Welcome to this issue of NELTA ELT Forum! In this issue, we are bringing three articles related to different themes in ELT. In doing so, we have included a review of an article so as to encourage our readers to develop an appreciation and critique of the existing research works related to our field.
In the first article, Quasi-experimental Research Design in Applied Linguistics Research: Insights from the Study by Soltero-González et al. (2016), Xuan Wang discusses how quasi-experimental design can be used in educational research. Reviewing an experimental study conducted by Soltero-González et al. (2016), the author discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the research design and presents implications and suggestions for future research.
D.N Joshi, in his article, Changes in socio-cultural trends in and its impact on ELT, reviews the impact of new advancements in socio-cultural trends in English language teaching. The author has reviewed how the field of language teaching has gone through different changes due to various socially and culturally grounded factors and has proposed the need for Nepal to embrace them in the changed contexts.
In his article, perceptions and practices of English teachers towards the mixed- ability classes, Shiva Khadka, reports the findings of his study in which he investigated how teachers understood the concept of mixed ability classes and the strategies they used to deal with such classes. His findings show that teachers used various practices such as using diverse learning materials; implementing group work and pair work; differentiated instruction; and providing feedback and motivation to make their teaching meaningful in classes with learners from a diverse academic background.
For ease of access, the link for each article can be found below:
Finally, we apologize that we could not bring some issues earlier as planned due to unforeseen technical issues. We promise to make the publication regular in the future. We would also like to inform you that we have decided to bring out the new issue in every three months now on. So the new issue will appear in July 2019.
We hope that the articles included in this issue may contribute to reflection and future research. Please write your ideas on the issues discussed in the articles in the form of comments and feedback.
Suman Laudari, Laxmi Ojha and Sagun Shrestha
Quasi-experimental Research Design in Applied Linguistics Research: Insights from the Study by Soltero-González et al. (2016)
Quasi-experimentalresearch design is one of the main approaches in Applied Linguistics research to establish a cause-effect relationship between conditions or variables, which often features a controlled environment, statistical analysis and alargenumber of participants (Mackey & Gass, 2016). Yet there are intricacies of employing the quasi-experimental research design in Applied Linguistics research. Thusthe aim of this article is to bring some ideas on how quasi-experimental design can be implemented effectively by reviewing an experimental study by Soltero-González et al. (2016). In doing so, the strengths and the weaknesses of the research design is discussed. Implications and suggestions for future research are provided at the end of the article.
Keywords:Quasi-experimental Research Design; Experimental & Control Groups; Bilingual Education; Biliteracy.
The recent decade is witnessing the proliferation of bilingual and multilingual education all over the world, thanks to globalization and international mobility. And, emerging bilingual children’s literacy development has been a contentious issue in the existing bilingual education research. The study by Soltero-Gonzálezet al. (2016) is a recent attempt to compare the effects of two literacy approaches on the emerging children’s biliteracy outcomes. The authors conducted a longitudinal study to investigate whether implementing the Spanish-English paired literacy approach can produce better biliteracy outcomes than sequential literacy approach. Following the quasi-experimental research paradigm, the study recruited 161 Grade 3 students in the paired literacy programme and 191 Grade 3 students, who had been in the sequential literacy programme, in the last 2 years. Data were mainly collected from formal and informal measures of reading and writing skills in English and Spanish. Statistical analysis on was performed on test scores, which favourably suggested an academic advantage of the paired literacy approach in cultivating emerging bilingual children’s biliteracy.
Overall Research Design
In relation to the research design, this is an explanatory study involving normative and descriptive research elements. To illustrate, the aim of the study is to compare two literacy approaches with regards to their effects on biliteracy development, so the study describes and compares these two literacy models which further explain the different outcomes of the literacy among the bilingual children. A normative conclusion on which approach is better was drawn according to the findings. the study is explanatoryin nature, is concerned with the deductive inquiry because it can be seen that the authors made a hypothesis thata paired literacy approach could improve the biliteracy achievement, and then the study was carried out to find empirical evidence to support this hypothesis. Guided by the research aims and hypothesis, the study includes two groups seeking to explore the direct effect of paired literacy and sequential literacy approach on the bilingual children’ biliteracy outcomes. In this regard, the independent variables in the study are the two different literacy approaches whereas the dependent variable is the bilingual children’s biliteracy operationalized as reading and writing skills. As for the type of reasoning, the study is engaged with the inferential reasoning; although the research context is in the US, the study seeks to investigate which educational approach is better to improve emerging children’s biliteracy with the conclusion generalizable to a wider context.
Change is a dynamic phenomenon. It has to do with each and every aspect of human life, may it be culture or may it be a society. English language teaching cannot remain away from change. In other words, change has also influenced the English language teaching scenario all around the world including Nepal. In this respect, I have undertaken an analytical study on the impact on ELT due to the new advancement in socio-cultural trends in the past couple of decades realized by the advancement in information communication technologies. This study may contribute English language teachers, practitioners to consider socio-cultural factors in connection to the English language teaching.
