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Exploring the use of two metacognitive strategies in developing motivation, language awareness and accuracy… Jordan, Ruth 1998

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EXPLORING THE USE OF TWO METACOGNITIVE STRATEGIES IN DEVELOPING MOTIVATION, LANGUAGE AWARENESS AND ACCURACY: AN ACTION RESEARCH STUDY by R U T H JORDAN B.A., Carleton University, 1983 B.Ed., University of Ottawa, 1984 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF MASTER OF ARTS in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Language Education) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA January 27, 1998 0 Ruth Jordan, 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Vancouver, Canada Date *V DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT Often advanced ESL students reach a point in their learning where they start to feel they are no longer making progress. In particular, certain grammatical features seem to become fossilized and these 'bad habits' are extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible, to break (Higgs & Clifford, 1982). As a result, students and teachers alike find themselves getting frustrated in this situation. This action research study was conducted over a six-month period by a teacher of advanced ESL adults attending classes at a privately-owned international language school. The purpose was to observe participants using two metacognitive learning strategies which were purported to help students improve their accuracy by developing their language awareness. In addition, the study explored whether the students' motivation was increased as a result of their learning to evaluate and monitor their own performance in the target language. The individuals who became members of the 'strategy user' group were asked to implement the following two strategies: First, they kept a daily language log and second, they participated in recorded group discussions which they later took home to listen to and assess the level of accuracy in their language production. This was done at monthly intervals and allowed them to reflect upon the amount of improvement that had taken place. In addition, another group of students, referred to as the 'non-strategy users', were also followed over the six month period of the study in order to make observations concerning their levels of accuracy and rate of improvement. The members of this second group were given no instruction in strategy use and had no special tasks to perform other than to complete the same pre- and post-writing tests, also at monthly intervals, that the members of the 'strategy user' group wrote. The findings are reported in four areas. The first deals with the perceptions of the students who used the two metacognitive strategies and of the teacher who observed her students while they were doing so. The student response to the language log was overwhelmingly positive although there was some disagreement over how frequently it should be used. The teacher's response was also positive despite the fact that a great deal of effort was required to get certain individuals to understand how the logs were to be used and for what purpose. The strategy of recording themselves on tape also got a positive response from the vast majority of participants even though some of them claimed they did not like hearing their voices on tape. The second area of findings includes any kind of observable evidence which might support the perceptions the students and teacher had concerning the benefits of the two strategies. There was some indication that using them had a positive influence on accuracy by heightening students' sensitivity to language form. Participants also reported an increase in their level of motivation. Perhaps, the most interesting finding here was the fact that students who already had a high degree of accuracy were able to perform the tasks successfully and according to instructions, whereas some individuals with lower levels of accuracy were not. The third area gives insight into what is involved when integrating the two strategies into the regular classroom curriculum. In particular, reference is made to the high turnover of participants in the study and to the unexpected difficulty experienced by the teacher in getting students started using their language logs. The last section takes into consideration those findings, which had not been anticipated in any sense, but provided valuable insight. The fact that some participants will 'customize' the research tools to satisfy their own agenda is also discussed. iii Table of Contents Abstract i Table of Contents iii List of Tables vii Acknowledgments ( < viii Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION I The Problem 1 II Purpose of Study 2 III The Research Questions 3 IV Definition of Terms 4 V Organization of the Paper 7 Chapter 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE I What Exactly is Fossilization and What Causes It to Occur? 10 II Metacognitive Learning Strategies 13 A) The Language Log for Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluation 16 B) Increasing Intrinsic Motivation 18 C) Recording on Tape 21 Chapter 3 WHY ACTION RESEARCH? A) The Situation 22 B) Taking Action 26 Chapter 4 METHODOLOGY I Overall Format 35 II The Research Site 36 A) The School System 36 B) The Participants 38 III Data Collection from the 'Non- Strategy User' Group 40 IV Data Collection from the 'Strategy User' Group 42 A) Pre-tests 42 B) Language Logs 43 C) Recording on Tape 45 D) Post-tests 46 E) Questionnaires 46 F) Teacher's Personal Journal 47 Chapter 5 FINDINGS The Research Questions 54 Overall Format 55 I Perceptions of the Relative Value of the Two Strategies 58 A) Student Response to the Language Logs 58 B) Student Response to Recording Themselves on Tape 61 C) Teacher's Response to Language Logs 63 Pros - 63 Cons - 67 D) Teacher's Response to Recording on Tape 69 Pros - 69 Cons - 72 II Some Observable Evidence 73 A) Level of Fluency and Accuracy Related to Students' Primary Focus in Language Logs 73 B) Grammar Mistakes in Written L2 Production by 'Non-Strategy User' and 'Strategy User' Groups 77 i) The 'Non-Strategy User' Group - 77 ii) The 'Strategy User' Group - 79 V C) Relating Mistakes Made on Tape and Features Noted in the Language Log: An Individual Case 81 III The Administration of the Strategies 85 A) Language Logs 85 B) Recording on Tape 87 IV The Value of Unexpected Findings in Action Research 88 Chapter 6 DISCUSSION Chapter Overview 92 I Language Logs - The Interface and Non-interface Position 93 II Recording Sessions and the Interface and Non-interface Position 95 III Language Awareness and Written L2 Production 98 A) The 'Non-Strategy User' Group 98 B) The 'Strategy User' Group 100 IV About the Onset of Fossilization 102 V The Two Learning Strategies and Motivation 104 VI About the Administration of the Strategies 104 VII About Action Research 105 Chapter 7 CONCLUSION I Summary of this Study 108 II The Implications of the Findings 108 III Suggestions for Future Research 110 IV Limitations on a Common Sense Approach 111 V I References 113 Appendices: Appendix A Pre-writing Test 116 Appendix B Post-writing Test 118 Appendix C Strategies Questionnaire 120 Appendix D Sample Page of a Student's Language Log 123 Appendix E ' Sample Page of Teacher's Personal Log 125 vii LIST OF TABLES Table # 1 Participation in the 'Non-Strategy User' Group 49 Table # 2 Participation in the 'Strategy User' Group 51 Table # 3 Composition of 'Strategy User' Group Classes 52 Table # 4 Questionnaire Responses Concerning Language Logs 58 Table # 5 Questionnaire Responses Concerning Recording Sessions 61 Table # 6 Individual Assessment of Each Participant's Level of Fluency and Accuracy Contrasted to Main Focus in Language Log 75 Table # 7 Summary Chart of Students' Level of Accuracy and What They Predominantly Focused on in Their Language Logs 76 Table # 8 The Reoccurrence of the Same Grammatical Errors Made by the 'Non-Strategy User' Group 78 Table # 9 The Reoccurrence of the Same Grammatical Errors Made by the 'Strategy User'Group 79 Table #10 Relating Mistakes Made on Tape and Features Noted in the Language Log: An Individual Case 82 viii Acknowledgments I would like to thank Professor Gloria Tang for all her incredibly patient and prompt help in guiding me through a huge part of my thesis. She is presently on sabbatical in Hong Kong and I hope she is enjoying an interesting year away from the university. I would also'like to thank Professor Margaret Early for picking up where Gloria left off. Ever since I was a student in her class, I have had the utmost respect for her abilities as a professor for she is truly 'a teacher.' I must acknowledge the owners and administrators at Pacific Language Institute for allowing me to conduct my research on-the-job. Their support has been wonderful. So too, has the encouragement I have received all along the way from my colleagues. They always seemed to believe I would get through this even when I was having doubts, myself. A special thanks goes to my colleague and fellow-student, Joel Murray, whose feedback and proofreading has been invaluable. I owe him one. It also goes without saying, how much I appreciate those students who were willing to participate in my study and make this study possible. Of course, I must thank my husband, Ed, and our beautiful daughter, Lauren, for their patience and understanding and for standing by me, so that I was able to see this thesis through to its completion. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION D The Problem Many advanced English as a Second Language (ESL) students share a common problem. While their fluency level continues to increase, their accuracy begins to level off at a certain point. The" gap between their ability to converse comfortably in the second language (L2) and their ability to use the correct grammatical structures while doing so keeps getting larger and larger. Many of these individuals become extremely discouraged because they feel that they are no longer making progress. They are well aware of the fact that they have reached some kind of permanent plateau (fossilization). Incorrect linguistic features have become automatized in their interlanguage (IL) and these bad habits seem extremely difficult, if not impossible, to break. Often these students come to the classroom in hopes that the teacher's expertise will somehow, if not magically, enable them to continue to improve their overall language proficiency, but they start to lose their motivation when they discover that the teacher cannot do the learning for them. Perhaps these expectations are not unusual, given that throughout students' academic careers, this has been the common practice. For example, if they had a problem in math, they went to the math teacher who could show them the solution. If they were lacking information for their history course, they could ask the teacher to inform them of the missing details. 1 The issue then becomes what actions the ESL teacher can take to help these individuals overcome their problem concerning L2 acquisition. Acquiring a second language is a long and complex process, which is influenced by a large variety of factors. There are no easy answers but this does not relinquish the teacher's responsibility to help students find methods or strategies to tackle their difficulties in learning. Teachers must assist in making students feel responsible for and in control of their own learning. This can have a huge effect on the eventual learning outcome and it is hoped that the students' intrinsic desire to continue their goal of acquiring the L2 will be enhanced and that their efforts will be met with success. I D Purpose of the Study Learning strategies are very important in dealing with the problem of diminished development in grammatical accuracy that advanced students face. It is argued (Oxford, 1990) that these strategies are supposed to help individuals gain control of their learning and provide a means to combat the many difficulties they face in their attempt to learn the L2. Research indicates that good language learners employ more of the strategies than poor language learners. In particular, metacognitive strategies of self-monitoring and self-evaluation help them to reflect on the entire process they are going through and to gain awareness on how to improve their effectiveness as students by being cognizant of their own actions (Oxford, 1990). Much of the recent literature (Oxford, 1990; Higgs & Clifford, 1982; Nicholas, 1992; Schmidt, 1990, Selinker & Lamendella, 1979; Sharwood-Smith, 1981) argues that in order for students to increase their level of accuracy, they 2 must be made aware of the linguistic features so that they will pay attention to form and monitor their output, thus delaying the onset of fossilization. They need to be their own critics and not rely solely on the teacher to do this job for them. The first purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to explore the perceptions of those individuals who implement two metacognitive strategies specifically: a language log and recording themselves on-tape. Not only the students' but also the teacher's opinion concerning the perceived benefits are taken into consideration. The second purpose is to explore what influence writing in a language log and recording themselves on tape have on the students' level of motivation. The third purpose is to observe whether there is any indication in the students' production of the language that these two strategies do indeed improve accuracy. The final purpose is to consider those factors that either facilitate or hinder the teacher's work when attempting to get students to implement these strategies in order to improve the ways in which the language log and recording sessions can be used as part of the daily classroom curriculum. Ill) The Research Questions In consideration of the points just made, this paper will seek to explore the following research questions: 1. What do students like or dislike about the use of these two specific metacognitive strategies? Do students feel one method is more effective than the other? Is there one method that they prefer over the other? 3 2. What is the teacher's perspective concerning the benefits of having students implement these two strategies as part of the daily classroom curriculum? 3. What is the likelihood that these two strategies have a positive effect on the students' 'level of intrinsic motivation? 4. Is there any observable evidence that these two strategies improve the students' level of accuracy and prevent the onset of fossilization? 5. What are some of the difficulties that are experienced while implementing these strategies in the classroom? What can be done to rectify them? TV) Definition of Terms Fossilization: In a very broad sense, this term refers to when a student stops improving before reaching the appropriate level of competence in the language being learned (Higgs & Clifford, 1982). 4 Learning Strategies: Oxford (1990, p.l) refers to learning strategies as those steps taken by students to enhance their own learning. Metacognitive Learning Strategies: Again using Oxford's definition (1990, p. 136), metacognitive learning strategies are those actions students useto coordinate their learning. With them, learners are encouraged to reflect on the process of learning they are undergoing, 'metacognitive' meaning beyond, beside or with the cognition. In particular, this research deals with the two metacognitive strategies of self-monitoring and self-evaluation. Interface Position: This position states that 'learned' knowledge can become 'acquired' knowledge and vice versa (Ellis, 1992) so that explicitly learned features of the new language can become automatized with practice. Non-Interface Position: According to Krashen (1982), acquisition occurs naturally from engaging in conversation as long as there is comprehensible input. 'Learning' is the result of formal instruction which is entirely separate and cannot be converted into 'acquired' knowledge. 5 E S L : This abbreviation, which stands for English as a second language, is used when English is being taught in a country where English is the major language. E F L : This abbreviation for 'English as a foreign language' is usually used when English is being taught in a non-English speaking country, so that students do not get the same exposure to the language outside the classroom that they would in an ESL situation. S L A : This is an abbreviation for second language acquisition. T L : This is an abbreviation for target language, which is the language being learned. In the case of this study, the T L is English. L2: This is an abbreviation for second language, which is used interchangeably with T L . L I : This abbreviation refers to the mother-tongue or the language used most comfortably and proficiently by the speaker, which is usually the first language learned but not always. IT: This is the abbreviation for interlanguage, which was a term coined by Selinker (1972) and refers to the structured system of the TL a learner uses at any given stage of his or her language development (Ellis, 1992). V) Organizatidn of the Paper This paper is organized into seven chapters. Chapter One, the "Introduction," outlines the problem that initiated this study, plus the purpose and rationale of the research. It also includes the research questions along with the definitions of some of the more specialized terminology that has been used throughout the paper. Finally, this section includes a general overview of what the reader can expect to find in each of the seven chapters. The next chapter, "Review of the Literature" is divided into two main parts. First, the review concerns itself with previous studies and theories concerning the cause of fossilization. Second, it discusses the literature and research that has been conducted using metacognitive learning strategies both to develop language awareness - therefore preventing the onset of fossilization - and to increase intrinsic motivation because accuracy continues to improve. Chapter 3 entitled "Why Action Research?" explains why this methodology was deemed to be the most appropriate way of exploring the research questions which addressed the particular needs of the researcher in dealing with the specific problems she 7 faced within her own teaching practice. The major concepts of action research are also discussed in this section. Chapter 4, "Methodology," describes how, where, and with whom the research was conducted over a six-month period. The participants in this study were members of either the 'non-strategy user' group or the 'strategy user' group and all of the various tasks they were required to perform are outlined here. Data collection from the 'non-strategy user' group involved the use of pre- and post-writing tests, whereas data collection from the 'strategy user' group was more complex. In addition to the pre- and post-tests, the individuals in the latter group were also required to keep a daily language log, record themselves on tape, and fill out end-of-month questionnaires. The teacher also kept her own personal journal. "The Findings" in Chapter 5 have been divided into four sections: Perceptions of the Relative Value of the Two Strategies, The Observable Evidence, The Administration of the Strategies and The Value of Unexpected Findings in Action Research. Each section deals with a different aspect of the study and attempts to address the various research questions. Following the section dealing with the findings, is Chapter 6 entitled "Discussion." Here, the findings from the various oral and written components of the research are discussed in relation to some of the literature concerning the debate over the 'interface' verses the 'non-interface' position. These findings are also related to the concept of 'language awareness' as a means to combat fossilization, improve accuracy and increase intrinsic motivation. In addition, some of the difficulties implementing the strategies are 8 discussed so that other action researchers and teachers can build on another's experience. Finally, some reflections on being involved in the action research process, itself, are made. The final chapter, "Conclusion," includes a summary of what the study involved and the implications of the findings. Also, some of value and limitations of action research are discussed and a few suggestions are made for ways in which future research may be conducted in order to shed further light on the use of metacognitive strategies in developing motivation, language awareness and accuracy. 