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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The L2 Journal is an open access, fully refereed, interdisciplinary journal which aims to promote the research and the practice of language learning and teaching. It publishes articles in English on all aspects of applied linguistics broadly conceived, i.e., second language acquisition, second language pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation.


No Silver Bullet: L2 Collocation Instruction in an Advanced Spanish Classroom

Many contemporary second language (L2) instructional materials feature collocation exercises; however, few studies have verified their effectiveness (Boers, Demecheleer, Coxhead, & Webb, 2014) or whether these exercises can be utilized for target languages beyond English (Higueras García, 2017). This study addresses these issues by investigating whether Laufer & Girsai’s (2008) instructional protocol of contrastive analysis and translation (CAT) is effective for teaching collocations in an advanced Spanish course. 25 verb-noun collocations were selected from course readings. A CAT group completed collocation workshops following Laufer & Girsai’s protocol.  A control group encountered the target collocations in course texts but received no explicit collocation instruction. A third group received form-focused instruction (FFI) consisting of non-contrastive vocabulary exercises. Results indicated that both CAT and FFI groups demonstrated significantly increased collocation knowledge, whereas the Control Group learned very few target collocations. Differences in learning gains between the CAT and FFI groups were not significant. These results suggest that (a) any exercise that leads students to cognitively engage with the forms and meanings of targeted collocations will lead to their acquisition, and that (b) without some form of explicit instruction, most students will not independently acquire collocations in an advanced language course.

Reflections on “Memories of War”: Project-based Learning among Japanese-as-a-Foreign-Language (JFL) Students at a Malaysian University

This study examines Malaysian learners’ reflections on the discourses of the Asia-Pacific War in Malaysia and Japan after engaging in “Memories of War” project. The project, which was implemented in an advanced Japanese-as-a-Foreign-Language (JFL) class at a Malaysian university, aimed to improve learners’ ability to grasp power relations underlying the social discourses on the Asia-Pacific War. It also sought to help them develop a more critical and comprehensive understanding of the war as responsible global citizens. The study finds that learners’ exposure to the wartime experiences of Japanese citizens largely prompted learners to view Japanese citizens as victims and war leaders as victimizers, though multiple victim-victimizer relationships were also identified among the citizens at the time. Learners also came to realize that race, social-economic status, and gender influenced Malaysian locals’ experience of the war. The discovery of the disturbing, “unfair” facts by students in the ethnically mixed class often brought about uncomfortable categorizations of self and others as victims, betrayers, or bystanders. Nevertheless, awareness often remained unspoken, and the mere appreciation of the status quo was expressed. The author consequently argues that the teacher has an important role to play in guiding learners to connect the past and the present.

Content-based Instruction (CBI) for the Social Future: A Recommendation for Critical Content-Based Language Instruction (CCBI)

In this article, we seek to reconceptualize content-based instruction (CBI) curricula and practices from a critical perspective. Further, we propose developing criticality as an essential component of CBI, advocating for an approach we call critical content-based instruction (CCBI). While the importance of CBI has long been recognized, previous discussions predominantly focused on its effectiveness for language learning (and content learning to a lesser degree), and overlooked its fundamental linkage and relevance to broader educational missions. In order to fully maximize the potential of CBI and envision language education as integral to the advancement of society, we argue that a critical approach to CBI should be considered. First, we lay out how CBI came to be and how it has been treated in language pedagogy. We believe CBI is indeed a suitable forum for introducing and implementing a critical perspective because of its original contribution of broadening language education to meet societal needs. Second, we provide an overview of recent discourse surrounding world language education. Based on these reviews, we lastly and most importantly delineate directions for CCBI by presenting examples and possible challenges.