Latest Research on English Learning : September 2021


Language Discrimination by English-Learning 5-Month-Olds: Effects of Rhythm and Familiarity

Six experiments using the headturn preference procedure investigated 5-month-old American infants’ ability to discriminate languages. The impetus for the present study was a report that newborns discriminate languages across, but not within, rhythmic classes (Nazzi et al., 1998). Two experiments verified that at 5 months, infants still discriminate pairs of languages from different rhythmic classes (British English vs Japanese; Italian vs Japanese). An additional experiment indicated that American 5-month-olds did not discriminate two languages within a foreign rhythmic class (Italian vs Spanish, syllable-based). Three subsequent experiments tested language discrimination within the native stress-based class. Discrimination of the languages occurred when the native language or one of its variants was presented (British English vs Dutch; American English vs British English), but not when both languages were equally unfamiliar (Dutch vs German). Our findings suggest that language discrimination within the native rhythmic class derives from infants’ developing knowledge of the sound organization of their native language.[1]

Mobile English learning: An evidence-based study with fifth graders

Three groups participated in a study on the added value of mobile technology for learning English as a second language for primary school students. The first group had classroom lessons in English about zoo animals and their characteristics. The second group took classroom lessons and worked with a mobile application on location in a public zoo. The third group received the same treatment as the second but, as an extension, was allowed to take the mobile application home for a fortnight. A pre- and a posttest were conducted to measure the individual change in mastery of a set of targeted English words. The results showed that the group which took the mobile phone home improved the most. However, when the additional learning time, spent apart from school, of this third group was controlled for, the superior performance of the group disappeared. The results indicate that students are motivated to use the application in their spare time and that this benefits their learning. The conclusion is that formal school learning can be augmented by learning in an informal context, away from school.[2]

Language learning strategy use of ESL students in an intensive English learning context

This study investigated the language learning strategy use of 55 ESL students with differing cultural and linguistic backgrounds enrolled in a college Intensive English Program (IEP). The IEP is a language learning institute for pre-admissions university ESL students, and is an important step in developing not only students’ basic Interpersonal Communications Skills (BICS), but more importantly their Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). Proficiency with academic English is a key contributor to students’ success in learning in their second language. Using the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL), the study examines the relationship between language learning strategy use and second language proficiency, focusing on differences in strategy use across gender and nationality. The study found a curvilinear relationship between strategy use and English proficiency, revealing that students in the intermediate level reported more use of learning strategies than beginning and advanced levels. More strategic language learners advance along the proficiency continuum faster than less strategic ones. The study found that the students preferred to use metacognitive strategies most, whereas they showed the least use of affective and memory strategies. Females tended to use affective and social strategies more frequently than males. Conclusions and pedagogical implications of the findings are discussed. [3]

Enhancing English Competences in Tanzania: Developing Activity-oriented Learning Materials in Poetry Lessons

The competence-based English syllabus was introduced in Tanzania in 2005. The use of activity oriented lessons is believed to engage students’ minds actively as envisaged. A decade has passed yet no improvement in students’ performance in English language has been registered. Current studies revealed a shortage of effective learning materials especially in poetry. Moreover, the lessons’ materials of such nature appear new to teachers. This study aimed at engaging teachers and other education stakeholders in developing activity oriented lessons focusing on the poetry topic. Two questions guided the study: What are the characteristics of the Poetry lesson materials that may potentially improve English learning in Tanzania? What is the best approach to be used to provide a research driven solution in developing such materials?[4]

Community English Learning Center: An Abode of Academic and Professional Excellence

Lack of sufficient practice of English outside formal classes is one of the reasons for unexpectedly low outcome of English language education in the countries where English is used as a foreign language (EFL). Community English Learning Centers (CELCs) can help people practice English in real-life situations and ultimately make them competent users of the language. This paper expounds methods and techniques for teaching-learning of all skills of English language at CELCs for people of various ages and status. It also discusses policies that can turn CELCs into entertaining and effective places for English language education. [5]

Reference
[1] Nazzi, T., Jusczyk, P.W. and Johnson, E.K., 2000. Language discrimination by English-learning 5-month-olds: Effects of rhythm and familiarity. Journal of Memory and Language, 43(1), pp.1-19.
[2] Sandberg, J., Maris, M. and De Geus, K., 2011. Mobile English learning: An evidence-based study with fifth graders. Computers & Education, 57(1), pp.1334-1347.
[3] Hong-Nam, K. and Leavell, A.G., 2006. Language learning strategy use of ESL students in an intensive English learning context. System, 34(3), pp.399-415.
[4] Ahmed, S.S., 2014. Community English Learning Center: An Abode of Academic and Professional Excellence. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, pp.1352-1357.
[5] Prosper, G. and Mastura, S., 2017. Enhancing English competences in Tanzania: Developing activity-oriented learning materials in poetry lessons. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, pp.1-14.

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