9 Chapter 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE I What Exactly is Fossilization and What Causes It to Occur? According to Vigil and Oiler (1976), fossilization is the process in which certain rules, linguistic items and subsystems become permanently incorporated in the grammatical system of the" L2 learner. This, of course, becomes problematic when much of this 'permanent information' is linguistically incorrect. As a result the learners make the same grammatical errors repeatedly. Several researchers have slightly different theories as to why this occurs. Higgs and Clifford (1982), for example, argue that grammar mistakes become permanently embedded when students are not made to pay attention to form right from the very beginning of their attempt to learn the L2. As a result, they automatize certain errors in their repeated attempts to communicate and eventually these habitual mistakes become virtually impossible to undo. Vigil and Oiler (1976), on the other hand, believe that fossilization starts to set in as soon as the learner receives predominantly positive feedback from the interlocutor. When the L2 learner engages in a conversation, he or she will normally receive positive feedback as long as the meaning has been understood since the interlocutor is primarily concerned with the truth value of an utterance as opposed to its grammatical form. If the message receives a positive response, the speaker is encouraged to continue. Only when the feedback is negative, will the speaker understand that he or she must attempt to convey meaning in another way. The source of the feedback may be one person or a group of persons; in 10 fact, it could be the L2 learner as well, if that individual has learned to monitor his or her own output. Although Selinker and Lamendella (1979) agree with Vigil and Oiler that the type of feedback received does play a role in determining a student's eventual success, they argue that there is not necessarily a minimum level that brings about the desired change. Instead, they feer that different students will be satisfied with varying amounts of positive feedback, depending on that individual's needs from the target language (TL) group. The more motivated the learner is, the more likely he or she will only be satisfied when a high percentage of the feedback is positive. By teaching students to monitor their performance, motivation is increased because they feel they have greater control over their own learning process (Oxford, 1990). Therefore, it can be assumed that the increased motivation causes the students to raise their standards for positive feedback, which in turn will mean that fossilization will be delayed at the very least. Schumann, as cited by Schmidt (1983), would argue that the eventual success of a learner is predictable according to the individual's social and psychological distance factors. The individual who is outgoing and has much affection for and contact with the TL group is far more likely to acculturate and therefore attain higher levels of language proficiency. Those with high social and psychological distance factors will not succeed to the same degree. However, Schmidt (1983) discovered that social and psychological distance factors were not sufficient in being able to determine the learner's eventual success. Instead he argues that his case study involving Wes, a Japanese immigrant to Hawaii, is a clear 11 example of what can happen to a learner who stops getting the appropriate feedback. It had been predicted that Wes would continuously improve his IL since he was an extremely friendly and outgoing adult who scored positively in reference to Schumann's 1978 Acculturation Model. This model was used as the yardstick to determine the degree to which someone is likely to acculturate to the target language (TL) group. Within three1 years of Wes' move to Hawaii, many of his friends were monolingual English speakers, and his professional life increasingly demanded interaction with English speakers. In order to promote his career as an artist, his communication skills continuously became more essential. By the end of the study, Wes showed substantial improvement in his discourse competence (his ability to hold a conversation for greater lengths on a larger variety of topics), but his grammatical competence did not improve as had been expected. Schmidt then concluded that grammatical competence could not be accounted for by the acculturation model and that adults could only acquire the correct linguistic forms by paying close attention to them. Oxford (1992) describes two different learning styles, "analytic versus global," which could also account for why some students' grammatical errors tend to fossilize earlier than others. Analytic learners prefer to concentrate on the grammatical features of the TL and will often avoid opportunities for open and less-structured communicative activities. Global learners, on the other hand, place a stronger emphasis on social, communicative strategies, and avoid having to analyze the finer details of language form. They focus on the main idea as opposed to the detail. Their lack of concern with accuracy, however, can result in earlier fossilization. Oxford claims that "learners must 12 also extend themselves beyond their 'stylistic comfort zone' to use learning strategies that might not initially feel right" (p. 42). In other words, the analytic learner needs to develop a more global understanding of the TL in order to be able to convey meaning, whereas the global student needs to develop some analytical skills to be able to communicate with greater linguistic precision. In an advanced classroom, the feedback is likely to be positive on the affective scale, which would indicate to the student that the interlocutor is interested and willing to make an attempt to understand. However, some of the cognitive feedback, especially from the teacher, may be negative in that their mistakes are explicitly brought to their attention. It would seem that this prodding within the classroom would help to avoid the onset of fossilization. Nevertheless, this is not enough especially since there is only one teacher amongst many students. Much of the advanced students' language learning takes place outside of the classroom, particularly in an ESL situation, where they are able to engage in discourse with native speakers, as opposed to an EFL one, where they do not usually have this opportunity. Because they can convey their thoughts clearly, they are not likely to receive much negative feedback in the 'natural environment.' Consequently, if these individuals are not trained to pay attention to form, they just continue to reinforce their errors and no effort is made to change 'bad habits.' II Metacognitive Learning Strategies To avoid the onset of fossilization, the students must be encouraged to develop an awareness of how the TL works. According to Naiman, Frolich, and Todesco, as cited in 13 Oxford and Crookall (1989), one of the keys to successful language learning is "developing an awareness of language both as a formal system of rules and as a means of communication" (p.406). This is where learning strategies can play an important role. Oxford (1990), describes learning strategies as those steps taken by the students in order to enhance their learning by focusing not only on what they are learning, but also on how they go about learning it- The actions taken are also meant to increase enjoyment along with effectiveness. Although some researchers, such as Krashen (1976) in particular, would argue that learned knowledge does not become acquired knowledge, Oxford strongly disagrees, believing that they are not mutually exclusive. "Appropriate language learning strategies result in improved proficiency and greater self confidence" (1990, p. 1). Chamot, as cited by Oxford and Crookall (1989), also found that the major difference between those who were successful in acquiring the L2 and those who were not was that the former used a greater number of learning strategies more frequently than the latter. (P. 407). In order to improve the students' accuracy, the metacognitive strategies appear to be especially useful since they are meant to help learners regulate their own cognition, focus, plan and evaluate their learning (Oxford, 1990). These strategies can be further subcategorized as follows: 14 A) Centering your learning. overviewing and linking Metacognitive already known material. Strategies B) Arranging and planning your learning planning for a language task. C) Evaluating your learning. self-monitoring self-evaluation It is this last category that is of particular interest since it involves self-monitoring (the conscious decision to notice and correct errors), and self-evaluating (the measuring of one's progress). Both of these strategies seem to be extremely appropriate for developing language awareness. Oxford (1990) also notes that self-monitoring is indeed more extensively used by those students who are considered effective learners. However, it is important that students do not become so obsessed with their mistakes that doing so starts to interfere with their communication skills (p. 161). In their overview of much of the recent research that has taken place in the area of learning strategies, Oxford and Crookall (1989) refer to a number of other researchers who have also found that good language learners monitor their speech. Among those mentioned are Stern (1975), Rubin (1975), Tyacke & Mendelsohn (1986), all of whom found self monitoring to be among those traits they observed in successful language learners. In addition, O'Malley (1987) drew the same conclusions after conducting research on 75 high school students who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 15 one that received training in metacognitive and social-affective strategy use, one that received social-affective strategy training and finally, a control group. These individuals underwent a series of tasks that tested their vocabulary, listening, and speaking skills. In the end, the post-test results showed significant differences in the experimental groups' speaking ability. Neither the vocabulary nor the listening test results showed any real significance. • Since research indicates that good students use a variety of learning strategies for a number of situations, and that metacognitive strategies in particular help students to focus their attention on form through self-evaluation and self-monitoring, the next step then is to investigate which methods are the most effective to use. A) The Language Log for Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluation Oxford (1990) advocates having students write in journals as a means of developing an awareness of how to go about their learning and how the language works. This allows them to focus on their errors in order to eliminate them. They can make special note of anything they have noticed or discovered about linguistic forms or any other language features that have been brought to their attention through peer-correction, teacher-correction, textbooks, other classroom materials and activities, and so on. In this way, students can be encouraged to realize that they are able to learn from their mistakes and that nobody is demanding perfection. It is important that this journal is kept separate from the regular classroom notes so that the students always have a quick reference to remind them of their particular errors 16 that they have to try to rectify. Oxford recommends having students write in their journals on a daily basis but does not insist on the entries being a certain length. They can run anywhere from a few lines to a few paragraphs; length is not important. What is important, however, is that these journals are a method of self-report, allowing language skills and self-reliance to develop together (p. 235). Schmidt (1990) diseusses his experience in using a journal in order to analyze his acquisition of Portuguese over a five month period in Brazil in an article about the research he conducted with Frota (Schmidt & Frota, 1986). While keeping his journal, he also recorded his interlocutor's speech in order to have samples of the input. Schmidt found that there was a very strong correlation between what he had recorded in his journal as having noticed about the language and what appeared in his output. Not surprisingly, forms that did not appear in the input were never used by Schmidt. Nor did being explicitly taught a grammar point always guarantee its appearance in the output. In such incidences, information might have been processed for meaning but the form had never really been noted, as seen by the fact that they were not mentioned in any of Schmidt's journal entries. His findings led him to conclude that memory requires attention and awareness together and that unattended material only ends up in the short-term memory but does not become a permanent feature in the language output. However, he also noted that failure to report something retrospectively did not necessarily mean that it had not been noticed in the conscious awareness at the time. This is an important point for teachers to realize if they have their students use language journals. Students are not likely to record everything they noted during the lesson and the teacher should not 17 feel disappointed by this. The important thing is that the journal is providing students with a way to pay selective, voluntary attention to at least a few features at a time. The journal can also be effective as a means for self-evaluation, which is the gauging of one's progress in any of the skill areas. If students record difficult aspects of the language, they will be able to see, upon reflection, that some of the areas originally causing concern have become much less problematic over time. In addition, their journal entries will eventually show improvement in sentence length, complexity of grammatical structures, accuracy, and more. B) Increasing Intrinsic Motivation In addition to using the log both to record linguistic features that need to be worked on and to evaluate one's performance, learners will find that the log can also be useful in keeping track of the their feelings throughout the process they are undergoing. It seems logical that positive emotions and attitudes can make language learning far more effective and that over-anxiety can inhibit the learning process. Writing in a journal is supposed to provide students with a meaningful opportunity to encourage themselves and reduce their stress by identifying their learning problems. In addition, it allows them to acknowledge their accomplishments which they are aware of due to the metacognitive strategies of self-monitoring and self-evaluation. This causal relationship is important since it is the affective factors such as emotion, attitude, motivation and values that Oxford believes "strongly influence whether the learner loses or maintains his language skills after the training is over" (1990, p. 141). 18 Correlation studies reveal that there is indeed a relationship between motivation and successful learning (Ellis, 1992), and Gardner (1988) has identified this factor as being the single most important determinant of achievement. Motivation involves the reasons why the learner wants to acquire the TL. Much of the literature on second language acquisition (SLA) has categorized motivation into two orientations: integrative or instrumental. In reality, Ihis distinction represents a continuum rather than absolute alternatives. The integratiyely motivated learner is the person who wishes to identify with the ethnolinguistic group which he or she values and admires. Integration is different from assimilation since the latter results in the rejection of one's own heritage in favour of the other group (Gardner, 1988). The instrumentally motivated learner, on the other hand, has functional reasons for learning the L2, such as passing an exam, furthering career opportunities, improving social status, and so on. Larsen-Freeman and Long (1992) claim that of the two types of motivation, integration is better in the long run for sustaining the drive necessary to master the language. Gardner (1988) also felt that of the two, integrative motivation provides the more effective base for sustaining interest. Kamada (1987) describes a situation in Japan that illustrates the effects that one's orientation towards learning can have in the long-run. Although he identifies the two types of motivation as either 'intrinsic' or 'extrinsic,' they are virtually synonymous with 'integrative' and 'instrumental.' The intrinsic learner pursues language learning to satisfy his or her needs to develop competence and exercise self-determination, whereas the extrinsic learner, in contrast, is stimulated by the promise of some kind of outside reward. Many students in Japan, Kamada claims, start out enthusiastically because they initially 19 come to class with an intrinsic curiosity about the English language. When they first learn to make simple communicative comments, they most likely feel a sense of mastery at being able to make themselves understood. However, this intrinsic drive quickly becomes extrinsic and lacks the same kind of self-involvement. Most Japanese students will have to take an English entrance exam at some point so the main focus becomes the test. While the intrinsically motivated student is likely to operate with a range of learning strategies, the extrinsically motivated individual is far more likely to rely on rote memorization as the key strategy for passing the exam. Although the learner is able to recall specific information, this is likely the point at which his or her learning will remain fixed. Synthesis, analysis, application, and interpretation of the language will more likely be achieved by the individual seeking the self-satisfaction derived from the innate desire to master something. Once the exam has been written, the extrinsically driven student is not likely to continue the learning process whereas the intrinsically motivated student will, since the levels of self-involvement and curiosity have not diminished. In order to give the advanced student the incentive to push beyond an L2 that is functional but not accurate and in order to avoid the fossilization of bad linguistic habits, the teacher needs to encourage him or her to be less dependent on external factors and to exercise more control over his or her learning. In particular, the metacognitive learning strategies of self-monitoring and self-evaluation are meant to help students develop self-reliance and language skills together, thus perpetuating feelings of self-fulfillment. The responsibility of learning is shifted to the student through the utilization of both (Willing, 1987). According to Oxford (1990), the metacognitive strategies provide a way for 20 students to coordinate their learning and are absolutely essential for the process of acquiring a second language. By controlling their thought processes through planning, monitoring or evaluating a learning activity, the metacognitive strategies are expected to have a direct effect on intrinsic motivation (Stewner-Manzanares, 1985). d Recording on Tape. Another method for self-monitoring and self-evaluation recommended by Oxford (1990) is having students tape their speech on tape-recorders. Afterwards, they listen to the recording to examine various aspects of their language production, such as grammar, pronunciation, fluency, and so on in order to see how they measure up to a native speaker. By comparing their performances on earlier tapes to those on later ones, students are given the opportunity to evaluate the progress they have made over a given period of time. This additional opportunity to control their own learning is expected to help students develop their language awareness and therefore improve their level of accuracy, plus increase intrinsic motivation by allowing them greater involvement in their own learning. They become active participants, involved in discovering ways to go about their learning tasks in the TL, which in turn is expected to make the whole process more meaningful (Oxford, 1990). A teacher wants to help the advanced students become 'aware' learners so that they will continue to improve long after they have left the classroom, thereby delaying the onset of fossilization. 21 Chapter 3 WHY ACTION RESEARCH ? The Situation I love being a teacher; let there be no doubt about it. Sometimes, I just think it is in my blood. The money is not great, the frustration level can be very high at times, but the truth of the matter is, if I weren't in the classroom, I would miss it. So what exactly is the draw? Well, to begin with, teaching is a 'people profession' and I enjoy being with people. I became acutely aware of this while holding down one of several jobs I had before I went into the education field. I worked in an accounting firm where it would be just me and books full of numbers tucked away in a tiny corner of a basement office all day long. It was like having to do homework for eight hours a day, five days a week. Nobody is that crazy about homework! The workday was so predictable, too. I showed up at the same time, sat at the same desk, with what appeared to be the same books (numbers all look the same to me) and chugged away until it was finally time to go home. That was a long time ago. I have since gone back to university, completed my Bachelor of Arts at Carleton University with a specialty in English Literature and my Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. I have never looked back! Now, I am working on my thesis in order to obtain my Masters in Language Education. For the last six years, I have been teaching at a private language school located in downtown Vancouver while attending the University of British Columbia (UBC) part-time. I can 22 honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy my job and this makes me feel lucky, especially since so many people I know really do not like what they do for a living. The school where I work is for adults only; everyone must be eighteen years or older. I know that this policy has sometimes been broken but only on very rare occasions. Under what circumstances these exceptions have been made, however, I cannot explain. Jhe students at this school come from all around the world and that, in itself, is very exciting. I am an avid traveler, but I am also married and have one daughter, so the opportunity to travel has become much more limited over the years. And let's face it, I have to work for a living. However, when I am teaching, I get to meet people from a great variety of countries. It's like taking a pseudo world tour on a daily basis. Most of these students come from Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan and Mexico. However, I have taught individuals from Spain, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Brussels, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Hong Kong, former-Yugoslavia, Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia as well. This 'united nations' environment is exciting. Each day, the teacher works with a group of students who gather together in order to work towards the common goal of improving their English language skills. I derive great satisfaction from planning lessons, developing materials and then seeing students respond positively to what has been prepared. Classes are designed in such a way that there is a high degree of interaction, so I learn a lot about my students as individuals. Frequently, I discover something new about the English language that I didn't know before or about the particular topic under scrutiny. The students are learning, but so am I. 23 My 'specialty' at the school has become teaching advanced students, particularly in the General English classes. Because these individuals possess the language skills to communicate their thoughts and feelings, they are capable of engaging in classroom discussions that are quite sophisticated. Nonetheless, they still need to expand the range of topics about which they can comfortably converse, and to increase their degree of accuracy when doing so. Over a one-month period, I meet with the same two groups of students and we are together for two and a half hours each day. At the end of each session, teachers decide if some students should be moved up to the next level or remain where they are. The school offers classes ranging from Lower Beginners all the way to Upper Advanced. Students have some input into what types of classes they want for the following month, but the level is always determined by the teachers. For example, one individual may choose two of the specific skills courses such as Writing and TOEFL rather than a General English class, also referred to as Integrated Studies (IS), but it is his/her teachers who would decide whether this person should be put in a TOEFL I or II class plus the Intermediate or Advanced Writing class. Because of this system, each month, my two IS classes consist of some of the same students, but new ones have also been slotted at this level to replace those individuals who have either signed up for other courses or who have left the school. An advanced student cannot go any higher, but he/she can stay at this level indefinitely and it is the teacher's responsibility to make sure that new material is provided. Thus far, I have painted a rather positive picture of my role as an ESL teacher. However, no job exists without its frustrations. In particular, my biggest difficulty is 24 