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Open Access Publications from the University of California

About

Created in November of 1989, Issues in Applied Linguistics is a refereed journal managed, edited and published by graduate students of the UCLA Department of Applied Linguistics. The journal is published twice yearly and has established international distribution and a solid reputation in the field of Applied Linguistics.

Our aim is to publish outstanding research from students, faculty, and independent researchers in the broad areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, language analysis, language assessment, language education, language use, and research methodology. We are particularly interested in publishing new departures and cross-disciplinary endeavors in the field of applied linguistics.

Articles

Desire and Discipline in Primary Education

This paper, based on a three-year participant observer study in a southwestern inner city elementary school, holds that understanding the dynamic nature of the struggle between desire and discipline in an elementary school setting is crucial because those competing forces and the ensuing struggle are a majorforce in a child's secondary socialization. Our observations suggest that even very young children acquiesce to and resist authority in many ways, and in doing so learn lessons often more complicated than most of our assumptions will allow. We argue that these lessons, which are often contradictory, are born out ofthe tension between institution and inclination, between deference and autonomy, and between respectfor authority and self-respect—a tension that is not resolvable, but that can be collectively lived with in better and worse ways.

Pragmatic Issues Related to Reading Comprehension Questions: A Case Study From a Latino Bilingual Classroom

This paper addresses some of the challenges which bilingual children transitioning to literacy in English may face when asked to answer reading comprehension questions which involve the interpretation and synthesis ofinformation about story characters' thoughts or feelings. Understanding of a character's perspective may depend on inference, rather than lexical content presented in a text Alternatively, prompt-questions may be framed such that lexical story content is required in the answer Such questions involve cognitive/ metapragmatic tasks related to linguistic competence in written English, as well as an understanding of the different types of knowledge associated with academic writing.

Some Problematic "Channels" In the Teaching of Critical Thinking in Current LI Composition Textbooks: Implications for L2 Student-Writers

Advanced writing courses in manyfreshman composition programs stress the importance of teaching critical thinking skills where students—both LI and L2—are encouraged to examine and question the social world they inhabit. Derived from an analysis of 12 current freshman composition textbooks, we identify three common "channels" through which student-writers are inducted into the critical thinking practice. These three channels are: (1) using informal logic as a way of developing students' reasoning strategies, (2) developing and refining students' problem solving skills, and (3) developing students' ability to analyze hidden assumptions in 'everyday arguments. ' This study calls attention to the problematic nature ofthese "channels " and to some implications oftransferring these channels in L2 writing classrooms. We believe that critical thinking is largely a sociocognitive practice that draws significantly on shared cultural practices and norms that mainstream students have (had) access to. ESL student-writers, however, given their diverse sociocultural backgrounds, have not necessarily been socialized in ways that would make induction into critical thinking a (relatively) smooth process (Atkinson & Ramanathan, 1995). Using critical thinking textbooks (written by and large for LI students) then, in L2 writing classrooms has complex consequences. Based on our current examination and previous study (Ramanathan & Kaplan, 1996a), we propose a discipline oriented approach to teaching writing, especially for non-native student-writers.

Teachers' Discursive Practices: Co-Construction of their Group Voices

This study focuses on teachers' group identity, seen as a process of co-construction of their group voices, as those voices emerge, are constructed or reconstructed in large-group dialogues. The participants were 28 experienced teachers who were engaged in an innovative 14-month mid-career program. The wholegroup dialogues held in the second half of the program were tape recorded and transcribed and constitute the discourse basisfor analysis. The contextualization of this discourse was supported by field notes and background information. Discourse analysis was carried out at macro and micro level and led to the following results: I) There were identified three types of dialogues: conversation, discussion after a presentation, and reporting small-group conversations, which differ in structure and interactional dynamics, allowing more or less expression and development of teachers voices. 2) There were four types of teachers ' voices: pragmatic, multiculturalist, critical, and socio-constructivist. These were deeply linked to the voices of the tradition of thought and discourse in education. 3) Teachers' use of personal pronouns index their social relations in the dynamics of the dialogue, through which teachers construct their group voices and identities. The opportunities for all the voices to be raised, heard, and developed is discussed within a cultural and sociopolitical context of teacher education.

What do Foreign Language Learners Do in Their Academic Reading'

Competence in academic reading is a key component in obtaining higher degreesfor foreign language learners in English medium universities. This paper summarizes research findings on academic reading obtainedfrom a questionnaire, two sets of reading tests and a textbook analysis. Results revealed that the essential reading skills required offoreign language learners and the skills they have most problems with in their academic studies are J) skimming; 2) reading a text or parts ofa text more slowly and carefully to extract all the relevant information for a written assignment such as an essay, dissertation or examination; and 3) understanding unknown words. The correlations between reading tests which tested global skills and discrete skills were strong. The results indicated that if these learners did well on global skills, they also tended to do well on discrete skills and vice versa. Learners seemed to use their skills eclectically and holistically. The results suggest that too much emphasis in EAP reading has been given to reading for the main idea, at the cost of faster reading skills (skimming) and area-specific skills (understanding unknown words ) which are required of learners and which they find most difficult.