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Review of Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning
EDITOR: Eli Hinkel TITLE: Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning SUBTITLE: Volume II PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis) YEAR: 2011
Chunsheng Yang, Northwestern University
This landmark volume provides a state-of-the-art overview of current research and knowledge about second language (L2) teaching and learning. Altogether there are fifty-seven chapters, organized into eight thematic parts.
Part 1, Social Contexts in Research on Second Language Teaching and Learning, focuses on the social contexts of L2 learning and the types of L2 learners. Chapter 1, ''Dual language programs” by Donna Christian, concerns dual language education, in which two languages are used to provide literacy and content area instruction. The chapter discusses four major types of dual language programs along with the main characteristics of each. The four are developmental bilingual, foreign language immersion, heritage language immersion, and two-way immersion programs. Chapter 2, ''Teacher education and teacher development” by Amy B. M. Tsui, relates to L2 teacher education and teacher development. Tsui reviews studies on the following strands: 1) teacher cognition; 2) teacher knowledge; 3) teacher learning and teachers’ professional development; and 4) teacher identity. Chapter 3, ''Learning to write in the second language: K-5” by Maria Estela Brisk, illustrates what bilingual learners need in order to successfully write in L2 in school contexts, within the theoretical models of systematic functional linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 1994) and Walters’ (2005) model of bilingualism. Chapter 4, ''Social practice and register: Language as a means of learning” by Bernard A. Mohan, shows how a systematic functional linguistic approach (Halliday & Martin, 1993: 22) provides metalinguistic and analytic tools to examine the role of language as a means of learning in social practice.
Chapter 5, ''Vocational ESL'' by Denise E. Murray, reviews studies on vocational English as a second language (ESL) in English-speaking countries. Topics discussed include program types, research foci, program evaluation, and directions for future studies. Chapter 6, ''English for academic purposes” by Liz Hamp-Lyons, provides an overview for the field known as EAP. The current strands of EAP research include discourse communities, disciplinary variation, genre analysis, assessment, new media and technologies, corpus-based research, case study and ethnography, contrastive rhetoric, and ''academic literacy''. Chapter 7, ''Research in English for Specific Purposes” by Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield, reviews the main threads of ESP research, including genre analysis in ESP, corpus-based ESP studies, English as a lingua franca, studies on advanced academic literacies, writer identity (or voice), and application of ethnographic approaches in ESP.
Chapter 8, ''English as international lingua franca pedagogy'' by Sandra Lee McKay, discusses English as an international lingua franca (EILF), instead of world English or English as a lingua franca (ELF). The chapter reviews several areas of EILF research, including imagined communities, learner identity, inequality of access in English language learning, and standards and EILF pedagogy. Chapter 9, ''Teaching English as a foreign language in Europe” by Vivian Cook, discusses two issues about the teaching of English as a foreign language (TEFL), namely the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and English as a lingua franca (ELF). Cook argues that the CEFR, and the two versions of ELF (i.e., the product ELF and the process ELF) provide very different and incompatible solutions to the TEFL in Europe. Thus, she proposes a multi-competence approach of language teaching, which is defined as ''the knowledge of two languages in one mind'' (p. 151). She also proposes the notion of the ''independent L2 user''. An independent L2 user is someone who can successfully use the second language for the purpose of their life and who ''has reaped the mental benefits of learning another language as well as its utilitarian use'' (p. 152). Chapter 10, ''World Englishes: Contexts and relevance for language education” by Yamuna Kachru, presents a brief survey of the state of research on world Englishes (WE) in various regions of the world. Kachru mainly discusses the aim and focus of WE research, the relevance of WE as a field of research, lingua franca and global Englishes, and directions for future studies.