Language and Culture: Polarized Views
Undoubtedly, language is a part of culture and culture has deep-rooted influence on language learning and use since each language has to function in a certain cultural boundary. But many questions can be raised here: Can language be independent of culture? Can culture be independent of language? What should happen if language and culture are taught together? Can English as the language of bread and butter, create the condition of linguistic as well as cultural hegemony? Based on these very specific questions about language and culture, two polarized views are vividly observed.
Language and culture are interrelated
Language exists in a particular society, and every society has certain norms and values. While teaching or learning languages, cultural components automatically come into play, even if we do not want to deal with culture. Although there are different heated arguments against incorporating culture in language teaching, majority of the people believe that language and culture cannot be separated. In other words, language teaching is not just teaching of linguistic forms, it is also the teaching of culture associated with the language. On this issue, Jiang (2013) asserts, “The relationship between language and culture is the matter of ‘Iceberg’” (p.325). The visible part is language with a small part of culture; the greater part is hidden beneath the surface, is the invisible aspect of culture. She further argues that language and culture together make a living organism. In other words, language is flesh and culture is blood. It means without culture, language would be dead and without language culture would have no shape. The association can be shown through the example from Nepal. In Nepali language, we use a word called “janeu” which means sacred thread that hindus put as a part of ritual but in European countries, people are not familiar with this. When they learn Nepali language they must learn the word “janeu”. Otherwise there is no way to bridge the gap of communication in situations where cultural talk takes place.
In support of inseparability of language and culture, Hudson (1994,p.74) says, “Linguistic system of each language is not merely reproducing instrument voicing ideas.” Of course, use of a language does not mean only producing sentences, or linguistic forms, rather it is a way by which we produce the sentences appropriate to particular time, context and culture. Linguistic anthropologists, Sapir and Whorf (in Corbett, 2003, p.8) assert their view on inseparability of language and culture in the following way: “We dissect the nature along the lines laid down by the native speakers.”
There is not a language rather there are languages and therefore the same world is viewed differently by the speakers of different languages and those languages according to Sapir and Whorf are ‘kaleidoscope’ i.e., different colors of culture for the same word. Similarly, Boas (1911) as cited in Corbett (2003, p.9) says that language would be molded by the state of culture. One could say no language gets full-fledged form, if we do not bring culture in it. Even Hymes (1972) attacks Chomsky saying, “Knowledge of sentence is not only grammatical but also appropriate.” Here, he is focusing on cultural aspects of language. Stern (1992) says that foreign language must be studied socio- linguistically.
Therefore, I would say that even if we do not try to teach culture while teaching language, we teach it just like an atheist who does not believe in God but brings out the word tacitly during trouble. We teach language in cultural contexts without special motive or focus on the teaching of culture itself. Continue reading →
Mixed ability learners are very common in the classroom. Mattews-Aydinli & Horne (2006, p. 3) define mixed ability classes as “The classes where students with wide range of levels are placed together where they vary in their levels of competence in listening, reading, speaking and writing”. Mixed ability of the learners is universal, and we find mixed ability students in almost all classes. There are challenges for the teachers to deal with such classes because there is variety and teachers feel out of control in such cases (Harmer, 2008, p.127). In our context, most of the ELT classrooms consist mixed ability students with different needs and learning styles.
Most of the ELT classes in our country consist of mixed ability groups where the students have different needs and expectations. According to Ghimire (2011, as cited in Bhandari, 2015) there are mixed ability classes where the students differ in their language, learning abilities, language competence, learning styles, cultural background, attitudes towards language, mother tongue, intelligence, world knowledge, learning experiences, knowledge of the other languages, age, gender, personality, confidence, motivation, interest etc. In this regard, teaching and learning English in such diverse classes providing equal access in materials, resources and opportunities in classroom activities ensuring success of all the students are really complex issues for the language teachers. My own experiences of teaching English in secondary level provided knowledge that each student in the class is different individual which causes the challenges in teaching and learning activities. Having the above mentioned issue in consideration, I am trying to explore specific perceptions and classroom practices of English teachers towards mixed ability classes in this paper.
Perceptions of English teachers towards mixed ability classes
English teachers teaching at secondary level consider that mixed ability classes are made up of students having different levels of proficiency. To find out the teachers perceptions on mixed ability English classes, in this study, five secondary level English teachers were interviewed and their classes were observed. They said that there are different learners within the same class such as, difference on language learning ability, their cultural background, learning style, age, mother tongue and learning experiences. In this regard, all the teachers have been facing the mixed ability classes in their ELT classes. Almost all classes comprise students of mixed abilities. In such classes, students are not similar regarding their ability or they may not be homogenous in ability. The classrooms are receiving a large number of students with different expectations. As per them, mixed ability composition of students in classroom has brought many challenges and opportunities to teachers. Continue reading →