Vol 4, No 2 (2018)

Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition


Cover Page

The present issue continues the topic from the previous one, which is that of language learning environment, broadly interpreted.  It opens with an article by Sarah Mercer, Tammy Gregersen, Peter MacIntyre and Kyle Talbot entitled “Positive Language Education: Combining Positive Education and Language Education”, which is written from a positive psychology perspective as applied to education and discusses the notion of  Positive Language Education (PLE). Here, the authors promote the idea that 21st century education should not only focus on developing linguistic skills but also those which are more fundamental to our lives, that is, the skills of well-being, a major area in positive psychology. The model presented integrates the aims and development of linguistic and non-linguistic skills in the educational context as “the foundation for effective learning and a good life more generally.” The article makes a considerable contribution to fast-growing research on positive psychology in SLA. The article is theoretical, but it makes a very strong claim for an empirically-based model of language education in different educational contexts. The following article by Katarzyna Budzińska “Positive Institutions: a Case Study” elaborates on a positive educational example in a  practical way by presenting a profile of a language school which can be viewed as an enabling institution ( a concept proposed by positive psychology). It follows the lines of Mercer et al.’s thinking on PLE presented in the earlier text. The author rightly emphasizes that out of the three major areas of interest in positive psychology studies: positive emotions, positive character traits and positive/enabling institutions, it is the final one that has attracted the least attention so far. Thus, in her article, the main focus is on the analysis of a representative language school as the best example of its kind. As the author puts it, it is an institution “enabling success and promoting positive language learning environments or student well-being”. In the next text, “The classroom learning environment and its influence on selected aspects of foreign language attainment. Insights from students”, Anna Michońska-Stadnik takes a different perspective on a foreign language learning context by focusing on students’ perceptions of their environment. Expressing the belief that a modern language classroom has a facilitative role in developing autonomy, learner self-regulation and cooperation-enhanced motivation, the author discusses their views on the influences of some aspects of the classroom environment on their language learning process (“motivation, ability to self-assess, self-confidence and attitudes to the target language and culture”) expressed by learners in guided interviews. She concludes, on the basis of the interview data, that it is still the teacher that plays the most fundamental role in the above. The next article by Ana Aldekoa, “Gure Ikastola en tres languages: the teaching and learning of trilingual oral expository skills by means of a didactic sequence”, takes the reader into the world of multilingual classrooms, where the development of trilingual oral expository skills in Spanish L1, Basque L2 and English L3 students is presented in a trilingual didactic sequence. The analysis clearly demonstrates that language alternation and integration during a lesson can result in the beneficial development of the three languages and thus, enhances students’ multilingual competence. The article by Beata Malczewska-Webb and Alicia Vallero entitled “Developing Learning Environments for Blended and Online learning” takes the reader to a modern language classroom where second language instruction makes use of modern technology by combining both the traditional face-to-face classroom teaching and possibilities online instruction offers. It presents the theoretical concepts, an innovative framework necessary for a successful implementation of language instruction at the university level as well as the students´ assessment of this type of pedagogy. The Authors demonstrate how such teaching is done at one of Australian universities, the leading centre for blended, online and distance learning. The last article in this issue by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas is entitled “Reflections on complexity: TESOL researchers reflect on their experiences”. It presents the Complex Dynamic Systems Theory (CDST), a fairly new theoretical framework in applied linguistics and demonstrates how researchers implement it in their practice of language teaching. The authors not only discuss the tenets of the theory of CDST but, more importantly, point out the challenges and promises of this new approach, as expressed in the narrative texts of researchers, experienced in implementing CDST in their work. They are fully aware of its benefits as well as of the difficulties that still need to be overcome. Nevertheless, they generally express an optimistic view to this new framework. The issue concludes with two book reviews. One of them is the review of the monograph by Katarzyna Ożańska-Ponikwia “Personality and Emotional Intelligence in Second Language Learning (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018), a must-read for all those interested in the affectivity dimension of language acquisition/learning processes (reviewed by Danuta Gabryś-Barker). The other review is of the book by Anna Borowska “Avialinguistics. The Study of Language for Aviation Purposes“ (Peter Lang 2017), which presents a fairly new area of English for specific purpose (ESP) (reviewed by Adam Wojtaszek).

(read more in the Preface)