Posts Tagged ‘ESL’

I ran across this very helpful article recently that does with reading and listening comprehension skills that I have been doing with reading-writing subskills.

Song, M-Y. (2009). Do divisible subskills exists in second language (L2) comprehension? A structural equation modeling approach. Language Testing, 25 (4), 435-464.

In essence, the author asks: to what degree does student performance on a test suggest that reading, listening, and 2-3 identified subskills exist as separate constructs (as evidenced by structural equation modeling)? In comparison, I have been trying to identify the degree to which reading comprehension, writing ability, synthesis comprehension, and paraphrase writing ability are all subskills of reading-to-write tasks. So this article provided quite a bit of theoretical framing and technical analysis that I need to further refine my own study. (more…)


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I work with my institution’s international teaching assistant (ITA) program. The program, like those at many universities and colleges in the USA, is designed to provide language and pedagogical training to non-native English speaking graduate students who serve as teaching assistants for their departments.

Last fall, after testing all potential ITAs for oral proficiency training, our program received many concerned calls from departments whose international students did not meet the minimum English language standards to be TAs. In fact, a large number of the students were well below cut-off in the university’s policy regarding ITAs. Departments were concerned that these students needed funding and now they did not qualify to work as TAs due to their oral proficiency. To put it mildly was a very frustrating experience for many stakeholders.


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Despite the fact that I am a native speaker of English and work in an English-speaking country, currently I am what the TESOL culture would call an “ex-pat.” This term, which I have never liked the sound of, refers to someone who lives outside of one’s native country. I live in the USA, but I am from Canada.

I never planned to become an ex-pat. In fact, I don’t really consider myself to be one. When I hear that term, I think of Westerners who abandon their homelands in exchange for exotic locales where they reside for the rest of their lives. Certainly “ex-pat” is rarely used to describe such an extreme, but I have never thought of myself as “leaving” my homeland (i.e., ex-pat) but rather as just “visiting” somewhere else. As it is, the latest visit has lasted just over 5 years this summer. (more…)

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When I was working on my Master’s degree, my chair suggested that I consider doing some Think Aloud Protocols with the writing raters in order to better understand their rating process. I had read a few articles that used this technique, so I falet fairly confident that it was appropriate, but I wanted a book reference that described the method and its appropriateness in L2 research. That’s when another committee member suggested I check out a new book by Gass and Mackey (2005), which I did. Although the text did have a short section on verbal reports, it did not contain the detail I was hoping for.

That’s why Gass and Mackey expanded on the data elcicitation part of that orginial book, and published a new one dedicated exclusively to L2 research data gathering.

Gass, S. M. & Mackey, A. (2007). Data elicitation for second and foreign language research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum.

I won’t go into great detail about this book except to say that I think it’s a great reference for language researchers who want to investigate a variety of research questions, but want to gain additional insight into the theory and practice of standard and emerging data gathering methods. In any case, this book has cause me to further consider the fact that my dissertation needs to be based on good qualitative research, and the test data and scores should just be a compliment rather than the other way around.

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A couple semesters before I started at this new job, the center had decided to stop using Filemaker to keep track of students, and instead switched to Access. I’m not sure what brought about this change (it may have had something to do with the fact that multiple users could use the Access database at once, and it was no extra cost since all computers in the center have Access anyway).

In any case, they migrated their records over to Access without any database planning. (more…)

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Given the University’s need to assess the English language proficiency of in-coming transfer students from the community college system, I was able to continue assessing the effectiveness of our ESL placement test. Earlier this week, a group of transfer students took the new grammar/vocabulary test, as well as the existing oral interview, and a revised writing test. Now that I have additional examinee data, I have been able to conduct an initial item analysis. (more…)

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Last week, I spent a half hour in the depths of the university library searching through the P/PE stacks (the call number section of linguistics and language teaching). I picked up a few books that I hadn’t read before, including this volume that focuses on language learning contexts in India and the Middle East.

Singh, G. (2006). Summarisation skills: An analysis in text comprehension and production. In V. Narang (Ed.), Contemporary Themes and Issues in Language Pedagogy (pp. 17-32). Delhi, India: Nagri Printers.

This chapter summarizes research (from the 1980s) on summarization skills, and then applies those concepts and methodologies to an analysis of summaries generated by graduate student English language students in India. The results suggest that even graduate students struggle to understand source texts and write effective summaries. (more…)

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