shift away from hand-written discourse still requires students to be able to use language effectively. And, in a similar vein, we as teachers should never lose sight of the fact that such digital literacy is one of the ways in which language teaching and communicative use continues to change. Kirkpatrick (2007, p.199) summarised this fluidity and the ever-changing nature of English language instruction when he reminded us, a là Meurant (2010), that today's learners of English, "are bilingual and … are learning in culturally diverse contexts for an extraordinary complex range of needs, stretching from local to international," with digital mediation clearly an important part of that communication. 128

References Clarke, R. (1994). Media Will Never Influence Learning. ETR & D, Vol. 42, No. 2, 21-29. Cohen, L, Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2005). Research Methods in Education: 5th Edition. London and New York, Routledge-Falmer. Dรถrnyei, Z. (2001). Teaching and Researching Motivation. Harlow, Essex: Pearson. Fang, B. (2009). From Distraction to Engagement: Wireless Devices in the Classroom. EDUCAUSE Quarterly. Retrieved on 15/02/2013 from: -devices-classroom. Retrieved on, 15/02/2013. Kirkpatrick, A. (2007). World Englishes: Implications for international communication and English Language Teaching. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Kozma, R. (1994, 42 (2). Will Media Influence Learning? Reframing the Debate. Educational Technology & Development, 7-19. Kozulin, A. (1998). Psychological Tools: A sociocultural approach to education. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press. Mayer, R., & Moreno, R. (2001). Aids to computer based multi-media learning. Elsevier Science, 108-119. Mayer, R. (2003). The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media. Elsevier Science Ltd, 125-139. Meurant, R.C. (2009). The Significance of Second Language Digital Literacy: Why English Language Digital Literacy Skills Should be Fostered in Korea. In Computer Sciences and Convergence Information Technology, 369-374. Meurant, R. C. (2010, December). The iPad as a tool for developing Korean EFL digital literacy. In The Applied Linguistics Association of Korea 2010 ALAK International Conference: Interdisciplinarity in Applied Linguistics. ALAK, Seoul. 189-195. Wolf, M. (2008). Proust and the squid. Cambridge, Icon Books.


Turn on, Tune in, Flip out: The Pros and Cons of Flipping your Classroom Peter Davidson Zayed University, UAE Introduction In 1967, Harvard University psychologist and prominent advocate of the counterculture, Dr. Timothy Leary, invited everyone to “turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Now, some forty-five years later, you are invited to “turn on, tune in, and flip out” – and consider flipping your classrooms. Flipping is a relatively new approach to teaching and learning, and has largely come about due to advances in technology, and the desire to personalize learning. After outlining exactly what a flipped classroom is, this paper will highlight the advantages, and the disadvantages, of this approach. We will then move on to conclude by speculating on the future of flipping and the implications that it might have for English Language Teaching. What is a flipped classroom? The flipped classroom began in 2006 with chemistry teachers Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams in Colorado, USA. They sought a new way of teaching that reversed, or flipped, their more traditional approach. As they noted at the time, “that which is traditionally done in class is now done at home, and that which is traditionally done as homework is now completed in class” (Bergmann and Sams, 2012a). In other words, students could watch recorded lectures for ‘homework’, or do some other task such as watching a PowerPoint presentation (Muldrow, 2013), or even their required reading (Graney, 2013). In class the next day, students could then engage in some form of collaborative, inquiry based learning such as participating in a discussion or debate, complete assignments, do a presentations, or complete laboratory work. In other words, as noted by Ginsburg (2013), “One premise of the flipped classroom model is that students should spend most of their time in class interacting with content rather than listening to teachers present content”. It should be noted, however, that not all teachers flip their classrooms in the same way. Some teachers select a set of core videos that students must watch, then offer a selection of other videos that students can choose from. Other teachers take a more flexible approach to the flipped classroom, viewing it more as a mastery system of learning – with each student progressing through a course as they master the material. Whatever the approach to the flipped classroom adopted, the key thing is that students obtain “input” by watching videos at home or outside the classroom, and so classroom time can be reserved for activities that were traditionally done at home. Another key point with the flipped classroom is that not all students learn the same thing at the same time – rather than being lock-step, learning is highly individualized and personalized. 130

Raths (2013) offers the following nine tips to develop a more effective flipped classroom: 1. Devise a flipped strategy that determines what videos your students will watch, what students will do in class time, and how they will be assessed. 2. Start small and don’t try to flip everything at once. 3. Get student buy-in by making sure students understand the flipped classroom philosophy. 4. Get parents buy-in by making sure they understand the flipped classroom approach and what it is you are trying to achieve. 5. Teach students how to watch videos in order to get the most out of them. 6. Encourage students rather than punish them if they don’t watch the required videos at home. 7. Don’t use videos as the only engagement tool. 8. Make videos short and interactive. 9. Find fellow flippers and share ideas with them. The advantages of a flipped classroom There are many advantages to the flipped classroom. One of the key advantages, mentioned above, is that learning can become more personalized – specifically targeted to the level, ability, interests, strengths and weaknesses of each individual student (DeWitt, 2012a). In effect, the flipped classroom allows for differentiated instruction where the diverse needs of students are better catered for than in a traditional classroom. The traditional approach typically sees all the students learning the same thing at the same time, regardless of whether they already know it or not (Dolci and Davidson, 2012). The flipped classroom approach is very student-centered as the emphasis is on the student learning rather than the teacher teaching. There is increased flexibility and control as students can watch content videos when and where they want, at their own pace, pausing and rewinding whenever they want. This is beneficial for the good students, and is also positive for the weaker students. It is also good for busy students who miss class, and good for indolent students who miss class, because at least, hopefully, they did not miss out on receiving the content via the videos. Because students are used to watching videos, and because the new ‘homework’ is much more meaningful and also essential for their classwork the next day, they are more likely to do it than traditional homework. Students become more self-directed and independent learners and begin to select their own content videos and develop their own individualized courses (Wright, 2012). Another obvious benefit of the flipped classroom is that the overall quality of instruction can be improved. This is because the best teachers are the ones delivering the lectures on videos, and they have rehearsed to make sure they give 131

a good performance. There is an excellent repository of videos available. Free online videos can be found on the Khan Academy, YouTube EDU,, PBS, TED and Interest levels can be kept high for students as different videos use different teachers and approaches. In effect, the flipped classroom allows every student to have access to the best teachers delivering the most comprehensive content in the most effective way. This can be an ideal solution when it is difficult to recruit a suitable number of wellqualified teachers. It also means that an absent teacher is not as problematic as students still have had access to the class content through the video. The flipped classroom is also good for teachers as they do not have to give the same lecture over and over (DeWitt, 2012a). A related benefit of this more standardized delivery of content is a more standardized coverage of the curriculum. By setting the same core videos for students to watch, it can be assumed that all students doing the same course but in different classes are all receiving the same content from the same teachers. This also makes testing a lot easier as the test writer can be confident that students in multi-section courses have all covered the same content. For any educationalist, the main advantage of the flipped classroom is the more effective use of class time. Rather than spending valuable class time listening to a lecture or reading, class time is used to focus on discussions, projects, assignments and group work. Most importantly, the teacher is available to students when they need them most. As a consequence, in a flipped classroom there is increased student-teacher interaction, and teachers get to know their students better. Some teachers have also reported increased student-student interaction and fewer classroom management issues in a flipped classroom. Another unforeseen benefit of the flipped classroom is increased student-parent interactions as parents often watch the content class videos with their children. An offshoot of this is that the classroom becomes more transparent as parents become more aware of what their children are studying. The disadvantages of a flipped classroom Despite the many advantages of the flipped classroom, there are of course many disadvantages. The chief criticism of this approach is that, although reports from teachers who implemented the flipped classroom state that most students do in fact watch the required video at home, it becomes very problematic if some students do not. As noted by Ash (2012), for some students self-paced might in fact equal no pace at all. It may be that some students might not have access to the appropriate technology. Or it may be that lecture may not be at the appropriate level or it is culturally inappropriate, or simply not that engaging. Furthermore, it can be difficult for the teacher to individualize and personalize learning for all their students by assigning them all different videos to watch. Not only does the teacher need to accurately assess all their studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; knowledge, 132

levels and abilities, but they also need to watch hundreds of videos in order to assign appropriate, and different, videos to all their students. Some teachers have questioned the over-reliance of the flipped classroom on video (and hence lectures) as the primary mode of getting content across (Ash, 2012), and some have argued that it is just a traditional classroom rearranged (Wright, 2011). Other teachers have been reluctant to take on board this approach as they do not want to be responsible for increasing the amount of time that students spend looking at a screen, given that it is already very high in the modern world. Other teachers have also pointed out that students cannot ask questions while they are watching the content video at home, whereas they could ask such questions if the lecture was presented in class. Another concern that teachers have expressed concerning the flipped classroom is the diminished role of the teacher. If the teacher is no longer responsible for delivering the content of their particular course, then what is their role? Do they take on some lower status such as a tutor or facilitator; guide, advisor, or mentor; consultant; coach; enabler; guru; bystander. And finally, could such an approach as the flipped classroom lead to the commodification of education? Implications of flipping for English Language Teaching So the question remains, is flipping suitable for language classrooms. The simple answer is, yes it is. Muldrow (2013) provides a number of strategies for flipping the language classroom, and Graney (2013) offers advice on how to flip an English language classroom. Because English Language Teaching is such a global phenomenon, as evidenced by the many ELT books that are available on the market, culturally appropriate content videos focusing on learning the English language can easily be produced for the global market. Such videos could also then be fined tuned to cater for markets in Asia, the Middle East or more specifically the Arabian Gulf. Videos can be produced by individual schools and colleges to cater to the specific needs of their own students. Then we need to ask ourselves, if education is to be videoed, packaged and sold, would this also lead to the commodification of education, and if it did, would we be happy about that? The future of flipping One thing that has recently become abundantly clear is that flipping in the future will not just be confined to the classroom. Educators have already begun to experiment with flipped meetings (DeWitt, 2012b), flipped professional development (Heitin, 2013) and flipped parent-teacher conferences (DeWitt, 2013). The application of flipping in the future, it seems, will likely pervade a host of teacher activities.


Conclusion Writing some time ago, Gewertz (2011) proclaimed that the flipped classroom was a hot topic in education. There can be no denying that in the intervening two years, it has gotten even hotter. As noted by Rosenburg (2013) in The New York Times, flipping really is “turning education upside down”. However, we need to look beyond the initial hype and evaluate how the flipped classroom method could be realistically adopted and used in mainstream classrooms. Flipping undoubtedly has great potential, but as noted by Wright (2011), it should be viewed as one possible tool in our educational repertoire – but not the only one. In my opinion, the real value in the flipped classroom model is that combines well with a blended model of learning which many educationalist, myself among them, see as the real future of education. For an excellent TED talk on the future of blended learning, see Agarwal (2014). The future is now. References Agarwal, A. (2014). Why massive open online courses (still) matter. TED Talks. Retrieved 8/2/2014 from: urses_still_matter Ash, K. (2012). Educators evaluate ‘flipped classrooms’. Education Week, 32/2: 6-8. Retrieved on 30/08/12 from: Bergmann, J. and Sams, A. (2012a). Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, International Society for Technology in Education. Bergmann, J. & Sams, A. (2012b). Why flipped classrooms are here to stay. Retrieved 15/6/12 from: fp_bergmann_sams.html DeWitt, P. (2012a). A new approach to teaching? The flipped classroom. Education Week’s blogs. Retrieved on 12/12/12 from: new_approach_to_teaching?_the_flipped_classroom DeWitt, P. (2012b). Have you flipped your faculty meeting yet? Education Week’s blogs. Retrieved on 12/12/12 from: ve_you_flipped_your_faculty_meeting_yet? DeWitt, P. (2013). Flipping parent conferences? Education Week. Retrieved on 8/12/13 from: ing_parent_conferences.html


Dolci, I. & Davidson, P. (2012). Differentiated instruction: The future of teaching. In P. Davidson, M. Al-Hamly, C. Coombe, S. Troudi, C. Gunn & M. Engin (Eds.).Proceedings of the 17th TESOL Arabia Conference: Rethinking English Language Teaching (pp. 344-352). Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Gewertz, C. (2011). Flipping the classroom: hot hot hot. Education Week. Retrieved on 6/7/12 from: room_--_http.html Ginsburg, D. (2013). Flipped instruction or no instruction? Retrieved 12/2/12 from: ed_classroom_instruction_or_no_instruction.html?qs=flipped+instruction Graney, J. (2013). Flipping your EL Classroom: A Primer. TESOL Connections. Retrieved on 22/10/13 from: Heitin, L. (2013). ‘LessonCasts’: Flipped PD for teachers. pped_pd_for_teachers.html?cmp+ENL-EU-NEWS2 Muldrow, K. (2013). A new approach to language instruction – Flipping the classroom. The Language Educator, November 2013, 28-31. Retrieved 18/12/13 from: .pdf Raths, D. (2013). 9 video tips for a better flipped classroom. The journal. Retrieved on 8/12/13 from: Rosenberg, T. (2013). Turning education upside down. The New York Times, October 9. Retrieved 20/10/13 from: Wright, S. (2011). The Flip: Why I love it – How I use it. Powerful Learning Practice. Retrieved on 11/10/13 from: Wright, S. (2012). The Flip: End of a love affair. Powerful Learning Practice. Retrieved on 11/10/13 from:


SECTION THREE Teacher Education


Knowing Your Trainees: Tapping into Teachers’ Needs Héla Châabouni Fourati Teacher Trainer of Primary School Teachers, Tunisia Abstract Educational innovations are generally accompanied by a teacher development strategy. With the introduction of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Tunisian primary schools grew a need to prepare established primary school teachers for the new task of Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL). As most of these teachers are not specialised in teaching English, they had to be provided with a pre-service and an in-service training course to equip them with the linguistic and pedagogical skills they would need to perform their new challenging task. A pretraining questionnaire was administered during the first week of training to collect information about the teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, knowledge and expectations. The results will be summarized and their implications discussed for the design of a training course that takes into consideration the incoming teachers’ profiles. Context of the study This study is undertaken at a time of innovation and change in the Tunisian educational system. The introduction of English Clubs (EC) at Tunisian primary schools aimed at improving the status of English among school children, in the long-run, throughout the state system of education and to meet international standards in a global era (Ministry of Education and Training, 2002), the Education Act (2002). In this process, more pressing needs began to emerge including staffing and teacher development (for both teachers and trainers referred to as professeurs formateurs PFs). As stated by Ben Afia (2003), “Regulations say that only primary school teachers should be club ‘animateurs’ (p. 24)”. The decision was to recruit teachers from the pool of established primary school teachers who chose to become involved in ECs on the assumption that they were already equipped with the appropriate pedagogy for teaching all school subjects, accustomed to dealing with young learners and with a “reasonable level” of English proficiency. PFs were chosen by inspectors among secondary and preparatory English language specialist teachers to serve like mentors. These PFs were trained especially in TEYL, in the delivery of training session techniques and in classroom observation and conferencing. The training was run mainly by British experts in collaboration with General Inspector of English at the time. The study This study, inspired by the dynamic situation described above, is a part of a longitudinal study for Master’s thesis obtained in July 2009 by a PF mentoring 137

these “converting” teachers. As a PF, the researcher in this project is interested in knowing this population well, trying to understand them and ultimately to design a training based on their prior knowledge and the new needs. This article reports the results of a survey she administered to incoming teacher trainees. She explains how these results were used to construct a training course specifically tailored for teachers who were experienced in the teaching of other school subjects but novice to the teaching of English to young learners. The aim of the study This research project is an attempt: To To To To

investigate teachers’ pre-training knowledge; collect data about the teachers’ background knowledge; tap into teachers’ perceptions, attitudes and expectations; detect possibilities of “meshing” knowledge and skills later.

The knowledge gained would enable the researcher to see the role prior knowledge might have on potential effect of training, possibilities and ways of acting on teachers’ perceptions, and change. Conceptual framework Any attempt to understand the situation of the “converting” teachers in this study, it makes sense to focus on the teachers who are expected to implement the Ministry’s strategy to introduce change and innovation in the teaching of English in primary schools. I concur with Woods (1996) who states that “teacher change involves two interrelated aspects: the first aspect involves changes in ‘conceptions’. The second aspect involves changes in behavior: planning, action, and the overlap between them” (p. 252). Wallace’s reflective model based on a conceptualization of TE as a process interconnecting previous experience, theory and practice is used as a framework. As indicated in Figure 1, the process comprises two stages: (i) a pre-training stage and (ii) a professional education or development stage.


Figure 1. Wallace reflective model, (Wallace, 1991, p. 49). In support of Wallace’s (1991) model, recent research asserted that learning happens as a result of “an active process of interaction between the learner and an experience. Learners impose meaning on the basis of their prior knowledge” (Guttierréz, 1996). Inspired by Wallace’s ideas, this study can be situated in the cognitive and the interpretive perspective to teacher education and development. As pointed out by Wallace (1991), teachers’ prior knowledge is likely to be shaped by training intake and, in turn, shape teachers’ practice in the classroom. Going through the retraining experience, it is expected that the schemas of the teachers participating in the study will be modified, leading, perhaps, to improving their practice as they will have transferred the “desired” methodology of TEYL to their classrooms. Research questions How do teachers coming from other disciplines perceive their new role in this new assignment? What are the teachers’ motives for joining EC? What effects have the teachers’ previous experiences as learners of English on their decision to take part in this project? What is their perception of the “appropriate” methodology to teach English to LY? How do they perceive the Ministry decision to introduce English? 139

What difficulties do they expect and how do they expect to overcome them? What are their expectations from training and the trainer? The answer to these questions will guide teacher educators in designing adequate training programs. Research process A pre-training questionnaire was used to collect data. It was designed in Arabic and handed to128 newly recruited teachers on the first day in the pre-service training phase. It was made of 21 item with open and closed ended questions grouped into 7 major research areas. Results 1. Teachers’ motives for joining the ECP 43.2% of the participants reported being motivated by their desire to be included in professional training courses through a new experience in Tunisian primary schools. They considered the new assignment as “an element of change in their careers.” 10.4% of the teachers hoped to acquire new pedagogical skills specific to English as a result of using a new curriculum and new textbooks. The university undergraduates among the participants generally saw in this assignment another chance to fulfil a dream of becoming a teacher of English. Another 46.4% of the respondents report that they joined the project to become proficient in the language they love. 2. Effects of teachers’ previous experiences as learners of English on their decision to take part in this project 82.6% of the teachers reported they were attracted by “the beauty of the language itself with its lexis, grammar, and mainly pronunciation”. They also reported that when were learners, they liked English and found it easy to learn and close to French. “Teachers’ ability to understand the language and their success with it as learners” seem to have affected their decision as stated by the teachers themselves in the questionnaire. Teachers’ answers show that 7.4% of the teachers attributed their interest in teaching the English language to their experience as learners of this language. Indeed, they developed a positive attitude towards the language mainly because of their teachers of English they portrayed as “the most humble, cheerful and the closest to pupils” and with “different teaching styles from teachers of other subjects.”


3. Teachers’ understanding of the motives of the general policy The study showed a unanimous approval with the Ministry decision. 32.7% of the teachers inferred that English was introduced to ensure better learning of the language. In other words, they believed that the policy was informed by the perceived need to teach and learn English at an early age. 31.7% of the teachers thought that English was introduced to pave the way to a possible switch to English as a medium of instruction in the preparatory school level. 7.9% of the teachers believed that the promotion of English was the solution to upgrade the current poor level of pupils’ English. 20.8% of the teachers thought English was introduced simply because of its importance and dominance in the world today. 6.9% of the teachers believed it was one way to foster language learning and development so that pupils have more time to learn more languages in life. 4. Teachers’ perceptions of the “appropriate” methodology Key recurring words and expressions in teachers’ answers describing the AM were: “learning in fun”, “cheerful atmosphere”, “motivation”, and “good rapport between teachers and learners”. Therefore, they emphasised the humanistic aspect where affective factors and humane relationships play a vital role in creating a good learning environment. Below more details will be provided about how the teachers defined the AM. 23.4% of the teachers defined it as “learning a simplified language to keep learners motivated and interested in another culture and to make pupils acquire new skills and a new language without getting deep into it.” In other words, “it is a teaching style that facilitates learning and makes pupils like the subject,” as stated by a teacher. They viewed it as a motivating teaching method that would help learners “develop mentally and culturally.” 5. Teachers’ perceptions of their new roles Four roles were glossed from teachers’ responses. These were: (i) teachers as motivators, (ii) teachers as facilitators, (iii) teachers as learners and (v) teacher as resource persons. 49% of the teachers thought that their main role was to motivate pupils and draw their attention to the language mainly through creating “the right learning environment,” which is equated with an “encouraging atmosphere.” In the second category, the data revealed that 22.5 % of the teachers suggested they should be just “facilitators” of learning by “familiarising the kids with the language.”11.8% of the teachers were aware that, as converting teachers of English, they “will be learners and teachers at the same time” and that they “need to master English and to learn animation techniques first to be able to teach the language.” That’s why only 8.8% of the teachers saw themselves as “resource persons.”


6. Teachers’ expected difficulties: their nature and ways to overcome them 57.8% of the teachers stated they expected no difficulties to perform the role of “animateurs” of ECs. While the remaining 42.2% answered they expected to face difficulties. An overwhelming 83.3% of the teachers who answered “yes” expected linguistic difficulties rather than difficulties with applying “animation” techniques. The difficulties with “animation” that will be expected result from their personal characters, and their own consciousness of their social image of the teacher. Therefore, they could not imagine themselves singing, dancing, and playing the clown in their classroom to make pupils laugh. As for the solutions to these difficulties, teachers mentioned teacher training sessions, selfdevelopment, and practice. 7. Expected difficulties 27.0% saw the solution in the training and mainly in continuing training and development. In addition, teachers pointed to the role of “good” mentoring in classes. 40% of the teachers mentioned that through self-development, they would be able to overcome the expected difficulties. They reported that they could solve their problems by reading, consulting dictionaries, listening to English programs and CDs, watching educational or any English-speaking program. Some were prepared to seek extra tuition in the form of evening courses at language schools or advice from specialists (teachers or students of English). However, 33% of the teachers thought that it was only through experimentation “trial and error” that difficulties could be overcome. To them, “practice makes perfect” through using the language and practical ideas. 8. Teachers’ expectations from training 48.3% of the teachers gave a general, vague answer in response to their expectations stating “to be beneficial,” and “to ensure professional growth.” 51.7% of the teachers were more specific in their answers. Thus, 21.9% expected it to equip them with the skills and techniques they needed to meet the demands of the new task. 18.5% expected it to improve their proficiency level and 11.3% hoped the training would be tailored to their levels and needs. 9. Teachers’ expectations from the trainer Apart from the 19.4% of the teachers who gave vague answers stating, for instance, “we expect all the best, and a great deal of benefits from the trainer,” the remaining teachers have clearly portrayed a profile of their ideal trainer. An examination of their answers indicates that teachers have both professional and personal expectations from their trainers: 34% of them expected the trainer to be competent, 53.3 % expected him/her to adopt what they called “the appropriate training style”, and 10.7 % expected him/her to be endowed with certain personal traits. The flow chart below provides a representation of the 142

themes emerging from the data. On the personal side, teachers looked for personal characteristics such as “helpful”, “considerate”, “encouraging”, and “positive and proactive.” However, their view of the trainer as professional is complex. Their responses yielded three categories: The trainer as resource, (more knowledgeable), the trainer as model pedagogue (master teacher) and the trainer as guide. These ideas imply a specific view of the supervisory role of the trainer that can be situated along a continuum between apprenticeship and reflection. Summary of the findings Their desire to become proficient in the world language, to be included in professional growth program, previous studies and relation with English drew these teachers to ECP. They expressed a unanimous approval of the general policy. Writing about their perceptions of their new role, the teachers highlighted their role as motivators (fun), facilitators (initiators of teaching), and learners (NSTs). About half teachers expected mainly linguistic difficulties; however, they thought they could overcome them by means of self-development process, practice, and training. They expected training to practically lead to professional growth. They expected trainers to be competent in language and pedagogy, proactive, practical, flexible and understanding. Discussion A reading of the motives for joining English clubs indicates that only 10.4% of the teachers were motivated by a desire to acquire new pedagogical skills. This rate shows that most of the teachers did not anticipate that TEYL requires a big change at the pedagogical level. Perhaps, they meant the experience would add to their repertoire but would not put into question old practices nor require reconsideration of established practices. Thus, teaching in club format is not a great preoccupation for them and was not perceived as requiring a great deal of effort. It is also worth noting that these teachers did not indicate they believed there were pedagogical skills specific to English and that there would be a great need for language and professional development. They believed that their limited English would do. Before embarking on the experience, teachers believed that if they could speak the language, it goes without saying that they could teach it a common misconception in TEYLs. It indicates that they underestimated the role of language proficiency and of specific pedagogies. If they can teach Arabic or French or any other subject, there is no reason why they cannot teach English. The years spent in the apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975) resulted in 143

internalized teaching practices that would interfere with their performance of their new assignments. Their self-image as experienced teachers may give them too much confidence in their capacities. As for their comments on the effect of their previous experience on joining English clubs, the 82.6% of the teachers who claimed they joined because of the language itself can be classified as having integrative motivation. Therefore, their decisions are based on emotions and not on a rational appraisal of their professional capabilities. The analysis of the Questionnaire indicates they perceived their new role as motivators to be based on the view that motivation solves all learning problems. To them, the fun side and motivation seem to override the linguistic knowledge needed for the task. 57.8% said they expected no difficulties while the remaining 42.2% of the teachers said they expected mainly linguistic difficulties. So from the very start almost half teachers felt their English was limited. These teachers assume that teaching will be worthless unless it is tailored to suit their needs, which means providing them with the necessary survival skills. Reporting on ways to overcome their difficulties, 33% of the teachers, who believed in the apprenticeship model and in “practice makes perfect,” thought that language proficiency could be improved just through “trial and error” and correcting mistakes later in their classes. Though seemingly strange in a way, this idea can be accepted, provided that experimenting raises their awareness of their own difficulties and incites them to try to overcome them quickly to minimize the problems that may happen as a result of their language problems taken by learners. Pedagogical implications A close reading of the data leads to inferences about factors that can accelerate learning, make training input turn into intake possible, and hence more likely to produce change (Pennington, 1990). These factors: are as follows; The teachers’ incoming positive attitudes towards teaching English, their sympathetic attitude related to teaching English to YLs, the fact that they have volunteered to take part in the implementation of the policy made them adopters and not resistant. Being motivated, they will strive to overcome their weaknesses and to ensure the professional growth required of them (Rogers, 1983). Teachers’ profile as experienced in teaching meant they acquired a developed schema, namely, general pedagogical knowledge and knowledge of YLs, which allowed them to reflect on and evaluate their new teaching assignment in terms of what works and what does not work for them. Their beliefs, assumptions, and prior knowledge of teaching and learning were mostly congruent to their newly acquired knowledge. Their belief that not much is expected from them as EC “animateurs”, on the other hand, made them quite comfortable taking up the new assignment. The teachers’ awareness of their status as NSTs would make 144

them more and more open to training intake, and their predisposition to be learners again and to embark on an on-going learning experience was noticeable. Their fascination for “animation” techniques and their conviction of its impact on learning outcomes facilitated the possibility of applying the newly seen techniques. And finally, the novelty of the situation made teachers feel like pioneers and therefore ready to invest themselves. Suggestions and recommendations As I mentioned in the introduction, one of the main goals of this research is to reflect on the teachers’ beliefs, assumptions and prior knowledge (BAK) (Wood, 1996) to come up with recommendations for future training programs. Most of the suggestions emanated mainly from the participants, the informants of the questionnaire, the teacher trainer-researcher and from the literature on TE practice. The suggestions I will be making address the main actors namely trainees, trainers, and policy-makers and aim at making TED more teachercentered by giving primacy to the reflective paradigm (Derbel, 2001) which should help teachers ‘become’ and not just ‘perform’ (Reid, 1994). Trainees Adopt TED based on self-study strategies with Action Research linguistically or/and pedagogically oriented. Adopt a reflective approach: reflecting on their practices, reading and writing reviews of articles, or innovative ideas they pick up, lesson plans… Keep portfolios and journal writing as records. Think of team/peer teaching and sharing. Identify their gaps in language to work on them. Take steps to take part in linguistic stays, host native speakers, or join an e-pal project or connecting classroom project, enroll at or face to face or on line certified courses as CERTTEYL, CELTA, TKT, etc. Trainer Language development Design a developmental program that can ensure fluency and automaticity in use English in the classroom (subject matter and classroom language). Incorporate remedial work sessions informed by classroom visitations. 145

Encourage teachers to engage in self-study (to read Teaching Professional Journals and use internet sites). Reflective training Conduct Needs Analysis (teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; beliefs, expectations and goals and build training accordingly. Use the KWL (what they know, what they want to know, and what they learned) as trainee-centered strategy. Optimizing efforts by working on practical things to be cascaded to pupilsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, by maintaining the pleasure of learning, by using face saving strategies and highlighting self-accomplishment and progress. Involve teachers in the choice content, planning and delivery. Adopt self-directed- teacher learning techniques. Adopt a non-judgmental model of observation and supervision. Be eclectic and think of fun activities to develop creative, self-directed spirits. Know and apply emotional intelligence: empathy, communication skills, low anxiety learning atmosphere. Policy makers Adopt a well-informed and realistic CPD strategy with planning, delivery and follow up. Encourage specialization in teaching English at primary schools. Tighten selection criteria and make sure teaching English is neither imposed on teachers nor taught by unqualified ones. Link teaching English at primary schools with University courses and other educational institutions. Train more teacher trainers to ensure efficiency. Contribution of the study to knowledge about TEYL in Tunisia This study revealed that the lack of command of English may hamper the successful application of new teaching procedures. Teachers showed their eagerness to adopt the innovation and are willing to change, but they need coaching and reflection on their practice. They require practical guidance in 146

TEYL and language improvements, and they expect training to improve their language level and to help them be up to standards. Finally, teacher conversion entails schema change. The information above can be used by teacher trainers to anticipate areas of change and to design the appropriate training program tailored to meet the needs of this specific population by working on language development and reflective practice. References Ben Afia, J. (2003). English clubs nationwide in Tunisia. ELTeCSinfo. English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme, (pp. 24 -25.). British Council Publications. Derbel, F. (2001). EFL teacher preparation, teacher conceptual frames and the task of implementing pedagogical change: Directions for future teacher education and development in Tunisia. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of London Institute of Education. GutiĂŠrrez Almarza, G. (1996). Student foreign language teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s knowledge growth. In Freeman, D. and Richards, J. C. (Eds.), Teacher learning in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lortie, D. C. (1975). School teacher: A Sociological Study. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Ministry of Education and Training, (2002). Education Act, 2002. Tunisia: National Pedagogic centre. Reid, J. (1994). Change in language classroom: Process and intervention. English Teaching Forum, 3 2, (1), January 1994. 8-11, 38. Rogers, S. M. (1983). Diffusion of innovations, 3rd ed. New York: Free Press. Wallace, M. (1991). Training foreign language teachers: A Reflective approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Woods, D. (1996). Teacher cognition in language teaching: beliefs, decisionmaking and classroom practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Appendix A: Questionnaire (English version) A questionnaire for English Clubs’ «animateurs» in Tunisian primary schools. Subject (s) taught : ……………………………….. Title: - Primary school teacher - Application teacher - Head pr. Teacher - Head application teacher - Headmaster Date of Start: ................................... Teaching experience: ………………… Diplomas: ………………………………… Age category:

- From 20 to 29 - From 30 to 39 - More than 40

Level of English: - Secondary - Higher

Yes Yes

No No

If yes, did you specialize in English? Self-development in English: Yes No Sources of self development: Educational TV channels……………….……. Language school……………………….………. Other sources…………………………………… Other sources…………………………………… During your experience of studying English, was there anything that drew your attention? Yes No If Yes, mention it:……………...….…………………………………………………..


English Cubs are based on animation, what does this term mean to you? ……………………………………………………………………………………………… What idea(s) have you got on English clubs before experiencing them? ………………………………………………………………………………………………… Reasons for joining English clubs. Mention them in order: …………..….……………………………………………………...…………………… ………….…….…………………………………………………………………………. Put the reasons that could have an impact on your joining the English Clubs in order: Knowledge acquisition Social adaptation Change in career Self-development and competencies growth Do you expect any difficulties in “animation”? Yes If yes, what are their natures?


Linguistic Personal Social handicaps How do you expect to overcome these difficulties? ………..….…………………………………………………………………...………………… Your perception of: “animation”: …………..….…………………………………………………………………...………… New role as animator: …………...…….………………………………………………………………………… In your mind, what were English clubs launched for and what was expected from them? ……….……..….…………………………………………………………………...…………… What do you expect from the trainer? ……….……..….…………………………………………………………………...……………


Re-Conceptualizing Teacher Continuing Professional Learning Mohamed Azaza ADNOC, UAE Abstract One of the major arguments which has recently surfaced in the professional development literature is the need to reframe the way teacher professional learning is conceptualized. It is worthy to mention in this context that despite the fact that there is an overall consensus about the deficiency of traditional forms of professional development, there is very little agreement about how teacher professional learning should be organized. Therefore, the need for reconceptualizing teacher professional learning is urgent. The following literature review will explain in detail how this reconceptualization should target three areas: (a) professional learning discourse, (b) approach, and (c) research. Introduction In this information and knowledge world, teacher professional learning is facing the most challenging times ever. The profusion of knowledge regarding teaching and learning is growing exponentially, posing many challenges for teachers to accommodate these changes and to integrate them in their classroom practices. In addition there is evidence from international research that the current professional development programs are ineffective both for teachers and for schools (Opfer and Pedder, 2012). First, these programs failed to cater for the teachers' professional learning needs. Second, they were not able to contribute to school improvement. Therefore, the need for re-conceptualizing teacher professional learning has never been urgent. The following literature review will explain in detail how this paradigm shift should target three areas: (a) professional learning discourse, (b) approach, and (c) research. Terminology For the purposes of this research, it is important to differentiate between ‘professional development’ and ‘professional learning’. First, professional development is defined as “the process by which, alone and with others, teachers review, renew and extend their commitment as change agents to the moral purposes of teaching; and by which they acquire and develop critically the knowledge, skills, planning and practice with children, young people and colleagues through each phase of their teaching lives” (Day, 1999, p.4). With respect to professional learning, Meirink et al. (2009) note that there is little agreement about the meaning of teacher professional learning. They define it as “an active process in which teachers undertake learning activities that lead to a shift in their cognition and/or behavior”. Andree, et al., (2009) provide another more comprehensive definition by defining teacher professional learning as a 150

blending of both externally-delivered programmes as well as the site-embedded activities, which aim at enhancing and changing their classroom practices, and which contribute to student learning. Paradigm Shift: from Teacher Development to Teacher Learning It is important to mention that the last two decades have witnessed a big paradigm shift in how professional learning is conceptualized. Sawyer (2001, cited in Mushayikwa and Lubben, 2009) argues that professional development has undergone three major changes: (a) a deficit approach which focuses on content knowledge and external expertise; (b) a technical approach, emphasizing school-based teaching practice, and finally (c) a continuing professional development approach, focusing on professionalism, context and collaboration. ten Dam and Blom (2006, p. 647) write that teacher education used to be run by higher education institutions and that schools had a little say about the PD programs. Flint et al. (2011) criticize this approach professional development programs which are usually imposed by educational districts. Most of these programs, according to them, do not provide teachers and educators with choices in terms of their needs and interests. According to this view, teaching is conceptualized as an “individualized, rote, and technocratic work” (Westheimer, 2008, p.763). McLaughlin (2013) writes that professional development was thought to be necessary only for the “young, the novice and the boffin” (p. xii). Correspondingly, another critique against traditional professional development is that it treats content and practice as two separate entities. Dall'Alba and Sandberg (2006, p.384) explain that formal models of professional development provide decontextualized PD, with the assumption that this will be later incorporated in teachers’ practice. Criticizing what he calls “the laissez-faire” approach to professional development. One major assumption surfacing in the PD literature so far is that is too limiting to view teacher professional learning only in terms of formal PD, and that professional learning goes beyond that to include other learning experiences inside the classroom and the interaction with other teachers in a community of practice (Borko, 2004; Voogt et al. 2011). This view seems to be prevalent in most professional learning literature and warranted by current research. Wong (2012) differentiates between two types of teacher learning: (a) hierarchical learning which depends on external experts coming from outside the school (i.e. universities), and reciprocal learning which makes use of internal and local expertise inside the school. Wong (2012) argues that reciprocal learning allows teachers “more flexibility to innovate their teaching in relation to local situations” (p.358). McLaughlin (2013) contends that professional development should not be treated as an “occasional event” (p. xi) in the life of teachers. Rather, it should be at the core of teachers’ practice.


