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2015 TESOL Research Mini-Grant Recipients

International Teaching Assistants in the US University Classroom: A Mixed-Methods Study of Individual Differences and L2 Pragmatic Competence

Erhan Aslan
University of South Florida
United States

EAslan_smMost international teaching assistants (ITAs) are considered advanced L2 English users. However, ITAs may not always communicate with American undergraduate students at the expected levels of appropriateness or formality. An L2 user with high communication anxiety (CA) may have difficulty comprehending or producing appropriate pragmalinguistic forms and show less willingness to communicate (WTC).

This study focuses on this untested hypothesis and explores the relationship between CA and WTC and L2 pragmatic competence (L2PC). A population of ITAs will complete a series of online surveys and tests that measure their CA, WTC, and L2PC in the classroom. Additionally, semi-structured interviews and classroom observations will be conducted with a sample group of ITAs. An inverse relationship between CA and L2PC pragmatic and a positive relationship between WTC and L2PC are predicted. This study will inform interlanguage pragmatics research and offer implications for ITA training programs and proficiency assessment.

Author Bio: Erhan Aslan is a doctoral candidate at the University of South Florida, where he has taught in the English Language Program and the Department of World Languages. His work on second language acquisition appeared in journals such as, ELT Research Journal, Language Learning Journal, and International Journal of Multilingualism.

Sustaining Professional Development through Professional Learning Communities: A Case Study of the Impact on Teacher Identity and Practice at a Peruvian Binational Center

Heidi Faust
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

United States

HFaust_smThis mixed methods case study investigates the impact of professional learning communities (PLCs) in sustaining professional development of teachers of English to young learners (TEYL) as it pertains to teacher identity and practice. Global demand for access to English has resulted in international initiatives that extend teaching English to younger learners, thus requiring some EFL teachers to transition from teaching adults to teaching young learners. Without knowledge to manage the developmental, behavioral, and cognitive demands of young learners, such teachers may experience high levels of frustration and likewise work very hard with limited results. They may not identify as English teachers of young learners and may lack the stamina to stay in the classroom with young learners.

This study utilizes archival course data, surveys, and analysis of teacher reflective journals to test whether this sustainable model supports the growth of teachers' professional identity and practice in teaching English to young learners.

Author Bio: Heidi Faust, associate director of TESOL professional training programs at University of Maryland Baltimore County, currently coordinates online professional development for English teachers and learners from more than 100 countries. She is an English language specialist for the U.S. Department of State and the 2015–2016 Chair of the Intercultural Communication Interest Section.

Serving and Believing: Raising Preservice Teacher’s Efficacy for Working with English Language Learners

Randall Garver
Texas A & M University
United States

RGarver_smPreservice teachers generally feel unprepared to work with English language learners (ELLs), negatively affecting their perceived sense of efficacy for teaching these students. Service-learning with ELLs can positively change teacher efficacy with ELLs. In this study, preservice teachers participated in service-learning activities with ELLs in different educational settings (preK–12 schools, community adult ESL classes, and a university intensive English program) during an ESL methods course.
This study employs a mixed-methods design, using a pre/post survey to assess change in perceived efficacy and written reflections from participants to highlight how experiences in these locations differ from each other. The researcher will learn
  1. whether service-learning with ELLs significantly improves preservice teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching ELLs
  2. whether service-learning in different ELL settings leads to significantly different outcomes for teacher efficacy
  3. How these ELL service-learning experiences compare with each other in affecting preservice teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching ELLs
Author Bio: Randall Garver is a doctoral candidate in curriculum and instruction at Texas A & M University (TAMU). He is also an ESL teacher at the Bryan Adult Learning Center in Bryan, Texas, and a substitute teacher in TAMU’s English Language Institute. He is a member of TESOL International Association.

ESOL Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Role as Advocate

Jamie Harrison
Auburn University
United States

JHarrison_smThe population of emergent bilingual (EB) students continues to grow in the United States with current estimates that 1 in 4 students enrolled in U.S. public schools are immigrant and most of these students speak a language other than English at home. More so than ever, the role of the ESOL teacher is becoming one of an advocate, yet many ESOL teachers are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with this role and the direct or implied duties and responsibilities that come with it.

Advocacy for EB students happens at the individual, classroom, school, district, state, and national level. The degree to which an ESOL teacher advocates or assumes an advocacy role in his or her school and community has been little documented. In order to fully understand this role for ESOL teachers, it is important to explore first what an advocate is and what actions advocates take. This study aims to understand ESOL teachers’ perceptions of their role as an advocate for EB students.  

Author Bio: Jamie Harrison is assistant professor and program coordinator of ESOL Education at Auburn University.  She taught ESOL and mainstream language arts for 14 years in the public school system in Georgia. Harrison’s research interests include teacher beliefs, implicit and explicit beliefs, and the effects of beliefs on practice.

Screencasting Feedback on Student Writing: Is There a Pedagogical Advantage?

Ron Martinez
Federal University of Paraná​

RMartinez_smResearchers have shown that recording and narrating written feedback on a computer screen in real time, also known as screencasting, is well received by students. However, what is not known is the extent to which screencasting presents actual learning advantages over other feedback types.

To address this gap, two comparable intact undergraduate writing classes will be taught by the same teacher. One class will be given conventional written-only feedback on their writing, and the other class will receive screencast feedback. Students' revisions from both groups will be analyzed for uptake (students' incorporation of feedback). Questionnaires aiming to elicit students' opinions about the feedback (in each condition) will be administered;  interviews with all students will also occur, using the feedback as stimulated recall, to understand the extent to which the feedback provided was clear and useful. Teacher reflections on both classes will also be included.

Author Bio: Ron Martinez is assistant professor of English at the Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil. He holds a doctorate in applied linguistics from the University of Nottingham and a master's degree in second language acquisition from Oxford University. His current research interests center on issues of academic literacy.