March 2009 Foreword

In this first issue of 2009, Dr. Sivakumar Sivasubramaniam provides our editorial opinion paper, Issues and Insights for Promoting Agency, Voice and Subjecthood in Reading and Assessment. Like many of our Ed. Op. pieces, this paper is a strong statement of one of our associate editor s educational values and beliefs. We hope that this will stimulate all of our readers to reconsider their approach to response-based reading assessment practices in EFL/ESL settings and to consider providing us with their own response to this paper for one of our next issues.
Zahra Akbari and M.H. Tahririan, in Vocabulary Learning Strategies in an ESP Context: the case of para/medical English in Iran, consider taxonomies of vocabulary learning strategies. They suggest that, compared to other classification schemes, Schmitt s (1997) taxonomy seems to be the most exhaustive and has the advantage of being organized around an established scheme of language learning strategies. Their findings have led them to modify and develop Schmitt s taxonomy for ESP studies in their own local context. Akbari and Tahririan conclude that teachers and learners should try to integrate both knowledge-oriented and skill-oriented strategies.
In Assessing the Level of English Language Exposure of Taiwanese College Students in Taiwan and the Philippines, Carlo Magno and his research team examine the differences in English language exposure among Taiwanese college students living in Taiwan and in the Philippines. The results revealed that the Taiwanese in the Philippines showed significantly higher levels of English language exposure. As a result, they master a new array of social norms, attitudes and behaviours that enable them to become effective speakers of their second language.
Shu-Chen Huang (The Efficacy of Setting Process Goals in Orienting EFL Learners to Attend to the Formal Aspects of Oral Production) consider how process goals can facilitate the learning of foreign/second language reading and writing. She explores the effectiveness of setting form-focused process goals for EFL learners when they perform an oral communication task. Her analyses indicated that setting a form-focused process goal did not make a difference when learners performed the oral task. She interprets this to mean that the dominance of product goals in real-time communication made explicit attention to form difficult.
In Reading-Writing Connection for EFL College Learners Literacy Development, Ming-Yueh Shen examines the impact of a reading-writing connection project on first-year college students taking a compulsory EFL course. A literacy environment that supported reading-writing connections involved explicit instruction of text structures and story elements, reflective reading journals (or reading logs) for each reading text, and creative writing based upon a story book of the learners own choice of topic. She found that the learners’ literacy developed not only linguistically but also in terms of critical thinking and personal growth. Her conclusion is that reading and writing should be integrated in teaching as they mutually reinforce skills.
Zifirdaus Adnan looks at an issue that has been of regular (but arguably insufficient) concern to the Asian EFL Journal. In Some Potential Problems for Research Articles Written by Indonesian Academics when Submitted to International English Language Journals, he examines feedback given to articles submitted by Indonesian Academics. To increase the acceptance rate of Indonesian manuscripts in international journals, he concludes pragmatically that emphasis should be put on teaching rhetorical structure that conforms to the observed requirements of many international journals. In the meantime, journals like AEJ clearly need to continue addressing the issue of intrinsic merit rather than implicit conformity to a limited model of rhetorical structure.
In Foreign Language Speaking Assessment: Taiwanese College English Teachers Scoring Performance in the Holistic and Analytic Rating Methods, Ying-Ying Chuang investigates college English teachers scoring performance using holistic and analytic rating methods. She finds that comprehensibility was of most concern, while vocabulary/word choice was not considered important. Significant differences were found in the factors of the teachers age and academic major, but significant differences were not found in the in relation to teaching experience and rating training.
Mei-yun Ko and Tzu-fu Wang explore Taiwanese EFL teachers perception of critical literacy in EFL teaching in Introducing Critical Literacy to EFL Teaching: Three Taiwanese College Teachers Conceptualization. Participants considered the promotion of critical literacy in EFL teaching feasible and important but understood critical literacy differently. This qualitative study proposes a new perspective for students, teachers and researchers from which to re-think the implementation of critical literacy in ESL reading classes.
Use of the first language has often been debated in international journals. Language Transfer as a Communication Strategy and a Language Learning Strategy in a Malaysian ESL Classroom by Shamala Paramasivam reports on the use of language transfer as a type of communication and language learning strategy. Paramasivam contributes to the debate by claiming that the first language can not only function as a strategy for communication but also as a means of enhancing second language learning.
Metadiscourse Knowledge and Use in Iranian EFL Writing by Shahla Simin and Manoochehr Tavangar highlights the need to consider the pragmatics of metadiscourse in EFL writing. The results of Simin and Tavangar s study allow them to claim that the more proficient learners are in a second language, the more they use metadiscourse markers. They also find that metadiscourse instruction has a positive effect on the correct use of metadiscourse markers.
In Enhancing Oral Participation Across the Curriculum: Some Lessons from the EAP Classroom, John Trent addresses the concern that efforts by universities to promote the use of the English language both inside and outside the classroom in Asia may be threatened by over-emphasizing the reticence of Asian learners. Trent challenges this alleged reticence in the Chinese context, providing evidence that learners in his study did not appear to have problems conceptualizing and adopting a variety of participation roles in classroom discussion, partly as a result of promoting learner agency. Trent suggests that these findings have implications for classroom practices in content classrooms traditionally dominated by a transmission mode of teaching.
Lixin Xiao, in A New Paradigm of Teaching English in China: An Eclectic Model, also addresses approaches to EFL in the Chinese context at university level. His proposed eclectic approach is also opposed to traditional teacher-centred practices. What Xiao identifies as the prevalent Chinese methods of teaching are complemented by his suggestions to cultivate learners communicative competence as required by the revised curriculum for English majors.

Roger Nunn
Senior Associate Editor
Asian EFL Journal