Well-being and the Perception of Stress among EFL University Teachers in Saudi Arabia (2021-09-18)
Research on language teachers’ psychology has been shown to play a central role in the quality of teaching and student achievement. However, there is little empirical evidence to investigate the relationship between perception of stress, types of stressors, and well-being among foreign language teachers at university levels, particularly in monolingual contexts. The present study seeks to investigate the impact of stress, the number and type of stressors (i.e., chronic and stressful life events), and demographic variables (i.e., age, gender, and the length of teaching experience) on university-level EFL teachers’ levels of well-being. The data were collected through an online survey of 53 university-level EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia. A Pearson correlation was carried out to investigate the relationship between EFL teachers’ well-being, their perception of stress, and number of stressors. A multiple regression analysis was also run to examine if EFL teachers’ levels of stress, number and types of stressors, and demographic variables can predict their psychological well-being. The quantitative findings demonstrated a significant negative relationship between well-being and levels of stress. The findings also showed a significant positive relationship between the EFL teachers’ well-being and their good physical health. The results of the multiple regression indicated that high levels of well-being were predicted by low levels of stress and good physical health. This study, moreover, suggested an advantage for females in terms of psychological well-being among foreign language teachers. The findings also demonstrated that a stressful life with a heavy workload and financial concerns can negatively impact language teachers’ well-being. These findings highlight the importance of considering issues related to teachers’ psychological well-being. In line with these findings, several pedagogical implications were offered.
Positioning learners with dyslexia by Croatian English as a foreign language teachers: Does it reveal teaching-as-caring and emotion labour? (2021-10-16)
Students with special educational needs may have very diverse learning needs, and thus it may be challenging to accommodate them adequately in the classroom setting. This, consequently, may affect teacher agency and cause the occurrence of a variety of emotions among teachers. In return, complex emotions may indicate emotion labour and teaching-as-caring. In this study, using positioning theory as a theoretical framework and collecting data by means of an in-depth semi-structured interview and lesson observations, we enquired about the positioning of learners with dyslexia by ten in-service Croatian primary and secondary school teachers. We also wanted to know whether the participants' positioning expresses teaching-as-caring and emotion labour. We found that the participants had a positive attitude to students with dyslexia, but their positioning of this group of students was diverse. Also, led by the ethic of care, the participants positioned themselves as caring teachers and teachers of all learners. By recognising various learner needs, they created an inclusive learning environment by adapting teaching approaches and providing accommodations. However, caring about the needs of students with dyslexia resulted in emotion labour, with both emotional costs and rewards. The novelty of the present study lays in using positioning theory that helped analyse teacher emotions and caring in different contexts of teaching students with dyslexia. Therefore, we believe that the findings of this study will broaden our understanding of teacher agency in the context of teaching students with specific learning difficulties.
Changes in and Effects of TED Talks on Postgraduate Students’ English Speaking Performance and Speaking Anxiety (2021-10-16)
This research study explored the changes in and effects of TED talks on Chinese postgraduate students’ English speaking performance and speaking anxiety over a period of 10 weeks. In this research, TED talks were used as a learning mode to provide a quasi-realistic sociocultural context for speaking English. 166 students from the experimental group using TED talks and 156 in the conventional mode participated in the quasi-experiment. They made eight-minute oral presentations and answered the 12-item English Speaking Anxiety Scale prior to and after the experiment. Analyses of the data revealed three major findings: 1) both the experimental and control groups did significantly better in English speaking performance and became significantly less anxious about speaking English over the 10-week period, 2) the experimental group did significantly better in move structure and were significantly less anxious about speaking English than the control group at the end of the 10-week period, and 3) the learning modes had a significant effect on students’ move structures of oral presentations but had no effect on their oral presentation performance and English speaking anxiety. These findings support the benefit of supplementing EFL (English as a foreign language) teaching and learning with TED talks and other similar virtual situated learning. Thus, the present study not only contributes to the current literature, which is short of studies on the effects of technology on SL/FL teaching and learning and the dynamic characteristic of the emotions associated with SL/FL learning, but also suggests that virtual situated learning like TED talks should be incorporated into SL/FL teaching and learning.