Part II, Second Language Research Methods, focuses on the methods of research in L2 teaching and learning. The five chapters address different aspects of L2 research, including data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation. Chapter 11, ''Approaches and methods in recent qualitative research” by Linda Harklau, profiles trends in qualitative research on L2 teaching and learning since 2003, based on the analysis of over 230 papers indexed in Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA). Chapter 12, ''Quantitative research in second language studies” by James Dean Brown, examines the role of quantitative research in L2 studies. The chapter also reviews studies that compare articles and books on quantitative research. Chapter 13, ''Case study” by Keith Richards, focuses on the core methodological challenges in case study research, and the distinctive contribution that case study research makes to the field of language teaching. Chapter 14, ''Shifting sands: The evolving story of ''voice'' in qualitative research” by David Nunan and Julie Choi, examines ''voice'' (i.e., ''the centrality of the human story to qualitative research in terms of what the story is about and how the story is told'' (p. 222)) in qualitative research. Nunan and Choi examine the evolution of qualitative research through the lens of voice, and the ways in which making the ''I'' (i.e., the research) visible challenged and transformed the nature of the research report, and the ways in which research can be defined. Chapter 15, ''Action research in the field of second language teaching and learning” by Anne Burns, discusses developments and trends in action research in language teaching and research, as well as the different positions and controversies that have arisen.
Part III, Second Language Research and Applied Linguistics, examines the areas of applied linguistics that deal directly with research in L2 teaching and learning. Chapter 16, ''Second language acquisition research: Applied and applicable orientations to practical questions and concerns” by Teresa Pica, describes the relationship between SLA and the field of applied linguistics across ''applied'' (i.e., to address practical questions) and ''applicable'' (i.e., to address theoretical questions) orientations. The chapter mainly discusses three questions: 1) the optimal age to begin formal classroom L2 study; 2) the effective ways to integrate the yet to be acquired L2 with subject matter content; and 3) the contributions of L1 to classroom teaching and learning. Chapter 17, ''Constrained but not determined: Approaches to discourse analysis” by Sandra Silberstein, argues that language use is constrained by structural, cognitive, and contextual factors. However, the complexities of all three, along with the important element of human agency, make language use and acquisition never determinate. The chapter reviews research within three frameworks, namely conversation analysis (CA), a Vygotskyan-influenced sociocultural approach, and discourse pragmatics.
Chapter 18, ''Language socialization in multilingual and second language contexts” by Robert Bayley and Juliet Langman, focuses on studies in language socialization. The authors argue that careful attention to language forms and the examination of how forms are tied to contextually bound meanings and subjectivities are essential for studies in language socialization paradigm. They review studies of language socialization as continuity (i.e., the successful and relatively unproblematic trajectories of L2 socialization) and as change (i.e., the examination of the ''bad” subjects’, resistance, and the development of hybridized or multiple practices). Chapter 19, ''Integrating sociocultural theory and cognitive linguistics in the second language classroom” by James P. Lantolf, argues that sociocultural theory (SCT, Vygotsky, 1987, 1997) and cognitive linguistics (CL, Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Langacker, 1987, others) can be integrated into a unified approach to language development in the classroom setting. Chapter 20, ''Second language pragmatics” by Virginia LoCastro, focuses on L2 pragmatics and the development of the ability to comprehend and produce appropriate language in complex, social interactions. Eight areas of research which contribute to our knowledge of how human beings comprehend and produce pragmatic meaning are discussed. Chapter 21, ''Conversation analytic research into language teaching and learning” by Paul Seedhouse, reviews the latest CA (conversation analysis) and CA-informed studies in different areas: teaching language for specific purposes; language proficiency assessment; competence; teacher training and development; language classroom interaction; teaching and learning activities; language teaching materials design; identity; non-native speaker (NNS) talk outside the classroom; and bilingual and multilingual code-switching. Chapter 22, ''What corpora can offer in language teaching and learning” by Toney McEnery and Richard Xiao, explores the potential use of corpora in three aspects: 1) the indirect use of corpora in teaching; 2) the direct use of corpora in teaching, and 3) the further teaching-oriented corpus development.