Groundwater-Smith and Mockler (2009) point out that the journey between teacher development and teacher learning is a curious one. Comparing between professional development (PD) and professional learning (PL), they criticize the traditional model, firstly, because it measures teacher learning against the number of hours instead of the change or improvement in teachers’ practices. Secondly, it views teacher learning as a group of episodic activities instead of a continuous process of professional growth and development. Thirdly, it favors external PD programs instead of in-house teacher initiated professional learning (Groundwater-Smith and Mockler, 2009). Explaining the difference between professional development and professional learning, Groundwater-Smith and Mockler (2009) write that professional development is a process of passive consumption of knowledge delivered by experts through workshops and experts. Professional learning, on the contrary, involves reflection, reflexivity, collaboration, self-direction and the generation of new local knowledge (Groundwater-Smith and Mockler (2009). Andree et al. (2009) argue that professional learning has overtaken professional development because educators need more than development. They need to be self-developers who engage in ongoing learning in order to meet the emergent changes of the field, as well as cater for the rising and changing needs of their students. Kwakman (2003) explains that teacher learning is “strongly connected to professional goals which demand teachers to strive for continuous improvement of their teaching practices” (p.152). According to Groundwater-Smith and Mockler (2009), the traditional model of PD is “located firmly within an outdated industrial model of education, which takes the transmission of knowledge as given” (p.59), and which does not reflect the teachers’ needs of professional development. Corcoran (1995) also notes that teachers’ learning needs and expertise are neglected in the traditional training model. Drawing on teacher professionalism literature, Menter et al. (2010) came out with four classifications of professionals: (a) the effective teacher, (b) the reflective teacher, (c) the enquiring teacher, and (d) the transformative teacher. First, the effective teacher is a perfect match with the prescribed curricula and highly standardized assessment systems. The focus in this model of professionalism is on the technical aspects of teaching, as well as meeting the prescribed standards. Menter, et al. (2010) describe this model as “the model for an age of accountability and performativity” (p. 21). According to Mclaughlin (2013), this model is the exemplar of what is currently taking place in the U.K. The reflective teacher is less demanding in terms of professional accountability. The model was influenced by the work of Dewey (1897), Schon (1983) and Pollard (2008), and it is characterized by a strong learning element that involves “planning, making provision, acting, collecting data, analyzing the data, evaluating and reflecting and then planning” (Menter et al. 2010, p. 22). The reflective practitioner model was underpinned by the constructivist approach 152

which focuses on the teachers’ roles as reflective practitioners who are able to investigate their classroom practices and generate knowledge as a result of this reflection. The enquiry model is similar to the reflective model, but it has a strong research element in it, considering systematic enquiry an important component of teacher professional development. Finally, with its emphasis on teacher agency and activism, the transformative model builds on the enquiry and reflection models. The teacher’s role inside the school is not restricted to teaching and implementing curricula. Teaching, according to Cochran-Smith (2004) and Zeichner (2009 cited in Mclaughlin, 2013), is a transformative act in which teachers play an important role in achieving educational equity, social justice and democracy. The other two classifications of teacher professionals, which have strong implications for teacher professional learning, come from Hargreaves (2000) and Vries, et al. (2013). First, highlighting the importance of teacher learning in the post-modern age, Hargreaves (2000) contends that teaching has experienced four chronological periods (a) the pre-professional age, (b) the age of the autonomous professional, (c) the age of the collegial professional and (d) the age of the post-professional or postmodern professional. Both the pre-professional and autonomous professional ages were characterized by high levels of individuality, privacy and isolation. During the age of the collegial professional, things started to change with the proliferation of teaching methods and the wane and unpopularity of external course-based professional development. It is at this age, Hargreaves (2000) explains, that teachers began “to turn more to each other for professional learning, for a sense of direction, and for mutual support” (p.162). The most challenging age, according to Hargreaves (2000), is the postmodern age in which teachers are required more than any other time to learn collaboratively and interact with their colleagues, their students, and other professional networks. Consistent with Hargreaves’ classification, especially the collegial professional and the post-modern professional, Vries, et al., (2013) also differentiate between two types of teachers: (a) traditional teachers who depended on “intuitive and classroom-based thought and practices”, and (b) modern teachers who are described as “learning-oriented and adaptive experts” (p.79). It is clear at this stage of the literature review that one of the arguments which has surfaced is the need to reframe the way professional learning is currently conceptualized in the literature. It is worthy to mention, here, that despite the fact that there is an overall consensus about the deficiency of traditional forms of professional learning, there is very little agreement about how teacher professional learning should be organized. The first rationale for the need to reconceptualize professional learning is that the effectiveness of teacher professional learning hinges on the type of theoretical approach being followed (Kwakman, 2003). The second rationale is the fact that teacher professional learning has become a misnomer for what is actually taking place at schools as many professional development activities are interpreted as professional learning 153

activities, whereas in fact, these activities reflect a top-down approach to teacher professional development. Re-conceptualizing Professional Learning Discourse A critical review of the terminology used to describe continuing professional learning (CPL) in the literature revealed that many terms are unfortunately illused because they reflect a transfer model which treats teachers as subjects of development and training. Therefore, to move away from this model, the paradigm shift should primarily take place at the terminological level. According to Webster-Wright (2009) this will happen through two things. The first is to change the focus from ‘development’ to ‘learning’. This is congruent with an emerging body of literature which emphasizes teachers’ agency and responsibility for their professional growth. Day (1999), for example, argues that teachers “cannot be developed passively, they develop actively” (p.2). Terms like continuing professional development (CPL) and professional learning (PL) should replace terms like continuing professional development (CPD) and professional learning (PL). Criticizing the PD literature, Webster-Wright (2009) argues that the term professional development (PD) is fraught with many limitations and misconceptions. One of these limitations is essentially discursive, because it depicts the professional as a passive subject of development, rather than an active and self-directed professional. This is mainly due to the fact that the professional and contextual discourses that have affected and impacted professional development are governed by hidden and implicit assumptions. Webster-Wright (2009) goes even further to describe it as a “deficiency discourse, where professionals are incapable ingénues needing authoritative shepherding, akin to notions of engagement with third-world communities” (p. 724). Re-conceptualizing Professional Learning Research While reviewing the literature, probably nothing was felt more urgent than the need to re-conceptualize professional learning research. Webster-Wright (2009) argues that ''the way in which PD is usually conceptualized in contemporary research and practice is problematic, limiting critical evaluation and potential for change'' (p. 704). First, much of the research activities reported by research conducted on teacher professional learning lack effectiveness (Pedder and Opfer, 2012). Pedder and Opfer (2011) carried out a thorough review of the literature of professional development and found out that much of the PD research falls short of expectations. This is due to the fact that researchers have employed “simplistic conceptualizations of teachers’ professional learning that fail to consider how learning is embedded in personal and professional lives and working conditions” (Pedder and Opfer, 2011, p. 376). The second limitation is methodological. A great deal of PL research and practice tend to dichotomize the relationship between the teacher learner, the context and the teacher professional learning content. Therefore, there is a need to 154

conceptualize professional development differently by treating it holistically rather than atomistically. That is to say, learning should be looked at as interaction between the learner, knowledge and the context (Jarvis & Parker, 2005; Webster-Wright, 2009) rather than a set of separate factors. WebsterWright (2009) criticizes professional development research for its dichotomy approach in dealing with several issues, such as formal and informal learning, individual and group learning, contextualized and decontextualized learning. As she notes: Research is required that views the learner, context, and learning as inextricably interrelated rather than acknowledged as related, yet studied separately. The "experience" learning in everyday practice is rarely studied in a way that maintains the integration of all these aspects. There is a need for more research beyond the "development of professionals" that investigates the "experience of PL" as constructed and embedded within authentic professional practice. (p. 712-713) Reviewing 203 articles on PD across different professions including teaching, Webster-Wright (2009) notes that most of these studies were evaluative rather than critical. Evaluative research usually focuses on “evaluating solutions to the problem of learning rather than questioning assumptions about learning” (p.711). This approach is primarily concerned with investigating the effect of individual factors, such as the learner, the workplace and the content on the PD program, with less emphasis on the professional learning situated experiences (p.711). From a methodological point of view, Webster-Wright, 2009) argues for advocating a methodology which is capable of studying these complex learning experiences without falling into dichotomies. Other researchers such as Dall'Alba (2004) and Wenger (1998) argue that using a situated research approach, such as “ethnography or phenomenology”, could be appropriate for a holistic approach. Therefore, and for better understanding of teacher learning, it is argued that it should be studied “within these multiple contexts”, taking into account both the individual and social aspects (Borko, 2004). The Need for a New Approach to Professional Learning However, changing terminology without re-conceptualizing the philosophical assumptions underlying these terms is like scratching the surface without making any real changes. Groundwater-Smith and Mockler (2009) argue that the difference between professional development and professional learning is more than being semantic. Teacher learning is “a process, which is highly reflexive and differentiated and which leads to deep pedagogical shifts and transformation of practice” (p.56). Therefore, at the conceptual level, there is an argument for researching professional learning from a holistic, contextual and situated approach (Webster-Wright 2009), which focuses on the learning experiences of the professionals as they engage actively in their practice. In this conceptual paradigm, practice is not treated separately from the professional, 155

but rather as an “integral part of being a professional working in the current context.” (p.725). Emphasizing the importance of context, Webster-Wright (2009) argues for new a paradigm shift in both the focus and approach to how teacher learning should be researched and conceptualized. She argues that for a full understanding of continuous professional learning, it should be approached from the concerned professionals in their particular contexts. According to Webster-Wright (2009), this new approach will help researchers “to understand professionals' experiences of learning in a way that respects and retains the complexity and diversity of these experiences, with the aim of developing insights into better ways to support professionals” (p.714). The new conceptualization of teacher professional learning is underpinned by the cognitive and situated approach which regards learning as a social and interactive construct (Desimone, 2009; Jurasaite-Harbison and Rex, 2010). Borko (2004) argues that the situated approach could be a potential research method for studying teacher learning, since it takes in consideration both the individual aspect of learning, as well as the social aspect. Webster-Wright (2009) goes deeper in his diagnosis of the problem by arguing that the real change could happen when we reconsider the “objectivist epistemology” and the “dualist ontology” which still underpin much of the CPL research. The “dualist ontology” is used in this particular context to mean the study of professionals outside their professional context, whereas the “objectivist epistemology” to knowledge refers to viewing knowledge as a transferrable commodity or object. Webster-Wright (2009) explains that the professional development literature is still under the effect of an “objectivist epistemology” (p.713) which treats knowledge as “transferable object” ” (p.713). According to this argument although the theorypractice separation has been challenged two decades ago by Schön (1983), the divide still exists in professional development literature and research. For example, it is argued that the way knowledge and learning are conceptualized by the objectivist epistemology is very limiting, because it views knowledge as a transferrable commodity like all the other commodities (Webster-Wright, 2009). This view reflects an atomistic approach to knowledge which deepens the divide between theory and practice. Webster-Wright (2009) notes that viewing knowing as an embodied experience could bridge the divide between the epistemological (i.e. professional knowledge and practice) and the ontological (i.e. professional identity) aspects of professional learning. Borko (2004) has cautioned against studying teacher learning in isolation from its stakeholders, and the context in which it is taking place. Highlighting the socio-cultural aspect of teacher professional learning, Jurasaite-Harbison and Rex (2010) argue that teacher learning is “a socialcultural phenomenon” (p.268), and that in order to understand this phenomenon, it is important to examine teachers’ discourses which both describe and generate learning. This approach, according to Jurasaite-Harbison and Rex (2010), enables researchers to study teacher learning in the social and political milieus where teachers live, which yield valuable data and suggestions 156

for change and reform to teachers, policy makers and educational leaders. For a full understanding of teacher professional learning, Jurasaite-Harbison and Rex (2010) argue that: We need to observe teacher conversations as they learn, in the places they learn, and ask them to talk about their learning. To understand what we see and what they say requires interpreting their discourses in relation to various social and political contextual conditions. Through this lens, we can view the relationships between moment-to-moment occurrences and political and social conditions in departments, schools and countries (p.268). Conclusion The first major conclusion drawn from the literature review is that much of the research shows that a comprehensive view of professional learning is still lacking. Bakkenes, et al., (2010) criticize the lack of â&#x20AC;&#x153;a sound conceptual framework for describing processes of teacher learning in professional practiceâ&#x20AC;? (p.533). Webster-Wright (2009) also laments the fact that little is understood about CPL even after two decades of research on this area, and that the priority for any future research is to try to gain insight into how teachers and educators learn rather than what and how to provide professional development programs and activities. At the organizational level, it was argued that despite the huge material and human resources investment in professional learning in different parts of the world aiming at supporting and enhancing teacher professional learning, most of these policies and practices were found to be traditional, ineffective and inconsistent: Most professional development remains traditional in form: less than a week in duration, increasingly focused on content but with little opportunity for active learning and increasingly coherent with curriculum standards but rarely cohering with other systemic aspects (e.g. teacher evaluation and building on the professional development). (Pedder and Opfer 2012, p. 5) References Andree, A., Darling-Hammond, L., Orphanos, S., Richardson, N., & Wei, R. C. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession. Washington, DC: National Staff Development Council. Bakkenes, I., Vermunt, J. D., & Wubbels, T. (2010). Teacher learning in the context of educational innovation: Learning activities and learning outcomes of experienced teachers. Learning and Instruction, 20(6), 533548. Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational researcher, 33(8), 3-15. 157

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds. ). (1999). How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington: National Academy Press. Corcoran, T. C. (1995). Transforming Professional Development for Teachers: A Guide for State Policymakers. Washington, DC: National Governors' Association. Dall’Alba, G., & Sandberg, J. (2006). Unveiling professional development: A critical review of stage models. Review of Educational Research, 76 (3), 383-412. Darling-Hammond, L., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1995). Policies that support professional development in an era of reform. Phi delta kappan, 76(8), 597604. Day, C. (1999). Developing teachers: The challenges of lifelong learning. Routledge. Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational researcher, 38(3), 181-199. de Vries, S., Jansen, E. P., & van de Grift, W. J. (2013). Profiling teachers' continuing professional development and the relation with their beliefs about learning and teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 33, 78-89. Dewey, J. (1897). My pedagogic creed. In J. Dewey & A. W. Small, Teachers manuals (No. 25). New York, NY: E. L. Kellogg & Co. Flint, A. S., Zisook, K., & Fisher, T. R. (2011). Not a one-shot deal: Generative professional development among experienced teachers. Teaching and teacher education, 27(8), 1163- 1169. Groundwater-Smith, S., & Mockler, N. (2009). Teacher professional learning in an age of compliance: Mind the gap. UK: Springer. Hargreaves, D. (1999). The knowledge-creating school. British Journal of Educational Studies, 47(2): 122–144. Jarvis, P., & Parker, S. (Eds.). (2005). Human learning: A holistic approach. New York: Routledge. Jurasaite-Harbison, E., & Rex, L. A. (2010). School cultures as contexts for informal teacher learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(2), 267277. Kwakman, K. (2003). Factors affecting teachers’ participation in professional learning activities. Teaching and teacher education, 19(2), 149-170. McLaughlin, C. (Ed.). (2013). Teachers Learning: Professional Development and Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Meirink, J. A., Meijer, P. C., Verloop, N., & Bergen, T. (2009). Understanding teacher learning in secondary education: The relations of teacher activities to changed beliefs about teaching and learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(1), 89-100. Menter, I., Hulme, M., Elliot, D. & Lewin, J. (2010). Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century. Edinburgh: Educational Analytical Services, Scottish Government Social Research.


Mushayikwa, E., & Lubben, F. (2009). Self-directed professional developmentâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; Hope for teachers working in deprived environments? Teaching and teacher education, 25(3), 375-382. Opfer, V. D., & Pedder, D. (2011).Conceptualizing teacher professional learning. Review of educational research, 81(3), 376-407. Pedder, D., & Opfer, V. D. (2012). Professional learning orientations: patterns of dissonance and alignment between teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; values and practices. Research Papers in Education, 1-32. Schon, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Temple Smith, London. ten Dam, G., & Blom, S. (2006). Learning through participation. The potential of school- based teacher education for developing a professional identity. Teaching and teacher education, 22(6), 647-660. Voogt, J., Westbroek, H., Handelzalts, A., Walraven, A., McKenney, S., Pieters, J., & De Vries, B. (2011).Teacher learning in collaborative curriculum design. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(8), 1235-1244. Webster-Wright, A. (2009). Reframing professional development through understanding authentic professional learning. Review of educational research, 79(2), 702-739. Wenger, E., R. McDermott, and W.M. Snyder. (2002). Cultivating communities of Practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School. Westheimer, J. (2008). Learning among colleagues: Teacher community and the shared enterprise of education, In M. Cochran-Smith & S. Feiman-Nemser (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education: Enduring questions and changing contexts. (pp. 563-605). New York: Routledge. Wong, J. L. N. (2012). "How has recent curriculum reform in China influenced school-based teacher learning? An ethnographic study of two subject departments in Shanghai, China." Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 40(4): 347-361.


Are You a First-Time Mentor Teacher? Jamie G. Sturges Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan Abstract When a first-time mentor teacher was asked about her experience with her first practicum student, her response was, "Why isn't there a guide for this?" Like many first-time mentor teachers, her concerns lay in the unknown. She had been a graduate student once herself, and she had been a practicum student before as well, but how did either of those experiences translate into material for a first-time mentor teacher? The truth is, both experiences were helpful to draw from, but neither was absolute. Instead, it’s necessary to consult with fellow faculty, practicum coordinators, and literature to get a firm understanding of the expectations and objectives necessary for an effective practicum experience. Unfortunately, while doing research on this issue, there appeared to be little research out there that was exclusively geared towards first-time mentor teachers. In addition to discussing concerns similar to the aforementioned first-time mentor teacher, this proceedings chapter will offer practical and personal advice based on those experiences. Also, the article will share important topics, rules, and ideas from several current articles on the issue, including research from the US, Australia, Turkey, and Canada. Introduction Congratulations! You’re a mentor teacher! It is likely no veteran teacher has ever been informed of their first mentorship in quite that manner. One reason is that a veteran teacher’s first mentorship is not normally one that is feted but instead is met with many concerns and uncertainties. What do I have to do with them? The veteran teacher—now the mentor—may first wonder. What do they already know? What don’t they know? Who are they? The questions will continue at a steady pace leading up to that first meeting with the practicum student—the mentee—and well into the practicum itself. The mentor is responsible for imparting hands-on knowledge to the mentee. At the same time, the mentor is also consenting to being under a microscope, with all his/her expertise, authority, and quirks on display for the mentee to note, question, and possibly even emulate. During the practicum, the mentee’s identity as a teacher starts to emerge. Much of the established literature focuses on only the mentee’s identity shift, but it is important to understand that the mentor also undergoes an identity shift as a result of the practicum. Together, in and out of the classroom, the mentee and the mentor, according to Delaney, “co-construct their professional identities” (2012).


Mentoring is an integral part of the teaching experience and a necessary cornerstone to an emerging teacher’s development. A significant amount of what graduate students learn about teaching comes from being in the field, observing veteran teachers, and ultimately practicing learned techniques on their own. Mentoring can be defined as “a way to develop teaching practices” (Hudson & Nguyen, 2008; Hudson, Nguyen & Hudson, 2009). Graduate programs may focus more on the theoretical aspects of TESOL; practicums and internships focus on the actual day-to-day structure of teaching and application of theories and ideas. During the practicum, the veteran teacher moves into the role of mentor and the graduate student becomes the mentee (the prevailing term found in literature for said role). Regardless of the label, inevitably, a “close relationship between less experienced person and one who is more experienced” (Hudson, Nguyen & Hudson, 2009) emerges. The mentee gains some ideas about good practices in the classroom under the guidance of the mentor. Mentoring is a valuable experience for both the mentee and mentor. For the mentee, the values include increased confidence (Delany, 2012; Hudson, Usak & Savran-Gencer, 2012), free support and guidance (Delany, 2012; Hudson, Usak & Savran Gencer, 2012), first-hand exposure to the power of studentteacher relationships (Delany, 2012; Hudson, Usak & Savran Gencer, 2012), improvement of self-reflection and problem-solving skills (Delany, 2012; Hudson, Usak & Savran Gencer, 2012), and, of course, ample real-life learning—and teaching—experience (Hudson, Nguyen & Hudson, 2009). For the mentor, such an experience yields a sense of empowerment and ownership of skills (Ishihara, 2003); an understanding of one’s own teaching (Ishihara, 2003), though Delaney (2012) points out that not all mentors take advantage of this opportunity; a chance to talk about teaching; consistency in program standards; and increased collaboration (Delaney, 2012). To account for the dearth in research focusing on the mentor teacher’s experience during his/her first practicum, this proceedings chapter aims to serve as a toolkit for teachers tasked with their first mentorship, either as a result of volunteering to be selected by the program director. This article hopes to address general concerns first-time mentor teachers may have. Roles and duties of the mentor Should all instructors become mentor teachers? In some intensive English programs, instructors may volunteer; others have either a vetting program arranged or instructors are simply called upon by their supervisor depending on the need. Despite the methods or circumstances unto which would-be mentors are called, not every instructor can, should, or even benefit from being a mentor simply due to his/her skills, commitments, and constraints. Hudson and Nguyen (2008) add that personality and professional knowledge also factor into ideal mentor selection. 161

Before going right into the first mentorship, the mentor must be aware of the mentee’s expectations. Based on research by Hudson and Nguyen (2008) that involved surveying and interviewing preservice EFL instructors in Vietnam and by Le and Vasquez (2011) that involved surveying mentor instructors about their feedback practices—and the mentees’ understanding and perceptions behind that feedback—the following is a compilation of general expectations among mentees for their mentors: Friendliness Enthusiasm Helpfulness Encouragement Knowledge of the field Good communication skills Ability to create a positive learning environment Understanding and empathy Sensitivity to (mentee’s) lack of experience Autonomy in decision-making “Sensitivity to (mentee’s) lack of experience” is particularly poignant. It’s important to know that the mentee is not entirely aware of his or her lack of experience or level of professionalism. The mentee is not going to know which questions to ask or what to always be observant of. Even though the mentee is currently in graduate school, that does not necessarily mean he or she will automatically know the ins and outs of the language on the same level the mentor does. It is unrealistic and unfair of mentors to hold mentees to the same level of solid subject matter knowledge they themselves have (Delaney, 2012). Some students are not actively taught grammar in grade school, and they face challenges in an environment where they are expected to be the language experts. How can mentors help mentees out? The mentor can encourage them to research grammar problems online or in the library at the mentee’s school or the mentor’s institution (intensive English program or otherwise), if possible. The mentor can also encourage helping them with mock lessons if possible, and make sure the mentee understands the “it’s that way because it just is” can’t work in the ESL/EFL classroom. The mentor should let them know it is okay to ask any type of question during lesson planning—not just practical pedagogy questions, but also nitty-gritty grammar or writing or classroom management questions. Those are things they may not have learned in graduate school. Also, the mentor should continue to think back on his/her own graduate school experience. Were the graduate courses mostly theory-based and research-based, or were they also hands-on with grammar and management? Understanding some general expectations mentees may have of their mentors can help better conceptualize the general qualities of a strong mentor. Compared 162

to the list of mentees’ expectations, take note of the qualities several articles state about mentor qualities in general: Friendliness and approachability (Hudson & Nguyen, 2008) Encouragement (Le & Vasquez, 2011; Arnold 2006) Knowledge of field (Hudson, Nguyen, & Hudson, 2009; Hudson & Nguyen, 2008; Delaney, 2012; Arnold, 2006) Good communication & listening skills (Hudson & Nguyen, 2008; Delaney, 2012; Hudson, Usak, & Savran-Gencer, 2011; Arnold, 2006) Ability to criticize constructively and empathize Organized (Arnold, 2006) Open-mindedness (Bullard & Felder, 2003) Trust, honesty (Hudson, Nguyen, & Hudson, 2009; Delaney, 2012; Arnold, 2006) Emotionally supportive (Hudson, Nguyen, & Hudson, 2009; Hudson & Nguyen, 2008; Delaney, 2012; Arnold, 2006; Bullard & Felder, 2003) “Intuitive sensitivity” (Hudson & Nguyen, 2008; Payant & Murphy, 2012; Arnold, 2006) Creativity, focused attention, and personal tact (Payant & Murphy, 2012) The additional qualities tend to lean towards “caring for and managing the mentee,” and the result may lead would-be mentors into thinking the list is more cuddly than professional. Supporters of these qualities will say that vibe is to help keep these mentees in the profession after they have graduated, to not discourage or scare them out of teaching and keep first/second-year teacher attrition low. (Nevertheless, there are mentees who ultimately find that after the mentorship that teaching is not a career they want to pursue. It is important for mentors to know that that is not necessarily a reflection on their mentoring and possibly more a reflection on the mentee’s growing and changing professional vision.) Roles of the mentor In regards to the mentee, the mentor will have to, among other things, plan, coordinate, meet, keep track of papers relating to him/her, and assess. (Arnold, 2006). The mentor wears many hats during the mentorship—ten hats, in fact. The role of “mentor” is only a small part of the overall picture, as that facet merely encompasses working within the mentee’s comfort level, providing a “sheltered environment” (Ishihara, 2003) for them, and reviewing lesson plans together. The remaining nine roles, of facets, will be defined below. As a role model (Hudson, Usak & Savran-Gencer, 2011)—the mentee will be carefully observing the mentor, especially at the beginning. While it is important to “sell” the profession, the mentor also wants to be very mindful of conduct, including dress and interpersonal relationships to/with students/colleagues/ admin staff, among others. 163

As communicator (Payant & Murphy, 2012), the mentor must be available, identify appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and share preferences/ expectations. As demystifier (Payant & Murphy, 2012), the mentor shares everything in the profession, though this mainly pertains to lesson plans, and pedagogy and rationale. Give the mentee something to work with/from and then allow them to manipulate—after enough guided practice—as they see fit. As teacher-observer (Payant & Murphy, 2012), the mentor observes the mentee as the mentee assumes more control of the day-to-day in the class. Some mentors may assign the mentee more hands-on roles from the beginning, such as taking roll. Other mentors may frontload the practicum with a lot of required observation hours before assigning mini-lessons. As evaluator (Ishihara, 2003), depending on the mentor’s institution, the mentor may also have some control over the mentee’s assessment and/or even writing his/her first letter of recommendation for future teaching jobs. Many institutions use portfolios—the mentee creates his/her own—that includes sample lesson plans, reflective journal entries, and mentee-generated samples of activities. Another interesting role is that of the anti-coach (Delaney, 2012). While all teachers might think they are coaches in a sense, Delaney clarifies the difference between coach and mentor as the former being “more strongly associated with a specific goal situated in a teaching context and is short-term” meaning that helping the mentee through a particular lesson is coaching, but not the entire mentorship, which, according to Delaney, is more long-term. The role of conduit of current standards and trends (Ishihara, 2003) puts the mentor in the position of being more informed and in tune with current teaching trends regardless of the mentor’s actual involvement in professional development. It is still more than the mentee’s level. One way to appeal to the mentee’s need for greater involvement is to invite the mentee to faculty meetings, if possible. The tenth, final, and most beautifully worded role of the mentor is that of “catalyst for identity shifts” (Payant & Murphy, 2012). The mentor must watch the mentee for consistency with commitment, attention, curiosity, and motivation. Over the course of a session or semester, the mentee is going to be growing up right before the mentor’s eyes. During this time, it is important to “remind [the mentee] to grow beyond merely perceiving themselves as MATESOL students … [the mentor is] carefully and explicitly socializing [mentees] into fuller classroom leadership roles” (Payant & Murphy, 2012).


Duties of the Mentor The duties of the mentor are twofold. The mentor must maintain personal ongoing professional duties as well as take on tasks directly related to training the mentee. The mentor’s own duties include establishing and fostering communication—usually the graduate program’s practicum coordinator will get in touch with the mentor first and set the parameters, but sometimes their communication will be infrequent. Especially in the first mentorship, the mentor must maintain regular contact (through email) with the practicum coordinator. The mentor must also stay in touch with the mentee, and not keep things from him/her. On top of that, the mentor should also consult with colleagues on a regular basis, especially colleagues who have had mentees in the past or are possibly mentoring concurrently; according to Daniels (2013), “My best resources during the mentorship were the other instructor mentors. We would often chat about our students and verify that we were all fulfilling similar requirements and asking the same amount of commitment from our mentees.” The mentor must also continue to teach his/her assigned classes. Mentoring changes absolutely nothing about the teaching load. The classes will continue as scheduled every day, even if the mentee does not come to class, so the mentor has to plan ahead even more with the mentee in mind. The mentor must be careful with and aware of the meeting schedule, as well as conferences. Finally, the mentor should keep the mentee informed of professional development too. They may also have to attend a conference as part of their practicum requirement. The mentor can make them aware of “active research”—they may be required to research and present/publish something based on their practicum experience, in some cases. For the mentor’s own professional development, it is a good idea to update one’s CV after the mentorship is over—it’s not necessary (or advisable) to list the mentee’s name, only the mentorship’s time span and duties. The duties directly involving the mentee are next. At the beginning of the mentorship, the mentor and mentee should meet early and establish availability, goals, expectations, experience, and a timeline of graduated involvement in the class. The mentor must become familiar with the mentee’s schedule, including job/class conflicts or possible co-mentor conflicts (are they serving two masters?). The mentor also keeps track of mentee’s jobs/hours (if required) and stays in touch with the practicum coordinator. The mentor must learn about the mentee’s goals versus the mentor’s own goals—by sharing, the mentor can help the mentee better articulate his/her goals. Some questions to consider include: How long will they just observe? How much responsibility will they have? Is there any project or chapter the mentor would like the mentee to assume full responsibility for later in the session/semester? 165

Is it their first time in a classroom? Have they ever tutored or substituted before? Why are they in this practicum? Where do they see themselves at the end of the practicum? In six months? The mentor needs to share, share, share, and be confident in his/her methods and teaching style. The mentor should encourage the mentee to ask colleagues for alternatives. The mentee may have already made practice lesson plans for a methods/materials course that he/she may want to share or even actively execute in a class. The mentor should review the work the mentee’s done; it may be overly detailed, but it’s something to start from. The mentor must create structure in terms of when/where/how the mentor will observe (all class, back of the room, bullet list, smiley faces, etc.). Audio/video recording may be possible, depending on classroom setup. The mentor maintains seniority/authority in class, and ensures students understand the mentee’s presence and that when the mentee leads, the mentor is not in charge, but is more of a bodyguard/bouncer. On a related note, the mentor must practice balancing power and not take over a mentee’s lesson, be a control freak, or be a backseat teacher. The mentor is attentive to curriculum even when the mentee’s leading. At most, the mentee needs to know how their lesson fits the curriculum. The mentor has to be aware of “teachable moments”, instances where the mentee might be caught unawares by a random student question about the lesson or even the mentee him/herself. The mentor should only take notes unless the lesson is completely disrupted and discuss the observations after class. Above all, the mentor gives ample feedback and stays focused on fostering a positive atmosphere. General questions following a mentee-run lesson include “how was class for you?” and “how do you think it went?” Le and Vasquez (2011) suggest that the mentor “invite the intern to talk about the lesson” and then shift to specifics of the lesson. The mentor encourages the mentee, but stays aware of the mentee’s levels of knowledge and self-awareness. Le and Vasquez offer the compliment-criticism-suggestion model for feedback: Compliments: admiration, reinforce solidarity, develop confidence Criticism: indirect, soften negative comments, ask mentee to identify (and possibly defend rationally) problems Suggestions: be aware of context, respect mentee’s decision-making skills, share related personal experience Lastly, the mentor monitors his/her interaction and relationship with the mentee. As pseudo-colleagues, the mentor and mentee will spend a lot of time together. This can challenge and even possibly threaten the mentor’s own 166

teacher identity. Unlike other times during the mentor’s own teaching career, someone is actually, actively watching for very long periods of time. It is okay to introduce the “non-teacher” side if the mentor wants to, but know when to bring the personal life into the mentorship and when not to. If there are shared interests, both personal and professional, they are okay to share. It can strengthen the relationship and comfort the mentee. On the other hand, if the mentor is experiencing stress and burn-out, do not let the burn-out rub off on an impressionable mentee. That does not mean to disillusion the mentee into thinking teaching is completely stress-free, but if the mentor thinks those issues might interfere with giving the mentee a valuable, well-rounded experience, the mentor should talk to his/her supervisor and possibly assign the mentee to someone else. Additionally, the mentor must not demonstrate personal/ professional conflicts with other colleagues in front of the mentee. Again, the mentor wants to demystify the “effortlessness” that goes into teaching, but not give away everything (i.e., personal connections to it and all). Concerns of the mentor There are instances or circumstances in which the mentorship may not go smoothly. It is important to understand early on that each mentorship is different and unique as each mentee brings his/her own set of skills, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges; the same goes for mentors. Some challenges are easily managed, but others may be completely beyond the mentor’s control. It is rare (but still possible) for the mentee to never show up due to miscommunication or the mentee inexplicably quitting the mentorship. Perhaps due to a lack of available mentors a mentor is assigned two or even more mentees within one session or semester. One remedy for that situation is to divide the mentee’s jobs or assign mentees to different courses. It is imperative for the mentor to be extremely organized with not just her own but also her mentees’ schedules. Sometimes the mentee is older and may actually have a significant amount of teaching experience compared to the mentor and the practicum is merely a formality for the mentee to gain professional, official teaching credentials. Nevertheless, the mentor is still the mentor. The mentor may choose to take advantage of the mentee’s skills and make them feel valuable and more confident in learning new skills and also applying older skills. More often than not, the mentee will still leave the mentorship with a greater variety of skills and gratitude for gaining from the mentor’s perspective. However, as Arnold (2006) states, “there is always a possibility of personality clashes.” In very rare circumstances will the mentee see such an arrangement as detrimental and even go so far as express such sentiment to the mentor. Green (2013) had such an experience: “instead of simply asking me questions, [the mentee] began to criticize, quite strongly, my teaching. I tried to defend myself, but she clearly objected to all of my justifications. The encounter was combative and very unexpected.” Should a 167

mentor encounter a potentially similar situation, it is strongly recommended to make note of the exchange and take it up with the practicum coordinator and supervisor as soon as possible. Above all, consider the welfare and safety of the students. Another major concern is the mentee’s language background. Being a non-native speaking mentee among non-native speaking students presents problems with confidence and authority. The mentor does not and should not become the language expert, nor should the mentee view the mentor as a free tutor. In fact, according to Delaney (2012), “focusing on language harms an NNS teacher’s selfconfidence and is an obstacle to ongoing professional development because the novice teacher is continually reminded of his or her NNS status.” The mentor should use this as an opportunity to reflect on his/her personal beliefs as a teacher (Payant & Murphy, 2012) and the importance of accepting teachers from all language backgrounds. Implications and further discussion This proceedings chapter sought to introduce and guide a first-time mentor teacher through the main expectations, roles, and concerns of a mentorship. The amount of research on this exclusive perspective of the mentorship remains small, and I feel one way to build up this perspective is to actively collect and compile feedback and notes from instructors who have undergone mentorships, whether it was their first or most recent one. Having a wider variety of notes and voices can only further encourage and aid future mentors. More research and feedback from mentees is also valuable and encouraged. By further exploring and extrapolating similarities, differences, and noteworthy tricks and techniques, this aspect of the field, guiding first-time mentor teachers, can grow and be even more beneficial to future mentor teachers, which will in effect lead to better mentorships, better mentees, and even more highly qualified teachers overall. References Arnold, E. (2006). Assessing the quality of mentoring: Sinking or learning to swim? ELT Journal, 60(2), 117-124. Bullard, L. G., & Felder, R. M. (2003). Mentoring: A personal perspective. College Teaching, 51(2), 66-69. Daniels, M. (2013, March 2). Interview by J.G. Sturges [Personal Interview]. Delaney, Y. A. (2012). Research on mentoring language teachers: Its role in language education. Foreign Language Annals, 45(S1), S184-S202. Green, A. (2013, March 1). Interview by J.G. Sturges [Personal Interview]


Hudson, P., & Nguyen, T. M. H. (2008). What do EFL preservice teachers expect from their mentors? Australian Association of Research in Education, 1-10. Retrieved from: 194 Hudson, P., Nguyen, T. M. H., & Hudson, S. (2009). Mentoring EFL preservice teachers in EFL writing. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada, 27(1), 85-102. Hudson, P., Usak, M., & Savran-Gencer, A. (2010). Benchmarking mentoring practices: A case study in Turkey. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 6(4), 245-252. Ishihara, N. (2003). Curriculum components of the practicum in ESL. MinneTESOL/WITESOL Journal, 20, 1-18. Le, P. T. A., & Vasquez, C. (2011). Feedback in teacher education: Mentor discourse and intern perceptions. Teacher Development, 15(4), 453-470. Payant, C., & Murphy, J. (2012). Cooperating teacher's roles and responsibilities in a MATESOL program. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada, 29(2), 1-22


Emotional Intelligence in ELT Teacher Education Rana Raddawi & Salah Troudi American University of Sharjah & University of Exeter Abstract The development of emotional competence has proved to be an essential foundation for effective academic and social functioning. One of the main characteristics for an effective teacher is to possess good intrapersonal and interpersonal skills and the main components of Emotional Intelligence. Teachers’ level of EQ is an important variable in creating an emotionally intelligent classroom. How teachers handle their emotions, whether positive or negative, in the ELT class plays a crucial role in student well-being, motivation and their interactions. Every culture may hold different beliefs about which emotions are appropriate and which can be displayed. This paper sheds light on the impact of emotional intelligence on the ELT teacherstudent relationship to create a positive classroom climate. It also provides information on how to become an emotionally intelligent teacher by combining charisma and popularity with professionalism, quality teaching and leadership. The ultimate goal is to empower ELT teachers and enable them to perform and interact in class in the best way possible by creating a positive teaching environment through their EQ skills. “IQ contributes about 20 percent to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80 percent to other sources” (Goleman, 1995) Introduction Scholars, in the last few decades, have underlined important reasons to draw our attention to the significance of emotional literacy. Daniel Goleman (1995) holds “emotional illiteracy” which he defines as “misusing or denying whatever falls within the realm of the emotions or non-rational” responsible for many prevailing social problems (cited in Benesch, 2012, p. 21). According to Katherine Weare, the "level of emotional literacy in an organization" is the "the extent to which the organization takes into account the role of emotion in dealing with people who are its members, and in planning, making and implementing decisions, and take positive steps to promote the emotional and social well-being of its members" (2007, p.51). Howard Gardner (1983), who believed in ‘multiple’ intelligences, enumerated nine intelligences in total and believed that Emotional Intelligence, referred to as EQ or EI, can be taught in schools to young students. He stressed that two of the nine intelligences, the intrapersonal (the relationship one has with oneself) 170

and interpersonal (the relationships one has with other people), are the most important. He strongly believed that both, IQ and EQ, are predictive of the greatest success one has in life. These skills set the student on the conscientiously moral path towards stability and supremacy. Daniel Goleman developed these same ideas in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995). In particular, both Gardner and Goleman stressed that teachers were receiving a false impression of a pupil’s overall intelligence if they simply relied on intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. These are the normative exams students receive from their teacher in a certain institution, and only by doing well in these particular exams does a student get promoted. However, these exams only test a narrow selection of intelligences such as mathematical, logical and verbal reasoning skills. There is a whole other set of skills not being tested in these curricula: that is, the emotional skills. Goleman (1995) also noted that a high IQ was not predictive of later success in life whereas a person’s ability to socialize, to inspire others and to be self-motivated was an indicator of high EQ and consequently, high achievements. Nowadays, the very few schools that are aware of these larger issues tend not only to produce happier, more rounded individuals, but also attain better academic results. These findings are vitally important for teachers to bear in mind when structuring their lessons and delivering the curriculum. Integrating emotional literacy in school curricula brings positive changes as children learn to maneuver their emotions and improve their academic performance while society can witness a decline in hostile behavior. In the context of ELT, it is believed that whereas negative emotions hinder language learning, positive emotions facilitate the process (Benesch, 2012). Arnold and Brown (1999) accordingly explain that emphasizing emotional literacy in ELT leads to “more effective language learning” and educating “learners to live more satisfying lives and to be responsible members of society” (p. 21). The same authors also highlight the need for ELT practitioners to nurture their own emotional literacy before they can educate their students. They are of the view that language teachers should play a central role in managing students’ emotional responses by helping them identify the basis of their negative feelings, express them, and ultimately transcend them through classroom activities. This paper sheds light on the impact of the four-branch model of Emotional Intelligence (Lewkowicz, 2007 ; Mayer and Salovey, 1997; Goleman, 1995; Bradberrry, T. & Greaves J., 2010; Emmerling & Cherniss, 1998; McMullen (1997): self-awareness, self-control, social-awareness and relationshipmanagement on teachers and how these skills help them take effective decisions and create a positive climate in the classroom.


Emotional Intelligence in Education: Background Over the past two decades, psychologists have focused their attention on developing the concept of Emotional Intelligence. This revived concept’s origins can be traced thousands of years back. Charles Darwin, an English biologist, hinted on the importance of emotional intelligence in his book the Origin of Species in the year 1859. Darwin stated that the survival of a species does not depend on its physical strength nor its intelligence, but rather on its adaptability and response to change. He also hinted to the importance of developing social skills saying that it is only when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts, a moral culture would reach its highest possible stage (Darwin, 1979). After having developed concepts on the cognitive aspect of human intelligence, which are concerned with perception, memory and reasoning, researchers started focusing on the development of the non-cognitive aspects, which are concerned with emotional processes. In year 1920, the American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike introduced the term ‘social intelligence’, which he used to define the skill of comprehending and managing other people (Thorndike, 1920). Two decades later the American psychologist David Wechsler introduced the concept of Non-Intellective Intelligence, and argued that Intelligence should combine both intellective and non-intellective factors (Wechsler, 1940). In the 1950s Ohio State University conducted the first series of studies on leadership characteristics. In the 1970s, an educational curriculum called Selfscience was developed by psychologist Hal Dillehunt and educator Karen Stone McCown. This curriculum focused on the development of social and emotional skills to create unique learning styles and raise awareness to crucial life skills. In 1983 Howard Gardner wrote his book Frame of Minds in which he introduced the concept of Multiple Intelligences. The author categorized nine frames of the mind, which are the “verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal frames (Gardner, 1983). Later on, in 1990, two psychologists, John Mayer and Peter Salovey came up with the term emotional intelligence, followed by psychologist Daniel Goleman who developed Mayer and Salovey's work and popularized the new concept in his books, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ in 1995, and Working with Emotional Intelligence in 1998. Over the last few years, the definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) has varied as per different schools and stakeholders. Emotional Intelligence was first defined by Mayer and Salovey (1997) as “a mental ability (or set of mental abilities) that permits the recognition, learning, memory for, and the capacity to reason about a particular form of information, such as verbal information”. Mayer et al. (cited in Karnaze, 2009, para 3) also observe that emotions, at the very basic level, when they occur can cause changes in one’s behavior, understanding and physiology. As such, it can be said that emotional intelligence 172

is the mental ability to reason with one’s emotions to control behavior and physiology, and to use emotions to enhance one’s understanding and perception. Research using Mayer and Salovey’s theory was carried out by Ilkay Ulutas and Esra Omeroglu, it was entitled “The Effects of an Emotional Intelligence Education Program on the Emotional Intelligence of Children”. They studied the effects of the ability of school programs to increase the level of emotional intelligence. The study population consisted of 120 six year old children attending preschool classes in Ankara, Turkey (Ulutas & Omeroglu, 2007). 40 children were assigned to the experimental group, 40 to the placebo control group and 40 to the control group. Children chosen for the experimental group were enrolled in an emotional intelligence program. The researchers found that the experimental group had high scores on general emotional intelligence. This was regarded as a positive result for the experimental group, which scored higher than either the placebo control or control group (Ulutas & Omeroglu, 2007). Researchers concluded that the results attained could be due to the influence of the education programs. For example, Roger Weisberg at the University of Illinois in Chicago, introduced SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) into schools in 1995 through the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning organization. The study included 668 evaluation studies of SEL programs completed for children from preschoolers through high school. The results of the studies showed the following: 50% better performance 38% higher GPA 28% of the misbehavior was down 44% of suspension was down 17% of other disciplinary actions went down 63% showed a more positive behavior (Goleman, 1995) Furthermore, Mark Greenberg from Pennsylvania State University has noticed that EQ not only helps in boosting academic performance but also helps improvement in attention and working memory, key functions of prefrontal cortex. He added that “repeated experience leads to attention improvement” through the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) Curriculum in SEL in addition to business and leadership used by the well-known company Johnson & Johnson (cited in Goleman, 1995, p.75). Greenberg emphasized PATHS in the regular curriculum to promote skills in emotional literacy, positive peer relation and problem solving as well as to prevent behavioral and emotional problems in young children (Zins, et al., [Eds.], 2004) Measuring EQ Different techniques to measure EQ have been developed; nevertheless, the validity of the techniques has been criticized and doubted by some researchers. 173

Ford-Martin has listed some of the most known EQ testing models. These include the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), which is based on a series of emotion-based problem-solving items and the Bar on Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), which tests the effectiveness of understanding oneself and others (Bar-On, 2006). Other tests include the Emotional Competence Inventory 360 (ECI 360), and the Work Profile Questionnaire-emotional intelligence version (WPQ-ei) (Ford-Martin, n.d). In addition, some books such as the Emotional Intelligence Quick Book by Bradberrry & Greaves (2010) contain a code and website which give access to an online administered EQ test. The latter has questions that assess the 4 skills of EQ, i.e. Self-Awareness, SelfControl, Social Awareness and Relationship Management. Upon completing the test, participants are given a score for each component of their Emotional Intelligence accompanied with recommendations, if need be, on how to improve each of the four skills. Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Decision Making As leaders and mentors, teachers are driven to make decisions on a daily basis, ranging from how to prepare and what to include in their lesson planning to quiz and exam dates and content, to when to grade and submit papers. Some of these choices may be made quickly and unconsciously. Therefore, to make effective choices, teachers need to understand the definition of choice making, the kinds of choices they make and the process through which this decision is made (Lewkowicz, 2007). As with Arnold and Brown (1999), Dornyei and Malderez (1999) consider not only the internal psychological states of the language learners but also their interrelations with others inside the classroom. They claim that intergroup relationship is closely interconnected with the affective dimension of the language learning process. Therefore, Dornyei and Malderez stress that teachers should pay close attention to group dynamics such as cohesiveness in order to cultivate a positive culture related to group development. They further add that teachers should make students part of the decision-making process in order to create a more cordial classroom environment where students feel less vulnerable. A decision is made when an individual has alternatives. The process starts with choosing one of these alternatives, then acting on them then over time evaluating this choice and finally either keeping the choice and adapting to it or changing it with another alternative (Lewkowicz, 2007). Decision-making should start with self-awareness which is the process of knowing your own emotions (McMullen, 2003) as it helps in identifying our emotions and thus the importance of knowing oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s emotion at the time of taking a decision. This is due to the fact that when taking decisions, individuals are usually influenced by external elements such as family, friends, media and society at large and sometimes none of those. Thus, when one chooses to become a teacher or to start working in a particular school or class or city for example, they need to know what led them to that particular 174

decision. Was it their own vocation or because a colleague who used to work in that school praised the job? On the other hand, social awareness is equally important in decision-making. If a teacher notices that a student is angry and starts knocking on his/her desk, instead of telling them to stop it, she should make the student aware that he/she has opted for that decision (to knock on the desk) and that other alternatives were also available. So decisions lead to actions and actions have consequences. The chain below illustrates this process:


THOUGHT Example 1.













