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Volume 6 Number 3, Autumn 2009, Pages 1-401   

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From the Editor-in-Chief

    Bernard Spolsky

For a long time, scholars have attempted to tease out the factors leading to difficulty in foreign language learners. In the first paper, Soo-Ok Kweon from Korea investigates verb splits, Korean words like malhata that have several alternatives in English (tell, say, talk, speak). In the next, Karen Kow Yip Cheng and Amir Biglar Beigi Ghajarieh, both from Malaysia, discuss gendered discourse and how it may be manifested and avoided in the EFL classroom. The concern for focus on form in EFL is discussed by Beibei Zhao from China looking at corrective feedback in some primary classrooms. In the next paper, Benjamin Li from Hong Kong reports on the attitudes of teachers and principals there to a new second school English curriculum. In another study, Wenhua Cheng from China studies the development of teachers over a four month period in an on-site model of teachers' professional development. In another study from Hong Kong, Eunice Tang establishes that the lexicon of local textbooks is impoverished when compared to two standard word lists. Next, Ahmad Reza Eghtesadi and Hossein Navidinia from Iran show that the academic writing in two Iranian EFL journals varies considerably in metadiscourse. In the next paper, three Iranian scholars, Mohammad Rahimi, Firooz Sadighi and Zahra Alimorad Dastkhezr, report on an intensive study of the reading strategies of some learners. From Taiwan, Hung-chun Wang describes a study of the learning of phrasal verbs by university students. Mojtaba Mohammadi from Iran also deals with corrective feedback, but in teaching writing at the university level. Following up on studies in the UK and New Zealand, Le Van Canh (preparing now for the next Asia TEFL conference in Vietnam) and Roger Barnard (from New Zealand) report on teacher beliefs about the best way to teach grammar. In the next study, three Iranian scholars Razieh Rabbani Yekta, Saeed Ketabi and Mansoor Tavakoli investigate the value of using videos in developing critical thinking in EFL studies. Shien Sakai and Akiko Takagi from Japan studied students at 16 universities and confirmed the relation between proficiency and learner autonomy. Studying university students in Taiwan, Shin-ying Huang found that they appreciated but were not threatened by the power of English as a global language. Subrata Kumar Bhowmik, a doctoral student in the USA from Bangladesh, reports evidence supporting the view that EFL (as opposed to ESL) contexts are over-representing in second language writing teaching research and literature. Finally, Xiaoling Ji compares compositions of sophomore and senior students from four universities, finding institutional variation and learning of some features and a decline in accuracy.
The issue as a whole shows the continuation of good quality research in topics of current issues. The scope of the studies, as I have previously noted, is still quite limited, taking part in the spare time of busy teachers with no support for larger research studies. One is impressed again by the number of papers from Iran. There are several countries unrepresented and one hopes this will be remedied. Again, I express the admiration of the work of Jihyeon Jeon and her team of assistants in judging and helping revise these papers.

Bernard Spolsky