Volume 9, 2012
On behalf of the Editorial Board, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the ninth volume of the Annual Review of Education, Communication and Language Sciences (ARECLS).
As from this edition, ARECLS is being administered by a newly formed editorial team of staff and students. A special note of appreciation is extended to new student editors who, under the extremely able guidance of Hamza Alshenqeeti, have worked hard to ensure this volume appears in good shape and on time.
This volume includes eight research articles, four literature reviews, and four research reports. The wide range of topics included in this volume reflects the journal’s broad remit and range of interests among contributors; and shows that, like its predecessors, this year’s volume is yet another celebration of the rich interdisciplinary research environment offered by the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences (ECLS), at Newcastle University.
The first article, by Grami M. Grami, looks at the language classroom in the current Saudi context and accounts for some of the challenges teachers and learners are likely to encounter. Stemming from a Vygotskyian perspective, Grami addresses the concept of collaborative learning. Based on previous research and distinctive features of the context in question, the study concludes by proposing possible modifications to student participation and how this might be increased.
In the second paper, Richard Gunion investigates the types and proportions of major spelling mistakes made by a sample of Japanese students at Newcastle University. The findings reveal that of the 795 words collected, 71.5% were spelled correctly.
This high figure is seen as, partly at least, to have resulted from length of residence in the UK. The results also show that ‘grapheme substitution’, ‘omission’ and ‘substitution’ accounted for more than two thirds of the misspelling types observed.
The third paper, by Nguyen Du, aims to provide a practical perspective on the debate concerning educational research, with a view to answering three fundamental questions relating to: research purpose, quality, and effectiveness. Doing so, Nguyen Du reviews a number of studies and reports in which findings from this line of research tend to serve two major purposes: generation of new intellectual knowledge; and provision of practical guidelines for teaching and learning processes. She concludes by providing some implications and recommendations for researchers and policy-makers.
Hamza Alshenqeeti and Naif Alsaedi, in the fourth paper, review previous research on the effects of multilingualism at the societal level. In doing so, they focus on a number of areas in which multilingualism can have specific and major effects on social life, e.g. education, economy, as well as employment and language policy. Following attempts to problematize the notion of multilingualism, Hamza and Naif conclude that language-related problems evident in multilingual societies appear to be largely attributable to (language and language education) policies implemented by governments concerned.
The fifth article, by Sahar Yaghmour, is a systematic review of a range of studies that examine gender issues in computer-mediated communication (CMC) contexts. The review focuses on the topic of gender differences, in terms of communication skills in synchronized distance education, on the one hand, and e-learning and virtual learning environments, on the other. Sahar seeks an answer to how different CMC environments can affect gender communication skills.
In the sixth article, Patchanok Kitikanan and Jalal Al-Tamimi report on a research project that aims to investigate whether sounds in Mandarin (L2), that are phonologically and/or phonetically similar to Thai (L1) sounds, are easier to acquire by Thai L2 learners than sounds that have no L1 counterparts. In line with the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (Lado, 1957), the study found that learners tended to find elements (that are similar across the two languages) less difficult to master than elements not present in the L1.
Evidence for this comes from learners consistently producing labiodental and alveolar fricative sounds accurately, these being common to both Mandarin and Thai.
The seventh article, by Hisham Alkadi, explores language differences in referring to the other sex in Arab magazines focusing on three categories: generalisation of gender-reference, reference to work positions and referring to social roles.
The study reveals that referring to males is consistently respectful, polite and linked to sex gender; whereas, references to women, in contrast, are rarely mentioned in generalisation, sometimes matching in workplaces and most of the time is polite in the social context. In the final paper, Olubusola Eshiet reports on a study that examines the relationship between poor reading skills among primary school students and teaching methods used in their classes.
Using a synthetic phonics intervention, the study utilises a mixed methods approach in the collection and analysis of data. The results suggest that the synthetic phonics method employed led to improved reading attainment among pupils and an increase in teachers’ interest in teaching English.
I hope that you enjoy reading the content of this volume of The Annual Review of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, and welcome submissions for future volumes. I also would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the authors for their contributions to this year’s volume.
Dr Peter Sercombe
Editor in Chief
Are learner-centred approaches the answer to Saudi language classes? - Grami M. Grami
The earliest stage of voiceless fricative acquisition among Thai learners of Mandarin Chinese - Patchanok Kitkana and Jalal Al-Tamimi
Synthetic phonics as a tool for improving the reading skills of Nigerian pupils - Olubusola I. Eshiet
Educational research: Purpose, quality and effectiveness - Nguyen Ngoc Du
Is multilingualism a problem? The effects of multilingualism at the societal level - Hamza Alshenqeeti and Naif Alsaedi