According to Goleman (1995) emotions are impulses to acts. However, a thought that triggers an emotion in the brain has two paths before being translated into acts. This is illustrated below: The thought→ amygdala path or the thought→ neocortex→ amygdala act The emotion in the latter path is thought before leading to any action. So the teacher who acts quickly without taking time to assess his/her feelings and think their decisions through may end in an “unthought decision” (Lewkowicz, 2007). For example, shouting because of a student’s unruly behavior or asking the student to leave class immediately or slamming the door because of anger. Instead, the teacher might have opted for other alternatives, i.e. instead of shouting, ask the student who is misbehaving to sit at the front or discuss an element of the lesson or lead group work. Law (2002) emphasizes the role of Emotional Intelligence on both leader (teacher in this case) and follower (student). Various studies suggest that in the classroom environment, the interpersonal relationship between teacher and students is an important element contributing to the learning process (Brekelmans, Wubbels & Brok, 2005; Lang & Evans, 2006; Tuncay, 2009; Madhar, 2010; Goroshit & Hen, 2012).


The above-mentioned authors are of the view that language teachers should play a central role in managing students’ emotional responses by helping them identify the basis of their negative feelings, express them, and ultimately transcend them through classroom activities. Benesch (2012) believes that “emotions have mainly been ignored in scholarship” (p.133) because they have been seen as “subjective, irrational, exclusively female and hard to capture; in ELT they have been constructed, for the most part, as exclusively cognitive” (p.133). However, emotions are not “static or monolithic” and are subject to change. According to Emmerling et al. (2008), emotions are internal and external physiological reactions to events in the environment. Emotions are a “function of social and cultural development and forces” (ibid. p.27). This means that students are prone to different emotions according to different situations in the classroom. While a student may feel at ease in their L1 and therefore feels motivated and encouraged by the learning process, they may feel anxious and intimidated by L2 especially if the second language presents some challenges and major efforts that L1 learning does not. Effective teachers can amplify the quantity and quality of learning by minimizing the negative emotions and maximizing the positive emotions of the language learners (Dornyei and Malderez, 1999; Lewis, 2002) hence, the importance of knowing students’ emotions and attitudes in the ELT classroom. McWilliams (2000) raises a concern as to the need for ELT teachers to boost immigrant students’ low self-esteem vis-a-vis foreign language learning as they find themselves among native speakers of the language. These emotions of anxiety and uncertainty are also identified in tertiary level students who study subject matter in a second language. Troudi (2009, p. 211) warns that “the burden of having to study content subjects in an alien language can be detrimental”. Bryam (2004) states that students who undertake their majors through L2, as a medium of instruction, are also likely to develop low self-esteem. In conclusion, unlike the trend in the past, emotions of teachers and students, whether positive or negative should be identified in the ELT classroom. Emotions are not static but dynamic and action laden. Recognizing teachers’ emotions will allow effective decision making especially in times of crisis or when a crucial decision is to be taken. Conversely students’ emotions reflect their attitudes and behavior towards the ELT learning process, their relations with their peers and teachers and eventually their performance in second language acquisition. Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence: Recommendations for ELT Teachers Mayer and Salovey, (1997), Goleman, (1998), Bradberrry, T. & Greaves J., (2010) perceived four branch models of emotional intelligence which are the perception of emotions or self-awareness when an individual is aware of their emotions and motivates themselves accordingly; self-control when the individual is required to moderate their emotions in an “appropriate” way and social awareness which 176

entails perceiving and understanding others’ emotions and knowing how they feel. The fourth is relationship-management, which is to know how to deal with the other in light of one’s self-consciousness of their emotions and those of the others. Self-awareness and self-motivation As mentioned earlier teachers are required to recognize their feelings. This means that they should go back to their childhood and assess their educational and psychological paths. What kind of education they had, what cultural background they were exposed to and whether it is similar to that of their students. While undertaking this exercise, they would compare their background to that of their students to recognize cultural differences in the classroom, if any, and also diversity. So teachers should learn to express emotions appropriately instead of ignoring them. They should also remember that they are dealing with diversity and that different cultures express their emotions in different ways (Benesch, 2012). ELT educators are teaching not only a new language but also a new culture to their students (Hofstede’s 4 values, 1994; Symbols, Rituals, Values, and Heroes in Samovar et al. 2008). So an educator should first know him/herself and assess their strengths and vulnerabilities and have a coach to develop EQ skills if needed in addition to using assessment tools. Self-control Self-control skills are crucial in creating a positive climate in the classroom as it allows teachers to moderate their negative and positive emotions. Excessive flow of emotions may hinder objectivity and professionalism. Goleman (1995) describes this skill as knowing how to use your emotions “intelligently” and “appropriately”. Social-awareness This component can help the teachers know their students better. Trying to get acquainted with students’ history and life experience will contribute in establishing healthy relationships with them. Social awareness allows teachers to ask questions about their students such as why is a particular student always quiet in class although performing well in exams, or why is another student shy, or lazy, or very noisy, or talkative and how to deal with the different behaviours and attitudes in class. In this regard, perhaps knowing students’ names, background, strengths and weaknesses and interests would help in understanding that each student has certain needs and capacities and to encourage/help them to explore and develop. Increasing positive feedback about oneself and others helps to keep self-esteem 177

and self-acceptance high (Lewkowicz 2007). Another important element of emotional intelligence is to become a good listener. According to Lucas, (2012) learning how to be a listener is the best way to know the other. Moreover, by being always optimistic, positive and motivated a teacher is more likely to convey the same to their students (Lang and Evans, 2006). Relationship-Management This four-component model is about knowing how to overcome any difficult relationships with students arising from unruly behavior, low performance or dropping out for instance. Getting back to the first two components of Emotional Intelligence, knowing one’s emotions and controlling them will affect the process of dealing with that particular situation. Not letting a teacher’s different background or experience influence the way they would react in some situations in class is what emotional intelligence is there for i.e., putting their personal emotions aside when teaching and interacting with students. For instance, if a student wishes to leave class to pray or to talk to his/her mother who is ill on the phone, this behavior may sound awkward or strange to a teacher who is not familiar with certain local cultural practices. (See Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, 1998 in Samovar, et al., 2008). Learning how to console oneself when losing in a game, for example or understanding what happens when emotions get the upper hand and how to gain time to judge in the heat of the moment are part of EQ skills. Being able to channel emotions to a positive end is a key aptitude, keeping the game fun with a friendly team spirit. Conclusion "Teach us EQ Not only IQ" should be all students’ motto, and educators are responsible for spreading awareness to schools and institutions in an attempt to foster a fairer society. Promoting emotional intelligence in education and making a pupil aware of their feelings is not an easy task: it requires patience, persistence and tact and most importantly teachers to be equipped with these skills. Hence, decision makers in education, administrators, teachers, students and parents need to be the ambassadors of raising awareness so as to integrate emotional intelligence first in teacher Education then in the curricula and in schools in general and most importantly in the culture. These are some recommendations: Establish educational programs for teachers and administrators that promote EQ Employ a consultant to be involved in students’ life and academic matters. Implement stress management courses. 178

EQ should become a requirement for hiring teachers, as it matters more than achieved degree and nationality. Emotional intelligence is a learned skill and discipline that should be integrated in the teacher pre-service and in-service training to help create a positive climate in the classroom with less conflict and improved performance of both educator and student. References Arnold, J. and Brown, H.D. (1999). A map of the terrain. In J. Arnold (Ed.). Affect in language learning (pp.1-27). New York: Cambridge University Press. Bar-On, R. (2006). The Bar-On model of emotional-social intelligence (ESI). Retrieved from: Benesch, S. (2012). Considering Emotions in Critical Language Teaching. NY: Routledge. Bradberry, T. & Greaves, J. (2010). The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book. NY: Fireside. Brekelmans, M., Brok, P. den, Tartwijk, J. van, & Wubbels, T. ( 2 0 0 5 ) . A n interpersonal perspective on teacher behaviour in the classroom. In L.V. Barnes (Ed.). Contemporary Teaching and Teacher Issues (pp. 197-226). New York: Nova Science Publishers. Bryam, M. (2004). Developing language education policy in Europe and searching for theory. Paper read at the conference Language and the Future of Europe: Ideologies, Policies and Practices. University of Southampton. Darwin, C. (1979). The Origin of Species. New York: Random House Value Publishing E-book link: Dornyei, Z. & Malderez, A. (1999). The role of group dynamic in foreign language teaching and learning. In J. Arnold (ed.). Affect in language learning (pp. 155-70). New York: Cambridge University press. Emmerling, R.J., & Cherniss, G. (2003). Emotional Intelligence and the career choice process. Journal of Career Assessment, 11, 153-167 Emmerling, R. J., Shanwal, V. K., & Mandal, M. K. (Eds.) (2008). Emotional intelligence: Theoretical and cultural perspectives. NY: Nova Science Publishers. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: the theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Thank IQ? NY: Bantam Books. Goroshit, M. & Hen, M. (2012). Emotional Intelligence: A Stable Change? In International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 2012, Volume 24, Number 1, (pp.31-42) retrieved from: Karnaze, M. (2009). Salovey & Mayer on Emotional Intelligence (1990). Retrieved from: 179

Lang, H. & Evans, D. (2006). Models, Strategies and Methods for Effective Teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson. Law, S. L., & Wong, C. (2002). The effects of leader and follower emotional intelligence on performance and attitude: An exploratory study. Retrieved from: Lewkowicz, A. B. (2007) Teaching Emotional Intelligence. CA: Corwin Press/SAGE Publications. Lewis, K.M (2002). When leaders display emotions: How followers respond to negative emotional expression of male and female leaders. Journal of Organizational Behavior (Vol. 21, p.221-234). Lucas, S. E. (2012). The Art of Public Speaking (11th International ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. Madhar, M. (2010). Emotional Intelligence of Teachers and Effective Class Room Management in Social Science Research Network Martin, P.F. ( n.d.). Emotional Intelligence-Origins, Characteristics, Applications. Retrieved from: Mayer, J. D. & Salovey, P. (1997). Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications. In P. Salovey & D. J. Sluyter (Eds.), What is Emotional Intelligence? (pp. 4-15). Basic Books. McMullen B. (2003). Emotional Intelligence. Student BMJ vol.11 (p18-19). McWilliams, E. (2000). Stuck in the missionary position? Pedagogy and desire in new times. In O’Farrell, et al. (Eds.). Taught bodies (pp.27-37). New York: Peter Lang. Samovar, et al. (2008). Introduction to Intercultural Communication. London: SAGE. Stone K. and Dillehunt, H. (1970). An educational Curriculum “Self-Science”. Retrieved from: Thorndike, E. L. (1920). Intelligence and its uses. Harper's Magazine. (Vol. 140, pp. 227–235). Troudi, S. (2009). The effects of English as a medium of instruction on Arabic as a language of science and academia. In P. Wachob (Ed.), Power in the EFL classroom: Critical pedagogy in the Middle East (pp. 199-216). New Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Tuncay. N. (2009). Psychology behind success In International Journal on New Trends in Education and Their Implications .Special Issue December 2010 Volume: 1 Issue: 4. Ulutas K, & Omeroglu E. (2007). The Effect of an Emotional Intelligence Education Program on the Emotional Intelligence of Children. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal. Retrieved from: http://www Weare, K. (2007). Developing the emotionally literate school. London: Paul Chapman. Retrieved from:o Wechsler, D. (1940). Non-intellective Factors in General Intelligence. Psychological Bulletin (Vol. 37, p. 444-445).


Zins, J., et al. (Eds.) (2004). Building Academic Success on Social and Emotional Learning: What Does The Research Say? NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.


SECTION FOUR Critical Issues and Considerations


Investigating Three Aspects of Student Diversity Edith Flahive Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE Introduction There is no such thing as a ‘standard’ student. All students are different, with varying needs, wants, and attitudes to learning and teaching. To cater for diversity in the classroom, instructors need to be aware of these differences and equip themselves with the requisite instructional strategies and tools to accommodate such learners and enable them to reach their full potential. The three categories of diversity that have been identified as having important implications for learning and teaching are: differences in students’ learning styles (learners’ perception, interaction with, and response to the learning environment); approaches to learning (surface, deep and strategic), and levels of intellectual development (the nature of knowledge, its acquisition and evaluation) This paper examines three aspects of student diversity and their pedagogical implications. Different learning styles, approaches to learning, and desired learning outcomes, are explored. Models of intellectual development are presented, and instructional techniques that best facilitate intellectual growth are discussed. Finally, a variety of learning tasks to address all three forms of diversity are considered. 1. Learning Styles Stewart and Felicetti (1992, p. 17) define learning styles as those “educational conditions under which a student is most likely to learn”. Thus, learning styles are not really concerned with what learners learn, but rather how they prefer to learn. Some students like theories and deductions, while others are comfortable with facts and actual experiences; some prefer active learning, others introspection. Some prefer visual representation of information while others seek verbal interpretations. One learning style is neither superior nor inferior to another, but is simply unique with its own specific strengths and weaknesses. A goal of instruction should be to provide students with the skills related to every learning style category, irrespective of students’ personal preferences, as they will need all of those skills to perform successfully in their professional lives. Learning style research supports what experienced classroom practitioners know intuitively; that students absorb new materials and skills through their senses and prefer some senses over others in specific situations (O’Brien, 1989; Oxford & Ehrman, 1995; Reid, 1995). When lessons are presented visually as well as verbally, and reinforced through writing, drawing, or speaking activities, students are not only able to learn in the way best suited to their style, but also 183

able to develop a full and varied repertoire of modality strengths. “The best instructional approach, then, regardless of subject matter or grade level, is a deliberate multisensory approach” (Kinsella, 1995, p. 175). Types of Learning Styles Research projects conducted over many years, including close and detailed observation of the way we communicate, have identified three main learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual Learners “learn through seeing…” Visual learners are learners who “prefer to learn via the visual channel. Therefore they like to read a lot, which requires concentration and time spent alone. They must have written directions if they are to function well in the classroom” (Oxford, 1995, p. 35). They learn best from visual aids like the following: Illustrated textbooks Videos / pictures Diagrams / charts PowerPoint presentations Handouts Use coloured highlighters for information Auditory Learners “learn through listening…” Auditory learners are “students who enjoy the oral-aural learning channel” (Oxford, 1995, p. 36). They interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. Written information may have little meaning until it is heard. They learn best from auditory aids like the following: Record lectures (replay later) Reading written text aloud Verbal repetition Speeches Giving presentations Creating mnemonics and musical jingles Kinesthetic Learners “learn through moving, doing and touching…” Kinesthetic learning “implies total physical involvement with a learning environment” (Kinsella, 1995, p. 172). These learners need a hands-on approach. 184

They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration. They learn best from hands-on experiences and aids like the following: Touching and feeling materials Moving around while receiving information Scientific or lab type experiments Gesturing when speaking Taking frequent study breaks Snacking or chewing gum while studying/listening to lectures (Merriam & Caffarella, 1999; Omrod, 2011) Learning Style Dimensions Reid (1998) reported twenty different dimensions of learning styles which are summarised in Table 1. An analysis of the table indicates that a few learning styles may overlap with other styles. For example, analytic and global learning styles are found to overlap with field independent and dependent learning styles. Table 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; A Summary of Learning Styles (Reid, 1998, p. x)

Field Independent Field Dependent

Analytic Global

Reflective Impulsive

Field Independent and Field Dependent (Sensitive) Learning Styles Learns more effectively sequentially, analysing facts. Learns more effectively in context (holistically) and is sensitive to human relationships. Analytic and Global Learning Styles Learns more effectively individually, sequentially, linearly. Learns more effectively through concrete experience and through interaction with other people. Reflective and impulsive Learning Styles Learns more effectively when given time to consider the options before responding. Learns more effectively when able to respond immediately and to take risks.


Converger Diverger Assimilator Accommodator

Extraverted Introverted Sensing Intuition Thinking Feeling Judging Perceiving

Right-Brain Left-Brain

Kolb Experiential Learning Model Learns more effectively when able to and to process actively. Learns more effectively when able to and to process reflectively. Learns more effectively when able to and to process reflectively. Learns more effectively when able to and to process actively.

perceive abstractly perceive concretely perceive abstractly perceive concretely

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Learns more effectively through concrete experience, contacts with and relationships with others. Learns more effectively in individual, independent learning situations. Learns more effectively from reports of observable facts. Learns more effectively from meaningful experiences. Learns more effectively from impersonal and logical circumstances. Learns more effectively from personalized circumstances. Learns more effectively by reflection, deduction, analysis, and processes that involve closure. Learns more effectively through negotiation, feeling, and inductive processes that postpone closure. Right – Left Brain Learning Styles Learns more effectively through visual analytic, reflective, self-reliant learning. Learns more effectively through auditory, global, impulsive, interactive learning.

The scope and depth of learning styles vary because as Erham and Oxford (1995, p. 69) contend, “not everyone fits neatly into one or another of these categories to the exclusion of the other, parallel categories (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic)”. This view is further supported by Willing (1988, p. 6) who advocates that “at any period in the history of methodological fashions, there is usually the covert assumption of one particular learning style as basic”. However, “what makes the current interest in learning styles new is that several different ways of learning are now held to be equally valid”. 186

Multiple Intelligences Howard Gardner (1993) claims that all human beings have multiple intelligences. These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together. He believes that human beings possess the following nine intelligences in varying amounts: Verbal-linguistic: enjoyment of and facility with reading, poetry and all things literary and linguistic; Mathematical-logical: enjoyment of and facility with Maths and Science, games of strategy and any logic-based pursuits; Musical: enjoyment of and facility with music – listening, playing and perhaps composing; Visual-spatial: enjoyment of and facility with images, drawing, construction games and tactile puzzles such as jigsaws; Bodily-kinesthetic: enjoyment of and facility with activities that involve touch and movement, dance, sport and other practical activities; Interpersonal: enjoyment of and facility with other people, communication, leadership and the ability to empathise; Intrapersonal: enjoyment of and facility with self-motivation, no dependence on others, awareness of one’s own feelings more than those of others – often seen as shyness; Naturalist: enjoyment of and facility with the natural world, with ability in recognising patterns and classification; Existential: enjoyment of and facility with asking and examining questions about life, death and ultimate realities (Pritchard, 2008, p. 34). Gardner (1993) asserts that these differences challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way, and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Gardner argues that a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive, therefore, Gardner and Hatch (1989, p. 6) conclude that it may be worthwhile for teachers “to detect these distinctive human strengths and use them as a basis for engagement and learning”. Pedagogical Implications Many different learning style checklists are available (Ellis & Sinclair, 1989; O’Brien, 1990) to help determine students’ learning styles. Instructors must then design a balanced teaching approach that addresses the learning needs of all their students. For example, knowing that a large majority of students in a class are sensory and visual learners, should motivate the instructor “to find concrete and visual ways to supplement the presentation of material that might normally be presented entirely abstractly or verbally” (Kinsella, 1995, p. 181). Kinsella 187

suggests that if these students are taught to map, diagram or illustrate concepts to aid comprehension and retention of new terms, they can use those skills in other classes too. They will have acquired not only more English language proficiency, but also the tools for learning other subjects. Lawrence (2009) offers various recommendations for designing instruction to address the full spectrum of learning styles. In planning lessons to cater for multiple intelligences in the classroom, the teacher has to consider the variety of activities related to the content of the lesson and the skills learners have to master. This will provide a range of opportunities in order to respond to learners' different strengths and learning styles. These can be approached by seeking to answer the following questions: Logical-mathematical: How can I include the use of numbers, classification, critical thinking and calculations? Spatial: How can I include pictures and diagrams, colours, art or graphs? Intrapersonal: How can I include private learning time and choice? Interpersonal: How can I include group work, peer sharing and discussions? Bodily-kinesthetic: How can I include movement, practical apparatus, drama or art and craft? Musical: How can I include music, sounds, rhyme, rhythms and dance? Verbal-linguistic: How can I include reading, writing and speaking? (Pritchard, 2009, p. 35) 2. Approaches to Learning Marton and Säljö (1997) define three different approaches to learning: A surface approach A deep approach A strategic approach Surface Approach Students who adopt a surface approach to learning memorise facts, but do not try to fit them into a larger context. These students commonly exhibit an extrinsic motivation to learn and an unquestioning acceptance of everything in the textbook and in lectures (Biggs, 1989; Bowden & Morton, 1998; Tagg, 2003; Draper, 2009). “I’ve got to learn this to pass the course, to graduate, to get a good job.” Learning thus involves steering a middle course between working too hard or failing. Surface motivated students focus on what appear to be the most important topics or elements and try to reproduce them accurately, but they do not see interconnections between elements, or the meaning and implications of what is learned. According to Brophy (1986), the main aim is to get the task out of the way and as a result meet the teacher’s minimal requirements. The 188

essential nature of the surface approach is that it is corner-cutting; it is a learning pathology that does not engage the task in the way it should be engaged. Deep Approach Students who take a deep approach do not simply rely on memorisation of course material, but focus instead on understanding it (Entwistle, 1981; Biggs, 1987; Ramsden, 2003; Tagg, 2003). They have an intrinsic motivation to learn, with intellectual curiosity rather than the possibility of external rewards driving their efforts (Schiefele, 1991; Hidi, 2006). There is a personal commitment to learning, which means that the student relates the content to personally meaningful contexts or to existing prior knowledge, depending on the subject concerned. The concept that drives the deep approach is the view that learning is the construction of meaning. Although students using a deep approach do perform at a higher qualitative level than those who do not, they do not necessarily obtain higher marks (Trigwell & Prosser, 1991a). Further, a ‘pure’ deep engages only in those tasks in which he or she is intrinsically interested, which can prove detrimental to performance across the curriculum. Strategic Approach Students who adopt a strategic approach do whatever it takes to get the top grade. They are well organised and efficient in their studying. They carefully assess the level of effort they need to exert to achieve their ambition and “if they can do it by staying superficial, they will do so, but if the instructor’s assignments and tests demand a deep approach they will respond to the demand” (Ramsden, 2003, p. 97). The strategic approach is like the surface approach in that it is focused on the product. The strategic approach concentrates on cost-effective use of time and effort, involving organisational behaviours that characterise the model student, such as precise note-keeping and planning optimal use of time. Like the deep approach, the strategic approach involves a high degree of meta-learning, relating both to context and to content. While the deep and surface approaches are mutually exclusive at any given moment, a strategic approach may be linked to either. In sum, the surface approach is generally associated with negative factors such as poor performance, ill-structured learning, drop-out, and poor academic selfconcept. The deep approach is associated with positive factors: an ‘academic’ approach as long as the focus is on personally valued subjects, qualitatively rich learning, and a good academic self-concept. The strategic approach is also positive academically, but more externally driven by the need to excel (Cano, 2007).


Orientations to Studying A student may adopt different approaches to learning in different courses and even for different topics within a single course. â&#x20AC;&#x153;An orientation to studying is a tendency to adopt one of the approaches in a broad range of situations and learning environmentsâ&#x20AC;? (Entwistle, 1988, p. 33). Students who habitually adopt a surface approach have a reproducing orientation. Students who usually adopt a deep approach have a meaning orientation. Students inclined to take a strategic approach have an achieving orientation (Entwistle, 1988). Parallels can be drawn between orientations to studying and learning styles, in that both represent tendencies that are determined by the situation, rather than predetermined characteristics such as gender or handedness that always distinguish an individual. Just as a student who is a strong sensor may function like an intuitor in certain situations, and vice versa, a student with an obvious meaning orientation may in particular circumstances adopt a surface approach to learning, while a strongly reproducing student may sometimes be motivated to dig deep (Biggs, 2003). Desired Learning Outcomes A goal of instruction should be to encourage students to adopt a deep approach to subjects that are important for their professional or personal development. Inductive teaching methods such as problem-based and project-based learning, can motivate students to adopt a deep approach to learning (Biggs, 2003) by helping to make the subject matter relevant to their prior experience and interests (Duch, et al., 2001; Dochy et al., 2003; Kolmos et al., 2004). They also emphasise conceptual understanding and de-emphasise rote memorisation. Research has proven that shifting from traditional instructor-dominated pedagogy to a more learner-centred approach leads to deeper levels of understanding and meaning for students (Lave & Wegner, 1991; Tagg, 2003). Clearly stating expectations by articulating them in the form of instructional objectives (Mager, 1997; Gronlund, 2000), teaching in a stimulating and caring manner, providing comprehensible feedback, designing appropriate tests and providing choices in learning tasks (Eble, 1988; Chickering & Gamson, 1991; Lowman, 1995; Wankat, 2002; McKeachie, 2010) all serve to foster and promote a deep approach to learning. In studies cited by Ramsden (2003), students who adopted a deep approach to reading created comprehensive and integrated summaries of material they had read, interpreting rather than simply repeating the information; while those who took a surface approach were more likely to aimlessly recite fragments of the reading content. The deep approach also led to longer retention of information, possibly attributable to the fact that it was learned in context rather than by rote memorisation. 190

Several learner-centred teaching approaches accomplish the goal of actively involving students in learning tasks, notably active learning (engaging students in class activities other than listening to lectures) and cooperative learning (getting students to work in small teams on projects or homework). Trigwell, Prosser and Waterhouse (1999) found a positive correlation between an instructor’s use of such instructional methods and students’ adoption of a deep approach to learning. 3. Intellectual Development Four models of intellectual development are described in literature (Baxter Magolda, 1992): Absolute knowing: All knowledge that matters is certain; all positions are either right or wrong. Authorities have The Truth and the responsibility to communicate it, and the students’ job is to memorise and repeat it. “It is easy because you just read or listen to a lecture about the ideas, then present it back to the teacher” (student, as cited in Baxter Magolda, 1992, p. 77). Transitional knowing: Some knowledge is certain and some is not. Authorities have the responsibility to communicate the certainties, and the students are responsible for making their own judgements regarding the uncertainties. “Like in chemistry, there’s a right answer, but in other classes there’s not. I guess it could be easier if there’s not a right answer, but I feel uneasy in classes like that” (student, as cited in Baxter Magolda, 1992, p. 106). Independent knowing: Most knowledge is uncertain. Students take responsibility for their own learning rather than relying heavily on authorities or personal feelings. “Everything’s relative; there’s no truth in the world – that sort of thing. Each individual has their own truth. No one has the right to decide, ‘This has to be your truth, too’ ” (student, as cited in Baxter Magolda, 1992, p. 136). Contextual knowing: All truths are contextual. Students take responsibility for making judgements, acknowledging the need to do so in the face of uncertainty and ambiguity. “I guess you just do it because you have to. You have to come up with some answers…I wrote down some solutions and wrote down pluses of the solutions” (student, as cited in Baxter Magolda, 2001, p. 43). Promoting Intellectual Development Most students undergo a developmental progression from a belief in the certainty of knowledge, to questioning that certainty, accepting personal responsibility for determining truth, gathering supporting evidence for judgements, and being open to change if new evidence is forthcoming. At the highest developmental level, normally seen in some college students, individuals demonstrate thinking 191

patterns similar to those of expert scientists. Felder and Brent (2005) state that a goal of instruction should be to advance students to that level by the time they graduate. They maintain that it is necessary to challenge the beliefs that characterise students’ current developmental levels in order to foster and promote their intellectual growth. An absolute knower who is never confronted by open-ended problems that have many acceptable solutions will not naturally make the move to transitional knowing. Similarly, “an independent knower who is not challenged for inadequate use of evidence in making judgements is not likely to make the shift to contextual knowledge” (Felder & Brent, 2005, p. 67). However, instructors must be aware that students may feel threatened if their fundamental beliefs are challenged and as a result continue at their current developmental levels, or retreat to even lower levels. To avoid these consequences, instructors should provide the necessary support to help their students meet the challenges. Instructional conditions that facilitate intellectual growth include: Variety and choice of learning tasks: varied problem types and assignments. Explicit communication and explanation of expectations: instructional objectives, study guides and tests based on the objectives. Modelling, practice and constructive feedback on high-level tasks: assignment of relevant tasks and modelling of required procedures, practice in assignments. A student-centred instructional environment: inductive learning, active and cooperative learning. Respect for students at all levels of development: caring about students, awareness and respect for current levels of development while promoting higher levels. (Felder & Brent, 2005, p. 67) Teaching to Address All Three Forms of Diversity Thus far, recommendations have been made to help instructors cater for all learning styles, to foster a deep approach to learning, and to promote students’ intellectual development. The implementation of three different teaching approaches simultaneously to achieve all three goals could be daunting for instructors, but commonalities between the three diverse domains, and the instructional methods that address them, make the task manageable. Firstly, by assigning a variety of learning tasks, instructors can contest the beliefs about knowledge and its acquisition that distinguish different developmental levels, and guarantee that students are challenged by some assignments that necessitate a deep approach to learning. By varying tasks to include problems that require careful attention to detail (sensing strengths), individual efforts (reflective), or teamwork (active); instructors are once again 192

addressing the full range of learning styles. Furthermore, promoting a deep approach to learning should also promote intellectual growth, as very clear similarities exist between the defining attributes of a deep approach and the characteristics of Baxter Magolda’s (1992) contextual knowledge level of intellectual development. Both involve taking responsibility for one’s own learning, questioning authorities rather than accepting things at face value, and attempting to understand new knowledge in the context of prior knowledge and experience. Inductive approaches such as problem-based learning should also be effective when dealing with the learning goals associated with all three domains. Open-ended problems, for example, by their very nature require a deep approach to learning, and solving them requires skills associated with different learning styles, such as the attention to detail of the sensor, and the systematic analytical approach of the sequential learner. Requiring students to complete assignments demanding skills that are not associated with their learning style preferences, convincing them to adopt a deep approach to learning when they are inclined to a surface approach; or calling for them to adapt their fundamental beliefs about the nature of knowledge, can be intimidating. However, by offering a choice of learning tasks, explicitly communicating expectations, modelling and providing practice and feedback on high-level tasks, and showing respect for students at all levels of development; instructors should provide students with the requisite support to enable them to respond successfully to these types of challenges. Conclusion Students differ from one another in a multitude of ways including their learning styles, approaches to learning and orientations to studying, and their levels of intellectual development. How much a student learns in class is determined not only by that student’s ability and prior preparation, but also by the compatibility of the student’s attributes as a learner and the instructor’s teaching style. To be effective, instruction should address the needs of students across the full spectrum of learning styles, promote adoption of a deep approach to learning, and help students to advance to higher levels of intellectual development. “Instruction begins with this, that you, the teacher, learn from the learner, place yourself in what he has understood and how he has understood it…” (Kierkegaard, 1848, p. 461, as cited in Hong & Hong, 2000). An important element of that understanding is awareness of the different attitudes students have to learning; the different ways they approach it, and how instructors can influence both their attitudes and approaches. The more successful they are in doing so, the more competently they can design pedagogical materials that meet the needs of all their students. In turn, the better students understand the strengths and weaknesses associated with their attitudes and preferences, the more likely they will be to learn efficiently throughout their lives. 193

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Teaching English as Inquiry: Applications and Challenges Maha Elhami Al Hosn University, UAE Introduction Teaching a language or a certain subject in the 21st Century, the era of globalization, modern technology, advancements of economy and industry along with the invasion of the age of knowledge can no more be through a traditional way or by-rote instruction. Teaching a language such as English needs a method that facilitates grasping the language skills and ensuring deep understanding of the subject content at the same time. Also, the inability to meet students’ potentials and match them to the course objectives may lead some teachers to encounter significant challenges in delivering the subject content and enhancing the language skills. Therefore, an approach such as “Inquiry-based Learning” (IBL) can be the remedy for many teaching and learning concerns if applied successfully. This is because teaching through inquiry has a great impact on increasing students’ motivation and involving them actively in the learning process. Additionally, this process does not only help in teaching the language skills, but it also provides students with more learning opportunities. This is because IBL teaches students how to explore, develop and research a question or a topic (Lane, 2007). Moreover, it helps them reflect on their own learning and develop their higher order thinking skills. IBL is a research-based strategy that actively involves students in the exploration of the content, issues, and questions surrounding a subject area that needs to be learnt (Lane, 2007). This chapter begins by defining IBL and its importance to all learners from KG to College to Career. It also presents the author’s practical experience in regard with teaching English and how teachers can incorporate it into their English language curricula or daily instruction. Finally, it provides an authentic English classroom activity where IBL was incorporated to enhance the students' language skills as well as their subject understanding. What is "Inquiry-based Learning"? IBL can be best described as a student-centered approach and a research-based strategy that begins with the learner’s question, curiosity, inquiry or a conflict that stimulates his/her mind about an interesting topic or a curricular area. It actively involves the learners in the exploration of this particular question through developing their research, collaborative and higher order thinking skills. The process takes place in an environment that enables the learners to ask openended questions related to the subject content as it offers the opportunity to direct their own investigations and find their own results. However, the students 197

may not always find the right answers for their inquiries and may need the teacher's guidance and assistance throughout the process. In fact, when students struggle to find the right answer, they ask more questions and this creates the cycle of IBL approach. What does the research say about inquiry-based learning? Based on previous research, IBL has been successfully implemented and integrated in teaching major subjects such as science, mathematics and languages. Prince and Felder (2006) present a comprehensive overview of four studies assessing IBL (Haury, 1993; Rubin, 1996; Shymansky, 1990; Smith, 1996; all cited in Prince & Felder, 2006). Research found that IBL is more effective than traditional teaching for achieving high learning outcomes that include academic achievement, analytic abilities, process skills, creative and critical thinking. That is because students are constantly involved in hands-on activities and tasks that are related to interesting topics or themes. This active involvement stimulates the students' minds and engages them in thinking and asking meaningful questions. The questions lead the students to build new knowledge on what they already know through thinking and modifying their current concepts. In addition, students take control of their own learning through researching the topic and finding their own results. Moreover, students develop their self-confidence when they come back to the classroom sharing their own findings and exchanging ideas with their classmates. This whole process does not reach its ultimate success unless it emerges from topics that are of personal interest to the learners (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). In line with Wiggins & McTighe, Dewey (1897) believed that Education must begin with a psychological insight into the learners' interests, capacities and habits. This means that in order for the classroom to attract the learners to deep understanding and learning, it must include curriculum that reflects their interests. Why inquiry-based learning in English Teaching? According to my experience in the field of English teaching to tertiary students, I am convinced that IBL has a great impact in teaching languages. In teaching English to non-native speakers, for example, IBL naturally creates a conducive environment that actively involves all students in the learning process. In an IBL environment, students learn how to ask meaningful questions in English which should lead them to identify their main research question. This takes place when they receive an interesting topic or a theme that needs to be explored as a part of their subject content. Also, enabling students to recall what they knew about the topic and determine what they need to know broadens their critical thinking skills. However, providing the students with the answers they seek does not really help them and may not end up with the expected results. 198

Additionally, in order for students to research, they need to read, understand and select related information to their questions in English. Thus, students do not only learn how to gather data in their own, but they also develop research and reading skills effectively in English. For instance, students gain experience in how to be selective when they google a topic that has hundreds of links to read. They also learn how to relate findings to their inquiries. As a result, students do not only improve their English language proficiency, but they also gain other major skills for a fruitful future. Students also get better opportunities to reflect on their own learning, gain deeper understanding of the subject content and language concepts at the same time. For example, students conduct presentations in front of their classmates to share and discuss their findings. As a result, students achieve high learning results that encompass ability for independent inquiry, critical thinking, responsibility for own learning, cognitive development and maturity (Lee et al., 2004). Considering your students' potentials and levels of inquiry Before applying the inquiry method it is essential that the teacher analyze students' needs and consider several main aspects. First, the teacher needs to determine the students' academic level. This means, what they already know about a certain subject or a topic they are going to investigate. Also, examining the students' prior knowledge helps the teacher to set the right and suitable objectives for the lesson as well as simplify the inquiry process. Second, considering the actual level of the students' English language proficiency and how long they have learnt English makes the job easier for the teacher using this approach. For example, teachers can always design tasks and activities that match the students' differences. Third, it is important for the teacher to identify the amount of experience students have gained about learning through IBL. This is because when the teacher plans for instruction, the students' level of experience will dedicate the amount of structure and modeling needs to be done during the task. Determining your role in inquiry-based learning In my view as an IBL practitioner, the teacher has an important role in the process of IBL. Although IBL is considered a student-centered approach, it still needs the teacher's guidance and instructions, especially if it is the first time for the students to encounter the inquiry process in their learning. At the outset, students may express frustration or discomfort using this method because it may look too challenging or confusing for them if they don't understand it. Also, sometimes students may refuse the change or the sudden feeling of being fully independent. Therefore, the teacher should always be there as a “Guide on the side” rather than a “Sage on the stage” to facilitate, mentor and motivate the students to achieve the required objectives along with inquiry. Also, to avoid any 199

possible issues or confusions at the beginning of the process, the teacher can just assume that the majority of the students are not ready for this approach. Thus, the teacher scaffolds learning for the students and explains what is expected from them to do. However, the scaffolding decreases gradually as students develop their skills. IBL can be classified into four levels to help the teacher succeed in implementing this strategy. First, if your students hail from low inquiry level, where they cannot form meaningful questions or think critically, then the "Limited Inquiry" is the appropriate level for them. In the limited inquiry, the teacher provides traditional labs where the students follow the directions of the teacher and make sure their results match those given in the task. Second, you can use the "Structured Inquiry" if your students have been using the inquiry method in learning for some time but still at a lower level. In the structured inquiry, the teacher does not provide predetermined answers but may pose the questions and give guidance on how to find the answers. This means that students reach their own conclusions from their own investigations. Third, there is also the "Guided Inquiry", where the teacher does not assist the students in determining how to investigate the topic they desire to gather information about. That is because the students are expected to be knowledgeable of technology usage and research practices. Finally, advanced inquirers can be offered "Open Inquiry". In the open inquiry, the students propose and peruse their own questions while the teacher rests. Thus, IBL can appear in different scales within the curriculum from simple to complex tasks depending on students’ levels (University of Sheffield 2007; Spronken-Smith et al., 2007b). Teaching English as inquiry using the "SAUCE Model" There are a number of inquiry-based models such as Jamie McKenzie’s (2000) “Research Cycle”, Alberta Education’s (1990) “Inquiry Model”, Kolb’s (1984) “Experiential Learning Model” and Trevor Bond’s (2001) “SAUCE Model” that includes setting a task, acquiring information, using sources, communicating and evaluating. In my experience of applying IBL in English teaching, I believe that the “SAUCE Model” is one of the most effective models that can facilitate integrating inquiry into the English instruction. SAUCE can be considered as a research, inquiry and problem solving model that aims at providing information literacy for learners to use in research of any subject related topic or theme. It can be used in teaching English successfully to provide useful language learning, research and critical thinking tools for learners within individual or collaborative contexts. Also, it contributes in assisting teachers to design tasks that involve learners in higher thinking order situations. In addition, it encourages the learners to use their prior knowledge to find more 200

information about the current content or subject area. Not only this, but it also provides the teachers and learners a tool to integrate ICT usage into the curriculum. Application of SAUCE on a Listening and Speaking Activity: The participants who were trained on this activity were adult students at one of the tertiary institutions in the United Arab Emirates. These students come from various specialization and specific disciplines. Inquiry-based teaching was incorporated into their English language learning to develop their English language, questioning, higher order thinking and research skills. In this activity, students were required to accomplish a listening and speaking task using the SAUCE cycle provided below. It is where students become engaged in a topic, develop a question, gather data, examine findings, communicate findings and evaluate: Set the Task

Acquire Information



Use Information

As a warm up step, students were introduced to a short interesting text (without a title) about “Phobias”. Students started brainstorming the topic testing their prior knowledge. 1. Setting the task (Students ask questions using the knowledge assessment chart) In this phase, the teacher engages the students in the learning process through setting the task objectives. Setting the task objectives requires the teachers’ attention to the students’ potentials as a key of effective motivation and real engagement in learning. Students start the learning process using the knowledge assessment chart (see table below) which enables them to ask topic-related questions that match their personal interests. These questions help them build on their prior knowledge and reach targeted information. As clarified above, the first column leads the students to organize their thoughts and examine their prior knowledge. For example, a student in my class expressed what he already knew about phobia by defining it as a fear of something. The second column facilitates the process of determining what they need to know 201

about the topic. For instance, one of my students was curious about how people develop phobia, while another student was very interested about phobia treatments. The third column assists the students in identifying what resources they should use to gather information. For example, they decide on searching the webs, books, magazines, newspapers or articles they believe are beneficial in gathering the required information. Finally, students use the last column to record their findings. In some cases, students’ inquiry level may not allow them to do so; thus, the teacher can initiate researchable questions about the theme and coach them in doing this. It is essential for the teacher to always remember that considering the students’ potentials and the difficulty of the task are two major elements that contribute in maintaining ultimate motivation and engagement. 2. Acquiring information (Students research the topic) Acquisition of relevant and reliable information is in fact one of the major phases for completing the task. It is very important that the teacher considers the prior knowledge of the learner. That is because the students’ prior knowledge helps them in determining and finding the sought information. In this phase, students are responsible for selecting and identifying the method they prefer in gathering information for their own investigations. However, if the students are not ready yet to do so, the teacher can always interfere with the useful guidance and assistance. What is really great about this model is the fact that it recognizes the value of prior knowledge; as it also assumes that the learner still needs to acquire more information to complete the task. As students accomplish filling out the chart in step one, they begin the actual research about “Phobias” and gather information. It may be challenging for low achievers to do this; therefore, teachers can select or recommend links, websites or materials that are rich with the targeted information. While high achievers can research independently using the web or selecting links they believe are beneficial about the topic. 3. Using information (Students use their findings in texts) What I Know

What I Want to Know

What Resources to use

What Learned

What is Phobia?




