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Volume 12 Number 4, Winter 2015, Pages 1-158   

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From the Editor-in Chief

    Andy Kirkpatrick

Dear Readers and Colleagues,

Welcome to the latest edition of the Journal of Asia TEFL. In this issue we publish five articles.
In the first article, Cho and Park conduct a corpus-based study on the use of supplementive participle clauses as used by Korean graduate students writing for publication in science journals. Using two international journals, Cell and Physical Review Letters, as two reference corpora, the authors found that the Korean writers use supplementive participle clauses far less than the authors published in the two journals. They also found that the Korean writers used a smaller range of citing verbs than did the authors of papers in the two journals. The study demonstrates how valuable it can be to compare a specifically collected corpus of 'learner' writing and compare it to corpora of published journals as the comparison can provide useful data concerning differences in the use of certain constructions. The authors also use the findings to make practical pedagogical suggestions for the teaching of the appropriate use of supplementative particle clauses in science writing.
The second article is also based on corpus data and investigates the use of the 'to' infinitive by first-year students at a Korean university. In their study the two authors, Kim and Yoo, found that, in the main, the Korean students had excellent command of the use of the 'to' infinitive, making only 171 errors out of 2309 uses of the construction found in the corpus. The errors can be classified in different ways, including substitution errors (using a gerund instead of the infinitive, for example), addition errors (adding a 'to' when it was not needed) and errors of omission (leaving out the 'to' when it was needed). This study again shows the value of using learner corpora for pedagogical reasons.
The author of the third article, Mitsuko Tanaka, examined changes in motivation for short sessions of in-class extended reading (ER) activities over an academic year. Students took pre- and post-test proficiency tests and completed a survey which was designed to measure the types of motivation felt (or not) by the students. The author concludes that her findings 'revealed that although English proficiency initially influenced motivation, the relationship between motivation and English proficiency eventually became insignificant in short in-class ER. Low-level reading abilities do not ultimately demotivate learners to engage in ER'.
The fourth article recounts how a language teacher implemented three key principles associated with content-based language teaching. The three principles are: plan from the content; integrate content and language teaching; and teach the language of the content explicitly. Using a wide range of data including the lesson transcripts, the interview with the teacher, the written and oral test results of the students, and the questionnaire responses from some students, the author, Stella Kong, was able to identify some refinements to the three principles and to suggest some pedagogical practices to enhance content-based language teaching. At a time when more and more teachers are being asked to combine content and language teaching, this article is of particular value and interest.
The fifth and final article of this issue examines the washback effects of the inclusion of written discourse completion tasks as a test of pragmatic competence upon students and teachers alike. In an important study using a control and an experimental group, the authors, Zia Tajeddin and Ali Dabbagh, found that adding pragmatic test tasks enhanced learners' noticing of pragmatic aspects of listening materials and teacher talk, whereas learners in the non-pragmatic testing context expressed more concern for lexical and grammatical features. Second, pragmatic context learners specified the production of pragmatically appropriate discourse as the ultimate objective of language learning. Finally, teachers who had to prepare students for the written discourse completion tasks emphasized pragmatic-based teaching activities. The results show how it is possible for the inclusion of certain test items to have a very positive washback effect upon both students' learning priorities and teachers' teaching styles.

London, December 2015
Andy Kirkpatrick