In this issue, authors address topics that spread across the EFL and applied linguistics board. There are papers on evaluating teacher education courses, on authors’ perspectives about ghost-authoring research papers, on individual differences, learning styles and learner motivation, on the role of emotions in pedagogy and learning. Other papers discuss cultural and intercultural awareness, perspectives about the use of the L1 in the foreign language classroom, writer identities, the impact of corrective feedback on performance, and the strengths of integrating form-focused instruction. The authors refer to contexts in Greece, Cyprus, Iran and China.
Let us have a more careful look at individual papers in the volume. In a paper that attempts to describe and evaluate the effectiveness of teacher education programmes targeted at newly appointed state-school English language teachers in Greece, Kourkouli problematizes the extent to which such courses succeed in engaging participant teachers with key concepts and pedagogies. Her research shows that teachers are not satisfied with these courses—she concludes that the courses should have a more bottom-up and reflective approach, in that they should integrate participant teachers’ beliefs, previous experiences and needs.
The interesting phenomenon of ghost authorship (which refers to people, mainly students or junior researchers, substantially contributing to papers by writing large parts of these papers, without their name being added to those of the authors) is the topic of the paper by A. Rahimi and Bigdeli. In their paper, the authors interviewed 20 postgraduate Iranian students and present a convincing argument about the lack of awareness about authorship and, more importantly, about the power relations inherent in student-faculty collaborations in Iran.
In a paper that surveys no less than 1,548 elementary and high school learners living in Thessaloniki, Greece, Vrettou focuses on the motivational patterns of younger versus early-to-middle adolescent learners. The survey establishes that younger learners show stronger motivation to learn English and concludes that teacher education programmes should empower teachers into finding ways to tailor their lessons to the motivational needs of their learners, focusing on their individual differences. In a similar vein, Markopoulou raises the issue of emotions and their relevance in pedagogy and learning. Her research, which involves teachers, (younger and early-adolescent) learners and parents, shows very clear links between learner motivation and anxiety levels, teacher-led strategies (for example, error correction and feedback mechanisms) and parents’ expectations about their children’s academic achievement. With particular regard to instructional patterns, she concludes that learners are more engaged when teachers create a non-threatening environment in the foreign language classroom and suggests ways in which this can be achieved.
The paper by Tzotzou and Kotsiou discusses the “neglected component” of cultural and intercultural awareness in the Greek state school context. Their study involved 100 teachers and their perspectives of issues related to cultural awareness, with reference to the curriculum, textbooks and instructional mechanisms. The authors conclude that, despite the increasing emphasis on intercultural training, Greek state-school teachers need much more vigorous training on involving their learners in activities that will help them grow as intercultural communicators. Then, Tsagari and Diakou focus on the different perspectives held by teachers and learners in state secondary schools in Cyprus about the importance of L1 in EFL teaching and learning. Their study shows that, while learners showed a preference for the integration of L1, their teachers shunned it. The authors problematize both perspectives and rightly claim that what is important is not whether the L1 should or should not be used, but rather when and how much it should be used in the FL classroom.
Hsiao-Ling investigates the construction of undergraduate science students’ writer identities through their use of personal pronouns. She focuses on the biographical genre and considers three types of biographies, namely, argumentative, descriptive and narrative. What she found was a marked influence of students’ L1 sociocultural norms. She highlights the need for instruction in helping learners broaden their self-awareness of autobiographical and discoursal selves. M. Rahimi and Sobhani’s study looks at the impact of different types of corrective feedback on adult Iranian learners’ proficiency levels. Their extensive and in-depth study sheds light on how feedback mechanisms vary according to error types and identifies recasts as the most frequent type of error feedback and self-repair as the one of the key aims of such feedback. Mahdavirad presents the benefits of incorporating form-focused guided strategic instruction in college students’ oral performance. As her research showed, these students produced oral discourse that was more accurate, complex and fluent when presented with tasks that integrated an awareness of the structural and lexical patterns of a certain type of description. Mehrpour and Ahmadniay Motlagh’s extensive study investigates the learning styles of Iranian EFL learners. Their findings show that the styles that are more dominant among these learners are the visual and auditory styles. They conclude that instructional practices should be tailored to these styles, which should motivate learners to participate more actively in the EFL classroom.
Nicos C. Sifakis