dealing with what I call the 'assembly-line syndrome.' After spending one month with my new mix of students, I just start to feel as though everything is really beginning to come together: students have become comfortable with me and their peers, they know what my expectations are, plus I have a better sense of what their problems are and what they should be focusing on individually. In other words, the group develops its own rhythm over the month, and just when everyone is 'in-step with the beat,' it's time to disrupt the class and start all over again. Sometimes, this cycle makes me feel as though I am on a tread-mill and going absolutely nowhere. Particularly at the advanced levels, the type of improvement taking place is much more subtle than at the beginner levels, so positive changes in the behaviour of advanced students is not always immediately evident. When faced with a new mixture of students at the beginning of each month, the words, "here we go again." ring through my head, and I start to question whether or not I can really have any kind of positive effect over my student's performance in the L2 within such a short time-frame. Often I have heard students air the same feelings of discouragement. Although they do not normally express as much concern over being moved to a different class each month, they do complain about the fact that they no longer feel as though they are making any improvements in English. Due to this negative affective factor, they start to feel their levels of motivation erode. The importance of being able to see the results of one's efforts is summed up nicely in Calhoun's (1994) citation of Lewin who stated: 25 This failure to measure the effects of actions designed to lead to improved conditions within an organization deprives workers (teachers, administrators, general educators and students) of their legitimate desire for satisfaction on a realistic basis. (Lewin, 1948, p.202) In order to combat these feelings of futility, I had to do something to make me feel as though all'of the effort I was putting into teaching and all of the effort students were putting into their language learning tasks was, in fact, paying off. Changing the existing infrastructure of the program was out of the question, since the owners were very much committed to a system that would support ongoing student admittance every month throughout the year. Consequently, I felt compelled to look at other methods of dealing with 'the syndrome.' Taking Action My courses at UBC really helped me maintain a higher level of motivation while doing my job. During periods when I was between courses, I would often notice 'the syndrome' rearing its ugly head once more. It was while I was attending to my Master's studies that I was introduced to the concept of learning strategies and I became extremely interested in the metacognitive learning strategies in particular since proponents claimed they helped students become more actively involved in their own learning process through the use of self-evaluation and self-monitoring. Because students could see improvement and break 'bad habits,' their intrinsic level of motivation was expected to increase as a result. In theory then, if I had students implement these strategies, they 26 would be able to walk away from my course after only one month with some 'tools' that would continue to help them to become better language learners. Within one month, I could not possibly teach them everything there was to know about the English language, but I could give them something to take with them at the end of the session that would make them more efficient, responsible and highly-motivated learners. In addition to learning some things that could potentially benefit my own students, I also felt myself become more motivated while taking courses for my Master's degree simply because I could relate what I was learning to my own particular group of students. Theory is all fine and good, but if it seems to have no connection with the 'real world' then it does not have the same value to me. However, my students made my studies feel 'real,' so it came as no shock when I had finally narrowed down what I wanted to do for research for my thesis that I ended up with a design that is based on 'action research'. Action research is defined by Calhoun as research that "captures the notion of disciplined inquiry ("research") in the context of focused efforts to improve the quality of the organization and its performance ("action")" (Calhoun, 1994, p.7). In some sense, I feel as though I had unknowingly been directing myself towards doing action research for my thesis throughout the years I attended courses in the Master's program, where we invariably addressed the myriad problems students faced in acquiring the L2. In hindsight, I see the fact that I have always enjoyed making informal observations of my students and analyzing their progress and responses to various stimuli served only to strengthen my resolve to use this particular methodology. This interest I 27 have had concerning research in the classroom has really helped to keep me motivated and focused on finding ways to improve my ability to teach. Over the six years of teaching advanced students at this school, I became acutely aware of the problems being experienced by my students and me. As a result, I looked forward to the opportunity to collect data on those individuals who were willing to participate in the'research for my thesis, so that I could organize, analyze and interpret this information in order to TAKE ACTION. I knew that there were no 'instant cures' waiting to be discovered, but I felt stimulated to make discoveries that would help resolve some of my questions. As Calhoun clearly points out: Of course, school-wide action research is no panacea. It offers no magic potion to give us automatic, painless school improvement. Yet the unknown potential of school renewal may well come to us through the collective study and search for improvement that occurs as we mount our own research and development efforts within the school. (Calhoun, 1994, p.3) To a certain degree, it was a challenge to conduct action research for my thesis since "what it's not like is 'pure' research or school-wide experimental research" (Calhoun, 1994, p. 13). The reason is that this methodology takes place in the natural environment, the classroom, and no special measures are taken to control the various factors that naturally occur within this environment. Instead, "action research is primarily a process of collecting data about an ongoing system with the purpose of improving practice (teaching and learning)" (Calhoun, 1994, p. 13). Classrooms are complex places and it is this very complexity that presents a challenge for teachers and researchers alike. 28 Eisenhart and Borko (1993) point out some of the important elements already in place within this environment. They include: 1. Multidimensionality - the multiple consequences of a single event. 2. Simultaneity - the reality that many things happen at once in the classroom making it necessary for the teacher and students alike to attend to many things at once. ' 3. Immediacy - the rapid pace of classroom events and the little time for teachers to reflect before acting. 4. Unpredictability - the fact that classroom events are socially constructed makes it difficult to predict how an activity will unfold. 5. Publicness - the events (especially those involving the teacher) are witnessed by a large proportion of the students. 6. History - there is a certain amount of accumulated shared experiences, routines, norms, and understandings. However, Eisenhart and Borko (1993) go on to argue that experiments or quasi-experiments that control the research environment are, in fact, sacrificing 'real life,' which may result in the researchers making uncontrolled speculation about their findings. Instead, "action research is primarily a process of collecting data about an ongoing system with the purpose of improving practice (teaching and learning)" (Calhoun, 1994, p. 13). Elliot's comment that "the separation of 'research' from 'teaching' implies a separation between teaching and curriculum development" (Elliot, 1991, p. 13) further 29 supports the idea that research taking place within the classroom provides valuable insight in order to enhance student learning. This does not mean, however, that there are no standards for evaluating the validity of this type of research. Eisenhart and Borko (1993) argue that validity, usually conceived of as the trustworthiness of a study, can be measured in terms of its logic and appropriateness dr adequacy of the process used to conduct it. This means that "theoretical or empirical knowledge derived from previous research and/or the craft knowledge of teachers and other interested parties should be made explicit and accessible as a guide for readers to understand the development of research questions and choice of methods" (Eisenhart & Borko, p. 96). In addition, the research questions themselves are what should determine the appropriate methodology as opposed to its being the other way around. Research studies qua arguments have greater questionable validity when methodological preferences or matters of convenience rather than research questions drive the study. (Eisenhart & Borko, 1993, p. 97) In my particular case, my research questions had to do with some specific problems being experienced within the classroom environment, so action research was deemed the most suitable method of inquiry. Although this particular research approach might not allow me to make broad, sweeping generalizations, I firmly believe that the knowledge gained by teachers/researchers using this methodology can make an improvement in our overall 30 knowledge of the learning process and educational environment so that practitioners can become more informed about the choices they make within the classroom. Eisenhart and Borko (1993) also raise another very important issue by posing the following question: What happens if, despite the most persuasive presentations of evidence by researchers of the dangers or non-effects of educational practice - e.g. tracking, special education placements, early retentions (Shepard 1991) - practitioners continue to believe in the practice or to think that it is worthwhile and continue to practise it? (p. 106) By engaging in his or her own action research, the teacher is far less likely to be resistant to change since he/she has seen firsthand evidence that indicates that certain pedagogical practices are either detrimental, non-effectual or beneficial to the learners. This new role as teacher/researcher means that practitioners have "more personally invested in the process of change" (Oja & Smulyan, 1989, p.3). According to Calhoun (1994) there is currently a renewed interest in action research even though the concept itself was around years ago. Much of what we recognize today as action research was drawn largely on the work of Kurt Lewin and his colleagues in the 1940's who developed a problem-solving cycle for improving life within organizations. Lewin (1948) argued that this methodology was as scientifically valid as any other forms of research and that "research that produces nothing but books will not suffice" (p.203). In addition, 31 Lewin challenged the compartmentalization of research from action and the separation of research personnel from active players. He advocated including practitioners from the arena under investigation in all phases of the research. (Calhoun, 1994, p. 16) According to Calhoun, one of the first to promote action research in the field of education itself Was Corey (1947, 1953). Corey believed that "most researchers arrived at generalizations with no intention of doing anything with the results of their research (Oja & Smulyan, 1989, p.4). His argument in his thesis was that school practitioners made better decisions and implemented more effective practices when their decision-making processes were based on research they had conducted themselves. In turn, this allowed them to use their results as a guide to selection or modification of their practice. In the 1960's there was a shift away from action research and the split between science and practice was once again distinct. According to Oja and Smulyan (1989), it was during this period that federal education agencies funded university scholars who would conduct the research and report their findings back to their sponsors. As a result no provisions were made that enabled their findings to bring about changes in the schools. Many of the educational issues were discussed and reported using a specialized language that was unfamiliar to the practitioners. New and expanded views of action research began to surface in the mid 1970's however. This resurgence "reflected growing researcher dissatisfaction with traditional methodology and design, and teacher dissatisfaction with available in-service programs designed to help them develop and improve their practice (Oja & Smulyan, 1989, p. 8). 32 Consequently, researchers began to question the applicability of quantitative, experimental methodologies which tended to oversimplify the complexity of classroom reality. Today's action research movement shares two very important concepts from these earlier periods. First, the research centres on the practitioner and second, the researcher uses disciplined inquiry in order to improve the quality of the organization (Calhoun, 1994). The research can he conducted by individual teachers, small collaborative groups or an entire school facility. For the purpose of this thesis, my choice was to focus on some of the problems concerning language improvement and motivation experienced particularly by advanced students. My objective was to improve the students' language awareness so that their accuracy would increase and the chances of the onset of fossilization would decrease. By helping students gain greater control over their learning process, their intrinsic level of motivation was also expected to improve. Once the focus area was determined, it was necessary to apply some innovations to test their effectiveness in tackling the problem. Therefore, I decided to integrate two metacognitive learning strategies into the daily curriculum to determine if they brought about the desired results. As a result, my own morale as the classroom teacher was expected to improve since I would be conducting research on what I personally felt was worth pursuing. Action research requires regular and frequent data collection so that changes and trends can be seen. By collecting data through multiple sources, greater knowledge and understanding of the learner and the learning environment can be gained. This is what 33 Calhoun refers to as "data triangulation" (1994, p. 59). Consequently, I decided on using a variety of sources of data for this very reason, so students were asked to keep a language log, write pre- and post-tests, complete questionnaires and record their performance during group discussion on tape. In addition, I kept notes on what I was observing and feeling throughout the entire process. It was also decided to observe another group of'students not using the two learning strategies under investigation in order to provide some kind of comparison basis when determining the effectiveness of having these strategies included in the curriculum. Indeed, these multiple sources of data made the research more complex, but I feel they also enhanced the validity of this study. Throughout this process of action research, I no longer felt as though I was on the factory assembly line. I had a goal in sight and I kept moving towards its achievement. I felt that those students partaking in the study gained by being asked to reflect on their own learning process and I gained by reflecting on my teaching practices. The teaching profession will never grow old and stale for me as long as I continue to pursue certain goals, knowing that no matter how well things are going in the classroom, there is always room for improvement and growth. Calhoun (1994) sums this idea up nicely.when she states: Thus a simple but essential component of school renewal may be individual and collective self-renewal: an orientation to work that means we are willing to accept the discomfort and joy of never finishing our education, and of never graduating from our study of teaching (p. 4). 34 Chapter 4 METHODOLOGY I) Overall Format: The data collection for this qualitative research took place over a six-month period, beginning in December 1996 and finishing at the end of May 1997. The participants, males and females, were all adult students over the age of 18 who were attending classes at an international language school located in downtown Vancouver. I have been an employee at this school for six years, during which time my teaching experience has been almost exclusively with advanced level students. While working with these particular individuals over the years, I became extremely interested in ways to more effectively help them increase not only their fluency but also their accuracy. This interest eventually led to my investigation of two learning strategies (keeping a language log and recording themselves on tape) which were purported to address specifically the issue of accuracy and prevent the early fossilization of incorrect grammatical structures. Because my own students were the participants (the 'strategy user' group) who put these two learning strategies to the test, my role in the research was that of the action researcher because I was then in the position of being able to inform my practice by the findings and respond accordingly. In addition, there was a 'non-strategy user' group consisting of advanced-level students in the classes of seven different teachers, including me. Although the individuals in this group were pre- and post-tested, they were not required to keep a language log or record themselves on tape. 35 This was a qualitative study undertaken by the teacher in the role of action researcher. Therefore, the terms 'strategy user' and 'non-strategy user' were used to distinguish the two groups in order to avoid such words as 'treatment' and 'non-treatment' which might mistakenly imply that the research was quantitative in nature. II) The Research Site • In order to clearly understand the methodology used throughout this study, it is essential both to explain the way in which the school is organized to accommodate its students and to describe the students who were involved in either the 'strategy user' or 'non-strategy user' groups. A) The School System Having taught at this school for the last six years, I have come to know the system well, and I am able to determine almost instinctively the level of a student according to our seven-tiered structure. The school is a well established, privately owned facility which offers students from around the world the opportunity to come to Vancouver and study English. Typically, the students are not immigrants to Canada. Instead, they come to Vancouver as international students on student visas, so their needs are distinct in that they want to be able to start their courses at flexible times throughout the year. A certain number of these individuals would not be able to attend a school that runs on a semester system since they have other commitments back in their home countries, such as a job or 36 university, which prevent them from devoting this much time to their English studies. Consequently, in order to meet the needs of this particular target group in the ESL market, the school is based upon a system which allows for a new intake of students every month to replace those who have left. When these new individuals first arrive, they are each interviewed by a teacher who determines which class they should be placed in, based on their language competency. Although there is a written component to this interview process, a student's speaking skills are more heavily weighted in determining his or her level. New classes are formed each month consisting of not just these newcomers, but of returning students as well. Those individuals who attended classes the month before may have been promoted to a higher level for the new month if their previous teachers deemed them ready for a greater challenge. In most instances, students will spend several months at any given level before being promoted. If this is the case, they may or may not have the same teacher two months in a row because they could potentially be assigned to any one of the several teachers conducting classes at that particular level. Regardless of how the class has been formed, the outcome is always the same: every month the teacher is faced with a new mix of students, some of whom are familiar, while others are not. The teaching day is divided into four blocks - A, B, C, and D. Each block is approximately two and a half hours in length, five days per week. As a full-time teacher at this school, I am always given two blocks of classes each month to instruct, so this situation provided me with the opportunity to conduct action research using my own students as my participants. I was fortunate in that I had ample access to advanced-level 37 students; however, the unfortunate aspect of my situation was that I could not carry out my research on identical groups for a period longer than one month because the class composition always changed at that point, as mentioned above. Nevertheless, I was able to test the efficiency, logistics and practicality of implementing these particular language learning strategies on several classes to see if my findings were consistent. This allowed me to explore whether the perceived benefits outweighed the perceived hardships according to the teacher and to the students alike. I also had a certain number of participants in the 'strategy user' group whom I was able to continue to use as participants for anywhere from 2 to 4 months in a row, thus giving me the opportunity to track their individual progress. B) The Participants In addition to understanding the overall organization of the school, it is also necessary to know the types of students involved in the research. To begin with, the individuals in this study were adult learners from a variety of countries around the world. Because classes ran on a full-time basis during the day, the participants, whose average age was approximately 22 or 23 years of age, either had just finished or were taking a break from their post-secondary education. In a few cases, individuals had taken time off work or had left their job in order to come to Canada to study English. My research took place primarily over the winter months, so the majority of the students who participated in the study were either Japanese or Korean. However, there were also individuals from France, Switzerland (from the French and German cantons), 38 Thailand, Germany and Mexico. It should be noted at this point that typically, the non-Asian student-population increases during the spring and summer months. Of the 68 initial participants in the 'non-strategy user' group, most were females, judging by their names. However, many of these individuals had never been my own students, so gender was not always noted as it was not always clear which names were masculine or feminine. In contrast, the students in the 'strategy user' group, consisting of males and females, had been in one of my classes for at least one month, so their gender was known. Of these 44 participants, only 17 were males; the remaining 27 were females. All of the students in both the 'non-strategy user' and 'strategy user' groups were considered to be advanced-level students according to the school's criteria. Typically, this meant that their teacher could converse with them in English (L2) at native-like speed and rarely had to repeat him/herself for clarification. Although these students were not able to respond as quickly, they still displayed a high degree of fluency in that they were able to convey their meaning to their interlocutor with a high degree of skill and comfort. Where these individuals fell short was in their ability to produce the L2 accurately. Many of their grammar mistakes involved the appropriate use of verb tense, articles, word forms, etc., and they also experienced difficulty in more advanced language features such as collocations, figurative speech and correct usage. In all cases, their vocabulary was restricted compared with what they knew in their mother tongue, so their lack of words limited the range of topics about which they could discuss in great depth. 