Part IV, Research in Second Language Processes and Development, addresses the foundational elements of L2 teaching and learning. Chapter 23, ''Language learning: An ecological-semiotic approach” by Leo van Lier, examines the ecological-semiotic approach which rests on different theoretical and research foundations from those in language contact, linguistic landscaping, and other ecological/linguistic interrelationships and connections. Chapter 24, ''Cognitive aptitudes for second language learning” by Robert DeKeyser and Joel Koeth, reviews studies on language aptitude, mostly on working memory (a component of aptitude in second language acquisition). Chapter 25, ''Around and beyond the critical period hypothesis” by David Singleton and Carmen Munoz, presents and appraises research relating to the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH). Even though CPH may seeming to be correct, it is fraught with problems. It is argued that L2 acquisition is shaped by the dynamic interactions of multiple factors. Specifically, cognitive, social, and cultural variables interact with each other and shape the learners’ language environments, and in the end their language proficiency.
Chapter 26, ''Interactional competence in language learning, teaching and testing'' by Richard F. Young, concerns interactional competence (IC). IC differs from communicative competence in that IC is not what a person knows; it is what a person does together with others. Young provides a survey of the development of IC. Chapter 27, ''Second language speaking” by I. S. P. Nation, talks about L2 speaking from four perspectives: meaning-focused input, meaning-focused output, language-focused learning (including pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, sociolinguistic competence), and fluency development. Chapter 28,''Second language listening: Presage, process, product, and pedagogy” by Larry Vandergrift, explores the listening construct from three aspects: presage, process and product (e.g., miscomprehension). It is argued that helping language learners develop a greater awareness of the process of listening can help them better regulate the process and become more successful listeners. Chapter 29, ''Second language literacy” by Lee Gunderson, Dennis Murphy Odo, and Reginald D’Silva, provides an overview of L2 literacy in China, India, Africa, North and South America, and Europe, as well as some non-standard L2 literacy in digital and programming codes. Chapter 30, ''Out of my orthographic depth” by Barbara Birch, reviews research on the transfer of L1 knowledge and processing strategies to L2, the learner variables in L2 reading acquisition, and the different reading strategies that L2 learners employ in L2 reading. Chapter 31, ''Grammar teaching: Research, theory, and practice” by Penny Ur, discusses the correctness and acceptability in grammar teaching, implicit and explicit teaching of grammar, and two influential theories of grammar acquisition (i.e., noticing and the teachability hypothesis). Chapter 32, ''What research on second language writing tells us and what it doesn’t?” by Eli Hinkel, provides an overview of L2 writing research and its findings. Hinkel examines research findings on discourse (macro) properties and the morphosyntactic and lexical (micro) attributes of L2 writing. The chapter also discusses the error patterns in L2 writing, L2 writing instruction and curricula, the techniques in teaching L2 writing, and the prevailing methodological and theoretical directions in L2 writing curricula and instruction.
Part V, Methods and Instruction in Second Language Teaching, focuses on several prominent exemplars in second language teaching which are widely adopted all over the world. Chapter 33, ''Communicative language teaching: An expanding concept for a changing world” by William Littlewood, provides a detailed discussion of the insights that communicative language teaching (CLT) offers to the goals of language learning and teaching, to the learning experiences, and to the pedagogy that facilitate the learning experiences. Chapter 34, ''Re-evaluating traditional approaches to second language teaching and learning” by Lixian Jin and Martin Cortazzi, re-evaluates traditional approaches to L2 teaching and learning. The historical perspectives and five different versions of traditional approaches are reviewed in the chapter. Chapter 35, Focus on form, by Shawn Loewen, mainly discusses the presence of focus on form (FonF) in the L2 classroom, the communicative context for FonF, the explicitness and intensiveness of FonF, the timing of FonF, the initiation of FonF, and the options of FonF. Chapter 36, ''Corrective feedback in language teaching” by Younghee Sheen and Rod Ellis, discusses the types of corrective feedback (CF), the cognitive and sociocultural theories of CF, the pedagogical positions on CF, and previous research on oral and written CF. Chapter 37, ''Content-based second language teaching” by Roy Lyster, focuses on the content-based L2 teaching, in which non-linguistic content is taught to students through L2. It is proposed that content-based and form-focused instructional options can be counterbalanced through activities that interweave balanced opportunities for input, production, and negotiation.
