Fostering Aspiring Students in the EFL Classroom

By Doug Forster and Joseph Poulshock

We present a simple framework for our students to think about motivation. Students (n = 249) responded to a questionnaire based on this framework regarding their aspirations to learn English. Students showed a much greater level of aspiration to learn English than teachers might generally expect.

For example, students responded on a scale of 1-10 to the statement “I want to learn English.” One equaled disagree, and 10 equaled agree. When asked about this question, teachers often predicted that 30-40% of students would rate their desire to learn at 8 or more. But the result was much higher. Eighty-one percent of the students rated their desire to learn at 8 or above, and 88% of the students rated their desire to learn at 7 or higher.

Other questions also revealed that students seem to have a higher motivation than teachers might expect. In the PDF, we summarize the results of each question in the questionnaire, and we draw some general conclusions regarding the results.

Why should our students learn English? What motivates them to do so? How can we get them to become ASPIRERS who truly want to improve their English skills? The presenters will share an effective motivational lesson to help students reach their language goals more effectively based on seven good reasons for learning English using the acronym, ASPIRER.

Appeal: English stories and songs intrinsically appeal to you. Social: You want to socialize in English.
Professional: You need English professionally for work.
Individual: You want to improve your life and mind with English.
Required: You have to study English at work or school.
Educational: You want English for education or study abroad.
Results: Success (good results) with English motivates you.

Click here to download the PDF.

Elemental Linguistics

In April, I launched a new site, which introduces topics in general and applied linguistics. Though there are many sites and books that introduce these general topics, I wanted to present the material in the clearest possible language that would be easy to understand for students and teachers whose first language is not English. In addition, the site also introduces potentially new ideas in the sections dealing with message algorithms and unified theories. Elemental Linguistics is a work in progress, so comments and critiques are welcome.

Joseph Poulshock, May 2018.

Music and Song for Language and Culture Learning

JASEC Twenty-Sixth Annual Convention
October 14, 2017 at Kinki University
By J. Poulshock, PhD,
Professor, Senshu University
Faculty of Economics

Almost everyone enjoys listening to songs, but often English language learners in Japan are not acquainted with many of the most well-known English songs, and if they do listen, they may find these songs difficult to understand and talk about. We can solve this problem by using easy-to-understand and culturally relevant songs, and we can introduce these songs with compelling stories. Stories can be about a musical genre, a musician, or a theme in the song for the day. These stories can inspire interest in the songs, genres, and artists they introduce. As we choose popular or significant songs for lessons…

Click here to download the presentation.

ER is Essential

By Joseph Poulshock & Douglas Forster

45 Minute Paper, Presented at the Extensive Reading World Congress
Sunday, August 6, 2017

Is ER essential? The presenters consider this claim by looking at various theories en masse, which are corroborated by research, that guide and support ER. Thus, the presenters show that by integrating these theories and their related research that we can have increased confidence that ER is indeed essential.

Click here for PDF.

Experts say that ER is essential, but this claim needs to be supported. We can do so by considering en masse various theories, which are corroborated by research, that guide and support ER.

Thus, in this paper we look at language acquisition and general learning theories that mesh directly or indirectly with ER. These theories include the Communication Hypothesis, the Comprehension Hypothesis, the Spaced Repetition Hypothesis, the Retrieval Hypothesis, the Interleaving Hypothesis, the Generation Hypothesis, the Noticing Hypothesis, the Flow Hypothesis, and the Task-Based Learning Hypothesis.

After seeing the varying degrees that these theories harmonize with ER, we consider their empirical support. In addition, we also examine some of their weaknesses in relation to ER.

For example, extensive readers may acquire language through the receptive spaced retrieval of grammatical and lexical items. This is because readers abundantly meet the same high frequency grammatical and lexical items through ER. However, readers may not as effectively remember the factual or narrative content in texts by reading and rereading because this content is only repeated as many times as a reader reads a particular text. Rather readers may better remember textual content by active retrieval and spaced repetition, such as through spaced self-quizzing of the factual or narrative content in texts.

In short, despite some weaknesses, when we consider en masse the theories that underpin ER, and when we see the related lines of research that support it, we can have increased confidence that ER is truly an essential component of language education.

Extensive Reading for Language and Liberal Arts Education

By Joseph Poulshock and Randall Short
A paper presented at the Extensive Reading World Congress
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Click here for PDF.

Extensive reading (ER) fosters (a) language education with its emphasis on developing verbal intelligence in first and second languages and (b) liberal arts education with its emphasis on critical thinking and whole person education. The presenters define ER, delineate its broad educational benefits, and discuss ways to invigorate its practice.

In this age of information, with its tyranny of the digitally urgent, we may be seeing a sobering decline in enthusiasm for reading. Despite this, extensive reading remains an essential element of education for the sustenance of civil society. In fact, we can say that extensive reading energizes and perpetuates both (a) language education with its emphasis on developing verbal intelligence in first and second languages and (b) liberal arts education with its emphasis on critical thinking and the education of the whole person.

Therefore, educators need to persuade, inspire, and motivate students, fellow teachers, and educational institutions to invigorate the practice of extensive reading so that students can more fully experience its benefits.