39 Ill) Data Collection from the 'Non-Strategy User* Group This process began in the month of December, one month prior to when data-collection began with the 'strategy user' group. All of these participants were enrolled in advanced level courses being taught by seven advanced-level teachers, including me. Within the first few days of classes, the teachers administered the pre-test, which required the participants t6 write an essay based on any one of the suggested topics (see Appendix A) within a 30 minute time limit. Upon collecting the data, I marked their papers in order to point out their grammatical errors. After copies were made, students were given back the originals so that they would have feedback to help them reflect on their level of accuracy while producing the language. They were instructed to re-read their papers, taking particular note of the corrections made by the teacher. In addition, the type of grammar mistakes that occurred were listed at the top of the page so that students could see at a glance those linguistic features that still needed attending to in order to produce a more accurate TL. For example, at the top of the page of one individual's pre-test the following list appeared: Verb tense - (present perfect) Articles Modals Run-on Sentences Gerunds/Infinitives Coordinating Conjunctions Prepositions Restrictive Relative Clauses Incomplete Sentence Structure 40 No other instructions were given and the only additional follow-up task required of these individuals involved writing another post-test at the end of each month of participation in the study. During the last week of the month, the same seven teachers gave their students the post-tests (see Appendix B). Although the choice of topics was different, this test was identical to the pFe-test in that participants had only 30 minutes of class-time to write. Again, the originals were marked, photocopied and returned to the participants within a few days. There had been 68 participants at the beginning of December, but by the time the post-test was administered, the number had decreased to 41. The rate of attrition was extremely high at that time of year, since many of the participants had left school early to go home for the Christmas holidays. In the subsequent months of January, February, and March, those students in the 'non-strategy user' group who were still attending school were post-tested at the end of each month in order to compare their language production and accuracy at approximately four-week intervals. For each post-test, another topic to write about had to be chosen, so there was no opportunity to simply improve upon the essay that had been written the month before. The size of the 'non-strategy user' group diminished each month (refer to Table # 1). As already mentioned, the original group went from 68 to 41 within the first month. In January, 21 participants returned to the school, but only 17 were available to write the post-test when it was administered. By the end of February, this group consisted of only seven individuals, whereas by the end of March, just three of the four participants 41 remaining at the school wrote the post-test. In April , no participants were required to submit a writing sample, but in May, one individual from the original 'non-strategy user' group was in my class, so I collected additional data from her at the end of the month. At no point had she ever been required to use either of the strategies in question. This particular person had been il l in March and absent when the post-tests were administered in April ; otherwise, samples had been collected from her during all other months of research. Despite the fact .that the 'non-strategy user' group kept shrinking in size, I felt it was more valuable to follow the same individuals over a longer period of time than to exam new participants for a shorter period of time. TV) Data Collection from the 'Strategy User' Group Research with the 'strategy user' group began in January and continued through until the end of May (see Table # 2). During each month there were a number of tasks that all of the participants were expected to perform and they were as follows: A) Pre-tests - Initially, everyone in the 'strategy user' group had to write the same pre-test that was administered to those in the 'non-strategy user' group (Appendix A). Not only was the test identical but so were the conditions under which they wrote. This test was always done at the beginning of each new month and given to students who were new to the study. After being pre-tested once, students were only post-tested from that point on. 42 B) Language Logs - On the second day of classes, each participant was given a stenographer's notepad to be used exclusively as his or her language log throughout the study. After an extensive explanation of the purpose of my study and of the language logs, students were informed that I expected them to write an entry each day about a linguistic feature they had 'noticed' (see Appendix D). They could make their observations usirig any source. For example, upon receiving their pre-and post-test results, many individuals began to focus and write about a particular problem they had with accuracy in that particular task. Group discussions, classroom exercises, classmates, the teacher, the TV, the radio, the newspaper and so on were other possible sources from which students could observe linguistic features of the TL so that these features could be correctly incorporated into their IT. In addition, these participants were often reminded that although they had to make a daily observation, they did not have to write about a new grammar point each day. In fact, they were encouraged to focus on only a few features at a time in order to become aware of their own level of accuracy when using them. The following is an excerpt from one student's language log where I tried to further clarify the purpose of using the language log when she initially used it like a personal diary: Dear , You've somewhat missed the point of keeping a language log. We're trying to determine whether this is a good learning strategy, which will help you to continue to develop you language accuracy. Therefore, please record something about how the language works grammatically that came to your attention each day. Did the teacher correct you today? Did 43 you notice a grammar mistake that a classmate made? Was there any grammar point that you need to remind yourself about daily? Are you paying attention to the way in which you use this feature? For example, I hope that you will now be aware that when I corrected your log entry-dated January 8,h, you incorrectly omitted articles in a number of spots. When you write in your log, please keep the following questions in mind: What linguistic (grammatical) feature of the English language came to my attention today? When did I notice it? Why? How? Give examples. . Throughout the study, I used the term 'language log' instead of Oxford's (1992) term 'language journal' even though they are synonymous with each other, because I did not want students to misinterpret 'journal' as being the same as 'diary.' Initially, I tried to allot ten minutes at the end of every class for students to write in their logs, but on some occasions, we ran short of time, so they completed this task as homework. At any point, students were allowed and indeed encouraged to take their logs home in order to write longer and more detailed entries about what they had observed. In the subsequent months, the language logs always went home for homework. Through my own observations and comments made by the students themselves, I concluded that they needed more than the 10 minutes I had previously allotted during class time to reflect properly on the day's learning experience. However, without exception, the participants were given time during each Friday's class throughout the entire study to write their entries. This enabled me to collect their language logs so that I could take them home for the weekend to examine. While reading their weekly entries, I would make corrections, answer any questions that they had, clarify grammar features 44 they had noticed, reinforce their correct observations and write words of encouragement. When the students got their logs back on the following Monday, they had this feedback to read before making their next entries. C) Recording on Tape - Each month, towards the end of the third week, the participants were1 divided into small groups which took turns leaving the classroom and going to a quiet area elsewhere in the school in order to record themselves during their group discussion. They were all given identical sets of questions to talk about, but each month the topic changed. Thirty minutes was allotted for this activity, after which the group would come back to the classroom, submit their tape to me and then the next set of students would leave in order to complete the same task. After these recording sessions, copies were made of the original tapes and distributed to the appropriate individuals the following day. All of the participants were then required to take their tapes home, listen to their group discussion and write comments in their language logs concerning their own performance and speaking skills. Eventually, a complete typewritten transcript was made of each group's discussion. Because this was done at a later date, not all participants were given a copy simply due to the fact that they were no longer attending the school by the time the copies were ready. Those who were still there, however, were given a printout of the dialogue to read and analyze in order to examine further the types of mistakes they were making in spoken English. 45 Only in the case of one group did some of the data have to be excluded due to the fact that the participants' voices were indiscernible on tape. All four members of this particular group were Asian females who spoke so quietly that their voices could not be distinguished with any degree of accuracy. D) Post-tests - Towards the end of the fourth week of classes, the participants were given the post-test (Appendix B). Again, thirty minutes was allotted for each individual to write after having picked one of the suggested topics. This test was administered at the end of every month in the exact same manner it had been done for the 'non-strategy user' group. If a student submitted a post-test the month before, then he or she had to select a new subject about which to write from the test sheet. E) Questionnaires - Out of the 44 students who were part of the 'strategy user' group, 39 of them submitted the questionnaire they were given to complete (see Appendix C). The questionnaire itself consisted of seven somewhat open-ended questions to which students were expected to write a short paragraph in response. First, students were asked about the language log - whether or not they liked using it and at what frequency, if they found it helped improve their accuracy, and whether they would continue to use this strategy on their own. Next, they were asked to comment on the same kinds of questions concerning the second strategy of recording themselves on tape. Finally, the issue of the effects these strategies had on motivation was raised and students were asked to identify which of the two strategies they found most helpful. 46 The questionnaires were completed in class or taken home for homework, depending on the amount of class-time available. The questionnaire provided each individual with the opportunity to comment on the use of the two learning strategies (language log and recording on tape) that they had used over the month. If a student had previously submitted his or her questionnaire the month before, it was not necessary to do this task again. However, all students were invited to make any changes to any section of the questionnaire if they chose to do so after using the strategies for an additional month. F) Teacher's Personal Journal - Throughout the entire process, I kept my own journal (see Appendix E). Entries were dated and often I discussed some issue that had come to the forefront while making observations about the use of these two particular strategies. For example, some of my reflections concerning the difficulties of incorporating the language log and taping sessions into the regular classroom curriculum were noted, and in some cases, acted upon. For instance, the following entry, and a few others similar to it, helped me reach the decision to assign the language log for homework after some of the problems experienced during Month # 1: Timing is everything! I find it very hard to schedule in the 10 minutes at the end of class to provide students with the opportunity to write in their language logs. Some activities cannot be stopped and then picked up the next day where we left off. For example, today, we listened to a tape and used the last' 15 minutes of class to argue the pros against the cons. This debate would not have been nearly as effective had I waited until the following day to discuss it. 47 Over the weekend, I would mark the students' language logs and record any reflections or significant observations in my personal journal at this time. Also, I would write a quick summary of the types of entries each student had made during the week so that I could develop a real sense of what aspects of the language each student was focusing his or her attention i.e. vocabulary, pronunciation, linguistic features, and so on. The personal journal was also used as a constructive tool with which to vent some of the frustrations I felt while conducting the research. On occasion, I would find myself writing emotional pleas such as the following: I've often written instructions on the board and I have talked about the purpose of the language log so many times, but some individuals still seem to be at such a loss as to what to do. Oh please, please, please, just help me get through this data collection process as painlessly as possible! Finally, my personal journal proved useful in keeping my observations about my two separate from each other so that something significant that occurred with one group of participants but not the other was not confused. It provided me with a way to keep my thoughts organized. 48 Table # 1 - Participation in the 'Non-Strategy User* Group Students Months J F M A Mav D Student # 1 X Student # 2 X Student # 3 (02/01-A)* X Student # 4 X Student # 5 X Student # 6 (01/11-B)* X Student # 7 X Student # 8 X Student # 9 X Student # 10 (01/10-B)* X Student # 11 (01/07-A)* X Student # 12 (02/03-B)* X Student # 13 X Student # 14 X Student # 15 X Student # 16 X Student # 17 X Student # 18 (01/09-B)* X Student # 19 X Student # 20 X Student #21 X Student # 22 X Student # 23 X Student # 24 X Student # 25 X Student # 26 X Student # 27 X Student # 28 X Student # 29 X Student # 30 X Student #31 X Student #32 X Student #33 (01/08-B)* X Student # 34 X Student #35 X Student # 36 X Student #37 X Student #38 X Student # 39 X Student # 40 X X X X X X X X X X - - X 49 Students Months D J F M A May Student #41 X Student # 42 X X Student # 43 (02/07-B)* X X Student # 44 (02/07-A)* X X Student # 45 X X Student # 46 X Student # 47 X Student # 48 X Student # 49 X Student # 50 X Student #51 X Student # 52 X Student # 53 X Student # 54 X -Student # 55 X Student # 56 X Student # 57 X Student #58 X Student # 59 X Student # 60 (01/09-A)* X Student #61 X Student # 62 X Student # 63 X Student # 64 X X Student # 65 X X Student # 66 X Student # 67 X X Student # 68 X NOTE: Those participants with an asterisk beside their second identification number became members of the 'strategy user' group at a later point during the study. 50 Table # 2 - Participation in the 'Strategy User* Group Students Months D J F M A May 01/01-A X 01/02-A X X X 01/03-A X X 01/04-A X X 01/05-A X 01/06-A X 01/07-A X X 01/08-A X 01/09-A X 01/10-A X 01/11-A X 01/01-B X 01/02-B X 01/03-B X 01/04-B X X 01/05-B X 01/06-B X 01/07-B X 01/08-B X 01/09-B X 01/10-B X 01/11-B X 01/12-B X 01/13-B X 02/01-A - X 02/02-A - X 02/03-A - X X 02/04-A - X 02/05-A - X X 02/06-A - X X 02/07-A - x ' X 02/08-A - X 02/09-A - X 02/10-A - X X 02/01-B - X X 02/02-B - X X 02/03-B - X X 02/04-B - X 51 02/05-B X 02/06-B X 02/07-B X X 02/08-B X X X X 03/01-A - X X X 03/02-A - - - X X X Table # 3 - Composition of 'Strategy User' Group Classes January - A Block (own class) 11 participants in total Males Japan - 1 Korea - 2 Mexico - 2 France -1 January - B Block (own class) 13 participants in total Males Females Korea - 6 Korea - 3 Germany - 1 Japan - 2 Thailand -1 February - A Block (own class) 10 participants in total Males Females Korea - 3 Korea - 1 Japan - 6 Females Japan - 2 Korea - 2 Switzerland (French) -1 52 February - B Block (own class) 12 participants in total Males Korea - 2 France -1 Mexico -1 Females Korea - 3 France - 2 Japan - 2 Switzerland (French) - 1 March - All Blocks (some of the participants were in my classes but the majority were in other classes with other Advanced teachers) Males Females Korea - 2 Korea - 1 Switzerland (German) - 1 Switzerland (French) - 2 Japan - 5 France - 2 April and May - (CAE) (Equivalent to the IS classes except the teaching materials were predominantly British as opposed to North American.) Males Females Switzerland (German) -1 Switzerland (French) - 2 53 Chapter 5 FINDINGS In brackets beside each of the research questions are the categories, which the findings have been divided into, that speaks to each of the issues these questions raise. The Research Questions 1. What do students like or dislike about the use of these two specific metacognitive strategies? Do students feel one method is more effective than the other? Is there one method that they prefer over the other? (Category I) 2. What is the teacher's perspective concerning the benefits of having students implement these two strategies as part of the daily classroom curriculum? (Category I) 3. What is the likelihood that these two strategies have a positive effect on the students' level of intrinsic motivation? (Category I) 4. Is there any observable evidence that these two strategies improve the students' level of accuracy and prevent the onset of fossilization? (Category II) 54 5. What are some of the difficulties that are experienced while implementing these strategies in the classroom? What can be done to rectify them? (Category III) The findings in the fourth category were unexpected and therefore do not address a particular research question since they had not been anticipated. Instead they demonstrate somb of the'valuable 'extra' insight gained as a result of action research. Overall Format The Findings have been divided into four main categories which are as follows: I Perceptions of the Relative Value of the Two Strategies II Some Observable Evidence III The Administration of the Strategies IV The Value of Unexpected Findings in Action Research To begin with, the section entitled "Perceptions of the Relative Value of the Two Strategies" is concerned with the participants' responses to using the two language learning strategies in question. These findings are an exploration of what students liked and disliked about having to use both strategies and whether or not they felt the strategies helped them become more accurate when producing English. This section also includes the teacher's perceptions as to the advantageous or disadvantageous effects on either teacher performance or student performance. 55 Observations made under the subheading of "Some Observable Evidence" are the result of focusing on whether or not there were any tangible indications that supported the perceived benefits of the students and/or teacher. First, an assessment was made of all the participants' fluency and accuracy levels. This evaluation was based on their pre- and post-tests, their language logs, plus their oral and written work produced during regular classroom hours.' In most cases, other teachers with whom I shared these students also confirmed my assessments of their language skills. Second, their logs were examined in detail to determine the types of entries they made in their language logs. For example, did they focus mostly on issues concerning pronunciation, did they mostly concern themselves with the meaning of words or did they concentrate and note mostly linguistic features? Third, the level of each student's accuracy was contrasted to the type of entries made to look for any possible trends between what language skills students focused on and their levels of accuracy. In addition, the pre- and post-tests of the 'strategy user' and 'non-strategy user' students were compared to see if there were any noticeable differences concerning each groups' rate of improvement in accuracy as determined by the type and frequency of grammatical errors. Incorrect collocations and inappropriate word choices within a certain context were also taken into consideration. Finally, the language log of one of the best students was examined closely to look for patterns concerning what linguistic features had been noted and to see if any of those features were present in the oral and written language he produced. The language logs of the poorest student did not need to 56 undergo this analysis as she was never able to successfully use this particular strategy according to instruction. The findings in "The Administration of the Strategies" section discusses the practicalities of the regular classroom teacher using these strategies with her students, especially since extra work and commitment is required on everyone's part. Mainly, the observations found under this heading were concerned with those aspects of implementation that were .very helpful and those that were problematic. The knowledge gained from conducting this action research can allow these strategies to be more effectively managed in the future. The last section entitled "The Value of Unexpected Findings in Action Research" includes observations that did not necessarily answer any of the original research questions. Nonetheless, they were valuable in providing the teacher with information that developed further insight into her practice, thus enabling her to decide if further action was the appropriate response. Finally, it should be noted that students' quotations are written exactly verbatim and have not been corrected for spelling, grammar and so on. 57 I Perceptions of the Relative Value of the Two Strategies A) Student Response to the Language Log -i) Overall, the response from students concerning the use of the language log was positive. Although there were originally 44 participants, only 39 actually submitted their questionnaires arid were included in the following tally: Table # 4 - Questionnaire Responses Concerning Language Logs Response to Question: Yes No Maybe Unstated Liked this Strategy 32 6 - 1 Strategy Helpful 37 1 1 -Use Every Day 25 13 - 1 Will Continue Use 25 7 7 -As can be seen from these results, the vast majority of participants liked using this particular language learning strategy. The following example is typical of the many positive comments made by students: I think that after using this strategy, at least I know many mistakes I haven't even realized I had. Also, it was very useful that I noticed by myself many mistakes and this gives more awareness than if someone else tells you your mistakes. I think this strategy is very helpful to improve one's accuracy. 