What Phobia?





How to Phobia?




It is a fear something




This phase allows students to use the information they gathered through applying their knowledge in the context of the task. As per Doyleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (1994) definition of information literacy, the learners should be able to use the information they gathered in a practical manner. This means that the students should be able to research the topic or the question they desire to explore and use the findings they reached through answering their targeted question or solving real life situations. For instance, one of the students who was interested in phobia treatments is expected to write an essay in English presenting the types of treatments he found. 4. Communication (Students present their own findings) Once students accomplish the above three stages, it is very necessary that they present their finished work and share their own findings with their classmates. This provides the students the opportunity to develop self-confidence as they believe in themselves realizing that they have achieved the goals of their task successfully. Communication is a vital phase in IBL because it engages all students in the learning process and ensures deep understanding. Additionally, when students share their work and discuss their results, they learn and complement each other. Bringing the findings into the classroom and presenting them are two vital elements to complete and achieve the task successfully. For example, I asked my students to search the topic â&#x20AC;&#x153;Phobiaâ&#x20AC;? and come back the next class with a prepared PowerPoint presentation that includes the findings of their main question they asked at the beginning. 5. Evaluation (Students evaluate themselves using a rubric) In this stage, students are nearly done with the task yet their progress needs to be evaluated. For example, below is a rubric that I created and used with my students to evaluate several speaking and presentation skills. The focus in this rubric was based on four elements that I believed were vital for achieving the course goals (see table below):


Oral Presentation Rubric 1. Volume and rates 2. Eye Contact

   

3. Organization

 

4. Content and use of vocabulary Total

 

Presenter is easy to hear. Rates of speech are appropriate. Speaker makes eye contact with everyone and has no nervous habits. Speaker has excellent knowledge about the topic. Presentation is well organized with a beginning, middle, and end. There is a strong organizing theme, with clear main ideas and transitions. Information is complete and accurate. Vocabulary used properly.

Grade /3 /2 /3 /2 /3 /2 /2 /3 /20

Research has repeatedly proved that assessment has a significant impact on students’ achievement and engagement. Therefore, it is essential in IBL tasks that the teacher provides constant feedback during and after the students’ learning process. In other words, the teacher can use a combination of formative and summative assessment in an inquiry-based teaching. For example, students receive the teacher’s feedback about what they have done well and what needs improvement during the learning process as formative assessment. Also, the formative assessment can take the form of communicative or verbal comments throughout the process. It is also important that the teacher allows additional time if needed. As per Linda Darling-Hammond (as cited in Neil Stephenson, 2007), students reflect deeply on their work and relate it to larger concepts as well as ask meaningful questions and understand the inquiry process efficiently when they have sufficient time build into their projects or problems. While in the summative assessment, the students receive formal feedback about their performance and progress. This can be done through using well designed rubrics. In the rubric, it is the decision of the teacher to include the objectives or the skills that students should grasp in a certain period. For example, when I taught listening and speaking, I selected subject-related elements that I believed were necessary for students to improve in their speaking and presentation skills. Also, based on the students’ levels, the teacher can ask the students to evaluate each other using the rubric. Challenges of inquiry-based learning Although IBL offers undeniable opportunities for English learning, there are some significant challenges to the successful implementation of teaching English as inquiry that need to be considered. These challenges may only face teachers 204

or students who are new to inquiry implementation. Also, these challenges can easily be dealt with through the knowledge and skills of the teachers engaging in this alternative type of teaching and learning (Good & Brophy, 1986). In addition, engaging students in research, data gathering, analysis and communication requires teachers who are real inquirers and aware of the inquiry process and its requirements. 1. Motivation: This is one of the main challenges to applying inquiry into English learning. It is not an easy job for the teacher to keep the students engaged in the inquiry learning process unless there is a conducive learning environment that includes an interesting topic, a space for questioning, thinking and bringing prior knowledge into the classroom. Therefore, to address this challenge, an interesting topic should be selected and introduced to students through explaining inquiry practices, task objectives and task expectations. 2. Classroom and time management: These are main challenges that may affect the implementation of IBL in the English classroom. For example, the students may struggle in completing their tasks due to the lack of time to brainstorm, ask questions or discuss. Hence to deal with such challenges, it is important that there is a careful planning and development of strategies for cooperation, classroom interaction and assessment. 3. Low level language proficiency: This is another significant challenge in teaching English as inquiry because teachers cannot implement a successful incorporation of inquiry and expect high outcomes from their students if the task does not match the studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; level of language proficiency. For example, the teacher cannot expect from students who struggle in writing a paragraph in English to write a complete research or a student who has a reading difficulty to research and collect information in English with no trouble. Therefore, to deal with such an issue, teachers can accept little work at the beginning of the learning process. In addition, teachers should assist their students in selecting websites and links that are not too complex or challenging. Teachers can also allow those students to search and read documents written in their native language and encourage them to express their findings using their own words in English. 4. Technology usage: Technology is also one of the significant challenges that may prevent teachers or students from completing IBL tasks in the English classroom. Learning through inquiry requires teachers and students to investigate, gather information and plan through using different computing and networking technologies. For example, students are expected to have adequate knowledge and skills of using PowerPoint to present their findings inside the English classroom. If not, then it is the teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s role to provide guidance to those students on how to use technology and reduce this gradually by the time they improve. In order for teachers to do so, they are also expected to be well prepared and knowledgeable enough of using these technology techniques. 205

Conclusion This paper shed light on inquiry-based learning as a student-centered approach that can be incorporated into ELT and all disciplines to actively engage students in a deep understanding of the concepts and skills related to your course. Also considering the benefits of integrating IBL and implementing its steps successfully in your instruction can transform your students from passive receptionists to positive life-long learners, better inquirers and true world reformers. Thus to ensure this, it is essential that the studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; potentials, prior knowledge and experience are identified with relevance to using inquiry-based tasks. This will enable you plan and apply IBL productively considering the amount of guidance and assistance you need to give your students. Consequently, your students will effectively develop their language proficiency and other major skills including questioning, research and critical thinking. References Bond, T. (2001). SAUCE: a handbook for teachers. Kannula Grove Press. Retrieved August 30, 2013 from: Brophy, J., & Good, T. (1986). Teacher behavior and student achievement. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3), (pp. 28-375). New York: Macmillan. Colwell, A. (2004). An Exploration of inquiry in the English classroom. Retrieved August 30, 2013 from: Stephenson, N. (2007). Inquiry principle # 4, assessment for learning. Retrieved 30, 2013 from Dewey, J. (1897). My pedagogical creed. The Schools Journal, LIV (3), 77-80. Retrieved August 30, 2013 from pedagogical-creed. Doyle, S. C. (1994). Information literacy in an information society: A Concept for the information age. Retrieved 30, 2013 from: =PA1&dq=doyle+1994+information+literacy&ots=czSt5M54Hb&sig=uEo KTxZYirynSZQnZjOkGxY1ZGM&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=doyle%2019 94%20information%20literacy&f=false Lane, L. J. (2007). Inquiry-based Learning. Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. Penn State. University Park. Lee, V. S., (Ed.) (2004). Teaching and learning through inquiry: A Guidebook for institutions and instructors. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus. Prince, M. J. and R. M. Felder (2006). Inductive teaching and learning methods: Definitions, comparisons, and research bases. Journal of Engineering Education (95), 123-138.


University of Sheffield (2007). Modeling the process of research within the student learning experience. Retrieved August 30, 2013 from: Wiggins, G., P. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from: v=onepage&q&f=false


Critical Thinking for ESOL Writing Courses Matthew A. Carey Qatar University Abstract Implementing critical thinking within the classroom has been a goal of many educators since at least 1929 (Wass, Harland, Mercer, 2011), but many educators have trouble conceptualizing what critical thinking should look like within the context of ESOL writing courses. The concept of critical thinking itself has been repeatedly defined in many different ways in the existing body of literature. This article explores existing and sometimes conflicting understandings of critical thinking. In addition, several classroom techniques that can be utilized to encourage critical thinking in ESOL writing courses are introduced. Moreover, the theoretical groundings for each technique are presented based on existing literature from the fields of TESOL and other educational fields. Introduction While encouraging students to think critically is often cited as a goal of many ESOL educators and other educators in general, there is often a question as to what defines critical thinking. In fact, there is evidence that points to the notion that many educators have weak or conflicting understandings of critical thinking skills. Fox (1994) reports that in interviews conducted with university professors who had extensive experience with L2 learners of English, the professors were often able to identify characteristics of “good analysis” or “difficulty with analysis” in their students’ writings. However, when professors were asked to define the terms analysis or analytical writing, they often struggled with creating solid definitions of these terms. Many ESL and EFL programs in the Arabian Gulf and worldwide are continuously searching for the best ways to integrate critical thinking into their curriculums. While students can be taught to utilize critical thinking skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, this article will focus primarily on methods that help students to develop critical thinking skills in writing. Further discussion in this article will focus on existing definitions of critical thinking and practices that can be implemented in the classroom to help students to develop both their critical thinking skills and their writing skills. Definitions of Critical Thinking Before educators decide to integrate critical thinking into the classroom, those who design and determine curriculum must decide what definition of critical thinking is most useful for meeting student needs. Upon examining the existing literature on critical thinking two major schools of thought become salient with regard to the reasons for and the desired outcomes of the critical thinking process. 208

One school of thought focuses more on the use of critical thinking for decision making. Under this classification critical thinking seems to be seen as a means to an end or as a way to make value judgments. Paul, Elder, and Batell (1997) defined critical thinking as, “thinking that explicitly aims at well-founded judgment and hence utilizes appropriate evaluative standards in the attempt to determine the true worth, merit, or value of something.” Another definition of critical thinking that seems to follow a similar philosophical orientation was presented by Halpern (1997) who stated that critical thinking is the, “use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome. It is used to describe thinking that is purposeful, reasoned, and goal directed.”(p.4) A second and perhaps less examined philosophy regarding the definition and use of critical thinking in the classroom was presented by Brookfield. Brookfield (2012) suggested that critical thinking can be looked at from more of a discipline reflective and self-reflective point of view. Brookfield supported his position that critical thinking is instrumental in the development of both individuals and academic disciplines by proposing the following four-point definition. “Critical thinking is: (1.) Identifying the assumptions that frame our thinking and determine our actions; (2.) Checking out the degree to which these assumptions are accurate and valid; (3.) Looking at our ideas and decisions from several different perspectives; (4.) On the basis of all this, taking informed actions.” (Brookfield, 2012, p.1) Examples of Brookfield’s interpretation of critical thinking can be found in many a U.S. university’s general curriculum courses. Recently many U.S. universities have specifically designed courses that explicitly teach critical thinking skills to entering freshmen. In one such course cited in Carroll (2007) students were asked to examine “weird things” such as astrology, parapsychology, communicating with the dead, ghosts, and other unexplained phenomena. They were then encouraged to examine their own assumptions and consider alternative explanations of these events. At no point were students encouraged to change their beliefs. Rather, the goal of this particular class was to have students examine their own beliefs and find support for them. Caroll (2007) found that students would often leave this class finding unclear or conflicting evidence on the topics that they investigated, thus leaving them with more questions than answers. Caroll’s findings support Brookfield’s definition of critical thinking as being part of a developmental process, and one could argue that the presence of an increasing number of student-generated questions is evidence of the development of more critical minds.


Should Critical Thinking be taught in L2 English Courses? In addition to deciding what definition of critical thinking best suits learners and educators’ needs, curriculum designers need to consider whether it is appropriate or even beneficial to integrate the teaching of critical thinking skills into their curriculums. Many might simply say, “Yes, critical thinking must be taught to English language learners.” However, a more critical approach to critical thinking would examine the pros, cons, and opportunity costs involved with integrating the teaching of critical thinking skills into the curriculum. Before immediately advocating the direct teaching of critical thinking skills, educators need to question if time spent on critical thinking could be better spent on teaching grammar or vocabulary skills, particularly with low level learners. Also, if learners already possess adequate critical thinking skills, direct teaching of these skills in their second language may be considered patronizing to them. Ultimately, the question is whether the benefits of teaching critical thinking in the classroom outweigh the costs. Some researchers have presented arguments suggesting that ESOL educators should not teach critical thinking skills to their students. Many of the arguments against teaching critical thinking skills rest on the premise that the definition of critical thinking is a social construct (Atkinson, 1997). Researchers have argued that since critical thinking is a social construct that educators should be wary of forcing a western-oriented, dominant ideology upon learners from minority cultures. In addition, as previously cited in Fox (1994) many educators have trouble defining terms related to critical thinking. However, perhaps one of the best arguments against teaching critical thinking skills to L2 learners is that studies on the effectiveness of teaching critical thinking skills to L1 learners have yielded results that were not always positive. Psychologists and cognitive scientists have tested the assumption that thinking skills that are taught and can be extrapolated to other situations by the student; unfortunately, many of the results of these tests with L1 populations have been mixed (Atkinson, 1997). In contrast to the aforementioned arguments, there are many researchers that advocate the teaching of critical thinking skills in the ESOL classroom. It has been suggested that although definitions of critical thinking can vary, if curriculum designers decide on a clear definition of the skills that they wish to include in their curriculum, critical thinking skills can be successfully integrated into ESOL curriculums. In concluding a study focusing on journalism instructors’ understandings of critical thinking skills Ruminski and Hanks (1995) argued that for curriculum and assessment purposes instructors should clearly define critical thinking for their specific curriculums. In addition, Ennis (1996) argued that the alternative to critical thinking, which he posits as “believing everything that you read and hear,” probably would not be acceptable in most cultures worldwide. Indeed, one can think of very few educators that would advocate that learners believe everything that they see or hear and not ask questions. Finally, in contrast to the mixed results of studies on L1 learners’ 210

extrapolation of critical thinking skills to other situations, Davidson and Dunham (1997) presented a study in which using the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test, a group of Japanese college students who received instruction in critical thinking skills outperformed a control group that had received only content based instruction. It would seem that implementing the teaching of critical thinking skills in ESOL curriculums is beneficial with regards to student development. However, it is essential that curriculum designers agree on a definition of critical thinking that can be successfully implemented in curriculum and assessment. In addition, educators need to consider the costs and benefits of directly teaching critical thinking skills with regards to the needs of their target learner population. Strategies for Integrating Critical Thinking into the ESOL Writing Classroom The following three teaching strategies have proved useful in many classrooms and are supported by existing literature in the fields of TESOL and other education focused disciplines. Each teaching strategy is described below in detail with a discussion of how existing research supports the proposed strategy. Strategy #1: Setting Objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy In their teaching licensure programs many content teachers in the United States are taught to implement lesson objectives into each daily lesson plan that emphasize critical thinking. In addition, many gulf university ESOL programs write student learning objectives into their syllabi that encourage students to develop critical thinking skills throughout the course of each class. One way to write learning objectives that attempts to address the integration of critical skills into the curriculum is to write objectives utilizing verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956). Objectives should be written clearly, and the verbs used in each objective statement should correspond to a level within Bloom’s Taxonomy. A quick Internet search using any search engine and inputting the words “Bloom’s Taxonomy with verbs” will yield links to charts that display suggested verbs that correspond to each level on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Examples of clearly written objectives using verbs that correspond to levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy are written below. The verbs have been bolded and underlined, and the corresponding Bloom’s Taxonomy level is noted after the objective. Students will be able to explain some of the existing definitions of critical thinking found in the literature. – Comprehension. Students will be able to justify whether or not critical thinking has a place in the ESOL classroom and give reasons as to why. – Evaluation Students will be able to apply at least one of several techniques discussed in this reading to help their learners develop critical thinking skills in writing courses. – Application 211

For the reader’s reference, the original version of Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) and an updated version proposed by Anderson & Krathwohl (2001) are shown in Figures 1 and 2. The taxonomy was originally designed to suggest a ranking of higher order thinking skills with the more difficult skills towards the top of the pyramid. It is suggested that educators do not solely focus on one level of the pyramid. However, to develop students’ higher order thinking skills, it is important to set objectives that challenge students to utilize their higher order thinking abilities.

Figure 1: Bloom (1956)

Figures 1& 2: Anderson & Krathwohl (2001) Strategy #2: The Reason Assembly Chart The Reason Assembly Chart (RAC) is a graphic organizer that provides students with help in defining an issue, seeing the issue from multiple points of view, evaluating the evidence, and finally making a decision, be it a value judgment or a proposed solution. Reason Assembly Charts can be used for whole class discussion, in conjunction with assigned readings, or during competitive class debates. A model of the Reason Assembly Chart is provided in Figures 3 and 4. Using the RAC as a tool for scaffolding student analysis enables students to critically examine an issue from multiple viewpoints before beginning a productive task like speaking or writing about the topic. The first step in implementing RAC analysis is to define the value question. For readers of this article, a question that could undergo RAC analysis could be, “Should ESOL Educators teach critical thinking?” Second, in using RAC analysis, it is suggested that students withhold any judgments that they may have already made on the issue and write down possible arguments for both sides of the issue on the T-Chart. In an attempt to answer the current value question of, “Should ESOL Educators teach critical thinking?” Reasons for and against each argument that have been taken from the literature can be found in Figure 3. Finally, after examining both sides of the argument students are encouraged to draw their own conclusions and make an argumentative paragraph that includes support in the bottom section of the RAC as shown in Figure 4. A review of the 212

text under the heading Should Critical Thinking be Taught in L2 English Courses? Below should provide readers with an adequate example of how RAC analysis can facilitate structured, critical writing in ESOL classes.

Figure 3: Value Question and Analysis

Figure 4: Reason Assembly Chart With regards to the Gulf ESOL writing class context, at Qatar University value questions that have proven useful for RAC analysis include: â&#x20AC;&#x153;(1.) Should Qatar 213

get involved in Syria? (2.) Should state schools and private schools teach the same curriculum? (3.) Should women study after marriage? (4.) Should Qatar University be an all Arabic language university? (5.) Should alcohol be served on Qatar Airways flights?” (Miller, 2013) Sociocultural learning theory lends strong support to the use of RAC analysis in the writing classroom as it can be used as a self-scaffolding tool to help developing writers reach the next level within their Zone of Proximal Development. To clarify, in Sociocultural Learning Theory, The Zone of Proximal Development is defined as, “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). Scaffolding within the Zone of Proximal development can be simply understood as the support given by teachers or peers to help students reach their next developmental level as defined by the Zone of Proximal Development. When a more capable peer or teacher is not available, tools like RAC analysis can help students to break down more difficult, higher order thinking tasks, which often involve making judgments or evaluating alternatives, into smaller, more manageable tasks. Strategy #3: Critical Reading Questions It is often asserted that one of the best ways to become a better writer is to read well-written texts from expert writers. ESOL Teachers can encourage students to engage in critical reading activities by creating questions that direct students to think more deeply about what they read. In one university writing class at Qatar University students were asked to answer questions about assigned readings as a type of formative assessment. Students were encouraged to write a few paragraphs in response to a writing prompt about a text that they had read. However, the writing assignments were only graded based on whether the student attempted to complete the writing assignment or not. In addition, as these writing assignments were considered as formative assessments in preparation for longer, and more complex summative essay writing assignments, these assignments contributed to only a very small percentage of the student’s overall grade. Many writing teachers used these assignments as a low-stakes way of evaluating and giving feedback to student writers regarding content, focus, and support in the students’ writings. Since teachers gave this formative feedback earlier, students had a better understanding of what was expected of them with regards to construction of written arguments and support in preparation for more comprehensive, summative assessments. Examples of a few of the critical reading prompts utilized in the aforementioned writing class are listed below. (1.) Discussion Question: As stated in the reading, in 1997 the European Union recognized the status of animals as “sentient beings.” What are sentient beings? 214

Do you think that animals, as sentient beings, should have the same rights that humans have? Why or why not? Explain. (Bloom Levels: Knowledge and Evaluation; Verbs: Define, Appraise, Argue) (2.) Discussion Question: Imagine that you are a representative of Origen Therapeutics or Embrex, and you had to give a speech on the benefits of cloning chickens. What arguments would you present to encourage people to buy your cloned chickens? (Bloom Level: Evaluation; Verb: Argue) (3). Discussion Question: In this writing exercise you will speak from the point of view of someone who is for animal rights. You have just read Fernando’s essay titled, “Against Animal Rights.” Write a one paragraph refutation against one of the main ideas that was presented in one of Fernando’s topic sentences. (Bloom Level: Evaluation; Verb: Argue) When creating critical reading questions based on course content, curriculum designers should justify how each question will encourage students to think critically when writing a response. In the examples above, the bolded annotations indicate higher order thinking skills based on the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The Bloom levels and the verbs describing the higher order thinking task that the student is asked to perform are noted next to the question. However, when prompts are actually presented to students, such annotations are not necessary. As Bloom’s Taxonomy was utilized in the creation of these prompts, students are encouraged to use higher order thinking skills in completing these smaller, formative writing assignments. Also, under Sociocultural learning theory, the argument could be made that these smaller assignments serve as scaffolds to prepare students for the more involved task of composing longer essays that have a strong thesis, main ideas, and adequate supporting details. Designing Critical Thinking Activities for ESOL Writing Courses Curriculum must be aligned with learning objectives to guide students to the desired learning outcomes. It would seem that one of the main problems that many university level writing courses have with integrating critical thinking into the classroom is that educators have varying definitions of what constitutes critical thinking or that these definitions are not made clear to students. In an effort to better guide students and to make assessments of critical thinking more fair and measurable, some universities have created guidelines for their faculty for assessing critical thinking. In turn, these assessment guides have led to the design of more objective driven curriculums with regards to critical thinking skills. A sample of guidelines that are currently being used by university faculty in integrating critical thinking into curriculum and assessment can be found in the Washington State University Guide to Rating Critical Thinking, which states that critical thinking involves: “(1.) Identification of a problem or issue; (2.) Establishment of a clear perspective on this issue; (3.) Recognition of alternate perspectives; (4.) Location of the issue within an appropriate context; (5.) 215

Identification and evaluation of evidence; (6.) Recognition of fundamental assumptions implicit or stated by the representation of an issue; (7.) Assessment of implications and potential conclusions.” (Condon & Kelly-Riley 2004) Guidelines such as these can be very useful for instructors who wish to design activities for the classroom that meet curricular objectives and encourage critical thinking. Literature that suggests guidelines similar to the ones mentioned above is numerous and easy to find. However, it would seem that there are four major questions that writing instructors should ask themselves when designing curriculum with the intention of helping students to become better critical thinkers: (1.) Does the activity require students to identify or define a problem? (2.) Does the activity encourage students to find multiple potential solutions? (3.) Does the activity encourage students to gather and question evidence? (4.) Does the activity ask the student to consider multiple points of view? Curriculum and instructional activities that are designed with these goals in mind are more likely to elicit the use of students’ higher order thinking skills. Conclusion In conclusion, there is no one, best way to implement critical thinking into the ESOL writing classroom. However, any steps that curriculum designers and educators decide to implement in the classroom should be well-researched, justifiable, and designed with the objective of helping students to develop higher order thinking skills. Developing a curriculum that encourages students to think critically necessitates that teachers think critically about its design. References Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives: Complete edition. New York: Longman. Atkinson, D. (1997). A critical approach to critical thinking in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 31, 71–94. Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York, NY: David McKay. Brookfield, S. D. (2012). Teaching for critical thinking: Tools and techniques to help students question their assumptions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Carroll, D. W. (2007). Patterns of student writing in a critical thinking course: A quantitative analysis. Assessing Writing, 12, 213–227. Condon, W. & Kelly-Riley, D. (2004). Assessing and teaching what we value: The relationship between college-level writing and critical thinking abilities. Assessing Writing, 9(1), 56-75.


Davidson, B., & Dunham, R. (1997). Assessing EFL student progress in critical thinking with the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test. JALT Journal, 19, 43–57. th Ennis, R. (1996). Is critical thinking culturally biased? Paper presented at the 16 Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform, Rohnert Park, CA. Fox, H. (1994). Listening to the world: Cultural issues in academic writing. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. Halpern, D. F. (1997). Critical thinking across the curriculum: A brief edition of thought and knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Miller, G. (2013). Developing critical thinking in the writing classroom: Combining cognitive principles of memory and issue enquiry to improve critical thinking skills. Paper presented at Qatar University’s 2013 English Language Forum: Texts, Writers, and Readers, Doha, Qatar. Paul, R. W., Elder, L., and Batell, T. (1997). California Teacher Preparation for Instruction in Critical Thinking: Research Findings and Policy Recommendations. Sacramento, CA: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Ruminski, H. J., & Hanks, W. E. (1995). Critical thinking lacks definition and uniform evaluation criteria. Journalism and Mass Education Educator, 50(3), 4–11. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Schribner & E. Souberman, Eds. & Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wass, R., Harland, T., & Mercer, A. (2011). Scaffolding critical thinking in the zone of proximal development. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(3), 317-328.


Tertiary English Medium Instruction to Arab Learners in the UAE: A Policy Perspective Mick King Middlesex University, Dubai Introduction English as a medium of instruction (EMI) is an integral part of tertiary education in the United Arab Emirates. Both in the government and private sectors the provision of EMI is widespread. Due to the cosmopolitan nature of residents in the country, the use of an international language or lingua franca would appear to be a pragmatic decision when the student body is multi-national. However, there is widespread evidence of its use when all students in the classroom share a mother tongue (Kirkpatrick, 2006, Kennetz, van den Hoven & Parkman, 2011; Ahmed, 2010). The decision to use another language for instruction in the Arabic speaking classroom is one which needs justification and is likely to cause debate among its many stakeholders. It is a major policy decision and, though contested in other countries, has until recently remained largely uncontested in official UAE circles. This paper aims to review the various issues surrounding this phenomenon by first considering the context of EMI in the UAE and then considering policy aspects of the debate. EMI in the UAE The socio-cultural diversity of the UAE - more than 80% are non-Emirati (Fox, 2007; Wilkins, 2011) - means there are various lingua francas. Arabic is the official language but English is recognized as the main de facto language (Piller, 2009). EMI in education has been evident ever since the 1970s when the UAE University was established (Fox, 2007) but at various points in time since then the position of EMI has been central to a language debate which has gained considerable media attention in recent years. Lepeska (2010) indicates the importance of language to national identity but in the case of Arabic, Piller contests that its Modern Standard variety is weak, given the many vernaculars more commonly used across the Middle East and North Africa. Despite this, the recent establishment of an Arabic Charter to protect and promote the language, driven in no small part by frequent lobbying from the Federal National Council (FNC), means that the use of EMI in the UAE is under scrutiny. UAE language policy in education is made within an environment which Lane (2010) sees as quite fractured as various regulatory bodies are responsible for policy and quality control at the national and emirate level. However, a vision which appears to be stable in governmental policy is the creation of an internationally-oriented Emirati workforce which will take on a relevant role in the knowledge economy. Part of this goal requires a mastery of the international lingua franca: English. To accomplish this there has been a heavy reliance on 218

foreign expertise to guide English teaching in schools, which has not always been welcomed by non-native speaker teachers (Dakkak, 2011). The pre-tertiary public sector is still predominantly an Arabic environment but there is evidence of a move to EMI for core subjects in some schools (UAE 2010, 2010). The increase in pre-tertiary private education means that large numbers of Emiratis are now leaving the public sector and opting for private education (Schools, 2012) where EMI is predominant. The poor performance of pupils in both Arabic and English (Farah & Ridge, 2009) has prompted some schools to move to bilingual models of education (Al Najami, 2007) but there is still no concrete evidence that language skills are improving. This means that currently if Arabic students want to move to tertiary education where EMI is used, they are likely to do so without having an internationally recognised level of English for college or university study. The tertiary sector is also growing (The higher education landscape, 2012) and federal universities alongside other institutions that attract Arabic speakers still operate a predominantly EMI policy. Due to inadequate English only a small number of Emirati students gain direct access to federal undergraduate programmes (UAE 2010, 2010). This has led to the need for language-focused bridging programmes. These are considered a financial burden on the federal education budget and the long-term governmental aim is to replace them with better English teaching at the primary and secondary level (Randall, 2010). So where does this leave EMI in the tertiary sector? It is possible that in trying to get students to the required level the bar has been set too high as their starting level is too low. On the other hand, it is important to try and meet the vision of the country in creating an internationally oriented workforce with a mastery of the globeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current lingua franca. This must be achieved in an environment where many might be hostile to the continued preference of EMI over the use of Arabic and it certainly provides challenges for institutions, their teachers and their students. In the next section this situation will be considered from the theoretical perspective of educational policy. Policy Issues Most literature on generic policy will point to the stages of policy idea, formulation and implementation but policy is rarely so straightforward; it is more likely to be political and fuzzy (Bell & Stevenson, 2006) and will rarely include in its formulation those tasked with implementing it (Ball, 2007). For this reason, policy is often contested rather than accepted (ibid.). This contestation can occur at all stages of the policy process as stakeholders lobby to be heard. According to Randall (2011) and Rivzi (2007), UAE education policy is influenced by neoliberal and socio-economic goals, and tends to follow Western models (Findlow,


2005). As a result, the subsequent balancing act between pan-Arabism and Americanism has the potential to lead to conflict (ibid.) If contestation occurs at the implementation stage, then the implementers (institutions, teachers and even students) are more likely to enact rather implement (Braun, McGuire & Ball, 2010). In other words, there will be local interpretations of policy driven on the one hand by feeling ostracized at the idea and formulation stages and on the other hand by trying to make a policy fit into their local context. For example, physical, financial and human resources may not be appropriate for the proposed policy so compromises have to be made. This can lead to unintended outcomes (Hill, 2006), which can lead to policy failure. There are various examples in the UAE EMI context where policy might be contested. Warnica (2011) points to the negative reactions of secondary school teachers to foreign advisors, while Dakkak (2011) suggests that the implementation of new EMI-driven curricula is happening too fast to be successfully assimilated. It is possible that the emergence of EMI is seen as a sign of linguistic imperialism from the West (Phillipson, 1992) to the detriment of Arabic. Indeed, Troudi and Jendli (2011) in their study of student views on EMI in the UAE found that some students, while not necessarily fond of English, were very conscious of its importance for their futures, thereby betraying a grudging acceptance of the status quo. Troudi and Jendli continue that while EMI is contested in many countries (see for example, McKay, 2006; Prodromou, 2006) it remains relatively uncontested in Arab countries. It is therefore pertinent to consider why this might be and one way to do this is to consider the advantages of its use in the tertiary sector. One advantage is that foreign curricula taught in English will tend to have an existing framework which has proven to be successful elsewhere. These programmes can provide international accreditation (Hardcastle, 2007) which is so important in the quality-driven environments that seem to predominate globally. It must also be recognised that a mastery of English post-graduation can open up international job postings. Similarly, it can allow students the possibility to study wherever EMI is used. One final advantage is that it creates a theoretical elite as students with a good mastery of English have an advantage over students who do not. Those of an egalitarian nature may argue that education should not be about creating these divisions but in a neo-liberal environment such elitism is more likely to be promoted. Taking this last point into account, one also needs to consider the potential disadvantages of EMI. If a system is created where EMI predominates, then this removes the sense of elitism but Troudi and Jendli (2011) argue that it may also be a violation of the human right to study in your mother tongue. Janks (2010) believes that such a policy â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; those teachers who do not use English as their L1. In line with this view, Troudi (2009) posits that L2 learners are also disadvantaged as they are unlikely to perform to their full potential. This is 220

certainly the case if they have not been exposed to the target language from a young age. Troudi continues by making the pertinent point that in academic research there is no clear cut pedagogical evidence of the benefits of EMI. Current Challenges and Possible Solutions Looking at the UAE EMI context and considering it through the lens of policy contestation, there are a number of challenges to consider. One has to be the marrying of well-intentioned government strategy for the creation of an internationally-oriented workforce that masters English with the acceptance that currently many Arabic students entering and studying in further and higher education in the UAE do not have and are unlikely to achieve that mastery. If this is the case, then it might be a fallacy to make native-speaker proficiency a goal, at least for the time being. As the teaching of English is being promoted more at the primary and secondary level it is possible that in the future students will arrive at college and university with an acceptable level of English. For now, pushing students to reach levels of English proficiency in bridging programmes which are quite possibly beyond them has the potential to lead teachers to adopt teaching to the test strategies to get students through. This can be seen as a classic example of enactment as opposed to implementation. The position of Arabic is one that is also important for a sense of national identity and as English tuition is emphasised more in schools there is a danger that it is seen as a threat to this identity. Clarke (2006) notes that key subjects are now being taught in English and Farah and Ridge (2009) also refer to the asymmetric relationship between Arabic and English, with the latter seeming to overshadow the former. Alongside this imported language is the use of imported pedagogy, so school pupils are faced not only by a different language but also by a different way of learning. This is a considerable cognitive load and there is a danger that learners may be overwhelmed. A key to any policy is that it is well-researched and that all stakeholders are consulted at the idea and formulation stage. It is easy to criticize with hindsight but it is possible that the implementation of EMI in the UAE originally occurred without sufficient input from teaching institutions, teachers and learners. Consequently, it is less likely that they implement policy as planned, preferring to enact policy to make it work in their local contexts. Introducing EMI initially in higher education has also had its problems. Current strategies would support this view as the emphasis has moved to introducing English much earlier in the educational system. What is important to consider is that any strategy needs time and patience on the sides of all stakeholders. The eagerness to make something work quickly must be tempered by Bell and Stephensonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (2006) realization that policy is political and fuzzy. Uncertainty must be embraced as an integral part of policy and revisions need to be made in a cooperative environment. If this happens, the 221

goal of English mastery achieved prior to tertiary education might be achieved. How that is achieved also needs to be debated. Is EMI the best approach? Should a bilingual model be used? Should ESL/EFL models like content and language integrated learning be employed? While educational experts will have their views on the matter, it is perhaps teachers and learners who are best placed to answer that question. They will be the implementers and end-users of the policy so if the goal is implementation rather than enactment, their views should be central to policy formulation. References Ahmed, K. (2010). English in the Arab Gulf. Asian Journal of University Education, 6/1:1-12. Al Najami, S. (2007, October 18). Bilingual Eductaion Hangs in the Balance for Schools. Gulf News. Retrieved July 7th, 2012, from: Ball, S. J. (2007). Big policies/small world: An introduction to international perspectives in education policy. In B. Lingard and J. Ozga (eds) The Routledge Falmer Reader in education policy and politics, (pp. 36-47), Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Falmer. Bell, L., & Stevenson, H. (2006). Education Policy: Process, Themes & Impact. London: Routledge. Braun, A., Maguire, M., & Ball, S. J. (2010). Policy enactments in the UK secondary school: Examining policy, practice and school positioning. Journal of Education Policy, 25/4:547-560. Retrieved May 31, 2012, from Clarke, M. (2006). Beyond antagonism? The discursive construction of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;newâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; teachers in the United Arab Emirates. Teaching Education, 17/3:225-237. Dakkak, N. (2011). Obstacles towards curriculum reform in the Middle East: Using Jordan and the UAE as case studies. Dubai School of Government, Policy Brief No. 28. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: 28%20English.pdf Farah, S., & Ridge, N. (2009). Challenges to curriculum development in the UAE. Dubai School of Government, Policy Brief No. 16. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: 16%20English.pdf Findlow, S. (2005). International networking in the United Arab Emirates higher education system: Global and local tensions. Compare, 35/3:285-302. Retrieved May 25, 2012, from:


Fox, W. H. (2007). The United Arab Emirates: Policy Choices shaping the future of public higher education. Research & Occasional Paper Series: CSHE.13.07 Center for Studies in Higher Education. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: Policy.7.21.07.pdf. July 8 2012 Hardcastle, P. (2007). Standards-based curricula and standardized testing: Conflict or collaboration? In C. Coombe, P. Davidson & D. Lloyd (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th and 10th Current Trends in English Language Testing (CTELT) conferences, Vol. 5 (pp. 164-181). Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Hill, D. (2006). New Labourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Education Policy. In D. Kassen, E. Mufti and J. Robinson (eds), Educational studies issues and critical perspectives, (pp.73-86), Maidenhead, Open University Press. Janks. H. (2010). Literacy and Power. New York: Routledge. Kennetz, K., van den Hoven, M., & Parkman, S. (2011). Arab studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; attitudes towards varieties of English. In C. Gitsaki (Ed.), Teaching and Learning in the Arab World (pp. 139-160). Berne: Peter Lang. Kirkpatrick, A. (2006). Which model of English: Native speaker, nativized or lingua franca? In R.Rudby, & M.Saraceni (Eds.), English in the World: Global Rules, Global Roles. (pp. 71-83). London: Continuum. Lane, J. E. (2010). International branch campuses, free zones, and quality assurance: Policy issues for Dubai and the UAE. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: nuID=11&mnu=Pri Lepeska, D. (2010, March 26). Qatari professor urges massive effort to prevent death of Arabic. The National. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: McKay, S. L. (2006). EIL curriculum development. In R.Rudby, & M.Saraceni (Eds.), English in the World: Global Rules, Global Roles. (pp. 114-129). London: Continuum. Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Piller, I. (2009, December 20). Where is the Arabic? Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: Prodromou, L. (2006). Defining the 'successful bilingual speaker' of English. In R.Rudby, & M.Saraceni (Eds.), English in the World: Global Rules, Global Roles. (pp. 51-70). London: Continuum. Randall, M. (2010, January 27). English obsession is a threat to the mother tongue. The National. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: Randall, M. (2011). Global trends and their impact on higher education in the UAE. In Education in the UAE: Current Status and Future Developments, (pp. 183-205). Abu Dhabi: Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies & Research. 223

Rivzi, F. (2007). Debating globalisation and education after September 11. In B. Lingard and J. Ozga (eds) The Routledge Falmer Reader in education policy and politics, (pp. 23-35), Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge Falmer. Schools. (2012). Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: The higher education landscape in Dubai 2011. (2012). Dubai: KHDA. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: Landscape%202011En.pdf Troudi, S. (2009). The Effects of English as a Medium of Instruction on Arabic as a language of science and Academia. In P. Wachob (Ed.), Power In The EFL Classroom: Critical Pedagogy In The Middle East (pp. 199-216). Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Troudi, S., and Jendli, A. (2011). Emirati Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; experiences of English as a medium of instruction. In A. Al-Issa and L.S. Dahan (eds.), Global English and Arabic: Issues of Language, Culture and Identity, (pp. 23-48).Berne: Peter Lang, UAE 2010. (2010). London: Trident Press. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from: 8th July Warnica, E.J. (2011). The dilemma of foreign advisors in the UAE education sector. In Education in the UAE: Current Status and Future Developments, (pp. 171-182). Abu Dhabi: Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies & Research. Wilkins, S. (2011). Who benefits from foreign universities in the Arab Gulf States? Australian Universities' Review, 53 (1), pp. 73-83.


