The aim of this study is to determine the effect of word clustering method on vocabulary learning of Iranian EFL learners through a case of semantic versus phonological clustering. To this effect, 80 homogeneous students from four intermediate classes at an English institute in Torbat e Heydariyeh participated in this research. They were assigned to four groups according to semantic versus phonological clustering [± semantic, ± phonological] then, based on each groups' clustering pattern, 10 selected words were taught. At the end of the treatment phase, immediate and delayed posttests of vocabulary were given to students in a multiple choice format to understand the effects of word clustering in short and long term vocabulary learning. The analysis of the research was done in SPSS through one-way ANOVA. The results in both immediate and delayed post-tests showed a statistically significant difference among groups. The obtained mean scores revealed this rank order of mean performance in both immediate and delayed post-tests: [+ semantic, + phonological], [+ semantic, - phonological], [- semantic, + phonological], and [- semantic, - phonological]. Additionally, the effect of time did not turn out to be significant. These findings and relevant implications are discussed in the paper.
Second language writing instruction has been greatly influenced by the growing importance of technology and the recent shift of paradigm from a cognitive to a social orientation in second language acquisition (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006). Therefore, the applications of computer-assisted language learning and activity theory have been suggested as a promising framework for writing studies. The present study aimed to investigate the perception of Iranian EFL learners of the efficacy and affordance of activity theory integrated with computer-assisted language learning in writing improvement. To this end, sixty-seven sophomores majoring in English translation were selected as the participants of this study. The writing instruction was geared to an e-learning platform based on the six elements of activity theory--subject, object, mediating artifacts, rules, community, and division of labor--appropriate for the writing course. The students were assigned to write nine expository paragraphs on six different developmental patterns and share various relevant materials on the platform during the treatment. Their assignments were carefully monitored and evaluated by the instructor. Upon the completion of the treatment, the students completed a closed-ended questionnaire and an open-ended questionnaire and took part in a semi-structured focus group interview to express their perception. The results showed that the students held favorable perception toward the use of computer-assisted language learning within the activity theory framework. The findings of the study also revealed that there was a significant difference among the students' perception concerning the four mediating elements of activity theory.
For many English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers, working contingently with language learners' problematic learner contributions in classroom interaction remains a challenge. Drawing on conversation analysis methodology and using sociocultural and situated learning theories, this longitudinal case study traces the progressional changes in one Iranian English language teacher's repairing practices (his orientation to repairable, repair completion type and trajectory) along with the changing impacts of different organizational patterns of repair and interactional awareness on learning opportunities. The data material consists of video recordings of EFL oral classroom interactions (11 lessons) and reflective conversations (seven sessions) between the researcher and the participant teacher at one private language institute in Iran over a period of six months, in two phases. Qualitative results from the first (descriptive) phase indicated that the teacher's provision of repair in meaning-oriented contexts was generally convergent while in form-oriented ones divergent. The qualitative changes revealed the teacher's increasing attention to lexical errors and use of self-repair types, particularly in form-oriented contexts and the teacher's progress in interactional awareness including identification of contexts and repair organization, use of metalanguage and critical self-evaluation This study makes a contribution to conversation analytic research and our understanding of English teacher professional development.
Phonological awareness has been defined as the speaker’s sensitivity to the phonological characteristics of a language. The present study is aimed at exploring the relationship between Iranian EFL learners’ explicit phonological awareness, their foreign accentedness and speech comprehensibility as perceived by native and non-native English-speaking EFL teachers. To determine the relationships, the researchers used a set of tasks that measured 34 EFL learners’ phonological awareness in five domains of rhyming, alliteration or onset, segmenting, blending, and manipulation. They also asked the participants to read a short text which was recorded and later rated for accentedness and comprehensibility on a 9-point scale. Results indicated that there was a significant correlation between the learners’ phonological awareness and perception of foreign accentedness. The same was true about the correlation between phonological awareness and speech comprehensibility. Furthermore, a strong positive correlation was found between foreign accentedness and comprehensibility, suggesting that foreign accentedness could affect comprehensibility of L2 speech. The findings suggest that pedagogical strategies that highlight formal properties of language be employed in second language classrooms to reduce learners’ foreign accent and increase their speech comprehensibility.
The aim of the current study was twofold: (1) to validate the internal structure of the general English (GE) section of the university entrance examination for Ph.D applicants into the English programs at state universities in Iran (Ph.D. UEE), and (2) to examine the factor structure invariance of the Ph.D. UEE across two proficiency levels. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to analyze the responses of a random sample of participants (N=1009) who took the test in 2014 to seek admission to English programs at Iranian state universities. First, four models (unitary, uncorrelated, correlated and higher-ordered) were estimated and compared to find the model that best represented the data. Then, the factor structure invariance of the test across two proficiency levels was explored using multigroup confirmatory factor analysis. The higher-order and correlated three-factor model showed the best fit to the data. The result also showed that the structure of the test remained invariant across both proficiency levels. These results supported the multi-componential view of language proficiency. It was found that there is no relationship between levels of language proficiency and the structure of the test. However, the results called into question the score-reporting policy for the PhD UEE and led to the conclusion that a single total score does not reflect the structure of the test.
Test washback is held to be complicated and multifaceted in that a host of cultural, social, individual, test, and institutional factors are involved in shaping it. Thus far, the majority of washback studies have had as their focus the role of teachers in test washback or washback to teachers. How educational environments or institutions might function in isolation or in interaction with other factors in shaping washback to the learners and test takers has not received adequate research attention. The current study examined the mediatory role of academic institutions in washback to learners' perceptions of test content and test preparation. To this aim, 86 senior English students from two universities, one a top tier and the other a low tier one, completed two questionnaires: one on test takers' preparation practices including test analysis, test taking skills, drilling target skills, and socio-affective strategies; and the other on test takers' construal of test demands and uses as well as their expectation of success on the test. The data analyzed through partial least squares structural equation modeling revealed that a washback model based on expectancy-value theory explains a moderate amount of variance in test preparation. Further, for test takers from the low tier university, favorable perceptions of test content were associated with more value placed on test taking. However, Multi-group analysis pointed to group-invariance of the model across the two institutions, indicating a lack of strong evidence for the mediatory role of educational environments in washback to test takers’ perceptions and preparation.