Foreword to December 2007, Volume 2 Issue 3
We are pleased to present eight articles in the third and last edition of the Linguistics Journal for 2007. Warm congratulations to all authors whose papers have been accepted. We are delighted to announce that interest in the journal has increased significantly in 2007, which is in line with the number of published articles in this issue. Special thanks go to a large Editorial team and a large proofreading team of nearly fifty colleagues working very hard in order to offer state-of-the-art contemporary linguistic research in this journal.
The first paper by Georgia Andreou from the University of Thessaly in Greece investigates the linguistic phenomenon of child bilingualism and an understudied area of child trilingualism, with a special emphasis on phonological awareness in the third language of bilingual and the second language of monolingual schoolchildren. The sample of the research consists of thirty fourth grade students: fifteen native speakers of Albanian and the same number of Greek native speakers, who have been learning English as a foreign language for a short period of time. The results imply that trilinguals scored better in all the tests performed in this study. Their heightened sensitivity to phonological awareness may be attributed to a constant need trilinguals experience in making repetitive choices among their three languages and organizing developing lexicons of these three.
The second paper coming from Kazuya Saito of Syracuse University focuses on effective pronunciation pedagogies, which are derived from the author’s experience with English education in Japan. Experimental evidence shows that explicit phonetic instruction is a useful and effective strategy for improving the pronunciation of Japanese learners of English in the target language, which ultimately minimizes the salience of their foreign accent and facilitates more effective communication with native speakers. The importance of a contrastive analysis approach to pronunciation teaching is highlighted in this study. Such an approach validates the use of explicit phonetic instruction and its influence on the speech production of Japanese learners of English by correcting their segmental errors. The author also shows that an acoustic speech analysis method may enhance intelligibility of non-native speakers in real-life communicative activities. The pedagogical idea described in this article may be advanced to other EFL contexts in Asian countries, which are similar to that of Japan.
Joanne Rajadurai from MARA University of Technology in Malaysia argues that investigations into L2 varieties of English should not be avoided, given the fact that a sizable proportion of communication conducted in English is realized by non-native speakers of this language, many of whom are proficient in this language. As is the case with the studies involved in native varieties of English, linguistic research in L2 Englishes should also attempt to grapple with ‘real’ spoken English as used in Malaysia. The author presents an innovative method used for authentic data collection. A detailed account of a technique developed and used to collect naturalistic spoken language in a range of everyday contexts is presented and various other research issues raised. Furthermore, the author also tackles problems associated with the evaluation, selection and preparation of informers, the research tools and procedures employed, as well as the roles and relationships almost every linguistic research faces.
The fourth contribution by Reza Ghafar Samar and Goodarz Alibakhshi of Tarbiat Modares University in Iran examines face-to face communications in the Persian language and accounts for possible gender-linked differences in the use of linguistic strategies in the Persian speech community. A total of twenty face-to-face conversations very close to natural speech were recorded in the course of the participants’ daily activities. The factors observed indicate that there is an interaction between gender and experience, education and power of the interlocutors in the use of linguistic strategies. Finally, the authors point out that the results of their study may come useful in communication strategies employed by males and females in different circumstances, particularly in classrooms all around the world. Finally, those involved in teaching language courses, particularly teachers, should take gender differences into account while teaching male and female learners.
The next article written by Ying-chien Cheng of Lan Yang Institute of Technology in Taiwan aims to explore the effects of two grammar approaches, forms-focused instruction vs. the integration of forms-focused instruction and communicative approach to the teaching of English restrictive relative clauses to Taiwanese tenth graders. A six-week ‘quasi-experimental’ design and three kinds of grammar tests (a grammaticality completion test, a sentence combining test, and a sentence rearrangement test) were specifically devised for the purposes of the study which included 150 research participants divided into experimental and control groups. The author also provides potential pedagogical implications of the two approaches to language teaching, concluding that a balance between form and function should be integral to curricular design and it should be implemented in classroom instruction.