Speaking Anxiety of Chinese EFL Learners in Face-to-Face and Synchronous Voice-based Chat (2021-10-16)
With the advanced development of mobile technology, there is a need to explore the potential of synchronous voice chats (SVC) operated within a mobile-assisted environment using mobile instant messaging apps. This study aimed to compare the speaking performance and anxiety levels of Chinese EFL learners in both synchronous voice-based chat and face-to-face chat modes. In this study, WeChat instant messaging was used as the platform for synchronous voice-based chat (SVC). The participants were selected based on their familiarity with WeChat usage and language proficiency levels (intermediate level). Forty second-year students in a public Chinese university were chosen to complete four oral interaction tasks under both face-to-face (F2F) and SVC chat modes respectively over four weeks. The findings showed that the learners experienced higher levels of anxiety in F2F chat than in SVC. A significant difference was also found in learners’ speaking performance, with oral performances in SVC outperforming F2F chats. A negative correlation was also found between learners’ speaking performance and anxiety levels in both chat modes.
Moroccan EFL Public High School Teachers’ Perceptions and Self-Reported Practices of Assessment (2021-09-18)
This study aims to investigate the perceptions and self-reported practices of Moroccan EFL public high school teachers towards traditional and alternative assessment. The data were collected from 51 teachers in Northern Morocco using a self-developed online questionnaire. The questionnaire items about teachers’ perceptions and self-reported practices were valid and both their data and sampling were acceptable for factor analysis of three subscales (traditional assessment, alternative assessment related with assessment as learning, and assessment for learning), and all scales proved to be reliable. Based on the three research questions, the study yielded the following results: (1) Teachers perceived the objectives of alternative assessment to be significantly more important than those of traditional assessment. (2) Based on their self-reported practices, teachers mainly used traditional assessment methods more often than alternative assessment methods associated with assessment as and for learning. (3) When comparing teachers’ perceptions with their self-reported practices, we found that teachers’ perceptions regarding traditional assessment matched their practices; while the majority of teachers admitted that they found alternative assessment important even though they did not often use it in order to support students to be able to reflect on their own learning or to enhance their performance in the learning process. Thus, these findings are significant for researchers, teachers, and educators to help them reconsider their perceptions of alternative assessment and how they should be enacted in practice with the aim of resolving the mismatches found in this study.
Switching to Fully Online EFL Learning Environments: An exploratory study on learners’ perceptions (2021-10-16)
One aspect of online classes that has recently experienced a paradigm shift is fully online language environments (FOLEs) – that is, learning settings where 100% of the content of the class is being delivered online. The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak in 2020 called for the use of fully online teaching in schools and universities in many countries due to confinement measures. Accordingly, schools have made extraordinary efforts towards implementing home-based schooling and delivered online courses to their students during the pandemic. In many universities, online platforms such as Blackboard Collaborate are being used to fulfil the need to keep up with the requirements of academic programmes. However, research findings addressing specific FOLE platforms are scarce, with even fewer studies focusing on learners’ engagement perceptions in those settings. Therefore, the purpose of this mixed-methods exploratory study was to delve into aspects involved in engagement, such as participation, group work, instructional materials, and learning strategies, regarded as key factors influencing the success of FOLEs. Thus, a FOLE questionnaire was administered to 54 EFL university learners, which was followed by semi-structured interviews conducted with seven participants. Our analysis drew from FOLE engagement research (Sun, 2014) and the community of inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Garrison et al., 2000). The main findings revealed that the poor interactions with peers and the lack of peer rapport negatively influenced the social presence of students (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007), that the instructor can use teaching presence to increase student awareness of the relevance of the online environment and overcome adaptation issues (Kebritchi et al., 2017), and that teaching presence can help increase cognitive presence and facilitate effective interactions with the content. Implications for pedagogy were put forward as part of a FOLE approach.
Emotional Intelligence in Distance Learning: A case study of English as a second language via distance learning (2021-09-18)
Distance learners studying English confront emotionally demanding obstacles. A mixed methods study was conducted to explore the role that distance learners’ emotional intelligence (EI) plays as they learn English. In phase one of the study, 238 students responded to a composite questionnaire that yielded their EI scores, demography, and viewpoints regarding the English course. In phase two, 18 volunteers selected based on their EI scores were interviewed to obtain qualitative data to build upon the quantitative results. This paper presents a case study of a student called Aini. The findings revealed that Aini’s EI helped her manage her emotions, perceptions, and actions, and ultimately obtain her obligatory English credits for graduation. It is imperative to inculcate students’ EI to help them manage their emotions in order to adapt and persevere, not only when learning English via distance learning but also to successfully accomplish one’s goals in life.