TEFL Status Quo & Language Policy in Tunisia: State of the Art Samira Abdelaziz Boukadi CERT/ HCT Abstract Since 1994, various policies and guidelines, pertaining to modifying the language policy in Tunisia have been disseminated. All of these policies highlighted the importance of English as a global language. Despite all these policies and guidelines, the English language is still experiencing problems within schools and society alike. These problems prevent the language from developing and functioning accurately in the country. The actual requirements of English language learning are still not integrated into the general considerations of the political agenda. In order to determine what factors teachers perceive as important with regard to the situation of the English language in Tunisia, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research approaches were conducted. The data was gathered by means of an intensive literature study, as well as utilisation of surveys and interviews. After analysing the data, specific conclusions were reached. The findings of my research indicate certain trends, for instance the discrepancy between policy makers’ practises and the teachers’ expectations of change. Additionally, the research highlighted teachers’ needs and desires for a better future. Certain recommendations in this regard have been made. Recommendations on how a clear vision could assist with the attainment of the best linguistic situation in Tunisia have also been made. The recommendations with regard to the study could be utilised to support the national educational reform post revolution in Tunisia in order to promote English language teaching and cope with globalization across the world. Introduction This paper is a summary of the research I carried out between 2011 and 2013, and which was also presented at the TESOL Arabia conference March 14, 2013. It was an investigation into teachers' perceptions about the future of English language teaching and learning in Tunisia after the 2011 revolution. The study Context Tunisian society is homogeneous; it consists of ninety nine per cent Arab people who speak the same language, Arabic (L1), but with different accents. French (L2) was officially declared the second language after the independence from the French colonization in 1956, ever since the French language has had a strong influence on education. Daoud, (2001) claimed “Even though Tunisia is an Arab country where Arabic is the official language, the current language situation is complex and dynamic. Over the last 100 years or so, and particularly since independence from France in 1956, different generations of Tunisians have had 225

different experiences with the languages used in the social and work environment, the educational system, government, and the mediaâ&#x20AC;?. (Daoud, 2001, p.2) Nowadays, English, which has for a long time been considered a foreign language (FL), is gaining ground over French (L2) in schools with the globalization movement and the expansion of technology. Harrabi (2010) said that the growth of business and increased job-related mobility is resulting in a need for English as a common medium of communication. (As reported in Daoud, 2001) Additionally, language has always been associated with culture and identity, language is rooted in culture and culture is reflected and passed on by language from one generation to the next (Emmitt & Pollock, 1997). And learning a new language involves the learning of a new culture (Allwright & Bailey, 1991). However, the question in the Tunisian context is deeper than favouring L2 or marginalizing L1. Up to date French has been mainly an instructional medium for scientific subjects at schools and universities alike, whereas English is seen as a language of research for advanced studies. I have added Tunisia to the expanding circle originally designed by Kachru in 1985 for a clearer view.


Language Circles, adapted from Kachru (1985) The linguistic situation in Tunisia The linguistic situation is complex, people in Tunisia speak and write more than one language. They speak Arabic, which is the native language; they also speak French and English. Additionally some people speak languages such as German, Spanish and Italian, and this is due to historical and cultural reasons as outlined below.


History of languages in Tunisia Research questions Two fundamental questions guided my study: 1. What do EFL teachers in Tunisia think of the current approach to TEFL? 2. What are the main elements of the current national debate about the projected language policy in Tunisia? Rationale and significance of the study Throughout my investigation I intend to illuminate myself and readers. I will provide a comprehensive picture of language and mainly TEFL policy in Tunisia. My study addresses the following aims with a prospective view which may serve future developments. 1. To explore experiences of TEFL teachers and their understanding of language policies. 2. To gain awareness of the current situation in Tunisia and the kind of initiatives teachers in the field undertake and the reasons and factors which affect their choice. 3. To provide teachers with the opportunity to voice their views on how TEFL can be improved in their own context. 4. To create an awareness of all the above among teachers, the local community, and policy makers in order to consider the implications of the study for improving TEFL’s situation in Tunisia. Theoretical framework The study is informed by the following socio-cultural perspective; learning is the process of understanding how to participate in the discourse and practices of a particular community (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Vygotsky, 1978). Repeated social interactions gradually help researchers make sense of these experiences on a higher and abstract level (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Teachers have different beliefs and perceptions about the situation of Teaching English in Tunisia. These beliefs reflect teachers’ attitudes and practices as noted by Richards and Lockhart “what 227

teachers do is a reflection of what they know and believe” (Richards and Lockhart, 1996, p. 29). Methodology The study is exploratory in design; and qualitative in nature seeking information. It is based on a mixed-method approach, but mainly qualitative, seeking a wide range of in-depth information in order to understand better teachers’ perceptions about TEFL status quo and the current Language Policy in Tunisia. Therefore, it is about collecting and analysing descriptive data, while focusing on people’s attitudes and beliefs. The mixed-method approach helps widen the range of data and ensures variety as well as credibility. The design of the current research follows suggestions made in Creswell (2003); the mixed- method in exploratory research follows a sequential design, for instance open-ended interviews then a survey instrument. The Participants The table below summarises the participants’ information, they all volunteered and contributed generously to the study. Pseudonym




























































Diploma + IMEF Doctoral student



6 2

Additional information Secondary teacher Inspector secondary Teacher. Trainer primary preparatory teacher Secondary teacher Secondary teacher Primary teacher Primary teacher Secondary level teacher Preparatory teacher Primary teacher doctoral student

Findings of the study Findings from my study can be broadly categorised into two key ideas: Firstly, the disjunction between EFL teachers’ actual perceptions and desires about TEFL future and the policymakers’ current plans and practices. And secondly, the urgent need for immediate changes in TEFL practices vis-à-vis language policy in the Tunisian educational system. A. Disjunction between perceptions






English language teachers in Tunisia have their own perceptions of an ideal situation for TEFL. However, policymakers have different priorities and are still not implementing the changes requested and expected by the teachers. These disjunctions are noticed in three major areas, the status of the English language, Arabization in education, and foreign intervention in educational reforms. 1. The status of the English language My study shows that teachers believe that along with the trends of globalization and the technology boom, which are heavily felt in Tunisia, TEFL should be given more space and time in curricula in order to help students become global citizens. They expect the authorities to devote more effort and time on how to improve TEFL in schools. But the 2012 political discourse enhances banning the single-foreign-language system that makes the Maghreb - mainly North African countries - Francophone and the Mashreq - Middle East and The Arabian Gulf Anglophone. The data analysis has clearly shown the English teachers’ enthusiasm about enhancing English language learning. For instance, Ines, a teacher trainer, clearly stated that the number of English language classes per week for the students were not sufficient and that students needed more interaction with the English language. The survey item number two reinforced this statement as shown below: Agree 2

The weekly hours for English classes are sufficient


Strongly agree 4


Strongly disagree 70

disagree 5

2. Arabisation in Education My study has also clearly shown that English teachers’ demonstrated enthusiasm about enhancing English language learning either through teaching some school subjects in English, for instance the sciences - or through devoting more focus on TEFL. But, nowadays, policy makers are taking Arabisation in schools and universities more seriously. Nevertheless, this is still at the initial debate stage and no action has been taken in this respect. Therefore, the perception of more English through teaching different subjects via the medium of English, rather than French or Arabic, does not seem either realistic or even plausible. Daoud (1991) argued that Arabisation was not merely an issue that concerns only linguists and educationalists; it was rather a LP issue closely tied to the political, social, and cultural situation prevailing in each Arab country and to the ruling elites' objectives in establishing and maintaining power. A few interview respondents, for example Yasmine and Aziz suggested reinforcing the English language through teaching school subjects in English, for instance the sciences, or through devoting more focus on EFL. Yasmine and five other participants commented on President Marzouki’s opinion about Arabising sciences, and reverting to teaching all subjects through Arabic, which they think is inappropriate at the current time. According to them, this view has a particular agenda, which is ignoring the importance of the English language and the benefits it could bring to the society. The survey items 21 and 22, confirms the view that the government’s agenda contradicts the teachers’ aspirations looking forward changes in language policy. Agree 21 22

The current debate about language policy reflects my aspirations I am looking forward to changes in TEFL policy in Tunisia


Strongly agree 0

Strongly disagree 80

Disagre ed 0





3. Foreign intervention in educational reforms This study also unveiled teachers’ views on foreign intervention in educational reform. A few teachers favour the ministry’s plans to hire agencies in order to evaluate the educational system in Tunisia and have suggested implementing possible reform plans. However, another group of teachers reject this idea and believe that foreign intervention in education reforms perpetuates hegemony and imperialistic ideas. Ali, for example said “I think this would marginalise the local 230

culture and products, for instance school books and extra materials, because foreign agency would recommend foreign materials and reject local ones”. Amine, wondered why a group of researchers from the United States would start a new project in Kairouan to study teacher training programs if they did not have a plan in mind I think this is a new form of imperialism, coming this time through academic research. Additionally Ali, among other teachers, believed that foreign intervention means linguistic imperialism because the transfer of a dominant language means the transfer of aspects of its culture to speakers of other languages. The data suggests that participants have critical awareness of discourses of hegemony and expansionism. They believe foreign intervention and materials marginalise the local culture and products, because foreign agency would automatically recommend foreign materials and reject local ones. B. Desired futures The research reveals that teachers need pragmatic solutions for everyday situations, hence the need to improve the teaching and learning conditions in schools, update curricula, and further develop teachers skills to cope with the challenges of the new globalized learning era. This clearly shows that participants have strong desires to change the traditional views to teaching English as well as the current status of TEFL. Yasmine said “first, we would like to see genuine language classrooms, working students and lots of communication going on.” Ali added “English language classes should be more active.” Emphasising his point Amine stated “English is seen as a subject in schools that kids have to pass and not a language they have to learn and improve skills." Almost all the participants looked forward improving TEFL status in Tunisia; they called for urgent educational reforms and immediate intervention on the part of the ministry to cope with the global change and compete with the world. 4. Professional development Also illustrated is the teachers’ emergent need for thorough support and sound professional development plans that cater not only for TEFL strategies and curricula, but also for up to date educational technology and the latest approaches to learning. Teachers realise the discrepancy between global development in teaching strategies, mainly with the invasion of technology and local approaches to the environment of learning.


5. Teacher Training programs Initially, teachers of English in Tunisia were prepared and trained to teach the English language to secondary school students, but today English is taught across three levels at school, including primary, preparatory, and secondary. Although a few changes were implemented in teacher training programs, and intensive courses were given to primary teachers, these measures remain insufficient and much more work is needed to be done in order to ensure effective training for teachers at different school levels. Amine said that teachers should get better quality training while studying adding “we studied theories but we never had a chance to practice…there are no teacher preparation courses at university such as methodology or pedagogy in the classroom.” In the survey item number ten 85 percent of teachers expressed their need for more professional development opportunities as shown below:


Teachers get sufficient professional support from the ministry


Strongly agree



Strongl y disagree 85

disagree 0

6. Curricula and learning skills Teachers across the different levels showed a great concern about the curricula on the one hand, and supporting materials on the other. They believe curricula should be updated to cope with global learning skills; they should involve critical thinking and cater for lifelong learning skills. The topic of curricula drew the attention of teachers in the interviews; almost all of the respondents expressed their dissatisfaction with current curricula, as well as their wishes to change them. Nevertheless, there were controversial views regarding course books and materials. Some participants and mainly those working in primary education, favoured imported materials, because when they first started the program they used ‘the red bus’ books, which were more appealing than the local books. They claimed that imported materials cater for ‘innovation’, ‘novelty’, ‘creativity’, and ‘global’ modernism. Whereas other participants rejected the idea of imported materials because they represent ‘imperialism’ as well as ‘cultural dependency’, which have distinctly negative social consequences. They argued that local exigencies and needs are better known by local experts and that Tunisian professionals have good potential and can produce relevant materials. And given the access to the internet, teachers


would have a greater range of references and resources online; hence materials should not be an issue anymore. The survey items four and five reflect teachers’ desire to changes Agree 4

The textbooks in use at schools are good Some textbooks do not need to be changed


Strongly disagree 60



Strongly agree 40






Recommendations I made some recommendations toward future educational reforms, Language policy in Education; therefore I have identified the following four areas, which I believe are the mainstays of education and language learning. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Language policy in Education Teacher training and Professional Development Curricula Learning Support

I mapped a comprehensive proposal that could serve as a preliminary strategic plan for a general reform in TEFL in Tunisia. I considered the four foremost contributors to the learning process I have identified significant - language policy in education, teacher training and professional development, curricula, and learning support- and then I applied the Draw-See-Think-Plan model of strategic planning on the four areas as follows: 1. Draw: The ‘ideal status’ of TEFL in Tunisia and I tried to imagine a ‘perfect image’ for after the TEFL reform 2. See: The status quo of TEFL in Tunisia and identified the gaps that should be addressed in order to reach the perfect status. 3. Think: Of action plans that would help close the gap between the current status and the ideal one. 4. Plan: Identify the resources needed in order to implement the plan and reach the desired status. The study’s Contribution This study has investigated the current situation of TEFL in Tunisia and the current national debate about language policy in education. I considered how the interface between people, politics and languages can affect social, cultural and economic lives, and highlighted how globalization has impacted not only economic but also cultural lifestyles. I also became aware that the economic 233

course of globalization provides the major determining force behind educational reform, and involves major restructuring in different aspects of Tunisian society.

References Allwright, D., & Bailey, K. (1991). Focus on the Language Classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press. Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. (2007). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. SAGE. Daoud, M. (2001). Arabization in Tunisia: The Tug of War. Los Angeles: Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Los Angeles. Emmitt, J. M. & Pollock. (1991). Language and learning: an introduction for teaching (2nd edition). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Kachru, B. B. (1983). The Indianization of English: The English Language in India. Oxford University Press. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. . Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. Richards, J., & Lockhart, C. (1996). Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms. Cambridge University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Harvard University Press.


SECTION FIVE Discourse Analysis & Corpus Tools


Helping Higher-Level English Language Learners with Information Structure in Written Discourse Alissa Nostas, Mariah Fairley & Susanne Rizzo The American University in Cairo Abstract In many EAP preparatory programs, students are expected to produce academic writing that is well-developed, free of grammar errors, and equally important, accessible to readers. While students may write a fairly well-developed text with grammatically-correct sentences, the writing may often sound “unnatural” or “stilted”. The information does not flow easily and is challenging to read. Without coherence, the text does not meet the expectations of the readers and may become inaccessible to them (Thornbury, 2005). A specific focus on information structure may help to resolve this issue. In English, information structure forms patterns to aid readers in making sense of the text. Much of the literature identifies three patterns: “theme reiteration”, “thematic progression” and “split progression” (Qing-feng, 2009; Er, 2001; Alonso & McCabe-Hidalgo, 1998). To achieve these patterns and add to textual coherence, various grammatical and lexical means, such as the use of nominalization, the passive, and cleft constructions, are used. Despite a substantial focus on information structure that proliferates in the literature, its teaching seems to be largely ignored in many classrooms and textbooks. This paper examines how information is presented in written texts through these patterns and presents some common lexical and grammatical means employed to achieve these patterns. After this examination, the paper discusses some of the learning and teaching issues associated with information structure and considers various approaches, activities and materials that could be used to help students to structure information in their writing and produce texts which are more coherent and, thus, reader-friendly. Introduction English language learners can find academic writing a challenging skill to acquire. Teachers are often trained and become proficient at teaching students how to structure their written pieces in terms of grammar, development of content and organizational structure. However, when grading later drafts of student writing, even though students may have essays that have well-developed content and are free of grammar mistakes, teachers are often faced with writing that sounds “unnatural” or “stilted”. Many teachers may recognize that there is a lack of coherence but be unable to clearly articulate a solution to this stiltedness. Instead, they often write comments like, “Awkward,” “Choppy,” or, “This sentence does not flow well.” Other teachers may choose to rewrite some of the awkward sentences for their students or focus on teaching more transitions. While these strategies may help to improve some of the problems on a case-by-case basis, both students and teachers may feel unsatisfied with this 236

type of feedback because it does not provide students with a general understanding of the root causes of the problems or specific strategies that can help students to produce more coherent writing in future. Teachers then feel frustrated with students not making thoughtful revisions or not addressing the comment at all. To help learners produce writing in which the flow of information is not disrupted, more coherent and, thus, reader-friendly, the focus of this paper will be on information structure, or “the presentation of old (known) information versus new (unknown) information” (Celce-Murcia & Olshtain, 2000, p. 8) in written discourse. This paper examines how information is presented in written texts along with the learner problems and teaching issues associated with it. After this examination, various approaches, activities and materials are considered that could be used to help students produce writing in which the information is managed more competently. Literature Review Coherence Information structure helps a text achieve coherence. If a text is coherent, it makes sense (Thornbury, 2005, p. 36). The two examples below illustrate this concept. In (1), the text is not coherent. (1) The students are learning English, and they have a jacuzzi. Despite the presence of cohesive devices (lexical and grammatical ‘ties’), the pronoun (they) and conjunction (and), to link the clauses and facilitate understanding, the reader cannot make sense of it because the reader has “certain expectations” about what is likely to follow the first clause (Thornbuy, 2005, p. 36). For (1) to be coherent, the reader’s expectations must be met as is shown in (2). (2) The students are learning English, and they find it difficult. Thus, coherence “results from the interaction between the reader and the text” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 36). One of the ways this interaction is accomplished is through the predictable structuring of information in a text. Terms The various terms (theme/rheme, topic/comment, given/new) associated with information structure are a result of various theoretical positions (Thornbury, 2005, p. 38). For the purposes of this paper and because it seems to be more prevalent in the literature, theme and rheme will be the terms used. Halliday (1985) defines theme as “the point of departure of the message” and the rheme as “the part in which the theme is developed” (p. 38). In other words, the 237

theme gives the “old” or known information followed by the rheme which supplies the “new” or unknown information about the theme (Celce-Murcia & Olshtain, 2000, p. 8). The former is typically a “nominal group” (clause or phrase) (3) but may also be realized through an “adverbial group” (4) or prepositional phrase (5) (Halliday, 1985, p.39), as represented in the examples below. (3) The class is interesting (4) However, it will be finished soon. (5) On Thursday, the class will have a party. Theme Rheme Placing the new information in the latter part of the clause (rheme) is known as end-weighting (Thornbury, 2005, p. 39). Patterns Theme and rheme form patterns to aid the reader in making sense of the text. Most of the literature identifies the three most common patterns. Though there are various names given to each of the three patterns, the names chosen for the purposes of this paper are those that have been deemed most representative. These are “theme reiteration”, “thematic progression” and “split progression”. Theme reiteration. One of the most common patterns is “theme reiteration”, through which the same theme is repeated, giving a “clear focus” to the text (Qing-feng, 2009, p. 26) like in (6) (T=theme; R= rheme): (6) T1=“Finch R1=was the only daughter of dairy farmers. T1=She R2= was crowned princess in a country pageant at fifteen. (Monsour, 2009, p.1) The subject, Finch, is repeated in the second and subsequent sentences. This repetition of theme is often found in a narrative text (Er, 2001, p. 232). Thematic progression. Another common pattern is “thematic progression” or the “cross-referential links from the rheme of one sentence to the theme of the next” (Er, 2001, p. 232). Consider (7): (7) T1=“When producing a text R1=the writer has to choose a beginning point. T2=Whatever is chosen to be in the initial placeR2= will influence the reader’s interpretation… ” (Qing-feng, 2009, p. 25). In this example, an item from the rheme of the first sentence (beginning point) becomes the theme (initial place) of the following sentence. This pattern is repeated in the rest of the paragraph. Fries (1952) says this pattern is most 238

common in academic texts because of how arguments are constructed with the succeeding idea both developing and reliant on the previous (as cited in Er, 2001, p. 232). Split progression. A more complex pattern is the “split progression”, through which the theme is followed by more than one rheme with each of the rhemes becoming themes in subsequent clauses (Alonso Belmonte & McCabe-Hidalgo, 1998, p.19). This appears in (8): (8) T1=“The textual theme R1 is any combination of (i) continuative, R2(ii) structural and R3(iii) conjunctive in that order. T2=A continuative R4= is one of a small set of discourse signalers… T3=A structural theme R5=is any of the obligatorily thematic elements” (Alonso Belmonte & McCabe-Hidalgo, 1998, p. 19). The first rheme becomes the theme of the next part and the second rheme becomes the theme of the third, and so on. Though it has been indicated that at least the first two patterns are identified with narrative and academic texts, Thornbury (2005) points out that writers will use any or all patterns to construct their argument or story (no matter the genre) so as to make the text coherent to the reader (p. 40). Grammatical/Lexical Means To achieve these theme and rheme patterns, various grammatical/lexical means can be used. While there are many means described in the literature that contribute to structuring information, this paper will focus on several of those identified as being typically used across many genres to maintain theme/rheme patterns and add to textual coherence. The use of the passive voice. English offers various constructions to ensure that the principle of end-weight is followed while still respecting the theme/rheme pattern (Thornbury, 2005). One of the ways to do so is through the passive. Consider (9): (9) T1=Some pyramids  R1=are made of more than two million blocks of stone. T2They R2=were dragged into place by teams of workers (Thornbury, 2005, p. 48). Here, the use of the passive that fronts the end-weighted rheme 1 (“blocks of stone”) in the subject/theme 2 (”they”) position not only allows the writer to respect the theme/rheme pattern but also place the new, noteworthy information (R2) in the rheme position. 239

The non-referential and other cleft constructions. Both the non-referential (i.e. dummy) there and other cleft (it and wh-) constructions function similarly to each other and the passive by end-weighting the important information. Reviewing the it-cleft (it+be+(Noun Phrase)+who/that+ subject) construction as the example here, an NP is placed in the focus position as in (10): (10) T1=“John’s fatherR1=wanted him to give up the violin. T2=It was R2=his teacher T3= who R3=persuaded him to continue” (Halliday, 1985, p. 60) By altering the normal SVO word order, the cleft construction contrasts the previously-mentioned attitude of John’s father’s with the teacher’s by placing the focus on the teacher in the rheme position of the first clause (thus, making him newsworthy), yet still maintaining the pattern of rheme 2 (teacher) becoming theme 3 (who). Nominalization. Nominalization, or “nouns that are typically used to ‘nominalize’ actions and events” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 27) is another means by which theme/rheme is respected. Consider (11): (11) T1=“Each parent R1=passes on certain characteristics to its offspring. T2= This process R2= is called heredity” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 40). The word process “captures” the entire meaning of the rheme and becomes the theme of the second sentence. Thornbury signals other “key words” that achieve this same effect like way, idea, problem, etc. (p. 27). Reference devices. Reference devices are cohesive in nature and signal the relationship between language forms (e.g. pronouns) and what is referred to. They help establish coherence, too, by structuring information. Consider (6) and (9) again and the use of she and they to refer anaphorically to Finch and the blocks of stones, as well as (7) and (11) and the use of the definite article the and the demonstrative adjective this to further indicate a previous mention. By using reference devices, the writers not only create a cohesive text but also maintain the different theme/rheme patterns, adding to the textual coherence. Problems and Solutions Various problems can arise in the learning and teaching of academic writing with respect to information structure. There are, however, solutions to assist learners and teachers.


L1 Interference Students may have difficulty with information structure because of L1 interference. McCarthy (1991) points out that languages differ in how they “thematisize”; for example, Japanese uses wa to signal theme (p. 59). If this is the main problem for students of the same L1 who are aware of theme/rheme patterns in their own language, a simple solution would be to have students compare sections of text in their L1 and English and identify the differences in patterns. Lack of Awareness Even if there is no interference from their L1, as many languages place the theme in the first part of the clause (McCarthy, 1991, p. 52), students whose L1 treatment of theme/rheme is the same as in English will often not be aware of it. One of the best solutions for students of any L1 is to have them notice theme and rheme. This can be accomplished through presenting them with two texts, one well-written and one poorly-written. The latter will not respect end-weight as in (12), whereas (13) does. (12) “Different coded messages are carried by different parts of each chromosome. A gene is what each part is called” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 40). (13) “Different parts of each chromosome carry different coded messages. Each part is called a gene” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 41). By having students notice the difference between the two texts through asking questions (for example, “Which text is easier to read and why?”), the teacher can raise their consciousness about how information is managed in the text. Another activity to help raise student awareness of theme/rheme patterns is a deletion activity in which students find the sentence in the text that does not fit and explain why as in (14): (14) Many breeds of dogs have been bred for human companionship. As part of their diet, some people consume dog meat. They offer both comfort and protection. This activity helps them notice the incoherence produced by the introduction of a “rogue” sentence, a common problem encountered with many students’ writing. This also seems to be a transferable technique for students to use later in their own writing.


Overuse/Inappropriate Use of One Pattern Another common problem is that many students tend to overuse the simplest pattern, “theme reiteration” (Qing-feng, 2009, p.27), which results in their writing reading like a list, as shown in (15). (15) I am studying English in school. I like it. I… This problem is even more noticeable because this pattern of “theme reiteration” is more common to the narrative genre and used less in academic writing. To help reduce this problem of an inappropriate use or overuse of one pattern, students can be introduced to the different theme/rheme patterns through a variety of activities, a few of which are described in the next section. Misplacement of New Information into the Theme Position Various studies (Hawes & Thomas, 2012; Qing-feng, 2009; Wang, 2007) point to the placing of new information in theme position as one of the major student problems in structuring information. This may prove disrupting to the reader as the example (16) demonstrates: (16) Exams are important to us. Exam techniques are important for us to learn. Instead of placing the information exam techniques in initial position, the student should have written Exams are important to us, so we should learn exam techniques. To help address these problems of inappropriate use/overuse of one pattern (see previous section) and misplacement of new information into the theme position, students can be introduced to the different theme/rheme patterns, which emphasize end-weighting, through a guided-discovery activity in which they map a text by drawing arrows or labeling T1, R1 etc. In this example (17), students could draw the arrows for the “thematic progression” and “thematic reiteration” patterns. (17) T1=“Each individual R1= produces sex cells. T2= If a male and female sex join, R2=the female cell grows into a new individual. AND T1=Some inherited characteristics R1=are stronger than others. T1=They R2=are dominant” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 41).


With this text, students could see that the author has chosen more than one pattern and have their attention drawn to the fact that new information is found in the rheme position. By doing a guided discovery activity, students are more cognitively challenged and will likely retain the information better. Students could also look at other texts to see the particular patterns chosen to stage the information and perform the same activity with them. As further practice, students could do an insertion activity often found in standardized exams in which students must read the text and choose which sentence best fits given the pattern which is exemplified in (18). (18) “Inside a tower block…, a team of computer programmers is deep in concentration. a. They have been working solidly for the last ten hours… b. In a former life, it was a nuclear research facility” (Mansfield & Nuttall, 2010, p. 44). This type of activity allows students to work with the patterns in a controlled setting and can also be adapted to any text that the teacher believes is appropriate. Avoidance of the Grammatical/Lexical Means Many students may tend to avoid some of the aforementioned grammatical/lexical constructions, like the passive, in their writing. As a result, the writing can seem “unnatural” as in (19): (19) “The Chinese invented paper. [They] originally produced paper from plant fibers and rags. The Arabs introduced paper to Europe. This happened in the Middle Ages” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 50). Some of the solutions described in earlier sections can aid students, such as having students look at a well-written text and notice which grammatical and lexical features are used by the writers. Students could also look at this rewritten text on paper (20) and notice the use of the passive, as well as reference devices. (20) “Paper was invented by the Chinese, who originally produced it from plant fibers and rags. It was introduced to Europe by the Arabs in the Middle Ages” (Thornbury, 2005, p. 50). Another option would be to give them a list of sentences, such as in (19) and have them produce their own text and compare it with the original (20) so that they notice the gaps in their writing.


Lack of Teaching Material The teaching of coherence, and specifically the teaching of theme and rheme, is largely ignored in many language classrooms and programs. Part of the reason for this may be the lack of materials for teaching theme/rheme patterns. As a result, many instructors may avoid it. To help address this problem, awareness of information structure and ways of teaching it should be promoted. A suitable approach for teachers to start with may be one in which students notice how information is structured, do a guided discovery activity and then do both controlled and free practice activities (like in (20)). This will scaffold, cognitively challenge and help students retain the information. A teacher can choose texts depending on studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; needs and interests and create activities similar to the above-listed. Ater they are more comfortable with the use of theme and rheme, it may also be possible to have students edit each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s texts and look for patterns or note the (in)correct use of grammatical/lexical constructions. Conclusion The research provided in this paper indicates that information structure is important for achieving coherence in writing and that English language learners may struggle with achieving this coherence for a number of reasons, not least of which are from a lack of awareness of theme/rheme patterns and the means of achieving these patterns. While information structure has been the theoretical or research subject of numerous books and articles, it seems to be largely disregarded in practice, i.e. in L2 writing materials and classrooms, which may be compounded by the fact that teachers themselves may not be aware of its importance or how to teach it effectively. However, by including it in the classroom through activities that help students notice, discover and practice the theme/rheme patterns, English language learners should develop the ability to structure information in their writing and produce texts which will be more coherent and, thus, more accessible to the reader. References Alonso Belmonte, I. & McCabe-Hidalgo, A. (1998). Theme-rheme patterns in L2 writing. DidĂĄctica, 10, 14-31. Retrieved from: Celce-Murcia, M. & Olshtain, E. (2000). Discourse and context in language teaching: A guide for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Er, E. (2001). Text analysis and diagnostic assessment. In A. Burns, & C. Coffin (Eds.), Analysing English in a global context (pp. 229-239). London: Routledge. 244

Halliday, M.A. K. (1985). An introduction to functional grammar. London: Edward Arnold Publishers. Hawes, T. & Thomas, S. (2012). Theme choice in EAP and media language. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 11(3), 175-183. Retrieved from: Mansfield, F. & Nuttall, C. (2010). Spotlight on CAE. London: Heinle-Cengage Learning. Monsour, T. (2009) Clean Cut. New York: Jove Books. McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Qing-feng, L. (2009). Thematic selection and progression in EFL writing. US-China Foreign Language, 7(7), 25-28. Retrieved from: Thornbury, S. (2005). Beyond the sentence: Introducing discourse analysis. Oxford: MacMillan Publishers. Wang, L. (2007). Theme and rheme in the thematic organization of text: Implications for teaching academic writing. Asian EFL Journal 9(1). Retrieved from:


Introducing Corpus Tools in Iraqi EFL Classrooms Eric Friginal & Nidham Sheet Hameed Georgia State University & University of Baghdad Abstract There has been an increased interest in using corpora and corpus tools in TESL/TEFL focusing on the creation of language teaching materials that represent real-world use of English in many contexts (Bennett, 2010). The corpus approach identifies how vocabulary or grammar topics are dealt with in the classroom and considers the type of information that could be made available to students and teachers who are using these materials (Reppen, 2010). It has been said that todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s language teachers need technological expertise and familiarity with corpus linguistics (i.e., â&#x20AC;&#x153;corpus literacyâ&#x20AC;?) although there clearly is a very slow pace in initiating teachers to use corpora and corpus-based materials in language classrooms. This chapter focuses on the issues, challenges, and opportunities in developing corpus-based materials for EFL and applied linguistics classrooms at the University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq. Contextual background, the design of corpus-based lessons, and sample online resources are briefly discussed. The study also provides an overview of the Iraqi EFL and applied linguistics setting and how various classroom teaching and research applications related to corpora and corpus tools could be employed. Introduction Corpus linguistics (CL) has produced generalizable and accurate linguistic information useful in analyzing variation in language (Biber, Conrad & Reppen, 1998). In addition, many resulting linguistic distributions from corpora have aided pedagogy and materials production in language classrooms. Coupled with major advancements in computational technology, software design, and the internet, corpus-based approaches have continued to explore specialized corpora and extensive applications of quantitative data which would otherwise be infeasible in traditional research methodologies. As a result, researchers and teachers using corpora are able to pursue a dynamic set of research questions that often result in relevant perspectives on language variation and more applicable data-driven teaching materials from those taken in traditional research (Biber, Reppen & Friginal, 2010). The number of corpora (including learner corpora) freely distributed online has tremendously increased, allowing both novice and expert researchers the opportunity to obtain linguistic frequency and distributional data immediately. Searchable corpora and databases with built-in interfaces that provide part-ofspeech (POS) tags, demographic information of writers and speakers of texts, and register-specific comparative charts can easily be retrieved online. This opportunity makes the domain of web-based, corpus research very user-friendly, 246

especially for students, “populist” to some extent, and accessible to everyone. These developments have clearly redefined the nature of linguistic research and teaching with corpora. Studies analyzing the applications of corpora and corpus tools in ESL/EFL and sub-fields such as English for Academic/Specific Purposes (EAP/ESP) continue to match the increasing availability of freeware and downloadable tools and resources. For example, studies highlighting academic wordlists in sustainedcontent language teaching (SCLT) and content-based language instruction (CBI) (e.g., Nesselhauf, 2003; Salsbury & Crummer, 2008) have demonstrated the feasibility of merging corpus tools and the teaching of academic vocabulary. Specifically, research studies by Cobb (1997) and Horst, Cobb, and Nicolae (2005) have reported interesting learning gains in vocabulary (the transfer of word knowledge) that are attributable to the use of computer-based tools by language learners. A related research by Chan and Liou (2005) showed how webbased concordancing instruction significantly helped students’ learning of verb– noun collocations. Corpus literacy in the classroom Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, and Finegan’s (1999) seminal work in the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (LGSWE) has brought significant corpus data and information that are directly related to pedagogy. From 2004 to the present, new corpus-based reference materials for teachers that feature specific activities in teaching with corpora include Sinclair’s (2004) How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching; O’Keeffe, McCarthy, and Carter’s (2007) From Corpus to Classroom; Conrad and Biber’s (2009) Real Grammar: A Corpus-Based Approach to English; Bennet’s (2010) Using Corpora in the Language Learning Classroom; Reppen’s (2010) Using Corpora in the Language Classroom; and Flowerdew’s (2012) Corpora and Language Education. These books intended for language instructors suggest that the combination of CBI and corpus tools contributes to the successful acquisition of language features in ESL/EFL. Results from corpus descriptions of genre-specific writing and the use of ‘‘local learner corpora’’ (Seidlhofer, 2002, p. 213) in writing research have provided interesting insights into the uniqueness of these individual genres and have exposed the systematic patterns of word use, structure, and conventional lexical associations commonly employed by writers in the same field (Hyland, 2008). The focus of this study There are many challenges involved with the development of corpus-based lessons and materials in language teaching, including the difficult collection of applicable corpora, limited access to computer programs and computer labs, and inadequate training of writing teachers. However, it appears that the future 247

direction of teaching languages for specific purposes will include corpus-based textbooks, materials, and data. For example, research in academic and technical writing, albeit still limited at the moment, has also slowly introduced the use of corpora and quantitative analysis of distributional data from written texts (Conrad, 2011). Lee and Swales (2006) provided results suggesting the development of advanced second language (L2) academic writing for doctoral students who utilized corpora and concordancing activities in an EAP course. The participants in their study followed a13-week course in corpus-informed EAP and were able to compare their writing with that of the patterns shown in a corpus of published research papers. The use of corpora in an academic writing classroom was generally regarded as ‘‘confidence-building and empowering’’ (p. 71) by the participants. The primary goal of this present study was to introduce and explore the concept of corpus literacy for faculty and students of the University of Baghdad (UB). Clearly, today’s language instructors need technological expertise and familiarity with CL. In the last two years, UB faculty, especially from the English Departments of the Colleges of Education-Ibn Rushd, Arts, and Languages have started getting more focused training in corpus tools utilized for research and classroom instruction. An on-going instructor-initiated study at UB has looked at the issues, challenges, and opportunities in developing corpus-based materials for EFL graduate-level classrooms. Instructors and students have been exposed to online resources such as the Michigan Corpus of Upper-Level Student Writing (MICUSP) and Text X-Ray, as briefly discussed in the following sections below. Background: EFL and applied linguistics at UB For classroom corpus literacy in UB, CL has been introduced minimally as a research approach in various syllabi for EFL teaching. Applied linguistics graduate students are directed to collect data and conduct research after completing workshops in CL methodology and applications. Anecdotal evidence indicates that faculty members who have recently been introduced to the CL approach were generally fascinated by this area of research and there is a clear interest in online CL resources. One of the main objectives of the English Departments in UB is to support students in conducting language-based research as a requirement for completion of their degrees (especially for graduate students). See Appendix for a summary of program requirements specifically from the English Department of the College of Arts. Faculty profile Iraqi universities are supervised by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research which highly encourages staff members (faculty) in continuing education and collaborative work with other universities. Over the years, participating in conferences, attending workshops, and conducting 248

research for potential publications and presentations have been institutionalized across departments and research fields. In-service training and opportunities for funded international research work have been provided to faculty. Since 2011, UB and other Iraqi universities have been working with a number of American universities. For example, a collaborative program between UB and Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA, which focuses on EFL teaching and research, English literature, and translation, has completed various intensive professional development workshops and online faculty mentoring and syllabus development courses. UB faculty members have had many opportunities to attend EFL and language research courses in various American, British, and other international institutions. Doctoral students in linguistics and literature have received scholarship grants from different American and British universities sponsored by the Ministry. Faculty members and graduate students are highly encouraged to participate regularly in conferences inside and outside Iraq. There is a growing number of doctoral students in language education at the College of Arts; these students are mostly instructors who already have teaching jobs in colleges and institutes in Iraq. They usually teach EFL or English literature. It is clear that many current graduate students and instructors at UB are becoming welltrained researchers in EFL and applied linguistics. Introducing corpus tools in Iraqi classrooms Among online corpora and corpus tools that could be utilized for CL competency in UB, this study focused on the introduction of the Michigan Corpus of Upperlevel Student Papers (MICUSP) and Text X-Ray for classroom-based research for faculty and graduate students. Lessons using corpus tools and techniques in teaching academic writing could be developed from MICUSP to heighten studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; awareness of register variation in academic texts, as well as to analyze the features of successful samples of student writing. This online database provides searchable text samples of writing across academic disciplines. There is, by now, an established, positive application of corpus-based instruction in the teaching of academic, technical, and scientific writing, not only for EFL students but also for instructors of English who are writing in a specific field. There has been an on-going â&#x20AC;&#x153;buzzâ&#x20AC;? focusing on the use of computational tools in EFL teaching, especially in university-level, data-driven writing instruction in academic writing classrooms (Reppen, 2010). Tools such as Compleat Lexical Tutor, AntConc, and Word and Phrase have been used by writing instructors for various teaching applications across student levels and language backgrounds (e.g., native or non-native English speakers). However, Conrad (2007) noted that there are considerably more topics and areas to explore in corpus-informed writing research, including the successes or failures of innovative usage-based approaches. 249

The Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers MICUSP is a corpus of proficient student academic writing samples compiled by a team of researchers and students at the English Language Institute of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Römer and O’Donnell, 2011). The corpus enables researchers, language teachers, and students to investigate the written discourse of proficient, advanced-level native and non-native speaker student writers at a large American research university. It also provides users with a wide selection of A-graded papers that may serve as models of successful academic writing in the U.S. MICUSP is currently available through a user-friendly online search interface, “MICUSP Simple”, which can be accessed free of charge at Offline versions of the corpus (in annotated XML and plain text format) are scheduled to be published on a CDROM, accompanying a MICUSP resource book (Römer and O’Donnell, 2011). Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the MICUSP Simple search and browse page.