Chapter 38, ''Content-based instruction and vocabulary learning” by I. S. P. Nation and Stuart Webb, relates to vocabulary learning in content-based instruction. Nation and Webb discuss the instruction of four types of vocabulary (i.e., high-frequency words, the academic word list, technical vocabulary, and the low-frequency words). The chapter also examines the four major types of tasks in vocabulary learning, namely, experience tasks, shared tasks (group work), guided tasks, and independent tasks. Chapter 39, ''Written discourse analysis and second language teaching” by Dana Ferris, reviews research on written discourse analysis and second language teaching. The chapter mainly focuses on three aspects (contrastive rhetoric, corpus linguistics, and genre studies) in written discourse analysis and their application in L2 instruction. Chapter 40, ''Computer-assisted language learning” by Dorothy M. Chun, offers an overview of research in computer-assisted language learning (CALL). CALL research within four theoretical frameworks is reviewed, namely, the psycholinguistic approach, the interactionist approach (computer-mediated communication), the cultural-historical approach, and the ecological approach. Chapter 41, ''Second language learner strategies” by Andew D. Cohen, discusses L2 learner strategies, including the good language leaner, strategies for the various skills, strategies for students in distance learning courses, test-taking strategies, and research on validating the measure of learner strategies.
Part VI, Second Language Assessment, edited by Carol Chapelle, underscores the vexing complexity of language testing and assessment. Chapter 42, ''How language ability is assessed” by Rob Schoonen, provides a detailed discussion of the operationalizations of language assessment exemplified by language assessment practices in recent SLA studies. The chapter mainly examines the following topics: the prompts of language assessment, including stimulus materials, the instructions and the constraints that come with the instructions, and the scoring and interpretative procedures that are used to go from the language performance to a score or any other kind of evaluative statement. Chapter 43, ''Validation in language assessment” by Carol Chapelle, takes the praxis step towards validation, which focuses on the need to make practical and useable the concepts, theory, and philosophy associated with validity and validation. Chapelle explains the key concepts that are important in the praxis step, with an example of TOEFL illustrating how the praxis step in validation has resulted in concrete and useful guidance for developing validity arguments.
Chapter 44, ''Quantitative research methods in assessment and testing” by James E. Purpura, reviews the various quantitative methods used in studies on language assessment. Purpura discusses the roles of quantitative methods in justifying or refuting claims of test validity in three theories of validation (i.e., Trinitarian model of test validity, test validity as a unified notion, and the argument-based view of test validity). Chapter 45, ''Qualitative research methods in second language assessment” by Bernard A. Mohan, discusses problems with testing academic language ability, and illustrates how the systematic functional linguistic (SFL) framework for discourse analysis can be used to address the qualitative need. Chapter 46, ''Assessment of classroom language learning” by Joan Jamieson, talks about the more traditional and more contrived classroom assessment, the criterion-referenced assessment. Criterion-referenced assessment is to assess students’ performance against a list of standards. Jamieson discusses the differences and similarities between norm-referenced assessment and criterion-referenced assessment, and reviews studies on assessment of language learning materials.
Chapter 47, ''The social and political tensions of language assessment” by Steven J. Ross, surveys the socio-political issues related to language assessment in immigrant countries, in Asia, in Asian ex-colonies (i.e., Hong Kong and Singapore), and in Europe. It is shown that language assessment cannot be understood exclusively as limited to the technical issues of reliability and validity in that language assessment is infused with issues of power, identity, national sovereignty, macro- and micropolitics, as well as macro- and microeconomics. Ross argues that successful language assessment policies are those that can eventually find the optimal utilitarian common ground satisfying all the important criteria for ethnical, just, reliable, and valid tests.
The topics of Ideology, Identity, Culture, and Critical Pedagogy in Second Language Teaching and Learning, are covered in Part VII. Chapter 48, ''Ideology in second language education” by James W. Tollefson, takes ideology as the cultural perspective toward social and political systems. Five categories of studies on ideology in L2 education are reviewed. He argues that analysis of ideology deserves the highest priority in L2 research and education because the success of international cooperation through which the solutions to the great problems facing humanity (i.e., national and ethnic conflicts, etc.) can be developed requires a deeper understanding of the process by which social, economic, and political inequalities are created, masked, and sustained (p. 814). Chapter 49, ''Identity in second language teaching and learning” by Brian Morgan and Matthew Clarke, reviews studies on identity in L2 education/acquisition. Topics discussed include selective appropriations, identity as pedagogy and text, the recent themes and priorities, and the new domains and the neglected areas of research, and the neoliberalism and regimes of accountability. Chapter 50, ''Language teaching and learning from an intercultural perspective” by Anthony J. Liddicoat, highlights the importance of developing intercultural awareness among L2 learners. The intercultural teaching is to enable language users to decenter their own cultural and linguistic framework in order to see the world from alternative perspectives, or ''to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange'' (p. 839). The principles of teaching intercultural knowledge and two models of intercultural learning (i.e., the development model of intercultural sensitivity by Bennett et al. (1999) and progression in intercultural learning by Liddicoat (2006)) are discussed. Chapter 51, ''Critical literacy and second language learning” by Allan Luke and Karen Dooley, reviews the studies on language planning and ideologies, and the educational status of linguistic and cultural minorities.
Part VIII, Language Planning and Policy, guest edited by Richard B. Baldauf Jr., presents an overview of the important directions in research of language policy and planning, and the impact of these on minority language rights. Chapter 52, ''The history and theory of language planning” by Jiri Nekvapil, reviews the history of language planning, and details the classic language planning and three other paradigms (i.e., the ''reversing language shift'' model, the circular model of language status change, and the language management framework). Chapter 53, ''Language planning: Approaches and methods” by Nkonko M. Kamwangamalu, reviews the most recent approaches to language planning, with a focus on the following: critical language policy, game theory, language economics, and language management theory. Chapter 54, ''Actors in language planning” by Shouhui Zhao, discusses the actors or ''agency'' in language planning and policy. Zhao mainly addresses the categorization of actors, the roles of actors in status planning, corpus planning, acquisition planning, and prestige planning.
Chapter 55, ''Macro language planning” by Robert B. Kaplan, focuses on the purposes, difference from language policy, the relation to modernization and development, to human rights, to internal inconsistencies, and to politics, and the goals, scope and assumptions of language planning. Chapter 56, ''Micro language planning” by Catherine Chua Siew Kheng and Richard B. Baldauf Jr., examines local aspects of language planning. Chapter 57, ''Global language: (De)Colonisation in the new era” by Catherine Chua Siew Kheng and Richard B. Baldauf Jr., discusses the selection of global languages, and global language policy and planning from ten different globalized perspectives.
This handbook rightly claims (back cover) to provide a broad-based, comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview of the current knowledge and research into second language teaching and learning. The authors are leading authorities and all chapters follow a similar outline. First, an explanation of how the topic fits into a larger picture of the domain of L2 research is provided. Then, the important developments, trends, and traditions in the discipline, as well as current controversies and their reasons, are discussed. Following that is a detailed examination of the current research findings and directions for future studies. Each chapter ends with substantial references that can assist interested readers in identifying references for further reading (p. xvi). Due to its wide coverage, the handbook will be a great resource for all types of second and foreign language professionals: researchers and researchers-in-training, graduate students, pre-service and in-service teachers, teacher trainers/trainees, curriculum designers, materials developers, and even those who are considering joining the profession (p. xiv).
A quick glimpse at the section and chapter titles in this handbook would lead one to think that second language teaching and learning, second language acquisition, and applied linguistics differ from each other in terms of their range of topics, even though they may overlap to an extent. On the one hand, second language acquisition is clearly a sub-branch of second language learning and teaching. For example, bilingualism usually does not fall within second language acquisition. Thus, it is plausible to separate second language acquisition from second language teaching and learning. However, it seems that there is not much difference between second language teaching and learning, and applied linguistics. A brief comparison of the section titles in the ''Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics'' (Simpson, 2011) and those in this handbook of second language teaching and learning reveals little difference in terms of their coverage. Thus, it is a little puzzling why second language teaching and learning are separated from applied linguistics in this handbook. For example, Part III is titled ''Second Language Research and Applied Linguistics'', which clearly considers applied linguistics different from second language research (i.e., learning and teaching).
Another issue is probably due to the particular design of this handbook (i.e., the wide coverage and easy accessibility to a wide audience): some chapters, especially those chapters in Part II, only provide a very rough picture of issues in L2 teaching and learning. Although interested readers may turn to the bibliography to identify the original sources for further reading, it is regrettable that those chapters have not delved deeper enough into some issues in L2 teaching and learning. A third problem is that most chapters discuss research methodologies in L2 teaching and learning, with the assumption that readers already know the approaches or paradigms. For example, think-aloud protocols are mentioned in several chapters, but the mechanism of how think-aloud protocols work is not always clearly explained. A more accessible reference handbook would have provided a more reader-friendly description of those most frequently-used research methodologies (such as think-aloud protocol in writing studies) so that readers can apply them in their own research. However, it may be argued that chapters in such a comprehensive handbook can only aim for comprehensiveness, which will inevitably leave out many specifics.
A last issue, unavoidable in a handbook written by so many authors from different backgrounds, is divergent writing styles. Although this is not a big problem itself, it does pose some difficulty for readers, especially non-native speakers of English, to adjust to changes in style. Furthermore, although almost all chapters follow roughly the same outline, some authors did better than others by providing a brief introduction at the beginning. Although the introduction at the beginning of a chapter may sound trivial, it will for sure provide readers with a rough idea of the content of a specific chapter, based on which the readers can decide whether the chapter is worth further reading or not.
In spite of these minor drawbacks, this handbook will prove to be an immensely invaluable reference for many people who are already in the field, as well as many others who are just stepping into this intriguing field of research.
Bennett, J. M., Bennett, M. J., & Allen, W. (1999). Developing intercultural competence in the language classroom. In R. M. Paige, D. L. Lange & Y. A. Yershova (Eds.), Culture as the core: Integrating culture into the language curriculum (pp. 13-46). Minneapolis: CARLA, University of Minnesota.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M. A. K., & Martin, J. R. (1993). Writing science: Literacy and discursive power. Pittsburgh, PA: The University of Pittsburgh Press.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar. Volume 1: Theoretical prerequisites. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Liddicoat, A. J. (2006). Learning the culture of interpersonal relationships: Students’ understanding of person reference in French. Intercultural Pragmatics, 6(1), 55-80.
Simpson, J. (2011). The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics. New York: Routledge.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1987). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 1: Problems of general psychology. Including the volume Thinking and Speech. New York: Plenum.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 3: Problems of the theory and history of psychology. New York: Plenum.
Walters, J. (2005). Bilingualism: The sociopragmatic-psycholinguistic interface. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Chunsheng Yang has a PhD in Chinese linguistics. His research interests are
phonetics, phonology, language pedagogy, and second language acquisition
(especially the acquisition of second language prosody). He is a lecturer
in Chinese at Northwestern University.