Exploring the Relationship Between L2 Listening and Metacognition After Controlling for Vocabulary Knowledge (2021-10-16)
Metacognition is known to be important for L2 listening comprehension. However, it is unclear how much variance in listening performance it can explain after controlling for vocabulary knowledge. To examine this, data from the listening section of the TOEFL Junior test, the Metacognitive Awareness Listening Questionnaire (MALQ), and the Listening Vocabulary Levels Test were collected from 76 high school EFL learners in Japan. The MALQ measured five subscales of metacognition representing metacognitive skills and metacognitive knowledge. Representing skills, the MALQ measured perceptions of the ability to (1) plan and evaluate performance, (2) direct attention, and (3) overcome listening problems. Representing knowledge, it measured strategic knowledge of (4) avoiding mentally translating speech and person knowledge of (5) maintaining positive attitudes about listening. The descriptive results showed that participants used their metacognition moderately. Of the subscales, they directed attention the most, planned and evaluated performance least, and perceived their ability to avoid mental translation, solve problems, and maintain optimism equivalently. The results from the hierarchical regression analysis further showed that vocabulary knowledge and metacognition overall predicted listening performance. Of the MALQ subscales, only person knowledge predicted comprehension. These findings indicate that, contrary to earlier findings, metacognition was important for listening comprehension after accounting for vocabulary knowledge.
Directed Motivational Currents (DMCs) in Self-directed Language Learning: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (2021-08-10)
Directed Motivational Currents (DMCs) is a novel motivational construct in second language acquisition (SLA) research postulated to explain periods of intense and enduring behavior in pursuit of a highly valued goal or vision. Nonetheless, much of the discussion related to this new motivational phenomenon has remained theoretical, and only a limited number of empirical studies investigated its various dimensions in language learning. The current qualitative study employed interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to explore a period of intense motivational state experienced by an Iranian language learner in self-directed and mobile assisted language learning. The findings provided further empirical evidence for the triggering stimulus and the core characteristics of DMCs in terms of goal/vision orientedness, a salient facilitative structure, and positive emotionality in explaining the essence and the universal meaning of the phenomenon experienced by the participant of the current study.
Enforcing L2 Learner Autonomy in Higher Education (2021-10-12)
Learner autonomy as both a pre-condition of self-efficacy and higher achievements in learning and an essential learning outcome has been in the highlight in the higher education domain for many years. This review aims to single out the most influential publications (with 10 citations or more) on foreign language and L2 learner autonomy in tertiary education in the highly reputed journals indexed with the Scopus database, with the publication period limited to the last ten years (2011-2020). The key findings show that the top 50 cited articles on learner autonomy broadly cover conceptual development; self-efficacy and motivation within the learner autonomy concept; educational technologies and web-based activities in fostering learner autonomy; country-specific issues of learner autonomy as the prevailing directions of study in the field of learner autonomy.
Design and Validation of a Questionnaire for the Measurement of Students’ Perceptions of Intercultural Practices within Bilingual Secondary Schools in the European Context (2021-06-30)
Bilingual education (BE) is widely recognised as a complex phenomenon, which constitutes a priority for key educational institutions and organisations. However, further research is needed to uproot common beliefs such as that bilingual students can easily interact with two or more cultures. The literature affirms that BE students need specific school training to improve intercultural competence. The main aim of this study is to describe the design and validation of a questionnaire to measure students’ perceptions of intercultural practices at bilingual schools. The validity of content and comprehension was carried out through the Delphi method, for which three methodological phases were established. The reliability of the scale (internal consistency) was measured through the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. Factorial analysis was used to check the validity of the construct. The psychometric parameters of the scale were obtained from a pilot sample of 40 students, and later from a sample of 213 students from bilingual secondary schools in several European countries (i.e., The Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, France, England, among others). As a major conclusion, we can state that this questionnaire can be used as a tool for two research goals: the identification of good intercultural school practices in BE, and the development of relevant guidelines for the incorporation of intercultural education into BE.