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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Issues in Applied Linguistics

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ial is a refereed journal managed by scholars in the field of applied linguistics. Our aim is to publish outstanding research from faculty, independent researchers, and graduate students in the broad areas of second language acquisition, language socialization, language processing, language assessment, language pedagogy, language policy, making use of the following research methodologies (but not limited to): discourse analysis, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, critical race theory, and psychophysiology. ial publishes articles, book reviews, and interviews with notable scholars.


Locating Assisted Performance: A Study of Instructional Activity Settings and their Effects on the Discourse of Teaching

In an effort to locate instances of Tharp and Gallimore's assisted performance in educational settings, teacher-student interactions in typical teacher-fronted classrooms are contrasted with the organization of talk across a variety of alternate educational participant structures—a teacher-student conference, small group work, the making of a class video, and a problem-solving interaction in a computer lab—that deviate from the traditional "default script" (Cazden, 1988, p. 53) of classroom interactions. We consider how each learning arrangement affects the extent to which students are able to initiate, control, and maintain interaction, and the extent to which their agendas are articulated. We further consider the influence exerted by the multiple facets of each encounter's institutional and interpersonal context. This range of influences precludes a monolithic transfer of knowledge, pointing to the obviously agentive role of the novice as well as to ways in which historical and institutional expectations are represented (or altered) in interactional encounters. Hence, locating assisted performance uncovers a web of relationships among participants, tasks, and talk that both facilitate and constrain learning in a given novice-expert episode.

A Statistical Analysis of English Double Object Alternation

This paper explores the phenomenon of post verbal alternation in English double object constructions, and presents a statistical model for predicting the position of the indirect object in instances where alternation is unconstrained (e.g. "Roger gave us the clothes," vs. "Roger gave the clothes to us."). Analysis covers a large set of written and oral American English data using a parametric multiple regression instrument to establish the relationship of a set of grammatical and discourse variables to a binary dependent variable, in this case the post-verbal position of the indirect object.

Problematic ESL Content Word Choice in Writing: A Proposed Foundation of Descriptive Categories

Accurate and native-like word choice in writing is an important but problematic area of second language use. This paper presents an analytic foundation for pedagogical research and application which extends beyond the traditional 'superficial' categories of morphosyntactic rule violations and false cognates. Simultaneous 'complementary' analytic categories are proposed: the complexity of understanding word choice in written production entails the incorporation of several relevant theoretical and applied perspectives: lexical-semantics, syntax, text-analysis, pragmatics, language acquisition, cognition and memory, and pedagogical research. This study focuses on the first four as a necessary preliminary step. Major categories of word choice analysis are synthesized from both a theoretical perspective and from an empirical one, with an examination of data from ESL writers. The paper goes on to discuss implications for ESL pedagogy and further research.

Essay Prompts and the ESOL Student

Recent research on writing prompts which fit the preferences of English NS writers has found that NS writers prefer prompts in question form (Brossell & Ash, 1984) and that anticipating a good grade will positively influence writers' choices (Hayward, 1988). Little is known about whether this applies to L2 writers, however. The present study surveyed 142 ESOL students for their preferences as to form of prompt, and also surveyed for other factors relating to their choices such as perceived difficulty of a topic. Each student used a 5-point Likert scale to respond to ten potential prompts. The data were then analyzed using ANOVA, correlation analysis, and multiple regression analysis. No statistically significant difference was found in students' preference for prompts in different forms (question or statement). However, perceived ease, degree of interest, and potential prolificacy of prompt individually and as a group correlated strongly with students' preferences. It seems that ESOL students, while perhaps not alert to potentially helpful syntactic clues in prompts, are nonetheless probably using appropriate strategies when given a choice of prompt to write on.

What Lurks in the Margin: Use of Vocabulary Glosses as a Strategy in Second Language Reading

There have been inconsistent findings in previous second language research on the effect of vocabulary glossing on reading comprehension (Davis, 1989; Jacobs, Dufon, & Fong, 1994; Johnson, 1982; Pak, 1986). The present study was undertaken to extend this body of research in two ways: (a) by including another set of second language learners, another text, and another set of vocabulary glosses, accompanied by rigorous experimental procedures; and, (b) by considering the possible interaction of other variables with glossing. These other variables were: psychological type, tolerance of ambiguity, proficiency, frequency of gloss use, perceived value of gloss use, and time on task.

Glossing can be situated in the context of recent work on the reading process (Eskey, 1988; Lesgold & Perfetti, 1981; Rumelhart, 1980; Stanovich, 1980) and learning strategies (Cohen, 1990; O'Malley & Chamot, 1990; Ojrford, 1990; Wenden, 1991). Glossing strengthens the bottom-up component of the reading process. The use of glossing is one of several possible repair strategies that readers can use when they recognize comprehension breakdowns.

One hundred sixteen U.S. college students enrolled in a third-semester Spanish course participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, with half reading an unglossed Spanish text and half reading the same text accompanied by English glosses. After reading the text, participants were asked to write as much of the text as they could recall. Results showed a significant effect for glossing but no significant interactions between the treatment and any of the other variables. Suggestions are made as to the optimal use of vocabulary glosses.