58 Another student wrote: I try to fix my article and's + v agreement' during the conversation now. I think my language log helped me out doing correcting problems. Of the six individuals who gave a negative response, five of them, nevertheless, felt that their language lQgs had helped them become more proficient speakers. This is evident when one such participant who did not like writing in her language log states: A language log is a good way to recognize what I learned and review my English, but sometimes I feel it troublesome to write my log everyday. If I noted something in my log, it's easy for me to remember vocabrary, idiom or grammer. Out of the 39 who submitted their questionnaire, only one student claimed that this strategy had been of no benefit to him, but it is interesting to note that this person never really carried through with the required task. Rather than writing anything specific about the linguistic features that had come to his attention each day, he made note of the grammar exercises he had completed in a particular textbook. Following are two such entries in his language log: 13th - mistakes in grammar at Page 14 especially No. 4, problem to use the past. 14th - problems to realize Homework: Grammar Dialogues, page 13 #2.1/#1 -13 59 ii) The greatest amount of disagreement concerning the language logs had to do with whether or not it was necessary to write in them every day. The majority still felt that this was most beneficial. One student responded to this inquiry on the questionnaire by saying: I liked writing in my language log every day and I would recommend to do it every'day because it's the best way, at this level, to be concious that we can speak fluently but - in my case - with many mistakes. I have enough vocabulary to have a conversation, the use of the log showed me that I avoid accurate words and I remarked the grammar mistakes, without it, it will have been difficult to notice so much. In contrast, there were 13 respondents who did not think it was more beneficial to write entries this frequently, whereas one participant avoided answering this question altogether. The common complaint amongst those who claimed they would prefer to use this strategy less often was that they sometimes experienced difficulty in finding something about which to write. The following comment was made one by one of the students who felt this way: It was hard for me to focus on language that I didn't know so I hope to do it this less often. iii) Regardless of whether or not students thought this strategy should be implemented on a daily basis, the majority of them believed that they would continue to keep a language log even after the research was over. Of the 25 who answered in the 60 affirmative, a few of them qualified this by saying that they would still like to have someone correct their entries. One such individual wrote: I'd like to keep writing in my own language log but the problem is nobody answering my questions. I don't exactly know whether my grammar is right or wrong. The seven participants who could not be definite as to whether or not they would continue to implement this particular strategy on their own blamed their laziness and made comments similar to the one written by the following individual: I think continuing my language log is good for me to check my progress. However I will not continue because I'm lazy. B Student Response to Recording Themselves on Tape -Table # 5 - Questionnaire Responses Concerning Recording Sessions Response to Ouestion: Yes No Maybe Unstated Liked this Strategy 29 8 1 1 Strategy Helpful 38 1 - -Teacher Should Continue 36 1 1 1 Student Will Continue 20 10 7 2 61 i) As with the language logs, the vast majority of students liked recording themselves on tape and analyzing their performance. Almost invariably those who responded positively claimed that this strategy allowed them to notice mistakes that they normally would not. The following comment by one student was typical response of many: I really like to tape-record the group discussion. I noticed some mistakes, that maybe I wouldn't be able to notice if I hadn't hear myself. The main complaint amongst the 8 individuals who reacted negatively to this strategy was that they found they did not like to hear their own voice on tape. Having to do so made them feel self-conscious. This sentiment was expressed in the following comment: I don't like tape-recording because I hate my voice and my accent on it, but I think I can correct my mistakes by myself. The one participant who answered "maybe" in response to whether or not she liked this strategy never explained herself further. Nevertheless, she did feel that it was beneficial to students in that it helped them to reflect on their language production. ii) Even those who did not particularly like implementing this strategy still felt that it was a good exercise for them to improve their accuracy. However, there was one exception to this, since one individual claimed, "I think it is not a strong point to improve 62 the language production." In contrast, his response to whether or not he enjoyed using this strategy was positive. iii) Not surprisingly, all but two participants - one of whom simply avoided answering the question - felt that the teacher should continue to have students implement this strategy as part of the classroom curriculum. Nevertheless, fewer students (20) thought that they'would actually use this strategy by themselves, as compared to those who thought they would continue to keep a language log (25) even though the former rather than the latter strategy got a somewhat more popular response when students were asked which strategy they liked the best. Seventeen said they preferred the taping, 11 preferred writing in their language logs, and another 11 liked both equally. C) Teacher's Response to the Language Log -Several perceived benefits came to my attention while conducting the research. Some of them were of assistance to the student, whereas others seemed to be more beneficial for the teacher. Less frequently, a few adverse effects came to light. Pros -i) First and foremost, I could see that this particular strategy encouraged students to be more self-reflective learners. I thought that it was useful that they began to think about what they had learned and were able to record their observations despite the fact that their focus might not have always been on the linguistic features of the language. They had been given a tool which they could use to assist their learning throughout the entire 63 process of acquiring a second language and they became better at using it as time went on. ii) Prior to beginning the research, I had not anticipated my role as being so highly interactive with the students writing in their language logs. However, within the first week, it was apparent that this strategy had provided me with the opportunity to give each student some ond-on-one attention that I would rarely, if ever, be able to give them during class time. On many occasions, students would ask for clarification of something that they had observed but of which they were still unsure. The following is a typical example of the great number of these types inquiries when one individual, confused about word order, asked: Is it possible to say "2nd another language" instead of "another 2nd language." On a few occasions, individuals would notice something but then draw inadequate or inaccurate conclusions about some linguistic rule or feature of the language. Consequently, I was able put an early end to such misconceptions by responding to entries such as the following: In the grammar exercises, I forgot that progressive can mean future. Especially, when the tense is past in progressive, I easily forget the meaning of future. 64 Sometimes the error was not grammatical, but rather it had to do with vocabulary usage as can be seen in the following example: Today, I learned some vocabulary. The most interesting word was "cue." Cue means indication or signal to do something so, for example, she gave me a cue for solving this problem, but I couldn't recognized it. Obviously, this person had mistakenly understood "cue" to have the same meaning and usage as "clue." iii) When students' language logs contained such blatant mistakes, I was able to bring these errors to their attention by making the appropriate corrections. However, some of the misconceptions that I had to correct had nothing to do with grammar, vocabulary, spelling or punctuation. For example, one individual did not know what he had unwittingly done to upset a schoolmate by something he had said, so he wrote the following entry: The question whether 'shut up' is rude or not depends on the tone you say it or the person you address. At least I thought so. In my homestay family it is handled this way. When I used this word today (I didn't mean to be rude at all), the addressed person was very upset. Is it rude? And when yes, what else can I use? Inevitably, part of learning a second language involves knowing what is culturally acceptable behaviour. 65 In addition, words of encouragement were often required to help boost the students' morale and level of confidence. Normally, the participants were expected to focus on grammar and write their observations in their language logs, but at any given time certain individuals found the need to express feelings of frustration and discouragement concerning their language progress and performance. In such a moment, one student wrote: Today I went home very depressed and discouraged, because I did my exercises last weekend but I made lots of mistakes. I don't feel really ready for my exams and I don't know how I can better be prepared for the exams. If I were at home (in Switzerland), I would have my parents to support me, but here I have nobody! Nobody can help me to pass this moment of doubts. If I listened to me, I wouldn't go to the exam class! I would stay at home or I would take the first plane to Geneva! However, I have to be stronger than my doubts and my fear for the exams! Such fears and complaints would not necessarily have been voiced had these participants not had their language logs in which to do so. During regular class time, the amount of activity taking place would prevent students from having the opportunity to confide in me in such a way . However, this particular strategy not only provided me with a window into their emotional state, but also gave me an medium through which I could calm their fears and help put things into better perspective. iv) Because of the interaction that took place between myself and each student through the use of the language log, I felt much more aware of each individual's strengths and weaknesses which in turn increased my confidence in my own capability to 66 accurately access their language skills. The extra work required to read their entries on a weekly basis was more than compensated for by all of the above-mentioned benefits. Cons -i) Some of my observations made while having students use their language logs were disappointing because although the purpose of this strategy was to get students to focus on the linguistic features of the language, it did not always get the desired results. Many individuals actually focused mostly, if not entirely, on vocabulary. In other instances, individuals mainly concentrated on their problems with pronunciation. Many wrote entries similar to the following two examples: I found that the word "hike" had two meanings. First, it means a long walk in the country and another meaning is included to raise prices or salary suddenly. Or: Mainly today I knew some pronunciation rule that I didn't know, i.e. ele (long e) ell (short e) elle (short e) Although vocabulary and pronunciation are also essential components to learning a second language, the keeping of a language log was being assessed as a strategy that would specifically improve students' linguistic accuracy. In this regard, its potential to do so was greatly affected by what the student ended up focusing on. For some individuals, the task of consistently noting only grammar points that had come to their attention proved to be beyond their capability. 67 When comparing the types of entries written by three of the best students to those of the lowest three, it was apparent that the former group did indeed concentrate primarily on the linguistic features, whereas the latter group members mostly, if not exclusively, concerned themselves with vocabulary. One of these low students, in fact, wrote only personal anecdotes and never really understood the purpose of the study regardless of being re-directed; prodded, reminded and shown sample entries by the teacher on numerous occasions. Her inability to complete the task as directed did not reflect an unwillingness, on her part, to cooperate. Rather she was quite enthusiastic about the study as can be seen when she wrote: I think I'm really lucky having wonderful teacher. To be the truth, I've never met a teacher like you while I'm studying in Vancouver. I'm really interested in your research. Although this participant had been designated as an advanced-level student, she was still quite low compared to her peers. Perhaps she was simply not at the stage in her language development where she could make use of this particular metacognitive learning strategy which required her to analyze her language production in a reflective, self-critical manner. ii) In addition, I also found that in their language logs, students often criticized their performance in the second language, writing about what they did not know or could not do as opposed to some of their recent successes. For some learners, this constant focus on the 'negative' could undermine their level of confidence as one individual expressed: 68 Today I noticed that some rules (tenses, adverbes...) seem to be clearer to me, but when I talk I'm thinking too much about what I'm going to say and I feel like my way to talk is not as natural as before. D) Teacher's Response to Recording on Tape Pros -i) It seemed that this task was very popular amongst students, so it injected a bit of life and variety into the classroom routine. The participants left the classroom for 30 minutes to perform this task, and this change of scenery added to the excitement. Despite the lack of teacher supervision, the task always got done. ii) What I felt was the greatest advantage of this particular strategy was that students were required to rely on themselves rather than the teacher to find their own mistakes. Although most of their problems had been pointed out to the participants on previous occasions, these individuals were invariably surprised by some of the mistakes they noticed while listening to their taped conversation. Having made the discovery by themselves, this seemed to have a stronger impact than had the teacher drawn their attention to the problematic grammatical features. iii) In addition, this strategy provided students with a means to assess their improvement since the tapes provided a basis of comparison. Several of the individuals who participated in the study for at least two months commented that they felt they had done a better job the second time. One person wrote: 69 I felt more comfortable today with the tape-recording even though I know it's not perfect. I really approve this method because you can easily correct your mistakes. Another claimed: I found it difficult to speak English fluently and accurately during the tape-recording class. However, I felt it was a little bit easier than before. While a third claimed: Listening to my discussion tape, I think I have improved a little in the construction of the sentences, but I need to improve my accent because I am speaking using Mexican accent ant it doesn't sound well. iv) Giving students a written copy of their taped conversation reinforced the benefits of this strategy in that it again drew their attention to the language they had produced. The transcripts allowed them to analyze their performance even more closely. One student expressed this clearly when he stated: Anyway, I read the tape's transcription and I think it's a really good method to progress in English, in fact, you can quickly analyse your mistakes but also your fluency and your accuracy. To me, it's a really educational. v) Another advantage, as a result of using this language learning strategy, was that it taught me some new information about my own self as a teacher. Although I was well aware of the fact that learners placed a heavy reliance on visual cues from the 70 interlocutor, I did not realize that I also had this same reliance. While transcribing the taped conversations, it was surprisingly difficult at times to understand what was being said by certain individuals. Among those who were problematic in this way was one of the most fluent and accurate females in the entire study. Her French accent, however, proved to be most difficult to understand on tape, yet I would never have predicted this because of her excellent performance in class. Basically, I was unaware of just how this feature of her language production interfered with her communication skills. This discovery could have important implications for the teacher who must assess his/her students' speaking ability. vi) Another surprising discovery, which could also influence a teacher's ability to accurately assess a student's performance, had to do with the degree to which I subconsciously compensated for their errors. This really came to light during the transcribing process. On a number of occasions, while double-checking what I had typed against what had actually been said by the participants, I found that I had initially 'heard' the correct sentence structure, including articles, correct prepositions, verb tense, plural forms and so on. In actual fact, however, some of these parts of speech were either missing or had been used incorrectly. My brain filled in the gaps faster than my ears could recognize the mistakes; therefore, not all of the students' errors were being noticed. If errors were being missed by me during the transcribing process when I was specifically trying to listen for them and when segments of the tape could be played repeatedly, it is a safe assumption to make that during an unrecorded, face-to-face conversation with a student, the teacher is not fully cognizant of the mistakes being made by the learner. 71 Cons -i) Although I felt the students' responses to this particular strategy were very positive overall, there were two negative factors that came to my attention. The most worrisome was that students, who tend to be very critical of themselves, could potentially be adversely affected bylhis strategy should discovering the degree of their mistakes lower their level of confidence. One student was affected in this way and wrote: No, I really didn't like it, because of 2 reasons, the first one, like everybody, I hate to hear my voice. The second reason, I realized that I have a quite strong french accent and now, sometimes I'm "afraid" to speak. ii) Another concern was that perhaps this strategy encouraged feelings of competitiveness through the act of making comparisons. Students' confidence could be negatively affected should they, while listening to their recorded conversation, discover that their own performance in the target language was inferior to their classmates'. One student admitted that he did compare himself to others when he said: Moreover, you can compare your English with other speakers of the dialogue. 72 II Some Observable Evidence Before discussing these next findings, I must again emphasize that this study was strictly qualitative in nature. As an action researcher, I did not try to isolate or eliminate certain behaviours or influences that could affect the results. My goal was to examine the use of two metacognitive learning strategies (the language log and tape-recorder) within the 'natural environment-', the classroom, in order to determine what effect they might have on the multi-dimensional process of learning a second language. As a result, much of my data can only be interpreted as indicating trends since there was a multitude of factors at play within the setting where the data was being collected. Nevertheless, I felt my 'laboratory' provided an authentic environment since no teacher works within a vacuum. A) Level of Fluency and Accuracy Related to Students' Primary Focus in Language Logs i) The following two charts include first, the individual assessments and second, the tally of the different levels of fluency and accuracy of the participants' English language production. I then went through their language logs and listed the types of language features that they had written about, i.e. vocabulary (vocab), pronunciation (pron), and linguistics (ling). Sometimes students simply wrote some kind of commentary (comm) about something they had done or felt, but this was also noted in the last column of both charts. 