Spring 2013     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 17, Issue 1

Editorial: Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy

The extensive literature on Second Language Acquisition offers a vast array of theories which have a significant impact on the diversity of approaches and methods adopted in second/foreign language teaching. Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy can thus be seen as an ongoing developmental process which explores a number of different variables contributing to language learning through both quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches.

Exploring pedagogical practices and helpful knowledge which touch on the different aspects of Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy can prove beneficial to the wider community of professional teachers and pre-service teachers seeking to foster language learners’ acquisition of a second/foreign language.

This issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly features articles that explore a number of different aspects of Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy in a wide range of settings. The authors of the seven language-related articles in this edition deal with the aspects of technology-enhanced language learning, learner variables and attitudes, language for specific purposes, foreign language competences, action research, learner autonomy and form-meaning focused instruction.

Melinda Martin-Beltrán and Pei-Jie Chen focus on the issue of how computer-assisted language learning and online writing forums can have positive implications in second language pedagogy. The qualitative study presented deals with the case of a transnational asynchronous online writing tutorial in which learners’ processes of writing, revising and providing feedback were found not only to develop acts of strategic feedback, but also to enhance critical thinking skills.

In her quantitative study, Marsha Bensoussan examines the possible connections between tertiary students’ achievement in English as a foreign language (EFL) and their background variables and attitudes. Focus on these aspects provides valuable insights into how language learning and university studies in general are strongly influenced by different learner variables and attitudes. The study thus contributes to determining significant features of what the author defines a good student profile.

Serra-Cámara and Sevilla Pavón move back to the digital context where a different kind of computer-assisted language learning tool is considered. In a project developed for tertiary students attending an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course, the practice of digital storytelling was introduced to enhance students’ oral and written English skills. A variety of learning activities are explored within the project and the positive impact of the pedagogical experience on both teachers and learners are discussed.

In a different perspective of second language pedagogy, Neil Jones and Karen Ashton survey foreign language competences on a European scale. The article tackles the issue of how various aspects of contextual questionnaires, grounded in European Commission policies, relate positively to results of language tests. The first-time survey provides comparative data which highlight the wide discrepancy achieved across European countries, and considers the status of English in relation to these findings. Nicole Mills describes the experience of an action research course run for practicing foreign language teachers within a Masters degree programme. The benefits of the two-year action research course were seen as linking theoretical aspects of second language pedagogy to participants’ practice of self-reflection which fostered self-evaluation of their teaching practices and beliefs. The action research experience further enabled participants to adopt pedagogical approaches accordingly, as well as to acquire those tools required for lifelong professional development.

Jonathan White argues that learner autonomy can be enhanced in computer-mediated environments, such as text chatlogs, where learners are found to act as autonomous agents of their language learning processes. Data analysis of text chatlogs in English shows, in fact, that learners’ recurring use of clippings is tangible proof of learner autonomy. The use of economised language further indicates that a community of practice is created and that within such community, participants actively set these reduced forms as discourse norms.

Robert Cameron’s work moves from the criticism toward instructed SLA studies which adhere to VanPatten’s Lexical Preference Principle and thus attribute value to form over meaning. It also takes into account the fact that in real-time comprehension of the Spanish subjective, lexical preference may be at work. Pedagogical materials which may alter lexical preferences and which preserve focus on both form and meaning are thus proposed in the study.

A final word of thanks goes to all the authors of this issue for sharing their professional practices, each in their own original way. I feel that these articles will offer truly helpful insights into some essential aspects of Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy. I am pleased to announce that Academic Exchange Quarterly will again feature the topic titled Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy in the upcoming issue of Spring 2014 Edition. Please consider becoming one of the possible contributors for the next issue. You are encouraged to submit your papers and to share the call with colleagues. Submissions are welcome from teachers, researchers, administrators, and teacher educators at all levels. Identify your submission with keyword: LANGUAGE-12. For submission requirements please visit Six simple submission steps Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Marilyn Pasqua, ESL Assistant and Contract Professor
University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy