Since the last issue of the IAFOR Journal of Education: Language Learning in Education, much continues to change for most of the world. As the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic diminishes its onslaught in some areas, it becomes more prevalent in other countries. Individuals from every country have witnessed the damage and loss inflicted by the same worldwide crisis. The return to a more normal way of life that was hoped for by so many remains beyond their grasp. Employment has been difficult at times, causing people to move to an area where jobs were more readily available. The nature of work persists in evolving as many remain at home to accomplish work tasks. The educational world has attempted to cope with flexibility when learning must return to an online format because of sudden and dramatic outbreaks of the virus or one of the new variants. What has not changed is the need for learning a second language, often in a new country and frequently with unfamiliar cultural practices. With the onset of the virus, many nations experienced upheaval and political unrest. Such turmoil has led to the movement of millions of people to safer places in order to survive. The United Nations Secretary General recently noted that extreme weather disasters and armed conflict are colliding, compelling people to escape more than once to find security, shelter, safe haven, and food. Inherent in the move is the need to successfully learn a new target language.
Despite what drives people apart or into isolation or to be separate, what brings the authors of these articles together is the desire to improve the second language teaching and language development of their students. From so many diverse countries in the world, these authors who may have never spoken with one another have conducted research studies all with the intent of improving the education of second language learners. It is as though the language of linguistics, second language acquisition, and of improved pedagogy to teach language becomes the common language of those who are engaged in that pursuit.
Multilingualism, second language acquisition, and second language learning continue to take center stage in every nation. The movement of peoples from country to country has increased. The number of second language learners throughout the world increases continuously, reminding educators, scholars, and researchers that investigating the multifaceted processes of second language acquisition and language learning in addition to researching promising new methods, materials and trends is essential to the improvement of second language teaching and learning. Motivation, appropriate teacher feedback, low affective filters, best procedures for developing speaking and listening skills, the development of vocabulary and equal access to learning are central to the second language acquisition dialogue. The persistent question concerns how to improve second language instruction to enhance and appropriately facilitate second language acquisition. Furthermore, discovering what indicates best practice among those who teach language learners of any age requires educators to look ahead for innovative initiatives while simultaneously continuing to use strategies and methods that are research proven. These precise topics are addressed in the variety of articles provided by the diverse group of authors who contribute their research and scholarship to this issue of the IAFOR Journal of Education: Language Learning in Education. The reader will gain knowledge of several issues affecting language learning in a wide assortment of nations and will find that similar discussions emerge in schools and second language classrooms transnationally.
In the first article, Jean-Marc Dewaele and Pearl P. Y. Leung, in their article, “The Effect of Proficiency on “Non-Native” EFL Teachers’ Feelings and Self-Reported Behaviours”, investigate whether the level of proficiency of teachers who teach a non-native language such as English influences their attitudes, motivation, well-being or choice of classroom practices. The quantitative study involved 376 English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers from around the world who had learned English as a foreign language. The researchers sought to explore the relationship of their English language proficiency and their sense of self-efficacy. The findings showed many correlations between language proficiency and confident teaching in the EFL classroom. This study establishes important considerations regarding the necessary proficiency of language teachers and their ongoing language development in support of that competence.
May Olaug Hoverak, Gerd Martina Langeland, Agnete Løvik, Sigrunn Askland, Paweł Scheffler, and Aleksandra Wach, authors of “Systematic Work with Speaking Skills and Motivation in Second language Classes”, explore strategies that may be useful in limiting the damaging effects of foreign language anxiety through the reclaiming of agency in improving one’s own educational setting and achievement. Their participants were teenagers and adult immigrants, and the research study was conducted in a variety of language learning situations that included English classes in Norway and Poland and Spanish classes in Norway. Upon completion of their intervention, the results were promising. As the foreign language anxiety lessened during the study, motivation typically increased. The participants reported that they sensed a more supportive learning environment.
In “A Corpus-Based Comparison of Inclusiveness in L2 Reading Materials for Refugee Children”, Meliha R. Simsek explores how newly arrived refugee children in Turkey may find themselves represented in school reading materials. A multimethod study was conducted for the purpose of determining the degree of inclusiveness of L2 reading materials used for refugee education in Turkey and New Zealand. The study looked specifically at diversity issues such as different proficiency levels, gender identities and cultural backgrounds. A significant aspect of the study was a comparison of English as a second language (ESL) and Turkish as a second language (TSL) materials. The results of the study should lead to essential improvements and policies in refugee education.
Jacqueline Żammit, author of, “Sociocultural Issues Experienced by Adults Learning Maltese as a Second Language”, looks at sociocultural problems encountered by Maltese as a second language (ML2) students and to what degree the sociocultural issues significantly impact ML2 learners. The study included 35 adult ML2 learners from a variety of language backgrounds, including Semitic, Romance, Germanic, Slovanic, Indo-European, Indo-Aryan, and Indo-Iranian. Each participant had experienced at least one of the following sociocultural challenges: culture shock, frustrating experiences trying to communicate in the new second language, memories that were not as sharp as they had been in younger years, and unfamiliar teaching methods. Among other important considerations, the findings highlight a significant aspect of second language acquisition for older persons – that of diminishing memories. The outcomes of the research offer insights that may inform the revision of diverse programs with similar issues.
John Duplice, author of, “The GoldList Notebook Method: A Study on L2 Vocabulary Learning”, underscores the certain importance of intentional and effective vocabulary development among second language learners. His study looked at collected data from 74 university students in Japan studying English vocabulary with the GoldList Notebook Method, which incorporates spaced learning and retrieval practice. The study was conducted over a nine-week period and consisted of both quantitative and qualitative research. The findings showed efficacy in using the method and highlighted particular merit to spaced learning over two-week intervals. The method is found to be especially useful with adult learners.
In “Facebook as a Flexible Ubiquitous Learning Space for Developing Speaking Skills”, Svitlana Mykytiuk, Olena Lysytska, Tetiana Melnikova, and Serhii Mykytiuk, also investigate how to improve second language learners’ speaking skills. Their quasi-experimental study examined the effectiveness of the integration of Facebook as a flexible pervasive learning space into the educational process for speaking skills development of undergraduate students learning English as a second language. The results revealed higher achievement scores of the experimental group in comparison to the control group in terms of expanding vocabulary, increasing English grammar literacy, developing interactive skills, discourse management, and pronunciation.
Eleni Meletiadou, author of “The Utilisation of Peer-Assisted Learning/Mentoring and Translanguaging in Higher Education” implemented a study that researched the impact of peer assisted learning/mentoring or PALM activities and translanguaging on the oral fluency of 80 multilingual students who were required to prepare oral presentations in the new target language. The results point to the probability that the innovative activities created a psychologically safe place in which students could achieve academic improvement. The findings accentuate the connection between emotion and cognition, underscoring the role of a low affective filter in increasing classroom involvement.
In, “Factors Obstructing English Teaching Effectiveness: Teacher Voices from Thailand’s Deep South”, Muhammadafeefee Assalihee and Yusop Boonsuk investigated factors leading to the ineffectiveness of English language teaching (ELT) in the rural settings of the three southern border provinces in Thailand where both teachers and learners have experienced ongoing political unrest, eruptions of violence, fears, and insecurity. The researchers hoped to introduce a new lens of contextualized English instructions for learners in schools located in Southernmost Thailand, where learners live amid linguistic and cultural diversity. The results revealed that five primary factors were leading to the deterioration of English language learning efficiency.
Nur Izzah binti Osman and Siti Nazleen binti Abdul Rabu, authors of “Mobile Learning for Malay Language among Foreign Workers: A Preliminary Study” conducted a study to understand the learning process and language acquisition of Communicative Malay Language (CML) among foreign workers in Malaysia. The researchers also wanted to explore potential utilizations of mobile applications in assisting CML learning among foreign workers. The analysis of the collected data for this qualitative study revealed that most of the respondents were not adequately supplied with general knowledge about the country. However, and reported that they considered the mobile application to be an effective tool in learning L2 and developing listening skills in the new target language.
In “Online Assessment in the Digital Era: Moroccan EFL University Students’ Experiences, Perceptions and Challenges” Nourreddine Menyani, Ahlame Boumehdi, and Oumaima El Jaadi sought to explore students’ experience with online emergency learning as well as online evaluation. The findings of this research revealed that the students experienced technical issues while submitting their exams. They expressed their disappointment with the lack of feedback provided by their professors. The participants commented that they experienced frequent worry about academic honesty. This has caused them to lose interest in their studies and to possess doubts about reliving the online assessment experience.
Texas Woman’s University, USA
Editor, IAFOR Journal of Education: Language Learning in Education