73 In order to illustrate how I would categorize certain entries, I have used the following entries from some of the students' language logs as examples: Vocabulary (Vocab) - "He typifies Korean middle class. He has a car, house and enough salary to live during a month." Pronunciation (Pron) - "I could correct my pronunciation of words that ends with -ate. The sound is like "it" and not like ate. Example: affectionate, passionate, chocolate." Commentary (Comm) - "Since I came here, I always take an umbrella with me, because of the steel grey color of the sky." (and so on) Linguistics (Ling) - "Hope can be followed by only infinitives. Mind, give up and avoid be followed by only gerunds." ii) A few of the participants finished their courses at the school and left without submitting their language logs, so they have not been included in this particular data. Since all of the 'strategy user' group were my own students, I was able to judge their fluency based on their performance in a variety of tasks over at least one month, if not longer. This was also true concerning their level of accuracy. However, the pre- and post-tests, the oral transcriptions, their language logs and other teachers who also taught these individuals also confirmed my determination as to whether someone was high, low or medium. 74 Table # 6 - Individual Assessment of Each Participant's Level of Fluency and Accuracy Contrasted to Main Focus in Language Log Main Focus in Student Fluencv Accuracy Language Log 01/01 - A High Low Vocab/Pron. 01/02 - A Low+ Low Vocabulary 01/03 - A 1 Med Low Comrn/V ocab/Ling. 01/04 - A High- Low Pron/V ocab/Ling. 01/05-A High High Linguistics 01/06-A Med Low+ Vocab. 01/07 - A High Med Pron./Ling. 01/08-A Med Low Cornrn/Ling./Pron. 01/09 -A Med Low Voc 01/10-A Low Low- Commentaries 01/11 - A High High Ling./Comm. 01/01 -B Med Low Vocab. 01/02 - B Med Low Vocab./Ling. 01/03 - B High Low Vocab./Pron. 01/04 -B High- Low+ Linguistics/Pron. 01/06-B High High Linguistics 01/07-B Med Low Linguistics 01/08-B High Med- Ling./Vocab 01/09 - B Med Low Comm/Vocab/ Pron./Ling. 01/10-B Low Low- Vocab. 01/11 -B Med Low Pron. 01/12-B Low Low No Cooperation 01/13-B Med Low+ Linguistics 02/01 - A Med Low Ling./Comm 75 02/02 - A Low Low- Commentaries 02/03 - A Med Low Vocab/Ling. 02/04 - A Low Low Ling (clarification) 02/05 - A Med Low+ Vocab/Pron/Ling 02/06 - A Med Low Vocabulary 02/07 - A High Low Vocabulary 02/09 - A Med Low+ Linguistics 02/10-A Med Med- Linguistics 02/01 - B High High Ling./Comm. 02/02 - B Med+ Med Ling./Comm. 02/03 - B Med+ Low (sent struct) Vocab/Pron. 02/05 - B Med Low+ Vocabulary 02/06 - B Low Low - Comm/Ling (2 only) 02/07 - B High+ High+ Linguistics 02/08 - B High- Med- Comm/V ocab/Ling/ Pron. 03/01 - A High+ High+ Linguistics 03/02 - A High- Med Linguistics Table # 7 -Summary Chart of Students' Level of Accuracy and What Thev Predominantly Focused on in Their Language Logs No. of Students Accuracy Focus in Language Log 30 Low 15 = = No Linguistic entries 10 = : Some Linguistics 5 = Linguistics 6 Med 5 = Some Linguistics 1 = Linguistics 6 High 6 = Linguistics 76 It is apparent that the students with the higher level of accuracy were better able to focus on and note the linguistic forms. In contrast, the lower the level of accuracy, the more unlikely it was that a student fulfilled this task according to instruction. Instead, their focus was more often drawn to other features of the language. B) Grammar Mistakes- in Written L2 Production by 'Non-Strategy User' and 'Strategy User' Groups Another trend came to light when I compared the types of grammatical errors participants in both the 'strategy user' and 'non-strategy user' groups made on their pre-test writing samples and their final post-test writing samples. Although these findings were not put through the rigors of statistical analysis and therefore may or may not be statistically significant, the patterns emerging were interesting all the same. 0 The 'Non-Strategy User' Group -For this comparison, I only analyzed the data collected from those individuals who were part of the study for two months or more. The 'non-strategy user' group consisted of 15 individuals in total, 11 of whom only participated for two months, two for three months, one for four months, and another for six months. For the majority of them, the grammatical errors that they had made during their pre-tests were still evident in their final post-tests. Only four students had eliminated (at least temporarily) 50 percent or more of their original types of mistakes as can be seen in the following chart: 77 Table # 8 - The Reoccurrence of the Same Grammatical Errors Made by the 'Non-Strategy User* Group Student Length of Original Number Same Mistakes Number Participation of Mistakes Being Made 17 2 months 9 7 26 3 months 9 7 29 3 months 10 6 31 2 months 12 5 37 2 months 4 3 42 2 months 8 4 02/07 - A 2 months 7 7 02/03 - B 2 months 7 1 02/07 - B 2 months 4 0 45 2 months 7 5 54 4 months 5 4 64 3 months 10 6 65 2 months 5 4 67 2 months 9 5 40 6 months 10 6 NOTE: Three individuals in this particular group later became participants in the 'strategy user' group, so I have used a different numbering system for their identification. The data used for this chart pertains only to when they were members of the 'non-strategy user' group. It should also be noted that even though a student might have made fewer types of errors on his pre- and post-tests, his or her writing sample may or may not have been more eloquent than that of someone who made more mistakes. Student # 02/03 - B is a 78 prime example of this. Although she appeared to have really improved within the two months she was in the 'non-strategy user' group, she was someone whose writing always remained somewhat juvenile. Her greatest problem was the 'avoidance' of certain, more advanced sentence structures. ii) The 'Strategy User'Group -The individuals in .the 'strategy user' group who were used for this comparison were 16 in total. The majority, (11), were part of the study for two months whereas the remaining five students participated for three months. Unlike the first group, most of these individuals, not just a small minority, had eliminated (again, perhaps only temporarily) 50 percent or more of their original mistakes by the time their final post-tests were written. Table # 9 - The Reoccurrence of the Same Grammatical Errors Made by the 'Strategy User' Group Student Length of Original Number Same Mistakes Number Participation of Mistakes Being Made 02/07-A 2 months 10 6 01/02-A 3 months 10 7 02/07-B 2 months 2 0 03/02-A 3 months 7 3 01/03-A 2 months 8 4 02/05-A 2 months 9 2 79 01/04 - A 2 months 9 4 01/04 - B 2 months 12 6 02/03 - A 2 months 14 9 01/07-A 3 months 7 4 02/10 - A 2 months 10 4 02/01 - B 2 months 9 3 02/02 - B 2 months 10 2 02/08 - B 3 months 5 4 03/01 - A 3 jmonths 6 2 02/03 - B 2 months 8 3 Of the five 'strategy user' group participants who had had less success in eliminating some of their original grammatical errors, they had either concentrated solely on vocabulary in their language logs or else their entries were varied, commenting on pronunciation, linguistics, vocabulary, and writing commentaries. Eight of the eleven who had better results on their post-tests had focused primarily on the linguistic aspects of the language. Another two of the eleven had written 'mixed' entries whereas one person had concentrated on vocabulary and pronunciation almost exclusively. It must be noted, however, that although students in both groups had eliminated some of their original errors by the time their last post-test was written, new mistakes had also appeared in their final samples. There were only three exceptions to this that included one individual from the 'non-strategy user' group and two others from the 'strategy user' group. 80 C) Relating Mistakes Made on Tape and Features Noted in the Language Log: A n Individual Case The purpose of exploring the use of the language log in this study was in no way correlational. In general, I wanted to make observations concerning whether or not the use of this strategy heightened students' language awareness and enhanced their level of accuracy when producing the TL. It was not necessary that there be a one-to-one match between what had been noted in the language log and what 'good habits' had been developed. This study was not as concerned about the construction of form as much as about looking at the use of the strategies as a means to help students develop the skills of paying attention. Having clarified this matter, however, I have, for the sake of academic curiosity, aroused by Schmidt and Frota's study (1986), looked in greater detail at the data collected from one of my most accurate students. My purpose was indeed to probe the relationship between what was being noticed by this individual and whether or not he was using these features correctly in his language production. My observations are supposed to be thought-provoking only and are not meant to diminish the qualitative nature of this study. i) The following list of grammatical features indicates the types of mistakes made by Student 03/01 - A while taping his group discussion during his third and final month of participation in the study. Those errors he was able to notice and self-correct are also indicated along with the linguistic features which he had made note of in his language log. It was immediately apparent that more mistakes were made during his oral rather 81 than written production of the language despite the fact that more complex and varied sentence structures appeared in the latter. (Note: The asterisk indicate the kinds of errors made by this individual on the last writing post-test.) Table # 10 - Relating Mistakes Made on Tape and Features Noted in the Language < • Log: An Individual Case Grammatical Errors Number of Errors Edited Noted in Lang. Log Prepositions * Plural Forms Word Choice * Coord. Conjunctions Articles Verb Tense Word Order Sent. Struct - Missing Verb - Missing Subj. - Missing Obj. 8 2 (same word 2x) 4 2 2 5 2 3 3 1 1 2 1 2 1 (lie/lay) 1 6 (5 re: future + 1 re: past perf) 2 (Note: There were also mistakes made with punctuation in the final Writing Sample) ii) Throughout this particular recorded discussion, the participant edited his own mistakes on seven occasions without any prompting from anyone else. Two errors were made during the dialogue with Plural Forms, but on both occasions, he forgot the 's' at the end of 'month'. He said 'five month' twice, but this is an awkward word to pronounce in its plural form, so this could possibly explain the occurrence of this 82 particular mistake. Twice, he noted something about plural forms in his language log. One entry was in reference to collective nouns being sometimes singular or plural, depending on context, and the other had to do with the sentence construction, "One of the most important (plural noun) " iii) Another two of his errors related to vocabulary which he was able to recognize immediately and correct by substituting his first word, choice with a more appropriate one. This student primarily focused on linguistics features in his language log, so there were no entries concerning vocabulary. iv) Twice during this conversation, the student edited the verb tense in order to express the proper time frame. On both occasions, he needed to use the past tense, but had started out once with the present perfect and another time with the present simple. He stopped, after having committed the errors and fixed them before continuing his discussion. On the four other occasions when this individual used the wrong verb tense, it was because three times he had switched into the present tense while recounting past events and once he inappropriately used the simple past rather than the present perfect. In his language log, there were six entries pertaining to verb tense, five of which had to do with the future tense and one of which referred to the use of the past perfect, but none of which referred to the problems he had during the dialogue. 83 v) Although a number of mistakes with sentence structure occurred because either the subject, object or verb was missing, this individual only caught his errors on two occasions and fixed them. However, it must be noted that even native speakers sometimes do not include the subject in the sentence as long as it is understood. In his language log, no entries pertaining to this particular problem were ever recorded. vi) Prepositions seemed to be most problematic in both his written and oral work, yet there was only one entry in his language log in which he noted two particular verbs and the appropriate prepositions to go with them, i.e. participate in an event, and play on a team. Other than this, there were no other references to this particular aspect of the language. vii) Although conjunctions were mentioned in the language log, this participant's entries only pertained to subordination, not coordination, and his two mistakes during the dialogue had to do with the use of the inappropriate coordinating conjunction. viii) Only one reference was made to articles in this student's language log when he noted the fact that articles are often omitted in condensed texts such as headlines, advertisements, etc. Two times he erred by omitting the necessary definite articles, but this remained altogether unnoticed by the participant. 84 ix) This individual also wrote about the position of adverbs, and although he had placed adverbs correctly approximately five times throughout his conversation, there were two occasions when he did not catch and then edit his mistakes concerning where these adverbs should have occurred within the sentence. Ill The Administration of the Strategies A) Language Logs -Getting students started on this particular metacognitive learning strategy was more difficult than I had expected. This alone convinced me that in the short-run, the benefits of keeping a language log were not as effective as in the long-run. Many participants were initially at a complete loss as to what to write despite the fact that they had been given explicit instructions as to what they should be noticing and recording. This was not something that any of them had ever been asked to do before, so they were unsure of how to go about doing this task. A certain amount of responsibility for their own learning had been placed on their shoulders and this caused some discomfort at first. There was a learning curve for most individuals so many of those who were part of the study for only one month did not get the full month's benefit of implementing this strategy. Invariably, throughout the first week of use some students would approach me after class and ask for further clarification as to what it was they were supposed to do. Often they would seek reassurance that they were indeed writing what they were 85 'supposed' to be writing. This activity was not prescriptive enough and its open-endedness, in that there were no wrong or right entries and a student could write as much or as little as he/she wanted, perplexed some of them. Without fail, in every class, there were a few individuals who initially did not focus on the linguistic features of the language. Instead, they used their language logs as personal journals and wrote diary-like entries. For example, one such entry was as follows: My hobbies are tennis, ski, cooking, singing, dancing and so on. Especially I really love shopping. I don't buy something always, just window shopping is fine for me. Of course, if I run into something special, I will buy it. I think most women like shopping. And most men don't like shopping so much compared with women. Anyway the problem is that my boyfriend doesn't like shopping with me It always required some prodding on my part to get these students to re-direct their attention, but in a couple of instances even this failed to get the desired results. One female participant never wrote anything but personal anecdotes about her daily life whereas a few others continued to write this kind of entry intermittently. During the first month, students were allotted ten minutes at the end of class to record their reflections in their language logs. Sometimes I found it disruptive to stop an activity, whether it was completed or not, in order to let students write. Regardless, the majority of the participants still took their language logs home because they needed more 86 time to reflect. At the end of this first month, one student voiced this opinion in his questionnaire: I like writing in language log every day, except holiday. But I prefer writing in that at home to writing in that in class. I can't explain or write in more detail during the class. During the subsequent months of the study, students were expected to take their language logs home to write their entries on a daily basis. Only on Fridays were they still granted class-time to perform this task so that their language logs could be submitted to me to take home and read over the weekend. Had I not collected them regularly, students might not have been quite as diligent in making daily entries. In order to lighten my own workload, I could have staggered the days on which I collected their logs, but because I found reading them quite interesting, as opposed to arduous, I felt no need to do so. B) Recording on Tape -The tape-recording sessions were easy to manage because there was always somewhere within the school to send the students to do this task. If there had not been a 'quiet area' to which they could go, implementing this strategy would have been more problematic. Students coming and going from the classroom could potentially have disrupted the flow of the other activities taking place during these recording sessions, but by setting up learning centres through which every one would rotate - the 'the recording station' being one of them -1 was able to avoid this problem. 8 7 IV The Value of Unexpected Findings in Action Research i) Because of the exploratory nature of action research, unexpected insights into one's practice are extremely likely to come to the surface. Consequently, the researcher must remain open to 'other' possibilities that reveal issues that he or she may or may not be willing to confront at that particular moment (Anderson, 1992). For example, during this study, I discovered some rather disturbing personality traits of one Korean male in my class. Because I thought of both the language log and taping sessions as strategies to enhance accuracy, I did not expect to be given so much insight into student behaviour. Nevertheless, the way in which this participant performed the two strategies gave me tangible data that confirmed something I was beginning to suspect intuitively. Initially, I had interpreted this individual's lack of participation in classroom activities and extremely poor attendance record as being the result of shyness. He was a small man with a quiet voice and it seemed that his classmates, while not openly rude in any way, did not ever purposely seek his company. However, there was always something about this person's attitude and behaviour that made me feel somewhat ill at ease. Once the two strategies were implemented, I discovered that I had been provided with a means through which I could gain further insight and this only validated my feelings. Without claiming to be a psychologist, this student was someone whom I would refer to as passive-aggressive. In his own quiet way, he was always looking for a confrontation especially with anyone who represented an authority figure. Although he had agreed to participate in this research project, his entries in his language log indicated 88 an extremely non-cooperative attitude. On the third of January, he wrote one paragraph, but then for the next eight days his entries were written exactly as follows: 1,4,5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 - Nothing Only on four other occasions did he write in his language log, twice to indicate again that he had not noticed anything in particular. This student knew that participation in the research was not mandatory, yet he had shown no signs of reluctance when it came to signing the letter of permission. Two of his classmates had opted out of the study so he could see that there would be no adverse effects had he done so. In addition, it was made clear to all participants that they could withdraw from the study at any point in time. The language log, however, provided this individual with an opportunity to flaunt his general disdain toward authority figures. The taping session further corroborated my intuitions. During his taped conversation, this student rarely spoke and when he did, it was next tb impossible to decipher what he was saying. Only when he had something to say that might annoy the teacher did he make the effort to speak loudly into the microphone. The topic of discussion during that particular month was about violence. Students had been given an article to read about homicide in the United States in order to provide them with greater background knowledge on the topic. However, when this passive-aggressive individual (P-A) was asked about travelling through the U.S., the following interaction took place: P-A: (giggles) United States, I don't....I'm not interested in. Partner: Did you feel scary when you read that? P- A: I'm sorry (giggles) I didn't...read. 89 Later in a discussion of whether TV was responsible for creating a more violent society, this same student's only audible response was: Destroy the whole world and make a new world. Also, at one point during this session, he leaned over the tape-recorder and said the following at a very slow speed and exaggerated volume: Some of my teachers sucked. I hate them. Previously, I had always tried to downplay this student's negativity by second-guessing my intuitive feelings about him. However, these two strategies gave me tangible reasons not to doubt my instinct. Instead, the language log and tape-recording session simply brought his emotional disturbances into greater light. At this point, I felt I was better informed by the action research, which in turn allowed me to make better-informed decisions as to how to interact with this individual. ii) Another discovery that I had to accept as the action researcher was the fact that no matter what the researcher's intentions are and despite the most well thought out methodology, some participants will use the tools with which the data are being collected for their own purposes. The fact that the above mentioned 'passive-aggressive' student took advantage of the two learning strategies in order to flaunt his anger towards authority figures is a case in point. However, there were other less negative examples 90 that also support this finding, such as those certain individuals who insisted on writing personal commentaries in their language logs despite any amount of coaxing on the part of the teacher. Some were guilty of this quite often whereas others followed the teacher's instructions most of the time but still felt the occasional need to express their emotions, talk about the stress they felt in the classroom or tell the occasional joke rather than discuss linguistic' feature's. At times the need to engage in affective conversation took precedence over the intended purpose of the strategy. The following examples illustrate this point when one participant states: Today I'm depressed because I had not known that I was late almost one hour until my friend told me about it. I should check my alarm clock. Another individual talks about her stress level and writes: When I talk or discuss about something, I don't get ideas that I want to say spontaneously. I repeat the same things. Later on I remember what I wanted to say. The good thing is that I've been getting used to discussion with classmates. I had never discussed about the world, society, or anything in class when I was a high school student, so I was sometimes nervous about it. Finally, another writes: OK Ruth! Just a little joke for your sunny weekend: Why Jesus was not born in Surrey? I let you to think about it and see you on Sunday for the BBQ (I'm kidding!) 91 Chapter 6 DISCUSSION Chapter Overview This study set out to explore the use of two metacognitive language learning strategies in addressing a specific problem many advanced students face during their learning process of the TL. Specifically, the participants were asked to keep a language log and record themselves on tape so that these two methods could be assessed by the participants and teacher as to their usefulness in helping students increase their accuracy through increased language awareness and motivation. In this section the findings concerning the use of these two learning strategies are discussed in relation to the interface and non-interface position since the adherence to one or the other position would inevitably have a strong influence on how the data might be interpreted. The extent to which we can trust learners' intuition is also taken into consideration. This section also includes a discussion concerning the little effect teacher feedback seems to have on students' written work and the possible role self-reflection and language awareness might play in increasing motivation, in improving students' ability to learn from their own mistakes and in preventing the fossilization of incorrect linguistic forms. In addition, the importance of the teacher's attitude towards the strategies in determining whether students respond positively or negatively to them is considered. Finally, personal reflections are made on the action research process itself. 92 I) Language Logs - The Interface and Non-interface Position In this study, the overall response to the use of the language log was positive. Although there was some difference of opinion concerning how often entries should be written, the general consensus was that this particular metacognitive learning strategy helped them develop their language awareness, which, in turn, made them more accurate when producing the TL. 'Because of its benefit, students felt more motivated and asked that the teacher continue to have them perform this strategy as part of the regular curriculum. Only one individual felt there had been no benefit in using the language log, whereas one other had not been sure. Obviously, these results strongly favour the use of the language log and one might simply conclude at this point that it 'passed the test' and should be recommended to all teachers to implement with their students. However, it is not quite so clear-cut because these same results once more bring to the forefront the whole debate between the interface and the non-interface position. Not even the experts can agree. Krashen, (as cited in Ellis 1992 and Zhou, 1992), for example, argues that there is no interface between explicit and implicit knowledge and that learning is independent of acquisition. Others, such as Bialystok, Sherward-Smith and McLaughlin (also cited in Ellis 1992 and Zhou, 1992) do believe that there is an interface between explicit and implicit knowledge and that it is the teacher's task to sensitize learners to the linguistic features of a TL in order to improve their accuracy. Zhou, (1992), claims that, to date, the empirical studies that have been carried out to find support for either stance are inconclusive. The findings are ambiguous because the research has been conducted in environments where it was difficult to measure the effects of explicit instruction verses exposure to the T L . The experts can and most assuredly will continue this great debate, but shouldn't the learners themselves be given a voice in determining what they feel is best for them? Perceptions do not provide physical evidence, but perhaps researchers need to give weight to the fact that learners seem to have an 'intuitive' sense of what they need and what works. If this is to be taken seriously, then the students' reaction to the use of the language log as a tool to improve accuracy has to be interpreted as support for the interface position. Nicholas (1992) asserts that language awareness is an essential part of the educational process because the acquisition of the L2 is different than that of the L I . Until an awareness of the lexico-grammatical level of language organization develops, Nicholas argues, children learning their first language babble or use the proto-language. However, neither children nor adults learning the L2 do this since they already have an awareness that a lexico-grammatical pattern must exist in any language. Until the age of seven, this awareness is unconscious, but after that age, learners can potentially begin to express this awareness and their L2 development follows 'adult-like' paths. The role of the language log is to help develop this potential, and for many who participated in this study, it did provide a tool with which they could express their thoughts and observations concerning these patterns. Nonetheless, it is of particular interest that some of the participants whose level of accuracy was extremely low were not able to perform the task of noting the linguistic 94 features of the T L . This finding, in itself, might be interpreted a few ways. Perhaps, these students produce inaccurate language because they do not pay attention to form. Another possibility is that because these individuals tend to have lower language skills, they are unable to articulate some of the patterns they know. While this study cannot attempt to answer to this 'chicken or egg first' issue, it is interesting to note that the former explanation seerrfs stronger than the latter simply based on the fact that while some of the students' level of accuracy was low, their level of fluency was not. One might also argue that these inaccurate students know these linguistic rules at a subconscious level. Should this be true, could this not be interpreted as further support of the hypothesis that language awareness is a necessary factor in improving accuracy based on the fact that the 'subconscious' group consisted of the poorer performers? In the end, one is still left wondering why the accurate students were better able to use their language logs for their intended purpose while the majority of the inaccurate ones were not, unless some kind of interface was, indeed, taking place. II) Recording Sessions and the Interface and Non-interface Position The same issues arise when considering the results of having students tape themselves and then analyze their performance. The majority of students claimed that they really liked this strategy and felt that it helped them become more accurate speakers. By noticing their mistakes was there some type of interface taking place in that students were able to rid their IT of at least some of their errors? It is difficult to answer this specifically, since the majority of the participants wrote self-assessments after listening to 95 their recorded discussions which were more or less general in nature. For example, many would say they noticed themselves making grammar mistakes but would not give the details. It is difficult to say to what extent all of the errors made were truly being noted. However, as Cohen (1987) points out, "it may be that one good mental note on one item is worth more than making a list of 10 items, if genuine learning goes on in the former case, but not in the latter" (p. 66). If even one linguistic feature was truly 'learned' then the act of evaluating their recorded performances would be worthwhile, assuming that interface takes place. When the performance of one particular student during a tape-recorded discussion was analyzed more closely to see if there was some obvious correlation between what he had noted in his language log and what he produced in spoken English, the findings were perhaps a bit more difficult to analyze. For example, he only wrote about prepositions once in his language log, but made eight errors concerning this particular part of speech, without ever attempting to monitor his mistakes. However, the prepositions he used in the discussion were different than the two he had previously noted. This also occurred concerning this student's use of verb tenses. He had made five entries in his log about the future tense and one about the past perfect, and although five mistakes were made in his spoken English, it was because he had used the simple present tense instead of the required simple past tense or present perfect tense. On two occasions, he began using the wrong verb tense (present perfect and simple present) but caught himself and made the necessary adjustments. 96 It would be far too simplistic to say that whatever was noticed in the language log never appeared in the student's spoken English or written English (which tended to be even more accurate), despite the fact that the exact same linguistic features noted in this particular individual's language log did not manifest themselves in an identical manner in either his pre- or post-test. Schmidt and Frota (1986) point out that the conversational ambitions of the L2 adult learner are far more complex and abstract compared to those of a child, so it would be unrealistic to think that the adult L2 learner merely has to go through the process of noticing and eliminating grammatical errors in order to improve accuracy. To begin with, factors such as learning style, and interference from other spoken languages have to be taken into consideration. Schmidt, in fact, felt that during his study with Frota (Schmidt & Frota, 1986), in which he tried to acquire Portuguese, there was a great deal of interference from Arabic, a language he was highly competent in despite the fact that it was not his mother-tongue. Schmidt and Frota also suggest that perhaps another reason why mistakes do not automatically disappear is that the old forms, structures and rules are habits which take time to extinguish, and that a primary source of incorrect forms come from the learner who listens to his or her own errors. Consequently, this affects the course of language learning. Regardless, as a result of this study, Schmidt was convinced that whatever had been taught or corrected had not necessarily been learned. Only those features which he noticed became part of his own IL. He also points out that failure to report something retrospectively did not mean that it had not been noticed consciously at the time. 97 Ill") Language Awareness and Written L2 Production A) The 'Non-Strategy User' Group Despite the fact that student errors in their written compositions were corrected by the teacher, studefnts often ignored this feedback and did not make the desirable change in behaviour. When the pre-.and post-writing test results of the 'non-strategy users' were examined to determine the amount of improvement that had taken place over a period ranging anywhere from two to six months, it was strikingly apparent that many of the same mistakes were being made. There seemed to be no noticeable improvement in their written language production. Without a doubt, this failure to see any tangible improvement could potentially have a negative effect on the motivation of the teacher and students alike. Why, when students were being shown their errors, was there such little sign of improvement? In his article entitled "Student Processing of Feedback on Their Compositions" (1987), Cohen cites a study conducted by Marzano and Arthur (1977) in which they examined the writing samples of 24 tenth-grade students who were native English speakers. The researchers found that often students did not read the teacher's corrections, and i f they did, no attempt was made to implement the suggestions and fix the errors. In the same article, Cohen also refers to Semke's study (1984) of 141 university students who were studying German as a second language. Their general attitude towards their writing assignments was that they were simply language exercises which were to be 98 marked as either wrong or right then put away. Rarely would learners read through the teacher's comments more than once. Cohen and Robbins (1976) conducted research involving three Chinese-speaking students. They found that the poor-performer was the individual who did not keep track of his errors, nor was he interested in knowing about them. In a later study (1987), Cohen developed a questionnaire to find out how many students did not look at the corrections made to their papers or did so only sparingly. He distributed this questionnaire to 217 students from New York State University at Binghamton who were all studying courses which involved writing papers and receiving teacher feedback on them. These courses included Rhetoric 100, 110 and 115; ESL 101 and 201; French 101, 102 and 115; German 251; and finally, Hebrew 103. Cohen found that although 81 per cent of the respondents reported reading over most or all of their compositions after they had been marked, those students who rated themselves as poor learners were less likely to read their entire papers or attend to the corrections that had been pointed out to them. In addition, those who rated themselves as better language learners reported focusing on vocabulary and grammar more than their less confident counterparts did. The same trend surfaced in the present study using action research since it became apparent that those participants with a higher level of accuracy were far more likely to attend to and note linguistic forms than their less accurate peers. Making a mental note of what the teacher had corrected was the main strategy all of the students in Cohen's study (1987) used in order to process the feedback. In the current study, those in the 'non-strategy user' group also employed this method of 99 dealing with the corrections that had been made on their pre- and post-writing tests. They did not keep language logs and no further work was done on their papers once they got them back. However, it appears that this strategy did not prove to be effective since only four out of the 15 used for comparison had eliminated 50 per cent or more of repetitive errors within two to six months. The rate of improvement was not impressive, and in many cases was rtot really discernible. B) The 'Strategy User' Group Like the 'non-strategy user' group, the 'strategy user' group got the pre- and post-tests back with teacher corrections. Re-writes were not required but members of the 'strategy user' group were encouraged to reflect on their mistakes in their language logs. It is interesting to note that the majority of the students in this group were able to eliminate over 50 per cent of the original errors being made within two or three months of participation. On the surface, it would seem that the very act of having to make note of some of their errors had a positive effect on the students' accuracy. However, Cohen, (1987) found in his study that it was often the poorer students who would write lists of their mistakes and did more re-writes than their more accurate counter-parts. He goes on to explain, though, that this did not reflect the quality of these notes, since the students may have just copied down what the teacher said without any genuine learning taking place. On the other hand, when students in the 'strategy user' group wrote about mistakes they had made, they were encouraged to write about when, where and why their errors were made, along with what they should have done instead. One might argue that 100 these entries were more self-reflective than those made by Cohen's subjects and therefore more meaningful 'learning' had taken place. This could account for the apparently higher success rate amongst those in the 'strategy user' group than those in the 'non-strategy user' group. Krashen (1995), who claims "there is no clear evidence that focusing on form is effective (p. 2) refers to a study conducted by Harley (1989) in which grade six French immersion students were given eight weeks of special instruction on the imparfait/passe compose distinction. Initially the experimental students did score significantly better on all three form-based measures compared to those individuals in the control groups. Krashen argues, however, that "the knowledge gained in this way does not become part of true linguistic competence" (p. 3) and substantiates this claim by pointing out that when Harley's subjects were post-tested three months later, there was no significant difference amongst the experimental and control groups. Although the findings of this action research study seem to indicate a more acute 'language awareness' amongst the 'strategy user' group, who were able to eliminate more of the same errors in their writing samples, studies conducted over longer periods of time would be required to test the strength of this observation. This is especially necessary since a certain type of mistake would sometimes disappear for a month only to reappear the following month in the same individual's language production. There is a danger of making broad, sweeping generalizations based on the findings of action research, but this is not the purpose of this particular methodology. In fact, the findings of this study should be interpreted as they would be for any case study, in that they apply to particular 101 people in a particular system. Nevertheless, they do provide insight into the larger picture and hopefully will add to the collaborative pool of knowledge. IV) About the Onset of Fossilization Upon examining the data, it would be difficult to accurately determine exactly when a student Was about to experience the onset of fossilization because in both the 'strategy user' and 'non-strategy user' groups, there was evidence that some changes were still taking place in the learners' IL. The rate of progress concerning the level of accuracy was very slow and in many cases indiscernible especially amongst those in the 'non-strategy user' group. This finding cannot be accounted for according to Schumann's 1978 Acculturation Model (as cited in Ellis, 1992). Generally speaking, both groups consisted of participants who were similar in that they fell within the same age-range except for one older female in the 'non-strategy user' group and they came from a variety of cultural backgrounds. The majorities in both groups, however, were of Asian descent. On the whole, most of these individuals shared the same social and psychological distance factors described in Schumann's model. The decision to attend a language school in Vancouver had been theirs, so their attitudes towards the experience and Canadian culture were usually quite positive. Most of the participants were interactive with English speakers outside the classroom since they lived in Canadian homestay families. Nevertheless, there was still a strong tendency for students to socialize within their own cultural groups, making it more tempting to speak their mother-tongues with each other. 102 In the school, itself, there was an 'English Only' policy that was strictly enforced. Usually students honoured this rule if for no other reason than the fear of being sent home for breaking it. Selinker and Lamendella (1979) along with Vigil and Oiler (1976) agreed that the type of feedback a student receives will determine his or her eventual success. In addition though, they argued that different individuals would be satisfied with the amount of positive feedback they received and as a result, some students would fossilize earlier than others. Taking this one step further, it could be suggested that those learners who are encouraged to keep a language log and to evaluate their recorded performances and who really learn to like these strategies might be more likely to delay the onset of fossilization since they are habitually self-monitoring and focusing in on the difference between their IL and the TL. Based on a questionnaire administered by Saito (1994) to two upper-intermediate classes taking a non-credit, two month course and a group of engineers taking a credit course, he found that many ESL students feel they need more help with their grammatical errors in particular and that it is the job of the teacher to provide the necessary corrections. However, it is not possible for a teacher to provide constant feedback to each individual in his or her classroom, so students should be encouraged to rely on themselves to do some of the necessary prodding that will keep them improving their accuracy. By becoming more comfortable with the language log and evaluating their performance on tape, they develop the ability to exercise greater control over their own learning process. This, in turn, can positively affect their attitude. In addition, criticism 103 can be less threatening when it comes from oneself rather than when it comes from the teacher. V) The Two Learning Strategies and Motivation Gardner (1989) states "the different theoretical models highlight somewhat different contexts and different concepts, but all of them view attitudes and motivation as important variables in the acquisition of a second language" (p. 137). Based on this assumption alone, one might argue that both the language log and recording sessions are valuable in that the majority of students claimed that they felt an increase in their motivation as a result of having used both these strategies. It requires only common sense to know that positive learning experiences and success will foster motivation whereas the opposite is true of negative learning experiences and failure. The degree to which intrinsic motivation was enhanced amongst the 'strategy users' is debatable, however, since many claimed they were too lazy to continue putting them into use unless the teacher demanded it of them. In other words, the internal drive was not enough once the external pressure was removed. It might also be assumed that a certain number of respondents who said they would continue to use at least one of the strategies might have been influenced by his or her desire to please the teacher. VI) About the Administration of the Strategies In the findings, a few points have been made concerning the logistics of having students use these two strategies as part of their daily curriculum. The points were made 104 in order for future teachers and/or researchers to some of the difficulties gained by implementing this strategies. However, the success or failure of the language log in particular really depended upon the teacher initially. As mentioned in the findings, students were unsure of its use at first and often required a great deal of encouragement from the teacher to get them to use the language log for its intended purpose. In other words, the initial!start-up for the research was more difficult than had originally been anticipated. However, the. longer students took part in the study, the more comfortable they got and the less they required teacher direction. Unless a teacher is committed to the usefulness of this strategy though, it would be easy to give up on it before students really were given a chance to make it a tool with which they were adept at using. VII) About Action Research I found conducting this action research to be an invigorating yet lonely process at times. As previously mentioned, I sometimes suffer from the 'assembly line' effect when students are being funneled in and out of my classes each and every month. However, because of this study, the symptoms were greatly relieved especially due to the fact that many students were participants anywhere from two to six months and this gave my work a feeling of continuity. The language logs, in particular, provided a means with which I could gain greater insight as to what was happening inside the students' heads and I found, as a result, there was a slightly stronger bonding process that took place. As their teacher, my interest was piqued and my motivation was high. It is my personal belief that students are strongly affected by the teacher's attitudes in the 105 classroom. If he or she is feeling very positive about the learning environment, chances are students will pick this up and benefit from this. In fact, I felt the outcome of this action research was so positive for me as a teacher, that I have continued to implement both strategies as part of my regular curriculum long after my data collection was completed and every original participant had left the school. Presently, my observations tend to be less formal, but I find that the action research process continues to keep me motivated. I hope to use this methodology to investigate other issues in the future. Action research is not without its frustrations, however. At times, I found it difficult in that I had no colleague to confer with whenever I thought I had found something puzzling or of particular interest. Had at least one other teacher been conducting the same kind of research with their own classes at the same time, there would have been a stronger basis of comparison which could have potentially increased overall confidence in the validity of my findings. If two or more action researchers were coming up with the same findings then the research would have been strengthened. This is why I think it is important that the same study be repeated several times in different settings by different teachers. Regardless of some of the shortcomings of action research, I am even more committed to its value. The 'lab' is the classroom, which is a dynamic environment where a multitude of factors affect the learning process. This is the environment in which the teacher works and therefore measures to isolate or eliminate certain factors as is done in other types of research do not realistically portray the conditions the teacher must deal with every day. No two 'action research labs' will ever be identical but it's the similar 106 trends and patterns that do surface despite the different circumstances that are worth noting. 