SSHRC /CRSH (No.
410-2000-1283) | $69,000 | 2001-2003
Language awareness of
(With Lori Morris, TESL Centre,
Brief summary of project (Sept 2000) plus Update (July 2002)
of ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in the
At the same time, teacher training institutions (such as Concordia University, to some extent, but mainly the several branches of the Université du Québec or UQ province-wide where most Francophone ESL teachers receive their training) are required to divide their emphases between language skills and pedagogical skills, without any real way of knowing the exact state of their students’ language ability. In this absence of information, most training courses greatly emphasize pedagogy over language skills.
In our research,
we propose an objective assessment of the language competence of Francophone
ESL teacher trainees in
Our data will come mainly from computer-based testing at the Université du Québec á Montréal (UQAM) over a period of two or more years involving several hundred trainee candidates. Our data collection will be based on a methodology of learner corpus analysis which we are currently developing, and following that on a series of dedicated computational instruments including tests and text analysis programs. We intend to disseminate our findings through publications and conference presentations, and our instruments over the World Wide Web.
The final phase of our project will move from problems to solutions. If, as we expect, our findings suggest a need for more extensive language instruction for these ESL trainees, then we intend to develop computer-based training materials in line with our findings. Network-delivered tutorial materials make sense because the UQ system is so widely dispersed.
Project Update (July 2002)
By now, we have disseminated results in the following categories:
A. Methodology Development
1. Cobb, T. (In
press). Analyzing late interlanguage with learner corpora:
2. Cobb, T. (2001) One size fits all? Francophone learners and English vocabulary tests. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57 (2), 295-324.
B. Software tools development
This text analysis tool has a long pedigree in the research literature. It decomposes any text into its lexical frequency zones. Our online version of the tool is dedicated to our own needs, for example to comparing vocabulary levels between native speakers and various levels of learners; between pre- and post instruction; and notably between L1 and L2.
2. Vocab Stats
Since we have students helping us who have no statistical training, we have found it necessary to develop a a set of vocabulary-relevant statistics programs (e.g., X-square for comparing vocabulary profiles) which are more straightforward that usual in their use.
3. Placement tests
These of course cannot be disseminated as they are still in use.
C. Tutorial tools development
Since one of our preliminary findings is the systematic lack of vocabulary knowledge among our trainees, we are experimenting already with software tools for collaborative lexical development. A literacy course at UQAM for TESL trainees successfully piloted a Collaborative Lexical Database in Summer 2002.
Other tools for grammatical awareness raising are under development, notably the idea of precast concordance links being explored in a classroom based MA study by one of our students.