December 2009 Foreword – Issue 4

This issue again illustrates the eclecticism that is inherent in the Asian EFL Journal system. We purpose an interesting and varied array of papers from a wide variety of settings and cultures. I hope you will learn as much as we have when reading them.
In this summary of a recent keynote in Malaysia, Disciplines of English and disciplining by English, Robert Phillipson emphasized the importance of seeing English in context, warning against thinking that a language of global importance can be ideologically neutral. Phillipson recommends a multidisciplinary approach to studies into global English and underlines the need to consider the marginalization of other languages. He points out that bilingual education is recommended by UNESCO and is increasingly institutionalised in many parts of the world.
In The Applicability of Principles for Instructed Second Language Learning: A South Korean Perspective Jocelyn Howard and Susan Millar examine South Korean teachers perceptions of the applicability to their contexts of the general principles for effective instructed second language learning proposed by Ellis (2005). They suggest that the principles provide a common point of international reference in spite of the fact that some of them would be subject to socio-cultural constraints. They argue that they help to give EFL teachers a sense of agency by helping them engage in self-reflection, and provide common points of reference for language teachers and researchers in the international community.
Yuri Kim and Eleni Petraki (Students and Teachers Use of and Attitudes to L1 in the EFL Classroom) examine the attitudes of students and teachers attitudes to the use of L1 in EFL classrooms in multilevel language classrooms. They conclude that L1 plays a supportive role in the language classroom in certain types of activity, especially in the early stages of reading and writing. As Kim and Petraki suggest, more research is clearly required investigate further under what conditions L1 use is useful and successful.
In A Comparison of the Effects of Corrections on Definite/Indefinite Articles and Regular/Irregular Past Tense Forms: A Case of Iranian EFL Learners Azizollah Dabaghi and Mansoor Tavakoli investigate the effect of error correction on EFL learners acquisition of definite and indefinite articles as well as errors on regular and irregular past tense verb forms. They find that the irregular past tense form is learnt before the regular past tense and the definite article the is learned before indefinite articles a and an when corrective feedback is given. While further research of a longitudinal nature would be needed to confirm these results, they suggest that this initial study points to the importance of negotiation, saliency and individualized attention in language learning.

Omid Tabatabaei and Parviz Birjandi (The Impact of Gender on the Incidence and Quality of Form-focused Episodes in Task-based Conversational Feedback among EFL Learners) investigate the role of gender in task-based interactions and the incidence and quality of form-focused episodes. The results indicated that the gender of both the learner and the interlocutor may influence the incidence and quality of form-focused episodes in task-based interactions among foreign language learners.
In Chinese Phonotactic Patterns and the Pronunciation Difficulties of Mandarin-Speaking EFL Learners Hui-Ling Huang, & James Radant investigate difficulties resulting from L1 phonotactic constraints. Using a 145-word reading passage with a total of 30 target sounds, their findings suggest that the successful pronunciation of individual sounds does not automatically transfer to successful pronunciation at word level. They also confirm the commonly encountered situation across borders in which segmental problems are far more easily identified and remedied than suprasegmental problems, such as syllable structures and prosody.
In a historical investigation (Impacts of Vietnam s Social Context on Learners’ Attitudes Towards Foreign Languages and English Language Learning: Implications for Teaching and Learning) Phan Thi Thanh Hang discusses the changes in Vietnamese learners attitudes towards foreign language learning. Phan finds that political, economic and socio-cultural changes have led to a change in Vietnamese learners attitudes from resentment to appreciation and motivation. Nevertheless, she argues that only a minority are fully aware of the importance of English competence. She emphasizes importance of this awareness for policy makers and educators and for the motivation of students.
In The Effect of Assisted RR on Fluency and Comprehension in Chinese FL Classrooms, Huifen Chen examines the effectiveness of Assisted Repeated Reading in improving the reading fluency and comprehension of Chinese College English students. He compares the Assisted RR treatment altered for a Chinese College English classroom context with the extensive reading treatment widely currently practiced and finds that it has significantly increased the learners reading rate and comprehension.
Sheu Hsiu-Chinh (EFL Children s Views on English Picture Story Books) investigates the views of a group of primary school students in Taiwan on reading English picture story books. The findings indicate that the majority of the students considered them helpful in enhancing their language learning, motivating their reading and stimulating their imagination. Vocabulary was perceived to be the main challenge encountered. Sheu identifies three educational values that emerged from the data: (1) the linguistic value, (2) the value of the story, and (3) the value of the pictures.
In Interaction Between Processing and Maintenance in Online L2 Sentence Comprehension: Implication for Linguistic Threshold Hypothesis, Shigeo Kato examines the L2 reading threshold phenomenon. Kato focuses on the relationship between processing and maintenance efficiency in self-paced reading performance. The results revealed a trace-decay mechanism, but for the better performers there was also a trade-off possibility. When the impact of the presence of irrelevant speech was introduced using the same experimental paradigm, improvement, rather than deterioration, was evidenced, particularly by the poor performers. Kato suggests that this provides evidence of strategy-switching from phonological to direct-visual word-recognition process.
Kenneth David Strang (How Multicultural Learning Approach Impacts Grade for International University Students in a Business Course) uses a survey approach to investigate the ways in which cultural background and learning approach may influence grades. Using a multicultural learning model, four of eight factors identified were found to be very predictive of grade. Strang s study proposes an original interdisciplinary model of culture and learning and employs rigorous multiple research methods to measure the impact of his multicultural learning approach on academic grade. Nonetheless he underlines the difficulty of his undertaking with the modest claim that his study merely scratches the surface on integrating culture and learning style theories to measure academic performance .