107 Chapter 7 CONCLUSION I) Summary of this Study This action research took place in a privately owned English language school, located in downtown Vancouver. Data was collected over six months from advanced adult participants distinguished as either 'non-strategy users' or 'strategy users.' Members in both groups had to write the same pre- and post-tests, but additional tasks were required of those in the latter group. The 'strategy users' were asked to keep a daily language log, participate in taping sessions, plus complete a questionnaire. Observations were made of both groups in order to look for indications that the two metacognitive learning strategies were beneficial to those who used them in that they increased motivation, language awareness and accuracy. II) The Implications of the Findings The vast majority of participants said they liked using both of the learning strategies being explored in this study. There was only a slight preference for the language log based on the fact that some individuals disliked the sound of their own voices on tape. Almost unanimously, the students' perceptions were positive because they felt they had been given practical tools with which to improve their accuracy. In turn, these feelings of success increased their motivation to continue their efforts to learn the T L , and in the majority of cases, to continue independently the use of both strategies in the future. 108 As the teacher, I also held many of the same positive perceptions as the participants. Once students developed the habit of using these two strategies appropriately, I became convinced that the students' sensitivity to linguistic form was being heightened. Nevertheless, the debate as to whether or not increased language awareness translates directly into improved accuracy in language production still rages. Those in the 'Krashen camp' would argue that it does not, while others who lean more towards Schmidt's, for example, way of thinking would take the opposite stance. Not only did the students and the teacher share an 'intuitive sense' that there is interface between explicit knowledge of grammar and L2 production, but there was some observable evidence in the findings that might indicate support for this position. The 'strategy users" post-tests showed signs of a faster improvement rate than that of the 'non-strategy users'. Furthermore, the findings indicated that the students with higher levels of accuracy were indeed the ones who paid greater attention to the linguistic features than their less accurate contemporaries. Students also claimed that they felt the strategies increased their motivation to learn because they had been given tools with which they could combat the onset of fossilization. This relieved certain negative affective factors such as the feeling that no matter how hard they tried, they could not improve. My own motivation increased as I started to perceive some of the benefits of these strategies. Also, the action research allowed me to satisfy my curiosity and keep my interest level high. The greatest problem I experienced had to do with the initial implementation of the language log. The students had never been asked to perform such a task before, so at .109 first, many were not able to grasp its purpose. Nevertheless, with time and practice, they got better at and more comfortable with the use of this strategy. Part of my frustration was exacerbated by the monthly inflow and outflow of students, which meant that there were always new participants who had to go through the learning curve. Another teacher in a more static classroom situation would be able to avoid this experience. Regardless, it soon became evident that if the teacher does not remain committed to 'the cause' during this start-up phase, then students are less likely to be 'sold' on the idea of keeping a language log. Ill) Suggestions for Future Research Again, one of the greatest difficulties experienced while conducting this research was due to the fact that at the beginning and end of each month, there was always an inflow and outflow of students. It normally required a month for students to really begin to feel comfortable using their language logs and to get into the habit of writing in them on a daily basis. Unfortunately, for many of the participants, they only got one month's exposure to this learning strategy since they were placed in a class with a different teacher the following month. In the end, the most useful data were that collected from the same individuals over a period greater than one month, especially when looking for observable evidence that some improvement in accuracy had taken place. In the future, it would be extremely beneficial to conduct this action research again over a six-month period but in a setting where the class composition did not change every month. This would be to the advantage 110 of not only the action researcher, but also the participants who would have a better opportunity to see how both strategies could be helpful to them. In this study, some individuals were able to participate for an extended period of time and it is my belief that they were the ones who benefited most. It seems that the controversy concerning whether or not accuracy can be improved through explicit attention to language form is not going to be quickly resolved. However, any research that can clarify this issue will surely have great impact on the entire field. If we could confidently say there is or is not any type of interface that takes place between explicitly taught language features and acquired language, then surely this would have a huge effect on every teacher's methodology in the classroom. TV) Limitations on a Common Sense Approach By conducting this action research, a number of patterns and trends came to light and the results do seem to favour the interface position. On the one hand, this is quite satisfying for the reason that Schmidt and Frota (1986) so clearly express: A final advantage of conscious and voluntary notice-the-gap principle is that it permits a more common sense and intuitively satisfying conception of the "affective filter" which Krashen has proposed (following Dulay and Burt 1978) to incorporate motivational and affective variables into an overall theory of second language acquisition. However, it would be too presumptuous to make broad sweeping generalizations based on one teacher's findings from one study, which took place in one environment. U l This is not action research's strength. This was a disciplined study designed to improve the quality of my practice by specifically looking at ways to deal with a problem faced by my advanced students. It allowed me to address a number of important questions and as a result I have gained greater insight upon which I may choose to act. This is action research's strength. Despite any limitations, I would like to encourage teachers to think of action research as an integral part of their profession. It is a process that allows them to grow as professionals and they owe this not only to their students, but to themselves as well. I believe action research is pro-active and has a positive effect on motivation when a teacher feels that he or she is taking steps to explore and create solutions to a particular problem. Often, the individuals conducting research are the experts who are far removed from the everyday realities of the classroom and they sometimes forget that, in order for their theories to be taken seriously by teachers, there has to be an element of practicality. By taking a more active role in research, teachers, who are the ones implementing 'theories,' after all, can have valuable input into the greater pool of knowledge due to their 'hands-on' experience. 112 References Anderson, J. (1992). Journal Writing: The Promise and the Reality. Journal of Reading 36 304-309. Bialystok, E. (1981). Some Evidence for the Integrity and Interaction of Two Knowledge Systems in Andersen (Ed.) New Dimensions in Second Language Acquisition Research. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Calhoun, E. (1994). How to Use Action Research in the Self-Renewing School. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Cohen, A. (1987). Student Processing of Feedback on Their Compositions in A.Wenden and J. Rubin (Eds.) Learner Strategies in Language Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Cohen, A. & Robbins, M. (1976). Toward Assessing Interlanguage Performance: The Relationship Between Selected Errors, Learners' Characteristics, and Learners' Explanations.. Language Learning 26 (1) 45 - 56. Eisenhart, M. & Borko, H. (1993). Designing Classroom Research. Toronto: Allyn& Bacon. Ellis, R. (1992). Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gardner, R.C. (1988). Attitudes and Motivation. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics. Cambridge University Press. Harley, B. (1989). Functional Grammar in French Immersion: A Classroom Experiment. Applied Linguistics 10 331-59. Higgs, T.V. & Clifford, (1982). The Push Toward Communication. T.V. Higgs (Ed.) Curriculum. Competence, and the Foreign Language Teacher. Kamada, L. (1987). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Learning Processes: Why Japanese Can't Speak English. Paper presented at the Japan Association of Language Teachers' International Conference on Language Teaching and Learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service no. ED 285 408). 113 Krashen, S. (1995). Immersion: Why Not Try Free Voluntary Reading? Mosaic 3 (1) 1-4. Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon. Krashen, S. (1976). Formal and Informal Linguistic Environments in Language Acquisition and Language Learning. TESOL Quarterly (10) 157-68. Larson-Freeman, D. & Long, M. (1992). Instructed Second Language Acquisition. An Introduction to Second Language Acquisition Research. New York: Longman Inc. McLaughlin, B. (1978). The Monitor Model: Some Methodological Considerations. Language Learning 28 309-32. Nicholas, H. (1992). Language Awareness and Second Language Development. C. James and P. Garret (Eds.) Language Awareness in the Classroom. New York: Longman. Oja, S.N. & Smulyan, L. (1989). Collaborative Action Research: A Development Approach. London: The Falmer Press. O'Malley, M. (1987). The Effects of Training in the Use of Learning Strategies on Learning English as a Second Language. A. Wenden & J. Rubin (Eds.) Learner Strategies in Language Learning. Toronto: Prentice-Hall International. Oxford, R. (1990). Language Learning Strategies, What Every Teacher Should Know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers, Inc. Oxford, R. (1992). Who Are Our Students?: A Synthesis of Foreign and Second Language Research on Individual Differences with Implications for Instructional Practice. TESL Canada Journal 9 (2). 30-49. Oxford, R. & Crookall, D. (1989). Research on Language Learing Strategies: Methods, Findings and Instructional Implications. Modern Language Journal 73, 404-19. Saito, H. (1994). Teachers'Practices and Students'Preferences for Feedback on Second Language Writing: A Case Study of Adult ESL Learners. TESL Canada Journal 11 (2) 254-77. 114 Schmidt, R.W. (1983). Interaction, Acculturation, and the Acquisition of Communicative Competence: A Case Study of an Adult. N. Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.) Sociolinguistics and Second Language Acquisition. Rawley, MA: Newbury. Schmidt, R. W. (1990). The Role of Consciousness in Second Language Learning. Applied Linguistics 11 (2) 129-58. Schmidt, R. & Frota, F. (1986). Developing Basic Conversational Ability in a Second Language: A Case Study of an Adult Learner of Portuguese. R.Day (Ed.) Talking to Learn. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Schumann, J. (1978). The Acculturation Model for Second Language Acquisition. R. Gingras (Ed.) Second Language Acquisition and Foreign Language Teaching. Arlington, VA: Center for Applied Linguistics. Selinker, L. & Lamendella, J.T. (1979). The Role of Extrinsic Feedback in Interlanguage Fossilization: A Discussion of "Rule Fossilization: A Tentative Model." Language Learning, 29 (2) 363-75. Semke, H. (1984). Effects of the Red Pen. Foreign Language Annals 17 (31 195-202. Sharwood-Smith, M. (1981). Consciousness-raising and the Second Language Learner. Applied Linguistics II 159-69. Stewner-Manzanares, G. (1985). Learning Strategies in English as a Second Langauge Instruction: A Teacher's Guide. Washington DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service no. ED 338 107). Vigil, N.A. & Oiler, J.W. (1976). Rule Fossilization: A Tentative Model. Paper presented at the 10th Annual TESOL convention in New York. Willing, K. (1987). Learning Strategies as Information Management. Prospect:The Journal of the Adult Migrant Education Program 2 (3) 273-291. Zhou, Y. (1992). The Effect of Explicit Instruction on the Acquisition of English Grammatical Structures by Chinese Learners. C. James and P. Garrett (Eds.) Language Awareness in the Classroom. New York: Longman. 115 APPENDIX A Pre-writing Test 116 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Department of Language Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5788 Fax: (604) 822-3154 Courier Address: 2034 Lr. Mall Road UBC, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2 THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TWO METACOGNITIVE STRATEGIES IN DEVELOPING MOTIVATION. LANGUAGE AWARENESS AND ACCURACY The purpose of this pre-test is to analyze your language ability at the beginning of this month's course. Therefore, when you write your sample, try to use as many linguistic structures as reasonably possible in order to demonstrate what you already know, i.e. different verb tenses, conditionals, sentence variety, active and passive voice, etc. Choose any ONE of the following three suggestions and write approximately 2 -4 paragraphs on the topic of your choice: 1. Jealousy 2. Happiness WRITING PRE-TEST 3. A Bad Habit 117 APPENDIX B Post-writing Test 118 T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Department of Language Education 2125 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z4 Tel: (604) 822-5788 Fax: (604) 822-3154 t Courier Address: 2034 Lr. Mall Road UBC, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2 T H E E F F E C T I V E N E S S O F T W O M E T A C O G N I T I V E S T R A T E G I E S IN D E V E L O P I N G M O T I V A T I O N . L A N G U A G E AWARENESS AND A C C U R A C Y The purpose of this test is to compare your writing at the end of the month to your writing at the beginning of the month in order to determine what areas show signs of improvement. Again, try to demonstrate what you now know by using as many linguistic features as possible, i.e. verb tenses, various sentence structures, conditionals, active and passive voice, etc. Choose any ONE of the following and write approximately 2-4 paragraphs on the topic of your choice. 1. Adjusting to a new country 2. Adjusting to marriage 3. Adjusting to a loss WRITING POST-TEST 119 APPENDIX C Strategies Questionnaire 120 THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TWO METACOGNITIVE STRATEGIES IN DEVELOPING MOTIVATION. LANGUAGE AWARENESS AND ACCURACY The purpose of this questionnaire is to determine students' attitudes towards the use of the two metacognitive learning strategies that they have put to use as part of this study. 1. What did you like the most/least about writing in your language log? Do you now find yourself correctly using some of the structures that you had previously noted in your log? 2. Did you like writing in your language log on a daily basis? Would you recommend do it this often or less often? Why? 3. Without a teacher asking you to do so, are you likely to continue to keep your own language log in the future? Why/why not? 121 4. Did you like tape-recording your group discussions? What did you notice most about your language production when you listened to yourself on the tape? 5. Would you recommend your teacher continue having students tape themselves? Why/why not? 6. If the teacher didn't make you tape yourself while producing the language, are you likely to do so from now on? Why/why not? 7. Which was the most helpful - taping or writing in your language logs? Do either of these learning strategies increase your motivation to continue learning English? Why/why not? 122 APPENDIX D Sample Page of a Student's Language Log 123 Sample Page of a Student's Language Log March 20'h - Thank you Ruth! I know that I have to be careful with singular — This kind of drink (short i) and plural - These kinds of drinks (long ese) I think I know the difference, but I have problems with the pronounciation!!! !I have a bad pronounciation with a bad, ugly, horrible accent!!! But I can't change that!!! Unfortunately.. .Sorry for your ears!!! March 21s' - Why do prepositions exist?!!! It's very difficult for me to catch on the differences between prepositions like IN and INTO. Now I know that when we enter the jungle for example, we have to use INTO. She had to go INTO the jungle. She had to go TO the restaurant. Moreover, I have to be careful with certain verbs which are very close in spelling but very different in meaning. For example, to bare -barred to bar - barred, To wage -waging to way - wagging, to strip - stripped to stripe - striped. Remember CVC WORDS - double "c" + ed March 24th -1 had no time to listen to our tape, but I learned a new horrible uncountable word: politics - the verb is singular, like news - the verb is singular. March 25th - A lot of expressions to know to be able to follow a movie! So bad.. .1 can't remember ever word. It's too much!!! Be careful with the verb to lay (transitive) - laid/laid/laying to lie (intransitive) - lay/lain/lying March 27th - prepare for my... the tension became greater and greater (not bigger and bigger)... I couldn't do anything about it.... I couldn't relax myself (get rid of "myself) 124 APPENDIX E Sample Page of Teacher's Personal Log 125 Sample Pages of the Teacher's Personal Log January 21 S T A - We did a written grammar exercise in class today then took up the answers together. E.. . , who is extremely fluent and very good at expressing his ideas surprised me at how poorly his performance was on this task. At the same time, I have noticed that he rarely if ever focuses on the linguistic features of the language when he makes an entry into his language log. His interest level towards this strategy is low so his entries are very brief with few or no details. Sometimes he writes nothing. Class was so short for everything that I wanted to accomplish, so I assigned their language logs as homework along with a list of ten words to define. B block - I gave the students 10 minutes at the end of class to write in their language logs. They all started writing and went 5 minutes overtime. They seemed pretty keen today. Some of the still took their journals home to write more. I'll checked A's language log since I didn't have hers over the weekend. Nor did I have B's or C's. I'll collect theirs tomorrow. January 2 2 N D A & B - Both classes were assigned their language logs for homework. I'm on a bit of a tight schedule this week since I want both groups to be ready to record themselves during their group discussions on Friday. The timing over the next few days seems essential in order for me to collect the necessary data. I can't believe that the month is almost three-fourths over. I returned A's log after looking at it last night. She really does focus on the linguistic features of the language. B was away today and I had C take his log home with him rather than hand it in to me today to read. Tonight I must work on getting the discussion questions ready for both groups on Friday. 126 


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