Figure 1. Screenshot of MICUSP Simple ( The academic texts in MICUSP were written by students from a wide range of disciplines within four academic divisions (Humanities and Arts, Social Sciences, Biological and Health Sciences, Physical Sciences). Texts come in different types, ranging from essays to lab reports which are all useful, especially for upper-level undergraduate students at UB. This corpus enables analyses of disciplinary, developmental, and genre-related features of student writing. Each paper in MICUSP also captures metadata on the student’s gender and native language 250

status (including information on first language background in the case of nonnative speakers). MICUSP consists of 829 student papers from 16 disciplines, with over 2.6 million words. Text X-Ray Text X-Ray is a computer program that merges online technology, natural language processing techniques, and approaches to language teaching and learning in developing an online text visualizer that can be used to raise learners’ awareness of vocabulary and grammatical structure of texts (and especially their own writing). Text X-Ray’s beta version (accessible online from: works as a basic text editor with built-in applications such as a visualizer for various partsof-speech tags (e.g., nouns, verbs, prepositions), readability and lexical diversity measures, wordlist comparisons, and a word cloud application. Another important feature of this program is its ability to compare normalized frequencies of linguistic features, e.g., word/phrasal classes, with those aggregated from MICUSP’s A-graded student papers categorized primarily across disciplines and text types. The design of Text X-Ray takes into account teachers’ needs and objectives focusing on content-based activities that can be applied to help students build academic vocabulary and analyze texts and especially their own writing. Student-directed comparisons of vocabulary/POS features of texts can be facilitated through Text X-Ray by analyzing academic word lists and grammar patterns from teacher-prepared focal writing excerpts. Activities utilizing Text XRay in UB were designed to help students develop greater awareness of grammar and usage across contexts. This approach can contribute to classroom energy, thus encouraging students to become autonomous learners and provide effective alternatives for students with different learning styles (i.e., Student-Driven Learning). Figure 2 shows a screenshot of Text X-Rays text editor page.


Figure2. A screenshot of Text X-Ray’s (beta) text editor page Text X-Ray, in its most basic application, can show UB teachers/learners the use of particular parts of speech (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) in a text. If a specific objective in a course, perhaps a course in English grammar for Iraqi students, focuses on the use of a certain feature such as ‘existential there’, Text X-ray can provide a quick access to many potential examples for students to analyze. This feature can build awareness of a form’s construction and typical placement at sentence-level, paragraph-level, and even entire composition-level writing. A color-coded visualizer helps users to focus on these ‘tagged’ features easily within the same text or group of texts. Sample Text X-Ray lesson outline in UB The following sample lesson with Text X-Ray shows the application of a corpus tool in an EFL writing context. For UB students in an EFL writing classroom, Text X-Ray would be most effectively used as a tool for students to assess the level of academic complexity in their writing. Using Text X-Ray as part of self and peer evaluation process in a multi-draft writing assignment may help students to explore and evaluate each other’s work. Text X-Ray can help UB students develop their academic writing by identifying common patterns and allowing opportunity for growth in complexity at word and sentence-level composition.


Classroom Application of Text X-Ray in an EFL Writing Course (developed by Floyd and Pooni) Using X-Ray  Instructors may develop a set of evaluation criteria to guide students in their peer review activity.  Choose appropriate context addressing the overall purpose of the lesson.  Evaluation guides include which tool the students should use and what they are looking for.  Students may enter each other’s work into Text X-Ray and evaluate written samples based on criteria outlined by instructor. For example, Figure 3 shows the application of POS and readability tools in understanding academic complexity and the use of complex words.

Parts of Speech Tool Highlight the personal pronouns. Are personal pronouns appropriate for academic writing?

Highlight the verbs. Is the correct tense being used? Agreement?

Highlight the articles. Are they being used correctly?

Readability Tool Check for academic complexity by highlighting complex words and sentences.(Here the instructor would provide the amount of syllables and number of words to be searched)

Figure3. POS and readability tools activity for Text X-Ray How to Use Text X-Ray? It’s Easy! Step 1: Copy any text you want (articles, papers, blogs, etc.) Step 2: Paste the text into the Text X-Ray program Step 3: Play! Choose a tab you would like to work from on the right side of Text X-Ray. Parts of Speech Tab: Highlight individual parts of speech. You can also control the brightness of the highlighted words with the slider at the top center of the application. Readability Tab: Lexical density calculator, reading level, reading ease score, and the highlighting tools for complex words and sentences. 253

Reader Expectations Tab: Contains the highlighting tool for topic strings, and words in stress positions. Compare with MICUSP: Choose the paper type you wish to compare with MICUSP. Customized Word List Tab: Copy and paste your own word list or one from the internet (AWL, for example) and then click “Highlight the words from the list.” Upper level students may benefit from comparing their paper to the MICUSP Corpus. Teachers can also compare their students’ papers to MICUSP as a diagnostic tool. Word Cloud is a good tool to use for creating a word list from a specific text. Text X-Ray is relatively easy to use, but the students would benefit from a class session dedicated to working with Text X-Ray before they are given an assignment. Summary of challenges in introducing corpora/corpus tools in UB Feedback from UB faculty and graduate students have been relatively positive as shown by the two sample evaluative excerpts below: It’s great to help students see how people write in English. I really like the feature about reader expectations and also about the word cloud. You could use that to discuss with students whether or not the topic is really stated at the beginning of sentences in a text (whether it be a student or expert paper), and if the new information is given at the end of a sentence. This gives students the opportunity to analyze how we organize information in a text. Technology and computer tools through corpus linguistics provides very positive results, but these are not easy and requires [sic] additional training for staff members at UB. We have many challenges especially in technology and computer labs. I can see how useful it is but it’s not easy to learn As noted in feedback above, there are clear challenges. UB classrooms still have limitations when it comes to available technology and equipment. Although there have been some improvements over the years, computer laboratories for in-class CL activities are extremely limited. In early 2013, some instructors teaching masters’ and doctoral courses have started regularly using PowerPoint presentations in their lectures making it easier to project text materials in CL and visually explore datasets. For other faculty, however, traditional tools and teaching methodologies are still preferred in their applied linguistics or EFL lectures.


Continuing training in CL and extensive background in conducting library or internet research are certainly very necessary. Use of technology in the classroom and skills in using up to date methodology in conducting research are happening at a slower pace than expected. With these, corpus tools especially those available online are still difficult to apply. Wifi connections and public access to the internet are available, but still not very reliable across the university. The primary challenge in using corpora and corpus tools in UB classrooms is the relative lack of experience or sufficient training of UB faculty this field. There is a danger in over generalizing linguistic data and results of frequency distributions across corpora that an untrained researcher is prone to make with limited experience in functionally interpreting corpus-based results. In most cases, because corpus results also involve the application of quantitative methods, it is still difficult for faculty to go beyond comparative figures without additional support in statistical applications. The use of corpora and corpus tools clearly require additional work for faculty than the traditional norm. For access to research articles, online resources are available, but many faculty members still prefer hard copy publications in local libraries. Related to this, changing mindsets on technology use in research takes time. For example, some faculty who supervise mastersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and doctoral research or those who conduct their own research studies are still primarily interested in traditional studies in discourse analysis. There may be resistance to explore newer approaches, and this potentially limits opportunities for student researchers. Part of what could persuade faculty to use such approach is to provide support from programmers or statisticians who will be available for consultation. As noted by one senior faculty, â&#x20AC;&#x153;even if the data is available, the lack of a specialist who works on the needed software makes it harder to move forward with research.â&#x20AC;? For doctoral students (most of them also faculty members of the university) conducting corpus research, working harder to acquire software or the database is certainly needed. Some are lucky to receive dissertation scholarship grants to American or British universities which facilitate sufficient training and especially to be supervised by CL experts. For example, one UB faculty completed her dissertation work with support and supervision from a mentor at Texas A&M University in the U.S. Her experience allowed her to understand a range of data (qualitative and quantitative) and conduct interpretive analysis from various frequency distributions. Acknowledgements This project was supported by the U.S. State Department (through IREX); the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq; University of Baghdad; and the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University. 255

References Bennet, G. (2010). Using Corpora in the Language Learning Classroom. Michigan: Michigan University Press. Biber, D., Conrad, S., & Reppen, R. (1998). Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow, Essex: Pearson. Biber, D., Reppen, R., & Friginal, E. (2010). Research in corpus linguistics, in Kaplan, R. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Applied Linguistics, 2nd ed., pp. 548-567. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chan, T., & Liou, H. (2005). Effects of web-based concordancing instruction on EFL students' learning of verb-noun collocations. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 18(3), 231-250. Cobb, T. (1997). Is there any measurable learning from hands-on concordancing? System, 25(3), 301-315. Conrad, S. (2007). Does training in corpus linguistics really affect teacher practices? Presentation at Georgia State University Applied Linguistics. Atlanta, GA. Conrad, S. (2011). Corpus linguistics for engineering education: Writing in civil engineering. Paper presented at the American Association for Corpus Linguistics Conference 2011, Atlanta, GA. Conrad, S., & Biber, D. (2009). Real Grammar: A Corpus-Based Approach to English. New York: Pearson-Longman. Flowerdew, L. (2012). Corpora and Language Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Horst, M., Cobb, T., & Nicolae, I. (2005). Expanding academic vocabulary with an interactive on-line database. Language Learning and Technology, 9(2), 90-110. Hyland, K. (2008). Make your academic writing assertive and certain. In Reid, J. (Ed.), Writing Myths: Applying Second Language Research to Classroom Writing (pp. 70-89). Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Lee, D., & Swales, J. (2006). A corpus-based EAP course for NNS doctoral students: Moving from available specialized corpora to self-compiled corpora. English for Specific Purposes, 25(1), 56-75. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Keeffe, A., McCarthy, M., & Carter, R. (2007). From Corpus to Classroom: Language Use and Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nesselhauf, N. (2003). The use of collocations by advanced learners of English and some implications for teaching. Applied Linguistics, 24(2), 223-242. Reppen, R. (2010). Using Corpora in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Römer, U., & O’Donnell, M. (2011). From student hard drive to web corpus (Part 1): The design, compilation and genre classification of the Michigan Corpus of Upper-level Student Papers (MICUSP), Corpora 6(2), pp. 159177. Salsbury, T., & Crummer, C. (2008). Using teacher-developed corpora in the CBI classroom. English Teaching Forum, 2, 28-37. Seidlhofer, B. (2002). Pedagogy and local learner corpora: Working with learningdriven data. In Granger S., Hung J., & Petch-Tyson, S. (Eds.). Computer Learner Corpora, Second Language Acquisition and Foreign Language Teaching. Language Learning and Language Teaching 6 (pp. 213-234). Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 213-234. Sinclair, J. (Ed.) (2004). How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Appendix Program Requirements: College of Arts The English Department at the College of Arts offers the following program requirements: Fourth year students (or senior undergraduates) are required to write research papers as their final project under faculty supervision. In this context, CL may be considered as an option for projects that involve data analysis and interpretation of frequency distributions. Students may also focus on various themes and contexts, including literary works, poetry, and cross-linguistic comparisons. This department offers masters’ and doctoral programs in applied linguistics, linguistics, and literature. For linguistics and applied linguistics research, students may focus on EFL approaches and materials production. Prospective teachers are provided essential theoretical background and support in research design and research methodology. Additional areas of study include: (1) developing a working theory of technology and language learning environments, (2) using and discussing existing and potential applications of technology (including corpus tools and approaches) in the language classroom, (3) creating teaching materials, and (4) using and testing knowledge gained through reading studies, discussion of current technology, and hands-on experience. In all these areas, CL has become an important component of classroom discussions and related activities. For graduate students, a final course requirement typically incorporates an empirical research paper. This paper may focus on corpus-based research and applications.


Analysing a Corpus of Iraqi Student Writing Sabah S. Mustafa & Eric Friginal University of Baghdad & Georgia State University Abstract Corpus linguistics has opened various research possibilities in the investigation of marked differences in academic writing across genres and demographics of writers (Hyland, 2004; Friginal, 2013). Academic writing in English has been investigated using corpus tools and analyzed following corpus-based approaches (Biber, 2006). This paper discusses the partial results and teaching implications of a corpus-based, quantitative analysis of the textual features of writing from college-level essays in English written by students from the University of Baghdad (UB), Baghdad, Iraq. The present study addresses a range of constructs in foreign language writing instruction by focusing on the distribution of linguistic features such as personal pronouns, nominalizations, adverbial conjuncts, and various content words. A comparison between UB student essays and parallel corpora of student writing collected in the United States (US) shows noteworthy differences in the distributions of several linguistic features. Results of this study may be used in the teaching and assessment of academic writing and for materials production especially for UB students in EFL and TOEFL or IELTS preparation courses. Introduction There is an increasing number of research studies conducted to describe genres of academic writing (e.g., Biber, 2006; Biber, Conrad, & Cortes, 2003; Mudraya, 2006; Robinson, Stoller, Constanza-Robinson, & Jones, 2008) and also to assess the quality and/or describe the linguistic characteristics of writing in English by students enrolled in universities across the globe (e.g., Hinkel, 2002; Horst, Cobb, & Nicolae, 2005; Hyland, 2004; Lee & Swales, 2006; Swales, 1990). For students coming from non-English speaking countries into the United States (U.S), second language (L2) writing ability is an important consideration measured by compulsory tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before these international students gain formal admission to US universities. For native speakers of English, there is no specific TOEFL score necessary for admission, but most of these students are required to take composition courses which aim to develop a range of writing abilities focusing on content, grammar, mechanics, and style of written outputs expected of university students. Descriptions of English native speaker (NS) writing, relative to non-native speaker (NNS) writing samples, are still limited at present, especially those that make use of advanced computational and corpus tools that show generalizable, quantitative data of the linguistic characteristics of academic writing levels and genres. It is interesting, and potentially useful, to examine the quality of NS/NNS writing, and produce comparative data that illustrate the 258

degree of variation, gaps, or unique distribution of salient linguistic features of writing among these students. The descriptions of the linguistic characteristics of writing samples from NS/NNS have important pedagogical implications that directly apply to materials production and syllabus design, to aid the development of L2 writing for NNS students, and support easier transition to advanced, genre-specific writing for NS students. In this study, we focus on an initial exploration of writing in English by university students from the University of Baghdad (UB), Baghdad, Iraq for comparison with English NS and another group of NNS students in the US. Recently, collaborative research projects examining student writing in Iraq have been initiated through various government-supported grant programs aimed at developing classroom-based research at many Iraqi universities. These include qualitative and quantitative approaches in language assessment, teachertraining activities for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instruction, and materials development in EFL. The Iraqi context parallels that of Intensive English programs (IEP) in US universities. IEPs are tasked to prepare international undergraduate and graduate students to meet the rigors of formal and informal academic writing across disciplines. Writing ability, numerically quantified and measured by TOEFL and IEP test scores, suggests whether or not a foreign student would be able to successfully meet the writing requirements of his/her field of specialization. Iraqi students (undergraduate or graduate), who are now encouraged to explore education in the US, will have to successfully pass the TOEFL and then adjust to the writing expectations from US universities. Conversely, many writing instructors in freshmen composition classes in the US have reported the surprising range of writing abilities of NS students, which points to the importance of further studying their usage of linguistic features typically identified as indicators of writing quality (e.g., transition words, epistemic adverbials, passive/active structures, verb tense/aspect). How well, for example, do NS students actually write in English when given the same prompts such as those developed for international students, i.e., the TOEFL? What is the linguistic composition of effective or ineffective essays as written by Iraqi students and other students with varying first language backgrounds and levels of fluency in English? What do results of these comparisons imply, particularly with respect to writing assessment and various IEP programs in the US? This current comparative study, which is a part of a large-scale, three year data collection, aims to provide exploratory results and answers to these and other similar questions. Corpus-based analysis of writing Recent technical advancements in computer technology and corpus linguistics have contributed to the wealth of research addressing the effective description of language used in various genres of writing (e.g., Biber, 1995; Biber, Conrad, & Reppen, 1998; Friginal, 2013). The features of writing defining specific academic 259

genres, e.g., narrative, analytical, or technical, have been identified and explored by corpus linguists using a variety of corpus tools and carefully designed corpora. For example, Biber (2006) finds that the use of linguistic features such as linking adverbials (e.g., therefore, however, hence), necessity/obligation modal verbs (e.g., should, must), and clause constructions with verbs and noun heads, distinguishes the types of writing in technical/laboratory reports, instructional manuals, and institutional texts (e.g., memos, notices) from fiction writing, short narratives, and reflective journals. Friginal (2013) describes the linguistic features of laboratory reports (use of personal pronouns, metadiscourse features, verb tenses, nominalizations) written by undergraduate students in forestry relative to published research articles written by forestry professors or professionals—the goal in this comparison being to help identify features of technical writing in order to effectively design a course (“Writing in Forestry”) addressing the actual writing needs of forestry students. He also compared the distribution of complex and technical vocabulary and syntactic features of writing to differentiate experienced, published writers from students. Results from these corpus descriptions of writing provide insights into the uniqueness of individual genres and expose the systematic patterns of word use, structure, and conventional word associations employed by writers with varying experiences and backgrounds (Hyland, 2004; Flowerdew, 2005; Gavioli, 2005). The importance of a corpus-based comparison of a “learner corpus” with that of native speaker target corpus is supported by previous research such as Altenberg (2002), Granger, Hung, and Petch-Tyson (2002), and Mukherjee and Rohrbach (2006), to name only a few. By comparing NS/NNS corpora, for example, instances of L2 learners’ under- or over-use of a particular linguistic feature are identified, as well as how far, and in what ways, learners deviate from native speaker norms (Shirato & Stapleton, 2007). The Santa Barbara Corpus of Spoken and Written American English and the TOEFL 2000 Corpus of Spoken and Written Academic Language have been used to describe the linguistic features of US-based academic writing against second or foreign language writing, as well as to design language teaching materials addressing the needs of foreign students in US universities. The corpus approach potentially represents “real world” samples of writing foreign students could expect from their peers in the US. In addition, a comparison of quantitative NS/NNS essays addresses essential research validity and reliability issues that could present generalizable patterns and linguistic distributions. A brief introduction to the University of Baghdad The University of Baghdad is one of the oldest and largest universities in the Middle East. It has maintained a dynamic national research tradition in business, sciences, medicine, arts, and the humanities. Among Iraqi universities, UB awards the most number of graduate degrees, including doctoral degrees in English education and related specializations. It comprises 24 colleges, four institutes for higher studies, 16 advisory offices, nine scientific 260

centers and 15 research units. UB faculty in language education and especially in the area of teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) have had sufficient training and experience in teaching approaches, materials design, and assessment. Collaborative projects offered by overseas partner institutions in the last 10 years have allowed many faculty to travel and attend advanced language teaching workshops and conferences in countries such as the US and the United Kingdom (UK). For over 40 years, UB has developed a unique portfolio of national and, in part, international research accomplishments. English education has been an important focus of study for students and faculty, and there is a growing number of UB academic staff currently pursuing doctoral degrees or dissertation research in the US and UK. As the university continues to develop its international research profile, classroom research in EFL and publication projects intended for peer-reviewed journals are emphasized for faculty and graduate students of English. The UB writing context EFL writing at UB is taught in four English Departments across four colleges: College of Languages, College of Arts, College of Education, Ibn Rushd, and College of Education for Women. These English departments typically follow three stages of writing instruction: First Stage: students take an introductory writing course on “Composition” or “Composition and Comprehension.” Second Stage: the same course (“Composition and Comprehension”) is taught with the addition of more advanced contexts and prompts. Third Stage: students take an advanced content-specific writing course in “Essay Writing and Letter Writing.” At the College of Languages, this course is taught three hours per week. The major focus of these interrelated writing courses is to help students develop awareness of the essential components of EFL writing. Writing activities from course syllabi allow students to achieve a practical grounding on the skills necessary to present well-structured essays and clearly organized business letters. The third stage writing activities are also designed to help students to become effective writers and critical thinkers. Writing tasks direct students to explore their personal and academic interests, salient issues in society, and rhetorical forms in argumentation and causality. By the end of the third stage, students are expected to show their improved writing skills in essays intended for a variety of audiences and purposes. This third stage writing course at the College of Languages at UB was one of the settings for data collection for this study. The course is usually delivered following a series of presentations and discussion sessions led by the instructor. Small group work, peer-review activities, and individual planning or pre-writing tasks are also integrated. 261

At the beginning of the course, students are taught essay writing strategies, taking into account the types of writing, basic grammar, punctuation use, text organization, mechanics, and style. As a writing requirement, students submit two writing assignments (e.g., narrative, descriptive, expository, argumentative writing) per week. Regular peer-review work is included to discuss drafts of essays, and students are encouraged to ask questions, point out areas for improvement, and comment on strategies in successfully completing essay assignments. With this approach, students spend the majority of class time within a collaborative setting leading to the revision or editing of the text. Scaffolding through teacher-student writing conferences is also encouraged. For final instructor evaluation of student essays, peer-review comments are also given consideration. Methodology The overarching research question of this study is, â&#x20AC;&#x153;How do UB third year (or junior level) students of English write academic responses to essay prompts similar to those required of native and non-native speakers of English in the US?â&#x20AC;? Specifically, with the collection of UB and NS/NNS corpora for comparison, the study aims to answer the following questions: What are the similarities and differences in the linguistic composition and lexico/syntactic characteristics of academic essays written by UB, NS, and NNS-US students? These lexico/syntactic characteristics of writing include the following groups of linguistic features (Table 1), all previously identified as important features of academic writing of university students in related research. Table 1. List of linguistic features used in the study* Linguistic Features Lexico/Syntactic Complexity Expression of Stance Vocabulary Use Comparison of Informational Content Formal vs. Informal Stylistic Features

Description/Composition Prepositions; coordinators/conjunctions; complement clause constructions; quantifiers; transitions Explicit expressions of assessments, evaluations, synthesis; use of markers of intensity and affect; discourse markers Vocabulary size (type/token ratio); average word length; content word classes (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs); nominalizations; hedges Discourse markers of elaboration and informational content; semantic classifications of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs Pronouns; contractions; tense/aspect shifts; that deletion; private verbs (e.g., believe, think)


*Note that for this paper, only comparative results for adverbial conjuncts, nominalizations, nouns and adjectives, type/token ratio, and personal pronouns (first and second personal pronouns) are currently presented. Data and participants Two groups of essay texts were collected from Iraqi students. The first group has a total of 100 texts from Iraqi third year students from the Department of English at the College of Languages. These participants wrote essays on an argumentative topic collected within a 90-minute class period in January 2013. Their ages ranged from 21-23 years old (with a total of 30 males and 70 females). The third stage writing class for data collection was a required subject for all English majors at the College of Languages. During the essay collection, the class focused on practical and academic writing activities, especially through functional, real-world prompts. The second group of UB essays (N = 130) came from various classes also with third year students from the College of Arts and College of Education collected from October 2012 to February 2013 (50 males, 80 females). All participants have been studying English for over10 years (including two years of study at UB) during data collection. None had direct exposure to nativespeaker English varieties through international travel, and these students also have had very limited close contact with native English speakers in Iraq. The studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; EFL proficiency ranged from intermediate to advanced. After graduation, many of these students are expected to work in private or public schools as high school teachers or as Arabic-English translators and interpreters. Some may pursue higher education studies to obtain a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in linguistics, literature, or translation. The NS and NNS essays were collected from an urban public university in the US. NS essays were written by 250 freshmen students; NNS essays were written by 260 international students enrolled in an Intensive English Program. Essay topics also focused on an argumentative writing prompt (e.g., popular celebrities and culture, planning for careers). NNS students represent five different countries (China, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand). A summary of the corpora used in this study is provided in Table 2. Table 2. Summary of corpora used in the study Corpora Iraqi Students US Native Speakers US Non-native Speakers Total

Number of Texts 230 250 260 740 263

Number of Words 35,456 46,764 47,231 129,451

Data analysis All essay texts were tagged for part-of-speech and other semantic categories using the Biber Tagger (Biber, 2006). This tagger was designed to incorporate a large number of linguistic features and return an output that can easily be processed for automatic tag-counting and norming. Grieve, Biber, Friginal, and Nekrasova (2010) reported that the Biber tagger has a 94% accuracy rate for formal written registers (e.g., research articles, newspaper articles). All tagged frequencies of identified linguistic features were normalized (per 1,000 words of occurrence) to ensure valid/comparable results. Results of significance tests in the mean distributions of linguistic features from the UB/NS/NNS corpora are also conducted (not presented in this current version of the paper due to space limitation). Results Results of corpus comparison show that clear variations exist in the linguistic characteristics of Iraqi, NNS, and NS essays. Certain linguistic tendencies of Iraqi and NNS-US writers may be due to the nature of the training they received in ESL/EFL academic writing programs (i.e., practice effect) and the prevailing norms of instruction across EFL and ESL settings. Iraqi students, overall, wrote shorter essays compared to the two other groups of students, with shorter average word lengths, and relatively lower type-token ratio as shown in Figures 1 and 2 below: 60 50 40 30 20

10 0



Iraqi Students

Figure 1. Type-token ratio across the three groups The relationship between the number of word types and the number of tokens (word use) is known as the type-token ratio (TTR). The more types there are in comparison to the number of tokens, the more varied is the vocabulary. In other words, there is greater lexical variety in the texts. Not surprisingly, Iraqi essays produced the lowest TTR (20.23) while NS essays had the highest (49.51).


Nominalizations (e.g., educateď&#x192; education) (Figure 2) on the other hand, may represent the level of formal, academic vocabulary used by learners. In Figure 2, NNS-US students make use of the most number of nominalizations (41.26 nominalizations per 1,000 words) compared to the two other groups. 50 40 30 20 10 0



Iraqi Students

Figure 2. Distribution of nominalized words in the three corpora (normalized per 1,000 words) Adverbial conjuncts (e.g., linking adverbials: however, hence, etc.) are very common in academic texts, especially in argumentative and cause-and-effect writing. Figure 3 shows that distribution of adverbial conjuncts in the three corpora. NNS-US writers produced the most number of adverbial conjuncts (10.17) compared to the two other groups. This result mirrors data on practice effect in L2 writing programs in the US where NNS students, especially in lower levels, typically use repeated (or potentially over-use) academic features of writing. The three most frequent conjuncts across groups in this study were (1) however, (2) also, and (3) therefore. 15 10 5 0



Iraqi Students

Figure 3. Distribution of adverbial conjuncts in the three corpora (normalized per 1,000 words) The increased distribution of nouns and adjectives (content words and word modifiers) may indicate writersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; intention to share information, discuss events, or describe people or places in their texts (Figure 4). The use of pronouns (first and second person pronouns) relates to a personal orientation in the text, 265

showing that the writer is highly involved and has an explicit audience or reader in mind when writing the text (Figure 5). 160 140 120 100 80




40 20 0



Iraqi Students

Figure 4. Distribution of nouns and adjectives across the three corpora (normalized per 1,000 words) Iraqi students made use of the most number of first person pronouns (I and we â&#x20AC;&#x201C; potentially used to refer to a cultural group the writer belongs to). NNS-US used more nouns while NS writers had more average number of adjectives. Prompts may have influenced the distribution of personal pronouns in these comparative corpora while the frequency of adjectives may relate to studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; fluency and vocabulary range. 35 30 25


1st Person


2nd Person

10 5 0



Iraqi Students

Figure 5. Distribution of first and second person pronouns in the three corpora (normalized per 1,000 words) 266

Brief discussion and implications There are interesting patterns of variation across corpora in this exploratory comparison. These patterns could be further analyzed to include variables such as results of assessment scores and also the influence of particular topic prompts as briefly noted above. Specifically for Iraqi students and EFL writing at UB, the results of this study have the following pedagogical implications: Iraqi university students would benefit from being familiar with patterns of linguistic distributions in essays written by students like them who are based in the US. This awareness of variation can possibly provide Iraqi students with important data distributions that they can use and the confidence needed to develop further their writing skills in English. The lexical and grammatical features of NNS-US essays could be best used as models in EFL settings for Iraqi students. Clearly, in many resulting distributions, there were noticeable differences in NS and Iraqi data. As NS features are not necessarily realistic goals for many Iraqi students at this point, it may be best to use similar NNS datasets as target models in EFL or ESL writing. Writing instructors at UB may be able to follow a model of research using corpus-based approaches, especially with comparative data across various types of students and looking at more controlled texts (e.g., similar essay prompts or writing conditions). They can also compare genres of writing in different disciplines to be able to fully understand genre differences or register variation. Conclusion A major contribution of this exploratory study is not only to produce empirical data comparing Iraqi student writing with NS and NNS texts, but more importantly, to provide input in the development of EFL writing activities and instructional materials. Overall, these linguistic distributions may also aid curriculum design and textbook creation to help Iraqi writing instructors at UB. In designing effective materials and activities for Iraqi writing classrooms, actual patterns of usage can equip students with the tools they need for producing and understanding writing across different contexts. For example, the use of linking adverbials (e.g., however, therefore) directly from a corpus of effective writing, especially from NNS texts, can show real-world use of these features that UB students can identify with. It is clear that corpora can be used as resources for learners to use directly inside and outside the classroom (Gavioli & Aston, 2001). The study also shows that Iraqi writing programs can be developed to focus on a close and mutual collaboration between instructors and students. Corpus collection and classroom research may be incorporated into the training of 267

writing faculty at the four Departments of English at UB. Corpus driven instructor training is certainly necessary as they can provide UB instructors with ways and methods for effective teaching in Iraqi contexts, a case which would enhance their professional development. References Altenberg, B. (2002). Using bilingual corpus evidence in learner corpus research. In Granger, S., Hung, J., & Petch-Tyson, S. (Eds.). Computer Learner Corpora, Second Language Acquisition and Foreign Language Teaching, (pp. 37-54). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Biber, D. (1995). Dimensions of Register Variation: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biber, D. (2006). University Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Biber, D., Conrad, S., & Cortes, V. (2003). Lexical bundles in university texts. Applied Linguistics, 12(3), 344-366. Biber, D., Conrad, S., & Reppen, R. (1998). Corpus Linguistics: Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Flowerdew, L. (2005). An integration of corpus-based and genre-based approaches to text analysis in EAP/ESP: countering criticisms against corpus-based methodologies. English for Specific Purposes, 24, 321-332. Friginal, E. (2013). Developing research report writing skills using corpora. English for Specific Purposes, 32(2), 208-220. Gavioli, L. (2005). Exploring Corpora for ESP Learning. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Gavioli, L., & Aston, G. (2001). Enriching reality: Language corpora in language pedagogy. EFL Journal, 55(3), 238-246. Granger, S., Hung, J., & Petch-Tyson, S. (Eds.). (2002). Computer Learner Corpora, Second Language Acquisition and Foreign Language Teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Grieve, J., Biber, D., Friginal, E., & Nekrasova, T. (2010). Variation among blogs: a multi-dimensional analysisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in Mehler, A., Sharoff, S., & Santini, M. (Eds.). Genres on the Web: Corpus Studies and Computational Models, pp. 45â&#x20AC;&#x201C;71. New York: Springer-Verlag. Hinkel, E. (2002). Second Language Writers Texts: Linguistic and Rhetorical Features. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Horst, M., Cobb, T., & Nicolae, I. (2005). Expanding academic vocabulary with an interactive on-line database. Language Learning and Technology, 9(2), 90-110. Hyland, K. (2004). Genre and Second Language Writers. Michigan: Michigan University Press. Lee, D., & Swales, J.M. (2006). A corpus-based EAP course for NNS doctoral students: Moving from available specialized corpora to self-compiled corpora. English for Specific Purposes, 25, 56-75.


Mudraya, O. (2006). Engineering English: A lexical frequency instructional model. English for Specific Purposes, 25, 235–256. Mukherjee, J., & Rohrbach, J.-M. (2006). Rethinking applied corpus linguistics from a language-pedagogical perspective: New departures in learner corpus research. In Kettemann, B., & Marko, G. (Eds.), Planing, Gluing and Painting Corpora: Inside the Applied Corpus Linguist’s Workshop (pp. 205 –232). Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Robinson, M., Stoller, F., Constanza-Robinson, M., & Jones, J. (2008). Write Like a Chemist. New York: Oxford University Press. Shirato, J., & Stapleton, P. (2007). Comparing English vocabulary in a spoken learner corpus with a native speaker corpus: Pedagogical implications arising from an empirical study in Japan. Language Teaching Research, 11(4), 393–412. Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


SECTION SIX Learner Autonomy


UAE University Speaking Center â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Peer Tutor Perspectives George S. Murdoch UAE University Introduction The need for alternative language learning opportunities for students beyond classroom based delivery of an ELT syllabus has been recognised for well over two decades now (see Dickinson 1987; Sheerin 1989; Barnett & Jordan 1991). As a result, self-access centres have become familiar features in progressive institutions offering quality English language programs. They provide resources and services which make it possible for learners in many countries to study independently in ways that suit their particular needs and learning styles. Though the feasibility of expecting learners in non-Western educational contexts to suddenly take the initiative and adopt the role of autonomous learners has rightly been questioned (Jones 1995), there is general acceptance in our field of the need for students to take more responsibility for their own learning, employ proper study strategies (Wenden & Rubin 1987) and make full use of available self-access facilities. Research carried out at the City University of Hong Kong (Klassen et al 1998) looked at the effectiveness of self-access programmes. Questionnaire results revealed that students who followed self-access programmes felt that this mode of learning was motivating and that their confidence and proficiency levels had improved. These results were confirmed by interviews with self-access counsellors. Independent learning centers have, then, become accepted and valued elements of tertiary ELT programs. However, the past decade has seen a demand for new centers that aim to assist students in particular skills areas. Though writing centers have been in existence in schools and colleges in the US since the mid70s (Harris 1990), the increasing use of English as a lingua franca and medium for academic study has created an international need for students to be given extra support to develop their academic writing skills. In this region, the services provided by the United Arab Emirates Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Writing Center and similar centers in other colleges and universities in Gulf countries are evidence of this trend, as are the activities of the Middle East & North Africa Writing Center Association (MENAWCA), established in 2007, which held its 2012 Conference in the College of the North Atlantic - Doha. More recently a demand has emerged for setting up speaking centers. This new trend can be attributed to a number of factors. They include the positive experience of students from Gulf countries who, when studying as international students in the United States and other countries, have benefited from the services of speaking centres like those of the University of North Carolina Greensboro and the University of Southern Mississipi. After completing their courses abroad, these international scholarship students often take up 271

influential positions in the tertiary sector in their own countries. In their new roles, they are naturally keen to see the excellent speaking services which they benefited from overseas made available in their home institutions. Another factor is that in many tertiary institutions nowadays, students are required to take English language foundation courses to upgrade their language skills. They must pass these courses to be able to embark on their chosen degree courses. Increasingly, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or an alternative in-house exams modelled on the IELTS formula, is being used to benchmark achievement levels and act as a gatekeeper for entry on to degree level courses. The use of IELTS is significant because it values speaking as highly as other skills, creating a greater demand for self-access speaking services in this region. For example, at UAE University in Al Ain, students enrolled on the University Foundation Program’s English courses are required to achieve an overall IELTS band rating of 5 to begin their faculty studies. Since many students find it relatively easier to develop their speaking skills rather than reading, writing or listening, it is not surprising that there has been a big surge in the number of UAEU students visiting the Speaking Center over recent semesters. A third factor has been the adoption of English as the medium of instruction in many institutions. For instance, the vast majority of UAE University’s faculties now deliver their courses in English, thereby creating a pressure for students to be able to communicate confidently in English in order to graduate with a good degree. Goals & Activities of the Speaking Center The UAEU Speaking Center (SC) was opened during the Spring Semester 2011, offering tutorial services for students on both the Women’s and Men’s campuses. The overall goal is to enable students to use English to interact orally in various academic contexts. This involves building students’ communicative confidence and helping them develop a range of speaking skills. In order to achieve these aims, the SC has adopted a highly student-centred philosophy. Efforts have been made to create a friendly, welcoming and supportive environment that is geared to understanding and responding to students’ needs. Teachers who conduct tutorial sessions in the SC are advised to avoid adopting as dominant and controlling a role as may be required in the classroom. Instead, they are expected to interact with students less formally and treat them more as conversation partners. Tutors are also encouraged to use active listening skills to find out more about the students’ personal areas of interest. This approach can be very helpful in terms of getting the students to participate and talk more freely. There are opportunities, too, for students to take part in more serious discussions about social and global problems topics such as internet addiction and the gap between rich and poor countries. 272

In order to ensure that students benefit fully from their speaking session, the size of each group is normally limited to a maximum of four students. Smaller groups obviously give students more opportunity to speak and participate actively. The center has a bank of worksheets with questions on a variety of accessible topics such as watching movies and leisure interests. These materials feature interesting images to encourage students to speak more about the topic. Games are used to ensure that students have fun and enjoy their visit, making it more likely that they will become regular visitors. Ongoing materials development projects include finding ways to use iPad applications to stimulate conversation and discussion. For faculty students, there are tutors ready to help them practice and improve their oral presentations. This is particularly useful for students taking the ESP 2 course at UAEU, which assesses students on the quality of their final oral presentation. Students taking courses in their majors can also come to the SC to develop the oral discourse skills they need to interact effectively with their lecturers and play an active role in discussions. All students can further boost the development of their speaking skills by participating in special events and workshops. These include quizzes, debates, drama sessions and discussions about poetry. By getting involved in these activities and experiencing the use of English for genuine communicative purposes, students gain valuable fluency practice and greater confidence in their speaking abilities. The Role of Peer Tutors A successful speaking center needs to have several elements in place. One of the most important is proper staffing. The UAEUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Speaking Center is fortunate in being able to draw on the services of both teacher tutors and peer tutors. The focus of this study is on peer tutors. Peer tutors are recruited, or re-selected, at the beginning of each semester. They are generally students who have completed their University Foundation Program courses and are already studying in the faculties. At the start of the Spring Semester 2012 we had a team of eleven peer tutors working in the Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Campus SC. Selection criteria naturally include a good level of spoken English and a satisfactory score in the speaking part of the IELTS or TOEFL test. In addition, peer tutors should be sociable and keen to help other students. They also need to possess good communication skills, as well as an ability to establish positive relationships with both students and other staff members. Peer tutors get a modest payment for the hours they work in the SC, so the experience provides a valuable preparation for the world of work. At the beginning of the semester they are given an initial orientation and a copy of a 273

document that explains their duties. These include: welcoming students; showing students how to register using the computer system; organising students into appropriate groups; reviewing and organising materials; keeping data records; designing posters to advertise upcoming workshops and special events; helping organise and run special events; conducting tutorial sessions. These contributions, as well as assisting with various other tasks, are essential for the smooth-running of the SC. Peer tutors have several advantages as tutors. They can relate extremely well to student visitors, who tend to feel very comfortable with a sympathetic student tutor. This may be because peer tutors are close in age and normally have some familiarity with students’ cultural background. Furthermore, since peer tutors are immersed in the same academic context and are familiar with the courses that students are taking, they are very well placed to understand the challenges that they face in trying to develop their spoken English. All these factors can help them to establish a close relationship with students. Consequently, students become more willing to talk about personal, academic and social issues. The understanding and support provided by peer tutors tends to be particularly helpful for less orally confident students, who need a lot of encouragement to participate in conversations and discussions. However, once students have improved their speaking skills and begin faculty courses in their chosen majors, they are often keener to have tutorials with a teacher tutor in order to develop higher levels of oral proficiency. Investigating Peer Tutor Perspectives Given the key role of peer tutors, it was felt that it would be valuable to find out their views on working in the UAEU’s Speaking Center and the impact it has on students’ speaking skills. In particular, we wanted to discover their ideas about the strengths and weaknesses of the approach adopted and how further improvements could be made to enhance both their experience as peer tutors and the service provided for student clients. To achieve these aims, a qualitative, small-scale research project was devised. A twelve-item interview schedule was drawn up (see Appendix). This was used to conduct structured interviews with 7 female peer tutors who had been in the Women’s Campus Speaking Center. The interviews were conducted during the Spring Semester 2012. Results Once all the interviews had been completed, the replies were analysed qualitatively to identify the most significant patterns. These are reported below in relation to each item of the questionnaire:


1. How did you learn to speak English so well? Three students said they had become fluent speakers because English was used in their homes when they were growing up. However, the most important strategies that all students mentioned were watching films, TV programmes and reading books in English. 2. Why did you decide to become a peer tutor in the SC? Though answers varied slightly, students’ principal motivation to become a peer tutor seemed to be the desire to work in a lively, sociable environment where there is an opportunity to communicate with others. They also mentioned the fact that they could practice their own English and gain tutoring experience. 3. What benefit do you get from working in the SC? Key benefits mentioned were developing their own communication skills in English and becoming more skilful in getting others to talk. Furthermore, peer tutors said their own English benefited from talking to an international group of teacher tutors with different accents. They also said they learnt more about UAE culture and enjoyed hearing students’ stories and experiences. In addition, peer tutors felt that being a tutor in the SC helped them understand why many students are not good at English. 4. How do you see your role as a tutor? Peer tutors believe they are able to make student visitors feel relaxed, thereby reducing the formality of the tutorial experience and enabling them to produce longer turns. They report that students talk to them about anything and express their opinions freely. Peer tutors also think that they can select discussion topics that are related to students’ interests. In addition, they believe they can help students with the difficulties they face in learning English and give them strategies to help them improve. 5. Which SC materials did you find most useful? It was very interesting to discover that virtually all the peer tutors rated the ‘One Minute Topics’ as being the most useful set of materials. This is an activity in which each student selects at random one card from a set in a box. On each card a topic is written such as ‘Your best friend’. Each student has to talk for one minute about their topic. The game format appeals to students and everyone in the group gets a chance to speak and participate. It also seems to suit all personality types. Other in-house games created by teacher tutors are also very popular. Interestingly, many peer tutors tend not to use the SC’s large bank of question-type worksheets, which provide verbal prompts and images related to a range of topics, from making friends and cooking to visiting foreign countries 275

and comparing cultures. While teacher tutors regularly use these materials, peer tutors seem to prefer to find their own ways to begin an informal conversation with a small group of students, using a topic that arises naturally and is close to their personal interests and concerns. 6. What part of your work gives you most satisfaction? Peer tutors believe that they gain most satisfaction from helping students and seeing their English improve. Other parts of the job such as record keeping and designing posters for events were also viewed positively. This may be because such tasks are a useful preparation for getting a job after they complete their degrees. 7. What is the biggest challenge you face when working in the SC? Two main situations were seen as particularly challenging by peer tutors. The first is when students are unwilling to talk and go beyond monosyllabic turns. This may occur because a class teacher has required an unwilling student to come to the SC to fulfil a coursework requirement; alternatively it may occur because a student is extremely shy or lacks confidence. Peer tutors find it very challenging to persuade such students to try to enjoy the experience of being in the SC and participate actively in a group tutorial session. The second problem identified by peer tutors is integrating new students into an existing group that has been functioning well. In this situation, the new student may be reluctant to talk because she feels her English is not as good as the others. This problem can also occur when a peer tutor has been having a oneto-one conversation with an individual student, but then another student needs to join in the conversation. 8. What training or support would help you do the job better? Peer tutors felt they could learn most of the required tutoring skills on-the-job with the help of other peer tutors. However, a few mentioned the need for a fuller orientation at the outset and more support from experienced peer tutors. Particular areas of concern are managing the organisation and running of tutorial groups, particularly the problem of integrating new students into a group, which was mentioned above in reporting the feedback from Question 7. 9. What is your top tip for students? A range of useful advice for students was offered in response to this question: Practice anywhere you can outside university Watch movies in English Read newspaper articles and/or books, and translate new words 276

Read something you are interested in Listen to people speaking in English Visit the speaking center frequently 10. Do you think students benefit from coming to the SC? Peer tutors responded very positively to this question, indicating that students can improve a lot if they practice their speaking skills. They believe students’ confidence levels improve if they visit regularly and stop worrying about making grammatical mistakes. They feel, too, that students’ progress depends on the encouragement provided by tutors and the selection of appealing topics. The range of resources available in the SC is also seen as a major asset. 11. How can more students be encouraged to come to the SC? The most interesting suggestions for getting more students involved were: Having promotional events in different locations where students gather Organising more competitions and workshops Encouraging students who come regularly to become ‘ambassadors’ and Bring along other students to the center 12. What suggestions do you have for improving the SC? The most useful suggestions were: Publicising SC services and events in all the colleges of the university Having more tutors available at peak times Organising an inter-college debate Having short, fun readings with simple vocabulary as conversation prompts Discussion The questionnaire responses provide several important insights into how peer tutors contribute to the success of a dynamic speaking center. First of all, it is clear that they play a key role as tutors. Successful peer tutors are very sociable and keen to help other students. Peer tutors themselves report that many students, especially those who are not very fluent or confident, tend to feel more comfortable engaging in a conversation with a peer tutor. One reason is that peer tutors seem to have the ability to develop conversations with students in a very spontaneous and natural manner. In addition, they can readily understand both the academic challenges students face and their cultural background. In fact, the role of the engaged peer tutor extends beyond basic tutoring; they are viewed as guides, confidants and model learners by students. 277

Secondly, effective peer tutors are very motivated because they wish to gain positive work experience. Their energy and work ethic enables them to take on many other duties besides basic tutoring such as maintaining data records and designing posters. Peer tutors also contribute enormously to the smooth-running of a SC by greeting students and dealing with administrative matters. They develop personally from their work, too, by improving their communication skills. In general, student tutorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; positive attitude and willingness to become fully involved means that, when properly supported, they become vital staff members. The third insight relates to the training of peer tutors. Peer tutors do not need lengthy induction or training courses to become effective student tutors. Basic procedures can be grasped via reading in-house guides and working alongside an experienced tutor. There is, however, a need for more formal organisation of the mentoring provided by experienced peer tutors during the first weeks to ensure that newly-recruited peer tutors can get appropriate advice when it is most needed. It is useful, too, to organise short workshops to ensure that new tutors have grasped the student-centred approach that should underpin all interactions with students, as well as ensuring they become familiar with all the different materials and activity options available. These sessions can also provide an opportunity to deal with particular problem areas such as dealing with less motivated students. A final point is that peer tutors can be a source of ideas on how to promote and expand the student client base of a speaking center. As reported above, UAEU Speaking Center peer tutors have offered excellent ideas such as giving students a bigger role in attracting new students and organising more competitions for students. By giving peer tutors the chance to take the lead in implementing such suggestions, we can boost their involvement and make it more likely that special events will be successful. Conclusion The findings of this project clearly indicate the importance of continuing to rely on the talents, enthusiasm and energy of peer tutors to maintain and improve the quality of services offered by a dynamic speaking center. In fact, our experience and feedback at UAEU strongly suggests that the contribution of student tutors are essential in order to create a welcoming, student-centred environment and provide a service that is finely geared to their individual needs and interests. While other elements such as the location, resources, materials and leadership are extremely important, it would not be an exaggeration to claim that peer tutors are potentially the most important element of all. This conclusion is highly relevant to coordinators of self-access services in other tertiary institutions, regionally and internationally, who are considering setting up a new speaking center or seeking to improve the performance of an existing facility. 278

References Aston, G. (1993). The learner’s contribution to the self access-center. ELT Journal 47 (3): 219-227. Barnett, L. & G. Jones (1991). Self-access facilities: What are they for? ELT Journal 45 (4): 305-312. Dickinson, L. (1987). Self-instruction in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harris, M. (1990). What’s up and what’s in: Trends and traditions in writing centers. The Writing Center Journal 11 (1): 15-25. Illich, I. (1971). De-schooling society. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Jones, J. F. (1995). Self-access and culture: Retreating from autonomy. ELT Journal 49 (3): 228-234. Klassen et al. (1998). Does self-access language learning at the tertiary level really work? Asian Journal of Language Vol. 8: 55-80. Sheerin, S. (1989). Self-access. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The University of North Carolina Greensboro Speaking Center. Retrieved on 2 January 2013 from: The University of Southern Mississippi Speaking Center. Retrieved on 2 January 2013 from: Wenden, A. & J. Rubin (1987). Learner strategies in language learning. Englewood Cliffs. N.J.: Prentice Hall. Appendix QUESTIONNAIRE FOR SPEAKING CENTER (SC) PEER TUTORS 1. How did you learn to speak English so well? 2. Why did you decide to become a peer tutor in the SC? 3. What benefit do you get from working in the SC? 4. How do you see your role as a peer tutor? 5. Which SC materials do you find most useful? 6. What part of your work gives you most satisfaction? 7. What is the biggest challenge you face when working in the SC? 8. What training or support would help you do your job better? 9. What is your top tip for students to improve their speaking? 10. Do you think students benefit from coming to the SC? 11. How can more students be encouraged to come to the SC? 12. What suggestions do you have for improving the SC?


An Investigation of Students’ Beliefs about Autonomy in the UAE Context Fawzi Al Ghazali & Siân Etherington Abu Dhabi University & the University of Salford Introduction Recent work on learner autonomy has pointed to the need to understand this concept from the learners’ own perspectives and within specific multidimensional contexts (Holliday, 2003; Winch, 1999; and Woods, 2006). This paper addressed this need and aimed at investigating how autonomy is perceived by students learning English in the UAE. It argues that developing a one dimensional globalised model contradicts the multidimensional nature of the concept. Additionally, it proposes that models for promoting autonomy should originate from students own points of view (Field, 2007). In this study a questionnaire was administered to 523 students in Abu Dhabi. The findings were analysed using factor analysis in order to show the significance given to certain dimensions. The analysis indicated four factors showing that the students did not support total independence but believed they are autonomous via the assistance of teachers. They also had more pragmatic beliefs about how to meet linguistic needs. They prioritised classroom input when course materials were addressed but considered that as insufficient to enhance their proficiency in English. These practices are termed ‘practical autonomy’ and are a feature of UAE students. This paper fulfils a need to understand how beliefs about autonomy are influenced by the characteristics of each individual learning context. It highlights how adopting a one dimensional model for the promotion of autonomy does not fulfil student needs in every context. Literature Review Helping students become more autonomous in language learning has become a prominent theme in current language teaching theory (Benson, 2001 and 2007). This idea has provoked strong reactions, and educators have dedicated considerable effort to understanding this construct and the elements that influence it. To define terms; autonomy is viewed by Holec (1981: 13) as “the ability to take charge of one’s own learning”. He associates it with the ability to fix learning objectives, define the content and progression of learning, apply effective techniques, and evaluate learning progress. Wenden (1999) labels these activities under an awareness of metacognitive strategies, covering planning, monitoring, and the evaluation of learning progress. In addition, Littlewood (1996: 428) claims that autonomy refers to the “capacity of thinking and acting independently that may occur in any kind of situation including, of course, a situation where the focus is on learning”. For Littlewood, this capacity is influenced by many variables such as levels of knowledge, skills, motivation, and confidence. Moreover, Al Ghazali (2011 and 2013) argues that autonomy refers to students’ awareness and capacity to manage language learning processes with 280

skill and personal volition. This ability is never absolute: it has different degrees that are influenced by an awareness of learning goals, available alternatives, and the availability of opportunities for independent learning. The autonomous learner is not one working in isolation from others but one who benefits from his independence for reflecting on learning goals, procedures, and outcomes. Previous research has signalled the value of investigating students’ beliefs about learning to reduce the mismatch between their own conceptualisations and teachers’ interpretations of classroom practices (Peacock, 1999). For Cotterall (1995: 195), investigating students’ beliefs is important because “the beliefs and attitudes they hold have a profound influence on their learning behaviour”. Wenden (1999: 436) believes that investigating students’ beliefs helps to identify how they “manage, direct, regulate, and guide their learning”. Benson (2010), in addition, argues that investigating students’ beliefs about autonomy is necessary because of the multidimensional nature of the concept, its unique nature as a capacity, and its developmental nature which is manifest in different forms in different contexts. This trend encouraged research such as Amuzie and Winke (2009) who sought to understand how beliefs about language learning change according to the learning context. In a similar vein to other settings, the UAE educational context has its own unique features which impact students’ beliefs about how to manage the learning of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Barcelos (2006) and Holliday (2003) argue that autonomy is particular to every learner in a particular context. Presuming that autonomy does not exist is due to the invisible walls that inhibit us from seeing the autonomy students already have. Methodology This paper reports on research conducted in selected schools in the UAE where students’ beliefs about autonomy in learning English were investigated. Notably, the last few decades has witnessed rapid development in all facets of life in the UAE, including education (Hokal and Shaw, 1999). These rapid changes in UAE education and the provision of new technologies have led to a new situation where learners’ own responsibilities for learning are potentially wider and they have more opportunities to learn independently and use English, and therefore it is an interesting area to explore at this time. The population of this study included 523 male and female students who were studying English in state schools in Abu Dhabi. They came from Grade twelve (G12) where they are encouraged to take independent decisions pertaining to language development and are seen as likely to seek additional resources to improve their proficiency in English. The study sought to answer two research questions: What are the beliefs of the UAE students about autonomy in learning English language?


What are the strategies they apply for managing and improving language skills? A Likert-type questionnaire was devised based on preliminary data collected from Focus Group Interviews (FGIs). For Sakui and Gaies (1999), this technique allows having a “context-sensitive” instrument for measuring beliefs. For Dörnyei (2003: 36), using this scale with a large enough sample size helps to iron out the idiosyncratic differences between particular individuals or occasional inaccurate responses. To verify the validity of the scale, an item analysis was applied to the data from 50 students to measure the Cronbach’s Alpha Reliability Coefficient and to identify the internal consistency and coherence between scale items. The overall alpha was 0.961 indicating that the scale had both face and content validity. In a further step to verify the psychometric features of these factors, their internal consistency was again measured showing 0.941. Dörnyei (2003: 36) argues that this rate indicates strong internal consistency for any research instrument. The data was analysed using both principle component and factor analyses to obtain estimates of the initial components and to determine the underlying factors that represent the data. Factor analysis was used as a data reduction or structure detection method for reducing the number of variables making up the scale and for detecting the common features between them. The emerging clusters of statements represented the sets of beliefs students hold about autonomy. Factor Analysis Results Based on the principal-component analysis, a four-factor solution was obtained for the scores emerging from students’ responses to the questionnaire items. The scree plot showed that the eigenvalues of these factors were greater than one. The extracted factors accounted for 71% of the total variance. This percentage showed the variability in students’ beliefs about autonomy in learning English. The table below shows the eigenvalues of these factors, their variance, and their cumulative percentages. It is significant from the analysis that the first factor had the highest eigenvalue (18.761); whereas the eigenvalues of the other factors ranged between 3.059 and 1.228. This indicates the prominence factor one has over other factors perhaps because it reflects the types of strategies students apply in managing and improving language skills as discussed below.


Table 1: Extracted factors and their variance Factor 1




Description Beliefs about optimal strategies of independent learning Beliefs about responsibility for language development Beliefs about opportunities for independent learning Beliefs about instrumental outcomes for learning English


% of Variance

Cumulative %













4.1. Beliefs about Optimal Strategies of Independent Learning Item 45 35 37 38 46 36 44 17 39

Factor 1: Beliefs about optimal strategies of independent learning I watch English movies without reading subtitles. I use a dictionary to know the meaning of vocabulary items. I participate in the activities that improve my English. I depend on my teacher to know my level at English. I like to chat with native speakers to improve my English. I use a grammar book to do exercises independently. I write down new vocabulary in my English notebook. If I were a teacher, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d encourage reading English stories. I ask my teacher to correct my mistakes. 283

Loading 0.62 0.61 0.59 0.56 0.55 0.54 0.43 0.41 0.40

This factor has nine highly loaded items. It is apparent from analysis that it is a significant factor given the high percentage of variance it explained and the number of items upon which it is loaded. This factor seems to represent a dimension reflecting students’ beliefs about optimal strategies necessary for English language development and perhaps more generally states their beliefs regarding optimal techniques in the realm of independent language learning. The loadings of the items range from between 0.62 for item 45 and 0.40 for item 39. Students perhaps find some strategies more effective than others, or that application of certain strategies is more challenging than others, or these were the items which are best related to their view of autonomy via strategies. For instance, the loading of item 45 is higher than the loading of item 39. This is related to students’ beliefs that watching movies without reading subtitles is an act involving less pressure unlike asking teachers to correct mistakes, which is linked with hesitation on their part. The difference between the highest and lowest loading means that improving English skills is an act of self-efficacy rather than one heavily reliant on teacher intervention which can be accomplished through peer support. Having item 39 loaded in this factor indicates that resorting to teachers to correct errors is a strategy supported by a group of students who trust teacher feedback more than that of their cohort. The loadings of items 38 and 39 are different even though they both represent classroom-related strategies. Item 39 has a relatively low loading, but the loading of item 38 is much higher suggesting that it contributes more to the nature of the factor. This indicates that a part of students’ interpretation of autonomy is concerned with attaining detailed evaluation of their level at English from an authority figure like a teacher either formally through regular tests or informally through the teacher’s day-to-day feedback. This also reflects students’ awareness that having concrete evidence of linguistic weaknesses is necessary for any improvement they wish to initiate independently. This is unlike item 39 in which correcting mistakes is not limited to teacher feedback since students can seek corrections of errors from other distinguished students or independently via reference books. The other items for this factor reflect many strategies students apply for enhancing language skills. Notably, the significance this factor has over other factors reflects certain beliefs among students that knowledge of different strategies enhances their independence of language teachers. Cotterall (1995: 198) is in agreement with this attitude and claims that awareness of strategies enables students to gain greater task autonomy and this results in greater independence.


4.2. Beliefs about Responsibility for Language Development Item 12 7 13 3 14 11 5

Factor 2: Beliefs about responsibility for language development Language development is the responsibility of students. Students’ motivation improves their levels at English. English teachers should tell students what to study. Learning English depends more on memorisation. I prefer group work in English classes. Students’ high grades indicate their proficiency in English. Learning grammar and vocabulary is very important.

Loading 0.73 0.63 0.57 0.50 0.47 0.46 0.41

This factor explained 15.95% of the scale variance and obtained high loadings from the seven items which fit under this dimension. This cluster represents a coherent dimension reflecting students’ beliefs about responsibility for language development. Item twelve is the highest loaded item indicating different beliefs about responsibility for language development and the teacher’s role in this regard. Item thirteen also expresses students’ understanding that there are situations in which they appreciate teacher’s input to identify why and how to do some tasks. This attitude is common among those who do not have defined outcomes for learning English beyond understanding course content, which is a part of a teacher’s professional knowledge (Mayer, 2004). This is unlike students in ESP classes who learn English for their own particular goals related to specific professional tasks. The loading of item seven, in addition, is high reflecting students’ awareness that agency and motivation are crucial factors in improving competence in English. Item three seems less coherent than the rest of the items; however, responding positively to it expresses a traditional, transmission perspective on learning in which teacher’s input is necessary. In general terms, we view autonomous students as those who are able to assume responsibility and manage language learning with minimum reliance on teachers (Scharle and Szabó, 2000); this factor tends to express these traits. Meanwhile, it expresses a mixed and interesting perspective, which shows certain nuances in possibly ‘traditional’ perceptions regarding autonomy.


4.3. Beliefs about Opportunities for Independent Learning Item 30 9 27 6 29

Factor 3: Beliefs about opportunities for independent learning The English textbook is the reason of students’ weakness. The school offers opportunities for us to practice English. Using independent learning centres enhances my English. The English we learn at school is enough for passing exams. We use the Internet to do English exercises at school.

Loading 0.75 0.60 0.59 0.46 0.43

This factor interpreted 10.40% of the total variance and was highly loaded on five items. It expresses students’ beliefs about opportunities for independent language learning. It represents a further dimension of autonomy where provision of independent learning opportunities influences degrees of autonomy. However, though item 30 is loaded more highly than the other items, it seems less relevant to independent learning opportunities. The way syllabi are designed has great impact on directing students’ beliefs about language, their independence, and their use of strategies. For Benson and Lor (1999), highlystructural syllabi enhance the belief that the teacher’s role is fundamental in providing grammar rules, explaining confusing areas of language, and improving English skills. On the contrary, communicative and task-based syllabi promote the belief that competence in English is not limited to acquisition of predefined patterns or memorisation of lexical items. Thus, textbooks provide several opportunities that can underpin or undermine students’ independence. In addition, item 27 is loaded for this factor because students believe ILCs provide learning opportunities that enable them to improve language skills in more independent ways. Moreover, the loading of item 29 is not high either because this facility is not available for students at school or they find other resources more helpful. Item nine is also ranged the second in order indicating the possibility to practice English at school either independently or within classroom activities. The low loading of item six shows that it seems difficult to reconcile within this factor, but it perhaps relates more to student ideas about different learning for different contexts, and perhaps relates to opportunities for learning inside and outside of school. Generally speaking, these items reflect attitudes among students about establishing learning opportunities as necessary tools for enhancing their autonomy.


4.4. Beliefs about Instrumental Outcomes for Learning English Item 20 23 42 26

Factor 4: Beliefs about instrumental outcomes for learning English I learn English for getting a good job in the future. English teachers should give more exercises before exams. Language teachers should translate new words into Arabic. Taking preparatory courses is necessary for passing IELTS.

Loading 0.51 0.46 0.42 0.40

This factor explained 9.48% of the total variance and was highly loaded on four items. It signifies a dimension reflecting an instrumental orientation to language learning, like getting a job or passing exams. This is in addition to the use of translation in facilitating complex terms, which is another pragmatic approach to language learning with a role for students’ native language in improving L2 acquisition. It is significant that the gap between the loadings of the four items is not great, which indicates proximity in students’ beliefs. For instance, item 20 is loaded at the top indicating that proficiency in English is a necessary credential for getting a lucrative job in such a highly-competitive job market. Item 23 also reflects students’ appreciation of the activities and revision initiated by teachers, which allow them to identify more accurately what they should study before exams. This technique may not express total independence but is one of the strategies students employ in dealing with exam-related issues. In addition, item 42 represents another pragmatic belief related to vocabulary acquisition and embodied in having the new lexical items translated into Arabic for ease of learning. While students are encouraged to elicit the meaning of unfamiliar words from the reading context, supporting this item reflects realisation that teacher’s interpretation of these lexical terms is a time-saving strategy. Item 26, moreover, does not contribute so much to the variance of this factor, and students probably believe that preparing for the IELTS exam is not always within their grasp, and they should seek help from an authority figure. Discussion These four factors represent different aspects of students’ beliefs about autonomy and the way they manage and improve English language skills based on the opportunities and limitations of their context. Students seem more conservative in improving English skills, and they tend to apply the strategies that rely on assistance and support from external authorities. They find using a dictionary to figure out the meaning of difficult items a reliable technique if not given the meaning of these terms in their native language. In addition, they apply strategies that rely on teacher support, appreciate their teacher’s feedback on performance, and seek formal correction of their mistakes. To enhance their 287

independence, students need to recognise how to apply extensive strategies in dealing with language-related aspects. They also need to identify self-assessment and self-evaluation techniques. While these strategies do not reflect total independence, students view themselves as autonomous via the assistance of external authorities like teachers, parents, or others. The factor analysis results also expressed students’ beliefs that improving English skills is a shared responsibility between them and their teachers. Teachers facilitate learning and suggest learning opportunities; students’ agency and motivation are their tools for assimilating classroom input. These beliefs are significantly influenced by the way English language syllabi are designed. This appears through students’ appreciation of learning grammar and vocabulary and considering them as very important for gaining competence in English language. This probably suggests improving syllabi and prioritising the use of independent language learning resources instead of only relying on textbooks. In relation to the strategies students apply for achieving their long-term and short-term goals, students seem to apply more pragmatic techniques that do not necessarily display total independence. They seem to favour direct, easy, and time-saving strategies which can be labelled as “practical autonomy”. Conclusion Based on the findings, three conclusions can be reached. First, UAE students hold different beliefs about autonomy and the way they deal with English language skills. They have their own interpretation of autonomy and do not see their reliance on language teachers as an absence of autonomy. Another implication is that UAE students tend to favour intensive strategies in dealing with language aspects. They view grammar and vocabulary as main components of language development, and they support memorisation of vocabulary, classroom instruction, and teacher feedback. One might suggest raising their consciousness of metacognitive strategies (Wenden, 1999) as well as applying more extensive strategies in dealing with language. A third implication of students’ beliefs is that the whole educational context needs to be improved; the course content should enhance students’ interdependence and collaboration rather than simply relying on language teachers as the only source of input and feedback. Finally, this study is an attempt to investigate students’ beliefs about autonomy in the context of the UAE. It shows that these beliefs are not disconnected from the general educational and the sociocultural contexts which impact great parts of their personal and academic life. Kumaravadivelu (2001) does not support the stereotyping of students’ beliefs about language learning due to the particular context. This means that teachers’ and students’ beliefs about autonomy and SLL are mediated by the sociocultural and political features and limitations of the context where they learn. Within a cosmopolitan setting like the UAE, particularity is embodied in students’ beliefs about the significance of learning English due to its lingua franca position within a multicultural nation. English 288

is perceived not simply as a foreign language used by educated people; it is a basic component in facilitating communication among more than 80% of the population in the UAE (Randall and Samimi, 2010). Particularity is also represented in students’ beliefs about the necessity to maintain high levels of competence in using English for fulfilling both academic and personal goals. It is impossible for students to pursue further academic achievements in the UAE unless they are confident of their fluency in English. Professionally, the data also revealed that the job market is competitive and getting a high-salaried position is conditional upon the skills and abilities a candidate has, one of them is competence in English. References Al Ghazali, F. (2011). Learner autonomy between technical and social perspectives. In Proceedings of the Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference (SPARC) (pp. 51-59). Manchester: The University of Salford. The record can be viewed at: Al Ghazali, F. (2013). Towards a contextual approach for promoting autonomy in language learning. In P. Davidson, M. Al-Hamly, C. Coombe, S. Troudi, and C. Gunn (eds.) Achieving excellence through life skills education. (pp. 190-198), Dubai: TESOL Arabia Publications. Amuzie, G. and Winke, P. (2009). Changes in Language Learning Beliefs as a Result of Study Abroad. System 37, 366-379. Barcelos, A. (2006). Researching Beliefs about SLA: A Critical Review. In P. Kalaja and A. Barcelos (eds.), Beliefs about SLA: New Research Perspectives (pp.7 -33). New York: Springer. Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and Researching: Autonomy in Language Learning. London: Longman. Benson, P. (2007). Autonomy in Language Teaching and Learning. Language Teaching 40, 21-40. Benson, P. (2010). Measuring Autonomy: Should We Put Our Ability to the Test? In A. Paran and L. Sercu (eds.), Testing the Untestable in Language Education (pp. 77-97). Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Benson, P. and Lor, W. (1999). Conceptions of Language and Language Learning. System 27 (4), 459-472. Cotterall, S. (1995). Readiness for Autonomy: Investigating Learners’ Beliefs. System 23 (2), 195-205. Dörnyei, Z. (2003). Questionnaires in Second Language Research: Construction, Administration, and Processing. New Jersey, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Field, J. (2007). Looking Outwards, Not Inwards. ELT Journal 61 (1), 30-38. Hokal, A. and Skaw, K. (1999). Managing progress monitoring in United Arab Emirates Schools. The International Journal of Educational Management 13 (4), 173-179. 289

Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon. Holliday, A. (2003). Social Autonomy: Addressing the Dangers of Culturism in TESOL. In D. Palfreyman and R. Smith (eds.), Learner Autonomy across Cultures: Language Education Perspectives (pp. 110-128). New York: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. Kumaravadivelu, B. (2001). Towards a postmethod pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly 35 (4), 537-560. Littlewood, W. (1996). Autonomy: An Anatomy and a Framework. System 24 (4), 427-435. Mayer, R. (2004). Should There Be a Three-Strike Rule against Pure Discovery Learning? The Case for Guided Methods of Instruction. American Psychologist 59 (1), 14-19. Peacock, M. (1999). Beliefs about language learning and their relationship to proficiency. In International Journal of Applied Linguistics 9 (2), 247-265. Sakui, K. and Gaies, S. (1999). Investigating Japanese Learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Beliefs about Language Learning. System 27, 473-492. Scharle, A. and SzabĂł, A. (2000). Learner Autonomy: A Guide to Developing Learner Responsibility. Cambridge: CUP. Wenden, A. (1999). An Introduction to Metacognitive Knowledge and Beliefs in Language Learning: Beyond the Basics. System 27, 435-441. Winch, C. (1999). Autonomy as an Educational Aim. In R. Marples (ed.), The Aims of Education (pp. 74-83). London: Routledge. Woods, D. (2006). The Social Construction of Beliefs in the Language Classroom. In P. Kalaja and A. Barcelos (eds.), Beliefs about SLA: New Research Perspectives (pp. 201-229). New York: Springer.




Motivation in Learning and the Reluctant Student Christopher N. Pinkerton King Fahd Naval Academy, Jubail, KSA/ University of Delaware Abstract Teachers of English in the Arabian Gulf region frequently find themselves confronting classes which include students who are in the classroom with less than a passionate desire to learn English. They may have antagonism toward and resentment of the demands placed upon them by the institution, the curriculum, and by the instructor. These students present a daunting challenge for the English teacher. Understanding how both cultural and educational contextual factors influence an individual’s motivation to learn can assist the instructor to engage these students in fresh ways. This article briefly examines suppositions and conclusions about factors influencing student motivation. It addresses some of the unique challenges faced by instructors in the Gulf setting with its accompanying student population. While no quick fix is shared, elements of dynamic classrooms and paths to individual student engagement are discussed. Introduction–facing reluctant students While driving home to our compound in KSA’s Eastern Province, I handed to my car partner Adam Mendler’s book Motivating Students Who Don’t Care. We had just stopped for a mail pick-up, and I was excited that this little book had arrived. But after reading the title, his response was, “Why should I bother wasting my time and energy on students who don’t care? I just teach to the ones who do.” All teachers must find ways of dealing with disinterested or marginally engaged students. Our methods for doing so may range from my colleague’s not engaging them to spending copious amounts of time and energy in a concerted effort to fully involve these students. For those of us teaching in the Gulf region, the frequency of encountering disinterested students seems to be all too high. An immediate explanation for the disaffection of many students that we encounter in our English classrooms appears to be the fact that many, if not most, of our English language students are placed with us by requirement, not by student choice. Preparatory Year, Foundation Year and similar requirements by governments and institutions dictate that the students study English; the students themselves have no real input in the matter. Consequently, many of our students may view English class like a trip to the dentist—necessary but certainly not something to embrace and enjoy.


I am relatively new to teaching in the Middle East. I have been teaching at a Saudi military academy since September of 2012. I previously taught at the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute where I encountered significant numbers of Gulf region students. Though not a stranger to Arab students, I was quite surprised when, while interviewing for my current position, I was asked some very pointed questions: “How do you engage disinterested students?” and “How do you get the students to do the work?” but the question “How do you keep your students awake in class?” truly shocked me. I understood the question about “getting them to do the work.” My experiences had already revealed to me that some students from this region exhibit minimal effort in preparing for class. But sleeping in my classes? That had never been an issue. The implication of those initial interview questions—that many English language students in this region lack motivation—was certainly confirmed empirically by my first weeks and months in the classroom with 18-year-old Saudi men. It seemed to me that an inordinate number of my students lacked motivation. That impression has been reinforced over the past year by my own experiences and growing frustration. It has been reaffirmed in discussions with other instructors in the region and by a number of articles that I have read on the topic. Facing what I perceived to be unmotivated students created a crisis for me. I had never dealt with wholesale disaffection among my students before. I believed that I should be able to effect a difference, and that with the proper approach, I could change my classroom into a vibrant learning community. I tried. I failed. What went wrong? Decades ago, when studying descriptive linguistics, I had a professor who indicated that there are three factors in language acquisition: ability, exposure, and motivation. His premise was that a learner approaches a target language with a level of ability that cannot be affected by the teacher. Ability is certainly affected by student age, previous exposure to other languages, previous exposure to the target language and other factors. But when it comes to ability, the teacher is off the hook. As language instructors, ability is our responsibility only in how it relates to the exposure factor. A language instructor has a responsibility to seek to provide the input (exposure) that will be optimal for the student’s learning or acquisition. The instructor must expose the student to the right balance of compelling comprehensible input, and the “+1” of new material (Krashen, 1981). But for many teachers, perhaps especially for those teaching in the Gulf, the mandated curriculum, including the scope and sequence of its presentation, often precludes using skills and experience to incorporate and/or produce materials that would fulfill the optimal exposure function. Teachers are frequently hamstrung and have little input as regards the materials and pace of instruction. 293

Having little or no control over the ability or exposure aspects of language acquisition, instructors are left with motivation as the realm where they can have material influence in the learners’ acquisition process. Motivation is the area where I thought that I excelled—I could maintain an energetic and interestingenough class to ensure student attention and effort. By doing this, I could facilitate students’ reaching the required outcomes. My students would do the work. My students would not sleep. My students would pass the tests. My students would love and learn English. I was wrong. Cultivating motivation among students is a vital duty of conscientious teachers. Gulf region English teachers face many challenges in fulfilling that responsibility. Motivation Motivation is a concept of which most teachers believe that they have a pretty clear grasp in terms of its meaning and manifestations. A motivated student could be one who is attentive, performs assigned tasks, and engages in learning activities—essentially the student, by both word and deed, exhibits behaviors that indicate that s/he wants to learn the material. But motivation may be more complex than an off-the-cuff description. Michigan State University’s Jere Brophy wrote extensively on the topic of student motivation for decades. Interestingly, Brophy (2010) distinguishes between motivation generally, student motivation, and what he terms motivation to learn. In defining motivation generally, Brophy quotes Maehr & Meyer (1997) as a “theoretical construct used to explain the initiation, direction, intensity, persistence, and quality of a behavior, especially goal-driven behavior.” This concise definition works for all types of goal-driven behavior in most all environments—not just learning or educational environments. Certainly applicable to what Gulf region teachers hope to see in students is the inclusion of aspects of initiative, intensity, and persistence. “In the classroom context,” the term student motivation, according to Brophy, is used “to explain the degree to which students invest attention and effort in various pursuits, which may or may not be the ones desired by their teachers.” When discussing motivation on the part of students, teachers are frequently evaluating this degree of attention and effort. Conscientious instructors expend energy in seeking to foster this attention and effort through utilizing a variety of methods, tools, antics, rewards, accolades, and disciplines. Brophy goes to great lengths in Motivating Students to Learn (2010) to address the inadequacy of the Skinneresque Behaviorist approaches many teachers incorporate in trying to motivate students. He also takes to task the expectation 294

that intrinsic motivation is adequate to provide the effort and attention necessary for optimal learning. It is beyond the scope of this paper to thoroughly explain his distinctions or to fully define his terminology. But it is paramount that the reader understand that what Brophy calls upon educators to foster among students is motivation to learn. Table 1: Brophy’s (2010) distinctions – types of motivation

Motivation (general) Student motivation Motivation to learn

“Theoretical construct used to explain the initiation, direction, intensity, persistence, and quality of a behavior, especially goal-driven behavior (Maehr & Meyer, 1997)” The degree to which students invest attention and effort in various (classroom learning) pursuits Refers primarily to the quality of students’ cognitive engagement in a learning activity, not the intensity of the effort they devote to it

“Motivation to learn refers primarily to the quality of students’ cognitive engagement in a learning activity, not the intensity of the effort they devote to it.” With this sentence, Brophy focuses on the primary distinctive of his treatise— that it is quality of cognitive engagement that the instructor needs to support and nurture as opposed to rewarding performance or behaviors (though they need not be mutually exclusive). Brophy’s (2010) words: …stimulating students’ motivation to learn includes encouraging them to use thoughtful information-processing and skill-building strategies when they are learning. This is quite different from merely offering them incentives for good performance later. To illustrate Brophy’s distinction between cognitive involvement and intensity of effort, note that intensity and effort are traits of motivation which are frequently exhibited as students prepare for an exam. But when the author’s military cadets spent class time seeking to memorize lists of vocabulary items rather than attending to the lesson—a lesson which intended to utilize a whole-language context within which much of the vocabulary was included—they chose intensity and effort over cognitive involvement. For the classroom educator in the Gulf region, the implications of Brophy’s research could be perceived as both enlightening, and troubling. It is enlightening in that it reveals that the desired motivation among students can only limitedly be catalyzed through rewards, accolades and punishments (Behaviorist model). They can only briefly and modestly be harnessed through individualized instruction and by utilizing content and materials which are of interest to the learners (intrinsic). Students can and will, perhaps, expend energy 295

and attention to prepare for tests and grades, but these extrinsic factors do little to assure progressive, measured improvement toward a prescribed set of outcomes or a hoped-for level of fluency. Brophy’s conclusions show that what educators need to do is to cultivate students who value the learning process and who can apply themselves to the learning tasks at hand whether or not there is immediate reward or a current high level of interest in the subject on the part of the student. The troubling aspect of Brophy’s (2010) premises revolves around his description of the student who is motivated to learn, and the educator’s role in developing these traits. Development of motivation to learn … is especially dependent on modeling and socialization by adults, at home and at school. Students who have not had much exposure to these cognitive aspects of motivation may view school activities as imposed demands rather than as learning opportunities, and thus engage in them with work-avoidant goals and perhaps performance goals, but not learning goals. The author’s experiences with male Saudi students precisely, and sadly, exemplify the description above, “Students who…view school activities as imposed demands rather than as learning opportunities, and thus engage in them with work-avoidant goals and perhaps performance goals, but not learning goals.” It seems that there are too many students in the Gulf region who do not exhibit traits of being motivated to learn. Gulf students There are many, many students in the Gulf region with keen inquiring minds and with traits that exhibit the best characteristics of the motivated learner. Brophy’s work was done almost entirely in an American context; the motivationlacking students that he addressed were not students in this region. The author is reticent to paint the students here with a broad brush or critical spirit. Empirically, it is from limited personal experience, the comments of colleagues, and responses of participants at TESOL Arabia that indicate that there is a significant challenge with motivation among some of the students in Gulf firstyear English programs. The motivation challenge among some students is apparently one that is not only seen by Western teachers in the region. In his article on TESOL in the Gulf, Zafar Syed from the Military Language Institute in Abu Dhabi writes, “EFL teachers in the region have identified student motivation, literacy, underachievement, reliance on rote learning and memorization, and dependence on high-stakes testing…” as major issues in the region. 296

The root causes of the lack of motivation among some would best be analyzed individual by individual. Some suggested roots would have to include that individual's family history with education and literacy, the educational experiences of the individual in primary and secondary school including any negative experiences with teachers and school systems, or with outdated curricula and methodologies among others (Syed, 2003). Many teachers in the region appear to perceive that an inordinate percentage of their students lack motivation and/or lack the traits that would exhibit a high level of motivation. But to be fair, the students’ perspective of their English classes must also be addressed. Rima Bahous published a relevant study regarding English language student attitudes toward their educational environment in 2011. Though the study was performed at the Lebanese American University, the results are not inapplicable to the Gulf context. In describing the students in the examined program, she comments that while "Teachers often complain about the learners' inadequacy in using the language appropriately," the students themselves "complain about the repetition in objectives and learning outcomes.” Specifically, the students complained that teachers did not make the classes interesting, and educators provided disservice to the students through “an over focus on writing skills, utilizing uninteresting materials, providing few new learning experiences, and failing to show clear links between the English courses and the students' majors or future careers (Bahous, 2011).” Some students appear to be blaming educators for their classroom ennui. Perhaps, consciously or unconsciously, larger issues are at play. Contextual factors R.C. Gardner of the University of Western Ontario literally wrote the book on how a language learner’s view of the target culture directly impacts that learner’s motivation to learn the language. His work with W.E. Lambert, Attitudes and Motivation in Second-Language (1972), revealed that a language learner with a positive view of the target culture exhibited motivation to learn and acquired facility in the new language much more readily than a learner with a neutral or negative view of that culture. Further support for his premises followed in 1985 in Gardner’s Social Psychology and Second Language Learning: The Role of Attitudes and Motivation (Gardner, 1985). But even more helpful to English language teachers in the Gulf is Gardner’s more recent work in describing the language learning context as having two major components: the cultural, and the educational (Gardner, 2007).