Pham Phu Quynh Na from the University of Western Sydney addresses the structural issues underlying the typological characteristics of the Vietnamese language and effects they might have on translation into English. A deep insight into the linguistic concept known as ‘Topic/Comment’ is provided, with a special emphasis on its application in Vietnamese grammar as seen from two opposing viewpoints. The use of articles, the handling of dropped subjects, and the passive constructions are analysed in the translations of fifteen Vietnamese students majoring in English and their common errors presented and explained. The paper also identifies some typical errors which may be considered as evidence of the direct influence from Vietnamese as L1, whose topic-prominent typology is strong enough to override the students’ competence in English. Finally, the author offers several strategies which can be used to prevent the possible effect of Vietmanese topic-prominent structures when translating into English.
The seventh contribution comes from Shan-fang Guo from Heze University in China. This article deals with idiomatic expressions and their acquisition in English as a foreign language. Such expressions have often been believed to be subject to rote-learning, due to the absence of reliable clues inside the expressions themselves (Boers, 2000; Li, 2005). With the development of cognitive science, some researchers have proposed that most idioms fit one or more patterns of metaphors present in the human conceptual system, and that the idiomatic meaning is not arbitrary, but rather motivated by conceptual metaphors (Gibbs & O'Brien, 1990; Lakoff, 1993; Gibbs, 1997; Boers, 2000; Krishna, 2006). In a foreign language teaching context, cognitive linguistics provides new ways of teaching idioms in ways that promote insightful learning rather than learning by heart. Seventy Chinese college level students, who had just started learning English, participated in the present study, following a quasi-experimental research design. The statistical analysis shows that the experimental group performed much better than the group which had not received instruction based on the cognitive cues. Such a conclusion comes as an encouragement to foreign language teachers to employ a metaphor-based approach when teaching idiomatic expressions.
And last, but not least, the closing paper in this volume, written by Giao Quynh Tran of the University of Melbourne in Australia, discusses linguistic and cultural influences of L1 on second language performance in cross-cultural interaction. As the Vietnamese language (as L1) seems to be understudied in the area of pragmatic and discourse transfer when in contact with other languages, the author investigates these issues in Vietnamese-English interlanguage pragmatics. The author analyses pragmatic and discourse transfer in compliment responses by Vietnamese speakers of English in cross-cultural interaction with Australians. Sixty role-play informants were native speakers of Australian English, Vietnamese native speakers and Vietnamese speakers of English as an L2 in Australia. The data is elicited by way of an innovative methodology – ‘Naturalized Role-plays’ – which provides spontaneous data, even in controlled settings. Finally, the analysis of transfer types results in the formation of two new continua of compliment response strategies to account for the data collected.
We hope you enjoy reading these articles in the Winter edition of the Linguistics Journal and look forward to your own contributions in 2008.
Biljana Cubrovic, PhD
The Linguistics Journal
Volume 2. Issue 3. December 2007.
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Foreword by Biljana Cubrovic
1. Georgia Andreou. Phonological Awareness in Bilingual and Trilingual Schoolchildren
2. Kazuya Saito. The Influence of Explicit Phonetic Instruction on Pronunciation Teaching in EFL settings: The Case of English Vowels and Japanese Learners of English
3. Joanne Rajadurai. Capturing L2 Spoken English: Methodological Challenges
4. Reza Ghafar Samar & Goodarz Alibakhshi. The Gender Linked Differences in the Use of Linguistic Strategies in Face-to face Communication
5. Ying-chien Cheng. The Effects of Two Teaching Methodologies on the Hierarchy of Difficulty of Restrictive Relative Clauses among Taiwanese Tenth Graders
6. Pham Phu Quynh Na. Translating Topic-Comment Structures of Vietnamese into English
7. Shan-fang Guo. Is Idiom Comprehension Influenced by Metaphor Awareness of the Learners?
8. Giao Quynh Tran. The Nature of Pragmatic and Discourse Transfer in Compliment Responses in Cross-Cultural Interaction