Vol 5 No 2 (2019): Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition

The present issue focuses both on general themes of SLA research, but also has a strong accent on development of different language skills in context by a bilingual/multilingual  language learner/user. It opens with a text by the well-known multilinguality researcher, Gessica De Angelis entitled “The Bilingual Advantage and the Language Background Bias,” in which the claim is made about the advantages that bilingualism has in various spheres of life, including healthcare and education but which also points to possible disadvantages of being bilingual. The author carefully examines evidence that comes from advanced research that demonstrates both advantages for cognitive development of a bilingual as well as its drawbacks. De Angelis points to certain discrepancies in the research evidence analysed, ascribing it to the language bias of the studies analysed.  She also suggests a way forward in researching bilingual/multilingual advantage and its understanding. The following text by David Singleton entitled “Bi-/multilingual Communication, Identity and the Posited Intermingling of Language Systems in the Mind” questions the way researchers talk about “the languages in the mind” and the conceptual dimensions of language. The author claims that knowledge of languages in the mind “is in fact in all its aspects highly differentiated” and to this end, he provides evidence from a variety of research areas such as language loss/ recovery, bilingual/multilingual development and communication and importantly, the affective dimension of language differentiation. The following texts in the present issue take an interest in individual language skills development in EFL learners. Anna Kiszczak and Halina Chodkiewicz in their text “Text-based Student Questioning in EFL Settings: Long-term Strategy Implementation in Reciprocal Reading Tasks and its Perception” focus on the importance of strategy training in the development of reading skills in a foreign language. The text reports on a classroom-based study the aim of which was to demonstrate whether a one-term training session on reciprocal reading would improve quality in the use of student-generated questions at different periods of time, that is, during and after the sessions. The results of the study and their discussion offer some insights as to the development of reading skills in a foreign language class, which are considered an essential aspect in FL learning achievement. The next text, “Influence of Background Knowledge and Language Proficiency on Comprehension of Domain-specific Texts by University Students” by Justyna Kendik-Gut continues the theme of reading comprehension skills and not only the role in this process of  language proficiency but also that of background knowledge. The results of a quantitative study analysed statistically (test scores) confirmed the initial hypothesis that background knowledge and the language proficiency have a strong influence on reading comprehension of domain-specific texts. The author also presents some implications deriving from the study results and their discussion for EFL classrooms. The next text by Agnieszka Ślęzak-Świat entitled “Complementarity of Reading from Paper and Screen in the Development of Critical Thinking Skills for 21st century literacy,” though also focusing on reading skills, takes a different angle on the topic.  The author observes changing reading habits due to the development of modern technology and to this end, she discusses reading preferences of 21st-century readers, whose practices embrace both reading digital texts online and traditional printed ones. The author comments on how the reading mode contributes (or otherwise) to the development of critical thinking, perceived as “understanding complex ideas, evaluating evidence, weighing alternative perspectives and constructing justifiable arguments.” In the text to follow, María Begoña Ruiz Cordero’s “Assessing English Writing Skills of Students from Bilingual and Non-Bilingual Schools in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. A Comparative Study” takes up the theme of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in relation to the development of writing skills in a foreign language. The aim of the study carried out by the Author was to compare the levels of writing in English achieved by learners in CLIL and non-CLIL programmes at different schools across various geographical regions.

The present issue finishes with two book reviews. The first one reviewed by Danuta Gabryś-Barker presents a commentary on the monograph by Wojciech Malec entitled Developing Web-based Language Tests (2018), which is a comprehensive literature overview of language testing-related issues with a strong focus on using modern technology in the process of language assessment. Apart from its in-depth theoretical part, it presents in details an on-line programme conceived by the author which can be of great help to all FL teachers in designing, analysing and finally assessing their test results. The second review by Grażyna Kiliańska-Przybyło looks at the second edition of a book by Lia Litosseliti (2018) Research Methods in Linguistics, whose focus lies in research methodology. It provides the readers with an overview of both quantitative and qualitative research methods employed in empirical studies in linguistics. The author advocates the use of a mixed method approach, which is necessary in the multidisciplinarity of modern research in linguistics.

(read more in the Preface)

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