The cultural context refers to the historical, cultural, and religious paradigm through which the learner views his or her own world, the target language/culture, and his or her openness toward adapting to and/or adopting elements of the target culture. In contrast, the educational context refers to attitudes toward the educational system, the quality of the program, skills of the teacher, adequacy of the materials, the curriculum, and the class atmosphere. Gardner’s bifurcation of the contexts in which language education transpires— cultural context and educational context—provides a critically important lens through which to view English education in the Gulf. The English teacher’s challenge becomes clearer. The challenge–applying the research What is the cultural context in which English teaching is transpiring in the Gulf States? Allow a gross oversimplification: by integrating the above-cited research concerning the psychological construct of an individual’s tendency toward either success seeking or failure avoidance (Brophy), with an understanding of the cultural context where the behaviors of GCC students are shaped far more by the cultural priority of social interaction over personal achievement, some of the challenge begins to come into focus. Additionally, the GCC cultural context frequently awards “success” to individuals not based on scholarly achievement but rather based on family connections. Hence, it is probable that many individuals within the regional super culture may fail to recognize effort as a path to success. These are only a few of the factors which could be considered demotivating. Gardner’s description of the educational context includes more than just the classroom, its teacher, and its atmosphere. Along with the classroom context, the educational system itself, the quality of the program and the curriculum are included. But in order to best frame an understanding of the challenge facing the English teacher in the Gulf, it must be noted that only rarely do teachers here have influence over the educational system, the curriculum, or the program. Many teachers are expected to deliver the curriculum within a predetermined structure. They have little say or choice in what is taught, and only minimal control over how it is taught. The only motivational influence that many teachers can bring to the classroom is the skills, enthusiasm, and ability to create relationships with students that they bring to the classroom. So for many of those teaching in the Gulf, the reality is that much of what one would expect to be included in the educational context is better acknowledged as part of the cultural context. The students’ high school experiences, family history with education, attitudes toward the value and importance of education can all be subsumed within the cultural context as a whole. The overwhelming weight of 298

the cultural context in relation to the small influence that a single teacher can have with a particular class can be visualized in the figure below. Figure 1: The learning environment

Given the sociocultural challenge described and illustrated above, coupled with a high percentage of students who may be disengaged and/or have critical attitudes toward their English classes, the question again arises, is there anything that the Gulf region-based English teacher can do. Addressing the challenge Perhaps step one in facing the challenge of developing consistent cognitive engagement in English by first-year English students is for the instructors to recognize that, despite the obstacles, there are many positive elements at work among a majority of the students. Among those positive elements are (in no particular order) the realities that: most students enjoy a variety of forms of English-language entertainmentâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;this provides broad foundational language input; students here generally acknowledge the importance of English for commerce, government, and international communication; many students, in part due to religious training, have developed an uncanny ability to memorize large blocks of data, a skill which can to a degree be harnessed for English class; generally, the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s governments and education departments prioritize providing foundational English language education and provide ample financial resources; linguistically, there are relatively few phonetic difficulties for Arabs learning English; and for motivated students, finding native English-speaking practice partners is not terribly difficult. After acknowledging the many positive elements within the Gulf contexts, conscientious English instructors might best build on those elements by working toward building classrooms which are dynamic learning centers. Working at 299

United Arab Emirates University, Ibtesam Halawah (2011) found that students do respond and become more positively engaged in classes that incorporate three multi-faceted elements: particular teacher qualities, engaging methods and activities, and professional classroom management. The teacher qualities valued by students include open-mindedness to student input; friendliness with students; enthusiasm about the class, materials, and participants; and being knowledgeable about the subject. The methods and activities to which the students positively respond include activities which ensure active learning (case studies, role plays, interaction), and using teaching methods which engage all learning styles. Finally, classroom management elements which were cited as effective were allowing student input, maintaining a flexible class environment, ensuring that assignments are realistic and doable, and conducting lessons that are structured and organized (Halawah, 2011; Dornyei & Csizer, 1998). Table 2: Halawahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elements of a positive classroom environment Open-mindedness to student input; friendliness with students; Teacher qualities enthusiasm about the class, materials, and participants; being knowledgeable about the subject Activities which ensure active learning (case studies, role plays, Methods and activities interaction); using teaching methods which engage all learning styles Allowing student input; maintaining a flexible class Classroom environment; ensuring that management assignments are realistic and doable; conducting lessons that are structured and organized These above-mentioned elements of effective teaching should not be new to most readers of this article. Most have attended conferences or seminars where these traits have been articulated and expanded. They are included here as a reminder that there are strategies that can be incorporated and that will work to facilitate greater depth and breadth of engagement by more students. As stated in the opening, an instructor has no control over the abilities that a student brings into the classroom. As presented in this article, the cultural context has huge influence over studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interest and affect in the classroom. 300

In the Gulf educational context, few teachers have much control over the exposure,(i.e. curriculum elements, of the language learning process). However, teachers can, and in the author’s opinion, must, do all they can to maximize cognitive engagement on the part of their students. Teachers must seek paths to develop and foster supportive classrooms where, whenever possible, the content material is interesting— to the students! Learning and inquiry should be modeled by the teacher on a daily basis. Questions and questioning by the students must be encouraged, valued, and honored. Student mistakes should be lauded as prime learning opportunities! In an effective classroom, failure must not be a foregone conclusion for any student. All student effort should be acknowledged and affirmed. The “how” of presenting material is far beyond the scope of this chapter, but the teacher must consistently keep abreast of and review language acquisition theory. By doing so, s/he can limit student frustration with assignments that are unhelpful due to the assignments difficulty level (too high or too low) or its overall efficacy in relation to language acquisition. Teachers can effect positive change and improve the learning dynamic in the classroom. Recognizing that some of the affect which they observe is neither laziness nor disinterest, but is instead a manifestation of the cultural context can provide new perspective and energy for the teacher. The challenge to the teacher is to see each and every student as a potential inquiring scholar and to awaken him or her to full potential. With many Gulf region students, the classroom teacher faces culturally ingrained elements which may inhibit active engagement and which cannot be materially altered in a semester or two of language study. Despite the obstacles, by incorporating educational best practices the teacher can cultivate higher levels of motivation and involvement among the students.


References Bahous, R. (2011, Sept 3). Motivating students in the EFL classroom: a case study of perspectives. Retrieved from English Language Teaching: Brophy, J. (2010). Motivating students to learn. New York. Routledge. Dornyei, Z. & Csizer, K. (1998). Ten commandments for motivating language learners: Results of an empiracal study. Language Teaching Research, 2, 203-229 Gardner, R. (2007, June 8). Motivation and second language acquisition. Porta Linguarum. Gardner, R. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London. Edwin Arnold. Gardner, R. & Lambert, W.E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation in secondlanguage. Rowley, MA. Newbury House. Halawah, I. (2011). Factors influencing college students' motivation to learn from students' perspective. Education, 379-393. Krashen, S. (1981). Second language acquisition and second language learning. Oxford. Pergamon. Mendler, A. (2000). Motivating students who don't care. Bloomington, IN. Solution Tree Press. Syed, Z. (2003). TESOL in the Gulf: The sociocultural context of English language teachng in the Gulf. TESOL Quarterly, 337-341.


CLIL as Foundation for Consistent Academic Success Philline Deraney & Hanadi AbdelSalam Prince Mohammed Bin Fahad University, KSA Abstract Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a concept that has grown out of practical and academic need based on the idea that a deficiency in the language of instruction may decrease the acquisition of necessary content (Pérez-Cañado, 2012; Xanthou, 2011). Once the L1 has been acquired and the students are studying at the tertiary level, integration of content knowledge and linguistic skills in the target language (L2) is essential for sustained academic success. The research investigated female tertiary participants from a private university in Saudi Arabia that exemplifies the importance of integration of ESL with content instruction in the target language. The results showed that when content and language are integrated with additional ESL support, the majority of students achieved higher proficiency in their field of study with a CGPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) and above. The 4-year longitudinal research revealed that the steady and gradual integration (i.e. a minimum of an academic semester) of content and language has a long-lasting and significant positive effect on the student’s performance. The academic and practical implications of CLIL as a means of producing competent professionals in a foreign language will be highlighted. Introduction Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a concept that has grown out of practical and academic need based on the idea that a deficiency in the language of instruction may decrease the acquisition of necessary content and that language instruction alone without content provides proficient but contentdeficient learners (Pérez-Cañado, 2012; Xanthou, 2011). Most universities in the Gulf that operate in English have based their programs and policies on the idea that once the L1(Arabic) has been acquired at a young age and the students are studying at the tertiary level, integration of content knowledge and linguistic skills in the target language (L2 or English) is essential for sustained academic success and for the workforce as future professionals. However, which subjects should be taught and what content and language should be integrated are often debated and revised annually at several universities particularly with the growth of the preparatory or bridge programs across the Middle East. This longitudinal research looks at one such preparatory program at a private university in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Specifically, the integration of content and language as predictors for success for college graduates was studied based on overall CGPA and annual GPA throughout their four-year degree. 303

Literature Review Barwell (2005) defined Content and Language Integrated Learning as “language and content integration concerns the teaching and learning of both language and subject area in the same classroom at the same time.” CLIL concept goes back to 1990s and was coined in 1994 in Europe as an alternative to and extension of the communicative approach (Pérez-Cañado, 2012). To emphasize the growth of CLIL, particularly in Europe, Lorenzo (2007) wrote, “CLIL is bilingual education at a time when teaching through one single language is seen as second rate education” (p. 35). There is a strong history of bilingualism in Canada and Europe but European content integration showed that L2 instruction integrated with content matter has proven to be more effective than L2 instruction in ‘isolation’ or just language (Genesee, 1994). Further, CLIL is different than bilingual education particularly here in the Middle East as academic language is used in instruction but everyday language (basic interpersonal skills) may not be as proficiently instructed. CLIL is also different than immersion as often immersion teachers are native speakers of the language of instruction and CLIL teachers are usually not, the age of CLIL students are usually older—late immersion, and language objectives and teaching materials are often different (Lasagabaster & Sierra, 2009). Bruton (2011, p. 524) discussed the CLIL variations: 1) Learn the foreign language separately, then add the content; 2) learn the foreign language through the content which has already been learned in the L1; and 3) learn the foreign language and content together (actual CLIL, but not often actually practiced). At the university where the research was conducted, the students learn the foreign language separately at the beginner stage and then the content is added; however, when students are directly admitted into the university, students are often learning the content and language together (except for the few near native and native speakers). The researchers concur with Dalton-Puffer (2008) who suggests that CLIL should be supplemented by foreign language classes to provide a foundation. Dalton-Puffer wrote: Studies on learning outcomes are beginning to show which areas of foreign language competence are most likely to profit from CLIL instruction (listening, vocabulary) and which seem to do so less (writing, syntax)…One important example in this connection would be the finding that content teaching is conducted almost completely without writing activities, a fact which I assume stands in direct relation to those outcome studies that find the advantage of CLIL students in writing to be small. (p. 15) Limited research has been done on CLIL at the tertiary level and according to several scholars, CLIL does not exist in a ‘vacuum’ (Bruton, 2011) and needs to 304

be researched in various locations based on longitudinal studies that emphasize statistical analysis and long-term implications. Research Questions Based on the lack of CLIL research within the Kingdom and the consistent use of CLIL at the university included in the research and universities throughout the Middle East that use English as a medium of instruction, the researchers investigated the following questions: 1. What effect, if any, does content and language integration in the preparatory and subsequent years have on the overall academic success (i.e. GPA) of our female students? 2. Is English language as a foundation an important predictor of success? Methodology Research Site and Participants The research was conducted at a private university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that opened in 2006 and conducts all courses in English with the exception of Islamic Studies (Ministry of Higher Education requirement). The total student capacity of the university is 5,500 students; half female and half male. However, when this research was conducted the campus was at half of its capacity. The preparatory year consists of three levels and three main subjects that are introduced based on English proficiency. The students take a placement exam upon admission that includes all four skills and are then placed in a level. Students have to work through each level in order to progress to the undergraduate program; students who have a 5.0 on the IELTS or equivalent begin directly in the undergraduate program. In the beginner level, students take only English language courses. In the intermediate and advanced levels, students take English language, study skills (which integrate IT skills), and pre-college mathematics courses. The results for this research were stratified by the three levels. With permission from the Dean of Student Affairs and the consent of the students, female graduatesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; academic records (N=180; n=176) who matriculated in 2006 (71.68%, 129 students), 2007 (25.44%, 44 students), and 2008(1.74%, 3 students) were studied. All students in this research graduated in 2011 from the universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original three colleges with the College of Business graduating over 66% of the first graduating class. Female students were studied only as the researchers had access to this population. These students were comprised of 305

eight different nationalities but a majority of Saudi nationals (91%) and 96% had an L1 of Arabic. Most of the students were from private secondary schools (61.85%) with about one-third graduating from public secondary schools. Over 75% of graduates came from the ‘science’ stream in their secondary studies while only 21.97% came from the ‘arts’ stream. Over half (57.8%, 101 students) entered the preparatory program. Average female student spent 1-2 semesters in the prep program with a slight majority (24.86%) admitted in the intermediate level followed by those admitted in the advanced level (18.50%). The methodology used for this research was a data analysis of the collected records of all female students who graduated in 2011. Information was compiled into19 demographic and academic variables, and the descriptive statistics were then analyzed using Excel 2010 Data Analysis Package. Results and Discussion Students were categorized according to their admission level. These levels are either direct admission to the undergraduate college/core courses or admission to the preparatory program. The preparatory program consists of three levels namely, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Those placed at the beginner level are required to do 3 semesters, intermediate level requires 2 semesters while advanced level require only one semester of ESL. The performance of the students was then investigated and analyzed according to their admission level for each year of their study. The Freshmen Year: The direct admission students performed very well with over 60% of them achieving a GPA of 3.5 and above out of 4 and less than 5 % scored below GPA 2. Those who spent one semester in the preparatory year (Advanced Level) had about 40% of them achieving a GPA of 3.5 and above and performed better on the lower end with 0% of them scoring 2 and below. Intermediate level performance was average with their highest percentage of 35% being for GPA between 3.5 and above of 4. The freshman year’s results for the beginners’ level was coherent with a total of close to 70% attaining GPA 3 and above.


Figure 1. The Freshmen Year GPA scores compared by number of semesters in the Preparatory Program.

The Sophomore Year: The performance of the direct admission students was lower than their freshman year and dropped down to 50% of them achieving a GPA of 3.5 and above out of 4 from 60%. The performance of the preparatory year (Advanced Level) had increased to 50% of them achieving a GPA of 3.5 and above. Intermediate level performance remained relatively steady with a slight increase in the percentage of the top 3 GPA groups with percentage of 32% being for GPA between 3.5 and above of 4. The sophomore yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s results for the beginnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; level became incoherent and disjointed with students improving their general performance in the top 3 GPA groups and moreover the percentage of those below 2 increased to reach 20%. Figure 2. The Sophomore Year GPA scores compared by number of semesters in the Preparatory Program.


The Junior Year: The preparatory levels maintained a steady improvement while the direct admission started to trail behind them. Figure 3. The Junior Year GPA scores compared by number of semesters in the Preparatory Program.

The Senior Year: At this point the direct admission students maintained their previous year score while three levels of the preparatory programed revealed a significantly steady and consistent improvement in their GPA. Figure 4. The Cumulative GPA scores compared by number of semesters in the Preparatory Program.

The above results can be summarized as follows:


1. When content/language are integrated with additional ESL support of one semester, the majority of students achieved higher proficiency in their field of study with a CGPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) and above. 2. The students who placed in the advanced level outperformed all other levels as shown by the CGPA. 3. The students who began in the intermediate level underperformed compared to the other levels in the 3.0-4.0 range. 4. Repeated use of the language in both content and English classes proved successful for the vast majority of students. Conclusion Content and language integration is successful for the graduates in the study without question, but when English is added to the content (math and study skills) at least for a semester as a foundation, the success is more consistent. To the contrary, when math and study skills were integrated to those students admitted at intermediate level, the success was not as obvious and there were more students below the 3.0 range in the final CGPA. This result poses the question of whether the first semester at an intermediate language proficiency in a language program should include content instruction or whether content instruction should only be integrated at the advanced proficiency level. Our results showed, with the exception of a few outliers, that one or three semesters in the preparatory program performed the best: strong foundation of English only for beginners and integration of content with advanced proficiency learners. Several recommendations can be suggested from this research. First, it is wellknown in the Kingdom that several content teachers do not have a first language of English or even a strong foundation/near native proficiency in the language. Research should be conducted about the effect the content teachers’ language proficiency has on the students’ overall understanding and academic success. Further, follow up and qualitative inquiry such as interviews—along with surveys and questionnaires for alumni in the workforce for at least 2-3 years—could be conducted asking if students received the necessary information they needed to perform their craft and if there were any deficiencies due to language. Also, research at other universities included private and public in the Kingdom could give a better perspective of what is actually successful for the learners in CLIL for long-term administrative implications and the structure of future academic programs. As English has now become the main language of instruction in the sciences at the tertiary level, CLIL is becoming part of the requirements in science programs in the Kingdom and is being integrated increasingly at earlier stages and proficiency levels due to time and financial constraints. Only further research and reflection can predict and suggest an effective way of content and language integration at the tertiary level to maximize the benefits for all stakeholders. 309

References Al-Seghayer, K. (2011). English teaching in Saudi Arabia: Status, issues, and challenges. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Hala Print Company. Barwell, R. (2005). Critical issues for language and content in mainstream classrooms: Introduction. Linguistics and Education, 16, 143-150. Bruton, A. (2011). Is CLIL so beneficial, or just selective? Re-evaluating some of the research. System, 39, 523-532. Dalton-Puffer, C. (2008). Outcomes and processes in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): Current research in Europe. Future Perspectives in English Language Teaching. Heidelberg: Carl Winter. Lasagabaster, D. & Sierra, J.M. (2009). Immersion and CLIL in English: More differences than similarities. ELT Journal, 64(4), 367-375. Lazaro, A. & Garcia Mayo, M.P. (2012). L1 use and morphosyntactic development in the oral production of EFL learners in a CLIL context. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 50, 135-160. Lorenzo, F. (2007). The sociolinguistics of CLIL: Language planning and language change in 21st century Europe. RESLA (1): 27-38. PĂŠrez-CaĂąado, M. L. (2012). CLIL research in Europe: Past, present, and future. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15 (3), 315341. Xanthou, Maria. (2011, December). The impact of CLIL on L2 vocabulary development and content knowledge. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 10 (4), 116-126. University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. (2009, September). Teaching Knowledge Test, Vol. 3. University of Cambridge.


American Sign Language Vicky A. Allen Higher Colleges of Technology Introduction Teachers are often confronted with and, sometimes, forced to try new ideas in their classrooms but often they are simply using passing fashions that only make their jobs more difficult. Using American Sign Language (ASL) in the EFL classroom offers teachers the opportunity to help their students increase their level of English in a fun, interactive way. This paper explores the use of ASL as a tool to help teachers facilitate and enhance the teaching of English as a foreign language by accommodating both visual and kinesthetic learning styles in the classroom. Being a relatively new field, it’s important to look at how muscle memory works, the theory behind the dendrite mystery, ASL basics and the existing research regarding the educational advantages of using ASL with hearing native English speakers. Limited Prior Research Research was begun back in the early 1980s by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn and, in 1990, they published their findings on the benefits of introducing American Sign Language to pre-lingual hearing infants and toddlers in order to enhance communication and increase vocabulary at an early age. This method has continued to gain both in popularity and success around the world. In the late 80s, Daniels began researching the use of sign language with ‘typical hearing children’ and, in 1993, she published her first research study, ‘ASL as a Factor in Acquiring English’. During this time, interest in using ASL with special needs students was growing and proving to be effective in increasing a child’s vocabulary and quality of communication, both at home and in the classroom. ASL with Special Needs students creates an environment where they can comfortably share, learn and socialize. In her well-known book, Dancing With Words: Signing for Hearing Children’s Literacy, Daniels (2001) points out numerous ways that ASL improves the education of hearing children. Some are listed below:


Improves English vocabulary Develops reading ability Refines spelling proficiency Enhances self-esteem and self-confidence Increases receptive and expressive language skills Introduces a second language In her surveys, teachers reported that ASL: Increases a child’s attention span Facilitates classroom management Cultivates an interest for learning Boosts enthusiasm and readiness to learn Influences a student’s ability to attend Makes learning more fun Now, in the early 21st century, educators have just begun to look at the possibilities of using ASL in teaching English as a foreign language. Again, Daniels (1996) found that using sign language increases a student’s ability to learn new vocabulary. Signing a word adds another dimension to hearing and speaking the word. Fingerspelling definitely aids in mastering spelling in a language with many rules and, in the case of English, with even more exceptions to the rules. Because signing is a physical movement, students will tend to remember the sign first, which then jogs the brain to respond (mental recall). With previous research in mind, it seems to follow that the same advantages would occur with students who are studying English as a foreign language. For these students, ASL would help them by: Improving their English vocabulary Developing their reading ability Refining their spelling proficiency Enhancing their self-esteem and self-confidence Increasing their receptive and expressive language skills Introducing a third or fourth language Increasing their attention span Cultivating their interest for learning Boosting their enthusiasm and readiness to learn Influencing each student’s ability to attend Making learning more fun Muscle Memory Muscle memory can best be described as a type of movement with which the muscles become familiar over time through practicing the same activities over 312

and over again. This memory is not stored in the muscle but in an area of the brain that can respond quickly without much thought. When a person attempts a new endeavor, such as riding a bicycle, swinging a golf club or shooting pool, no matter what it is, it requires concentrated focus. New activities are not automatic and tend to leave one feeling awkward at best, but, after much practice, muscle memory kicks in and, therefore, the brain does not have to concentrate, leaving it open for new pursuits to be conquered. ‘Seeing-thinkingdoing’ becomes ‘seeing-doing’. Native speakers develop their language skills by ‘practicing’ as they grow up. They are immersed in their native tongue and, if the early ‘practice’ was accurate, basic vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar become just a way of life. These students do not have to think hard about the frequent language that they use, leaving room in their brains to learn more complex language skills. Once learned, a student doesn’t have to focus energy on previously learned vocabulary or grammar rules. Often, they can just ask themselves, ‘does it sound right?’ What about second or subsequent language learners? How do we help 2nd language learners develop this accurate ‘Muscle Memory’ while still in their native country, opposed to an English-speaking country? How do we help students gain the confidence that they need in order to practice as much as is necessary? American Sign Language could be that ‘bridge’ between a student’s native language and English. Dendrite Theory There is a lot of research that shows the importance of building on what a person already knows in order to increase retention. Hestwood and Russell (2007) explain dendrite theory by clarifying how the knowledge in our brain grows, and the importance of the new information being able to attach to a previous dendrite, or piece of knowledge. Research into the workings of the brain has shown that humans learn best by attaching some new piece of information or skill to something they already know or understand. It also shows that people grow dendrites for exactly the same thing that they are practicing. For example, if they are listening, they grow dendrites for listening. If they are doing, they grow dendrites for doing whatever it is. In other words, students must perform something active (explain, solve, draw, write, read, etc.) in order to improve their ability in that area. Incremental teaching is the systematic way of introducing new concepts, building on previously learned information, small bits at a time. In this way, teachers help students to practice what they already know while learning small bits of new information, continuing this process as each student learns more and more. This approach has been successful in the teaching of math, English 313

and reading. Can it not be helpful in using ASL for the purpose of teaching English to speakers of other languages? EFL educators already know the importance of teaching high frequency words first and then, building on these words, students will have more success in learning the less frequent or more difficult vocabulary. But, dendrites do not grow unless a student is actively participating. They do not grow unless there is previous knowledge. Can this be applied to teaching ASL in order to help students in the understanding and retention of English vocabulary? Through teaching the most frequent handshapes first and then building on these to learn new vocabulary, students will have better success at remembering the signs and what they actually mean. This approach will expose students to the English alphabet in a more meaningful way. Instead of ‘A, B, C, etc.’, they will learn the alphabet through handshapes that actually form words that have meaning to them. Gradually, they will have learned enough handshapes to be able to form the letters of their names and also their friends’ names, etc. This is a much more significant way to learn the ASL alphabet and, when this occurs, the natural progression would be to now introduce fingerspelling into the spelling curriculum. ASL Basics It is important to understand some basics about American Sign Language. It is a conceptual language that is visual/gestural/spatial, distinct from English and other spoken languages. It is a natural, rich language that is fully developed with a complex grammatical structure. It is the language that the deaf and hard of hearing use to communicate. American Sign Language is not a translation of English. ASL activates the right-side of the brain, and, because it is visual and active, it helps with visual and auditory memory. ASL ‘paints a picture’ in the air. ASL is not only for those who cannot hear. A growing number of teachers of hearing students are finding that it is a wonderful teaching aide in the regular classroom. The use of ASL increases student-focus because ASL insists that students pay attention with their eyes. Behavior problems are reduced and student self-esteem improves. There is more interaction between the teacher and the students. Classrooms are filled with students having different combinations of learning styles and learning abilities yet teachers are responsible to reach each and every one of them. ASL assists the teacher with this overwhelming task because it is both visual and kinesthetic. By bringing ASL into the EFL/ESL classroom, a


teacher will inevitably strengthen his/her students’ English language development by growing their receptive and expressive English vocabularies. Amazing Discovery Here is one example of an actual classroom experience as shown by in unrehearsed video on YouTube called, ‘Amazing Discovery’. Val, a non-native English speaker and an EFL teacher at Daddy Ross’ Preschool in Argentina, was already an experienced teacher of preschool children who had been very successful in the way she was previously teaching, using Genki English as the curriculum for her English class, and incorporating gestures with most of the vocabulary. Yet, like so many teachers, Val was looking for a better way to teach vocabulary so that her Spanish students would learn English more quickly and with better retention of the words and their meanings. She was excited about coming across the research that supported the use of ASL with hearing toddlers and decided to do an experiment with her two preschool classes, each approximately the same class size with students of similar age and ability, only one was in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Now, remember, Val was also just learning ASL herself. Val continued to use the Genki English curriculum but, for one of her classes, she chose to begin using American Sign Language to teach the new English vocabulary. With her other class, she continued the gestures that she had always used to introduce new vocabulary to her students. Since Val taught both classes, teacher differences was not a factor in the outcome. Through the video, you will see how the one class using ASL begins to move much more quickly through the learning of the new vocabulary, gaining more than the words required in the lesson. As the video progresses, the distinction between the two groups becomes very apparent. The group with ASL is much more interactive, highly motivated and self-confident. 'Amazing Discovery' vividly shows how ASL can increase students' learning of English! Practical Application A question that was posed in this article was ‘Will ASL help in a second language learner’s ability to learn English vocabulary?’ Because of the visual nature of ASL, as demonstrated in ‘Amazing Discovery’, it’s apparent that students are


able to understand and learn new vocabulary much more quickly but what about the more difficult multiple meanings of English words? For example: Yusef can run fast. Shaikhah has a run in her abaya. Ahmed will run for class president. The water ran down the wall. ASL has the capability of clearly expressing the different meanings in each sentence through different signs for the word ‘run/ran’. Remember that ASL clearly ‘paints a picture in the air’ so that the sign for ‘run’ in the sentence ‘Yusef can run fast.’ is totally different than the sign for ‘run’ in the subsequent statement ‘Shaikhah has a run in her abaya.’ Each different use of the word has a unique sign which makes the meaning very clear. ASL definitely aids in the learning of the multiple meaning English words. Often a student learning English struggles with explaining what they want to say if they can’t remember the word(s) they need. It is difficult for them to explain it in ‘different’ words. This task becomes less daunting with the use of signs. Gong and Meister (2006) state that ‘the physical act of signing helps plant vocabulary in students’ minds.’ Handshapes As stated in The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary, ‘a sign conveys a concept, not an English word, and its production involves five parameters that need to be described: the handshape, the palm orientation, the location, the movement, and the non-manual signals’. This is important to understand if ASL is to be used with vocabulary concepts in higher level classes. But, either way, accurately learning the handshapes will enhance the teaching of vocabulary. A definite side benefit is that the teachers and students are actually learning another language along the way! There are approximately 40 handshapes that are used to produce the majority of signs. Learning the handshapes first, then connecting them to a few signs, makes the production of the signs more accurate, even for a beginner. Being aware of the handshape makes the teaching of a sign much more understandable to the students. Since many EFL/ESL teachers are not proficient in ASL, it is important that the teacher learn to ‘shape’ the sign correctly because students will be learning from him/her. This is nothing more than having the correct handshape and then


placing it in the correct location in space. The other parameters of a sign clarify the meaning of the word. For example, the signs for ‘daily, yesterday, yourself, not, tomorrow, girl, myself and remember’ are all made with the ‘open A’ handshape but their palm orientation, location, movement and non-manual signals are different. So, if one already knows the ‘open A’ handshape, it is not difficult to learn the location and movement of the different signs mentioned above. It is not necessary to learn all 40 handshapes before a teacher can start using ASL in the classroom. As new vocabulary appears, it will be clear what handshapes are being repeated and what new ones a teacher needs to learn. Fortunately, there are numerous sites online for help in this area and some have been listed in the Resource section. Classroom Management As already described, ASL can be a definite aide to teaching English to EFL/ESL students but it can also be helpful in the overall management of the classroom, which in a roundabout way enhances the overall learning in the classroom. Silent and signed classroom commands provide a much quieter environment that is more conducive to learning. Because the commands are silent, students must also pay closer attention because of the visual nature of the signs. Start with a few words such as: stop, watch me, toilet, please, sit down and quiet. Use these signs regularly throughout the day and then, when comfortable, add new signs for other words that are used often in your classroom. Remember, it is not mandatory that a teacher be proficient at signing. He/she must just have a desire to use the signs. “A teacher’s additional ASL experience or presumed comfort with signing has been shown to have no effect,” (Daniels, 2001 p.61) on the benefits students and teachers receive. Conclusion This article suggests that American Sign Language (ASL) enhances vocabulary teaching in the EFL/ESL classroom for ALL students. It combines meaningful body motion with the English word thus connecting it with an action that equates meaning in a student’s native language. Because of the physical aspect of ASL, it may even accelerate the learning of English vocabulary. Students’ hands actually become their flashcards for learning vocabulary. Language learning is no longer a boring drill of memorization only! All learners become engaged in the process no matter what their learning style. Even the shy and less confident students participate. ASL promotes the retention of English 317

vocabulary in the EFL/ESL classroom and, therefore, increases the student’s level and fluency of English. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of research out there to support the use of ASL with EFL/ESL students but it definitely is an area to be considered. Without question, American Sign Language is a definite teaching aide in any classroom. ASL aides in behavior management, allows for clear directions to be given silently, offers correction without disrupting the entire class, increases selfesteem and has a positive effect on second language learning. Most of all, it’s FUN and students LIKE it! References Acredolo, L., & Goodwyn, S. (1990). Sign language in babies: The significance of symbolic gesturing for understanding language development. Annals of Child Development, 7, 1-42. Auerbach, S. (2006). Hands on: Can sign language help ELLs learn English? The ELL Outlook. Retrieved from: wr_id=7 Daniels, M., (1993). ASL as a factor in acquiring English. Sign Language Studies. Vol. 78, pp. 23-29. Daniels, M., (1996) Seeing language: the effect over time of sign language on vocabulary development in early childhood education. Child Study Journal. 26(3), 193-208. Daniels, M., (2001). Dancing with words: Signing for hearing children’s literacy. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. Henner, J., Geer, L.C., & Lillo-Martin, D. (2013). Calculating frequency of occurrence of ASL handshapes. The Linguistics Society. Retrieved from: Hestwood, D., & Russell, L. (2007). How your brain learns and remembers (PowerPoint slides). Retrieved from: -brain-learns-and-remembers Tennant, R. A., & Brown, M. G. (2010). The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. DaddyRossPreschool. ASL in ESL: The amazing discovery! (Video file). Retrieved from:


Contributorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Profiles Rehab Rajab is passionate about sharing innovative teaching ideas and developing online professional learning communities. She holds an M.A. in Educational Technology from Michigan State University and last year she became an Apple Distinguished Educator. She worked as an ESL teacher for twelve years before becoming Instructional Technology Supervisor and Teacher Trainer at The Institute of Applied Technology in 2012. Rehab has been involved in professional development activities for teachers in the UAE through her work with TESOL Arabia since 2007. Currently she is the President of the organisation. Racquel Warner is a Doctoral student at Exeter University. She is the Coordinator for the M.A. TESOL, the International Foundation and the Academic Enrichment Programmes at Middlesex University in Dubai. Racquel's passion and research interest is student engagement as an alternative pedagogical approach in higher education. Iman Abdulsattar is currently an Assistant Professor for the Department of English, College of Languages at Baghdad University. She has conducted courses in novels, speech practice, ESL/EFL and TOEFL. Her pedagogical interests include materials development in relation to novels and American literature as well as interactive language teaching. Rasha Abdulmunem Azeez has been teaching literature/ drama to undergraduate students at Baghdad University for 12 years. She has worked as a, English/ Arabic and Arabic/ English translator since 1999, and is currently studying at Georgia State University. She is interested in modern drama and comparative literature. Alison Camacho has 15 years of experience teaching ESL/EFL in the U.S., Japan, and Mexico. She is currently a lecturer in the Intensive English Program at Georgia State University. She has coordinated special programs with groups from China, Egypt, Korea and Iraq. Her pedagogical interests include materials development and interactive language teaching. Kevin M. Maher currently teaches at the University of Macau. Previously, he taught at Kansai Gaidai University (Japan), Keiwa College (Japan), and Hongik University (South Korea). He lives in Macau, with his wife and two kids, and can be reached at Literature Circles is one of his research interests. Andrew Imrie is an Adjunct English lecturer at Rikkyo University in Japan. He has a Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Degree in TESOL and a Master of Science Degree in Information Processing. His current research interests include blended learning and the use of mobile technology to support language learning. 319

Anthony J. Solloway has taught in England, the PRC, Hong Kong Oman, and latterly in the UAE where he teaches academic writing and acts as mentor to final year applied linguistics students completing ESL teaching practicums. When not off-roading and camping, Anthony devours anything written by Graham Greene and Raymond Chandler. Helene Demirci is a member of the English faculty at Abu Dhabi Men’s College. She has taught EFL at primary, secondary and tertiary levels over the last 20 years in England and Turkey and most recently the UAE. Her interests lie in extensive reading and technology integration. She holds an M.A. in TEFL. Melanie Gobert, Ed.D, has presented and published extensively in the Gulf region on reading, writing, speaking, vocabulary, assessment, independent learning, and online learning. She is currently the editor of Perspectives, the TESOL Arabia peer-reviewed journal and President Elect of TESOL Arabia. She is also Chair of the MENA Extensive Reading Foundation. Louise Sikkens is the independent learning centre librarian at Abu Dhabi Men’s College. She has over twenty-five years of experience in education, seven in the Middle-East. Louise holds a Master’s of Education: Teacher Librarian and a Bachelor of Education from Australia. Dr. Sahbi Hidri is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Social and Human Sciences of Tunis, Tunisia. His research focuses on language assessment and evaluation, test validation, test design, test-taking strategies, static and dynamic assessment, assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and socio-cognitive approach to SLA. Dr. Sufian Abu-Rmaileh is a lecturer at UAE University. He was External Projects and Professional Development Coordinator. For the past thirty years, he has taught English at various levels, skills and institutions in different parts of the world. He is also an award winning teacher, researcher, presenter and administrator. Nahed Ghazzoul is an Assistant Professor at Al-Zaytoonah University in Amman/ Jordan. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics (Lancaster, England, 2008); a certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Lancaster, England. 2006; an M.A. in Linguistics (TESOL) University of Surrey, England, 2004; a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics, University of Aleppo, 1999, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation and Arabicisation, University of Aleppo, 1991.


Barraq Ali has been teaching EFL for over 25 years. He is currently working on his Ed.D. thesis with the University of Exeter, England, as well as teaching English on the Foundations Program at HCT Fujairah Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s College. His research interests are educational technology and the role of L1 in teaching English as a Foreign Language. Elspeth Cavalcanti has been a teacher and teacher trainer for over twenty years in Europe, Brazil and for the last thirteen years in the UAE at Abu Dhabi Men's College. She is currently working towards a Doctorate in Education from the University of Exeter. Matthew A. Robbyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s expertise is in leadership and evaluation research. He is the UNESCO Chair of Applied Research for the Higher Colleges of Technology. He has received a number of national and regional awards during his career. Dr. Robby is a member of the American Evaluation Association. Christina Gitsaki is the Associate Dean of Foundations at the Higher Colleges of Technology. Her research interests include educational technology, teaching pedagogy and second language acquisition. Dr. Gitsaki is the President of the Gulf Comparative Education Society and the Executive Treasurer of the International Association of Applied Linguistics. Tamatha Roman is a lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies in Makuhari, Japan. She has an M.A. in TESOL from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She has taught in South Korea, Chile, Japan, and the United States. Her research interests are multi-literacies, CALL, and the environment. Almin Piric teaches at UAEU. He spent the last two years as an English Language Fellow in Prizren, Kosovo, and has also taught in Bosnia and the United States. Peter B. McLaren, Ed.D, teaches English at UAE University. He has taught elsewhere in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Egypt and England. His research interests are critical issues, reading and increasingly the adaptation of technology in the classroom. He has presented and published on these topics. Peter Davidson teaches at Zayed University in Dubai, having previously taught in New Zealand, Japan, the England and Turkey. He recently co-edited The Fundamentals of Language Assessment (2009), and The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Assessment (2012). He is particularly interested in language testing, faculty evaluation, and 21st century education.


Héla Châabouni Fourati works for the Ministry of Education Tunisia. She started teaching English in secondary schools in1987. She became a teacher trainer in charge of primary school teachers in 2003. She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics (2009). She is a member of TESOL and TATE (Tunisian Association of Teachers of English). Mohamed Azaza is the current chair of TESOL Arabia’s Research SIG. He holds an M.Sc. in TESOL from Aston University and a DELTA from the University of Cambridge. He is also a Ph.D. student at Leicester University. He is currently teaching at ADNOC Technical Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Jamie G. Sturges is an English instructor in the SCAT Program at Toyo University in Tokyo, Japan. She previously taught at Old Dominion University in Virginia, United States. Her mentoring experiences at ODU were the inspiration for her presentation and article for TACON 2013. Rana Raddawi is Associate Professor at the American University of Sharjah. She teaches in the M.A. TESOL Program in the Department of English, in addition to ESP, curriculum development, emotional intelligence and intercultural communication courses. Her research interests relate to emotional intelligence, cross-cultural studies, critical pedagogy and gender empowerment. She speaks five languages fluently. Salah Troudi is an academic at the University of Exeter. His research interests are in critical applied linguistics, curriculum studies, and language policies. He is the director of the Ed.D TESOL in Dubai and editor of a number of journals in TESOL and language education. Edith Flahive, B.Ed, RSA DELTA, M.A. TESOL, MBA Educational Leadership; is a faculty member at Abu Dhabi Men’s College. Prior to joining the HCT, she worked in the private school system in the UAE. She has also taught in Ireland and Spain. Her research interests include learner independence, classroom methodologies, and leadership. Maha Elhami is a passionate English Instructor who works at Al Hosn University, Abu Dhabi, UAE. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education. Her thesis focused on the effectiveness of English as a Medium of Instruction in the United Arab Emirates. She presented her practical experiences in teaching English as Inquiry at the 19th TESOL Arabia Conference in 2013. Matthew A. Carey holds an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and an Curriculum and Instruction. He has taught in Japan, South Korea, Qatar, and the United States. Currently he is teaching English at Qatar University and is a Harvard University affiliated instructor.


Mick King has taught, lectured, managed, published and presented in the field of (TESOL) Education for the last 25 years. He teaches Policy Leadership and Management at Middlesex University in Dubai and is focusing on content teacher views of EMI policy for his Doctoral research thesis with the University of Exeter. Samira Abdelaziz Boukadi is a graduate of the University of Tunisia, Aston University in England, USQ in Australia and Exeter University where she recently obtained a Doctorate in TESOL. She is currently working at the Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi. Research interests include language policy, classroom instruction, blended learning, mobile learning and Information Communication Technology. Alissa Nostas is an English instructor in the IEP at the American University in Cairo. Her interests include vocabulary acquisition and writing in academic settings. Her e-mail address is: Mariah Fairley is an English instructor in the IEP at the American University in Cairo. Her interests include community based learning and student engagement. Her e-mail address is: Susanne Rizzo is a senior English instructor in the ELI at the American University in Cairo. Her interests include CALL and reading and writing in academic settings. Her e-mail address is: Eric Friginal is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA. He specializes in corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics, intercultural communication, and technology and language teaching. His recent book, co-written with Jack Hardy is entitled “Corpus-Based Sociolinguistics: A Guide for Students” (Routledge, 2014). Nidham Sheet Hameed is a Professor at the Department of English, University of Baghdad, Iraq. She specializes in Applied Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, Sociolinguistics, and English Language Teaching. She is the author of “The Syntax and Semantics of Adjectives in English" (published in Amman, Jordan: Wael Publishing House, 2005). Sabah Sleibi Mustafa is a Professor of Linguistics and Translation and currently Head of the Department of English, College of Languages, University of Baghdad, Iraq. His research interests include translation, syntax, discourse analysis, and language teaching. He is a member of the advisory board of the Arab World English Journal.


George S. Murdoch teaches on the Foundation English Program at UAE University, where he formerly supervised the Women’s Campus Speaking Centre. He has presented at numerous TESOL Arabia and other international conferences. George has also written and reviewed articles for leading journals. Dr. Fawzi Al Ghazali is an assistant professor of Applied Linguistics. His areas of expertise include language acquisition, teaching methodology, and syllabus design. His research interests cover learner autonomy and mobile learning technologies. Dr. Siân Etherington is lecturer in TESOL at the University of Salford, England. Her research interests include teacher and student perceptions of grammar and grammar teaching, the role of emotions in second language learning, and L2 motivation. Christopher N. Pinkerton recently returned to the University of Delaware’s English Language Institute after teaching at King Fahd Naval Academy in Jubail, KSA for fifteen months. His principle expertise is in academic preparation and Business English. Additionally, Chris has taught at the University of Delaware, Harrisburg Area Community College, and Penn State York Campus as well as with the Department of Education in Jogjakarta Indonesia. Philline Deraney, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. She has taught in higher education in the United States and the Gulf for 10 years and is interested in TESOL methods and research. Hanadi AbdelSalam, Ph.D., is the Director of the Female Campus at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia. She has held different key positions in several academic institutions worldwide and is interested in general sciences education and research. Vicky A. Allen is part of the English Faculty at HCT-Fujairah Women's College. She has an M.Ed. in Deaf Education and has taught high school and collegeaged deaf students for over 25 years. She has also taught American Sign Language at the college level and in the private sector.


TACON 2013 Proceedings  

The Proceedings of the 19th TESOL Arabia Conference 2013: From KG to College to Career ISBN: 978-9948-20-635-4 Copyright by TESOL Arabia h...