September 2009 Foreword

In this issue we present a very broad variety of papers covering a wide range of issues. These include some perennial language learning topics such as visual aids and memory, some cultural topics such as trilingualism and comparisons of rhetorical language use across cultures. Other topics include assessment and approaches to improving the quality of learning. We hope that you will find at least something of interest within this very broad range.
Memory is so obviously important in language learning so it seems logical to make it the focus of an investigation. In The Effect of MTI on L2 Proficiency and Learning Strategies Yen, Shu-chin and Chou, Tun-whei investigate whether Memory Trigger Instruction (MTI) increases students use of memory strategies, and whether this results in an increase in students overall English proficiency. Their results suggest that MTI can significantly increase both strategy use and students English proficiency. They conclude that the development of a broad variety of mnemonic techniques is likely to increase the effectiveness of MTI and further suggest that MTI could be extended to other areas of language instruction, such as listening, speaking and writing.
As political ideology increasingly underpins academic writing in our international field, it is important to keep reminding ourselves that improved learning remains the ultimate aim of all EFL research. Lei Lei, and Xiaoqing Qin (An Empirical Study of Success and Failure Attributions of EFL Learners at the Tertiary Level in China) investigate the perceptions of reasons for success and failure of tertiary-level EFL learners in relation to English language achievement. Their learners attribute English learning success to factors of effort, teacher, confidence and practical use, and failure to factors of lack of confidence, lack of effort, test-oriented learning, lack of practical use and lack of external help. They conclude that all these factors in combination influence EFL learning success.
In Discourse Community or Cultural Conventions: Rhetorical Analysis of Research Abstracts, Ali Akbar Ansarin and Farzad Rashidi investigate the generic structure of the moves used in abstracts written in English by English and Persian speakers. While differences were identified at a micro-level, no major rhetorical differences were found in the use of rhetorical conventions. The findings appear to suggest that in the field of applied linguistics, research-article abstract writers manifest their affinity to the perceived norms of rhetorical behavior within a discourse community rather than to their national community and native language writing culture. Whether this applied beyond abstract writing would be more difficult to establish and needs further investigation.
Involving students in their own assessment has supporters and detractors. Eddie White s pilot study in self-assessment, Assessing the Assessment: an Evaluation of a Self-Assessment of Class Participation Procedure, considers practicality, reliability, validity, authenticity, and washback. White s initial study confirms the common expectations about the difficulty of training students in self-assessment. However, he identifies an advantage that makes it worthwhile to persist as it is found to be very effective as a consciousness-raising tool that promotes more class participation.
Moving to a study in more formal testing, Iranian Candidates’ Attitudes towards IELTS, Iman Rasti considers the relationship between examinees’ characteristics and their attitudes using an attitude questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and narrative written self-reports. He found that the majority of candidates (80%) had a positive attitude towards IELTS regardless of sex, age, educational background, and scores.
In a study that may well be echoed in other contexts, Wen-chi (Vivian) Wu in Criteria for Establishing an Authentic EFL Learning Environment in Taiwan, China explores the perceptions of faculty and students of their learning environment The entire EFL environment was perceived to be detrimental to learning The lack of native speakers, sufficient teachers, real-life learning materials, English-language speaking and listening practice, and multimedia teaching resources were found to be particularly detrimental. Among other suggestions, Wu advocates a more interactive relationship of collaboration between teachers and students and designing genuine experiences within the community rather than the current concentration on teacher- and classroom-centered instruction.
Yuxiu Hu and Adam B. Bodomo in Harbinglish: L1 Influence on the Learning of English by High School Students in Harbin, China report on the important role of L1 in L2 acquisition, thus contributing to an important debate by using new data to provide a new perspective. They suggest that the transfer, in this context at least, is considerably stronger than is often acknowledged, concluding that the common errors made by high school learners of English in Harbin are mainly due to the influence of their native language.

In Children s Achievement in Two Second Languages: The Roles of Gender, Language Use Domains and Beliefs, Harshita Aini Haroon and Azlina Murad Sani investigate associations between the achievement of young learners in two second languages and gender, language use and language learning beliefs. Achievements in the first language and both second languages were found to positively correlate with each other. They also confirm previous findings that girls are dominant in languages. Haroon and Sani also found significant associations between English achievement and some language learning beliefs and communication strategies.
It is unusual for AEJ to accept a study beyond our usual EFL scope. In this case we felt there was much of relevance to EFL teachers in this paper so made an exception. Adel Abu Radwan (Input Processing Instruction and Traditional Output Practice Instruction: Effects on the Acquisition of Arabic Morphology) investigates the claim that focusing learners attention on interpreting the meaning of various language forms is superior to other types of formal instruction. He compares the effects of meaning-based input processing instruction and traditional output-based instruction on the acquisition of several formal features necessary for the interpretation of sentences containing psychological verbs in Arabic. The findings indicate that processing instruction seems to affect certain areas of interlanguage (IL) grammar such as clitics and theme-verbs.
In Use of Refusal Strategies by Turkish EFL Learners and Native Speakers of English in Urban and Rural Areas, Zubeyde Sinem Genc and Ozlem Tekyildiz investigate the ways in which Turkish learners of English use the speech act of refusal. Their aim was to reveal whether regional variety affects the kind of refusal strategies used. Their findings indicated that all the subjects regardless of origin seem to use similar notions of directness and indirectness in their interactions with interlocutors of varied social status. The status of the interlocutor was observed to be an important factor in strategy choice for all respondents.
It is difficult to relate the affect of particular aspects of classroom approach to improved learning. In Teaching Aids: Effective in Iranian Students’ Lexical Acquisition?, Seyed Vahid Aryadoust and Hoda Lashkary investigate the effects of employing teaching aids, including the of use videos, flash cards, and dictionaries on lexical acquisition over a four-month period to observe whether vocabulary acquisition is improved by the use of aids. In a traditional experimental study, the results indicated that the vocabulary was mastered better by the subjects taught using teaching aids. Naturally, further research would be needed to confirm the findings for other contexts.