Completed Research Projects

The explicit/implicit distinction in knowledge and working memory: Implications for L2 reading comprehension
Starting Date:
March, 2010
Expires:
November, 2011
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Research Fund
Team:
Cem Alptekin, Gülcan Erçetin
Description:

The main purpose of this study is to explore the effects of L2-based explicit/implicit knowledge types and working memory (WM) capacity on L2 reading comprehension. In this context, the study also aims to investigate how WM capacity is related to declarative and procedural memory systems, as a thorough understanding of this relationship is essential for the realization of the main purpose. That is, how WM interacts with the declarative system, known to store conscious explicit knowledge, which it handles through controlled processes, and the procedural system, known to store unconscious implicit knowledge, which it handles through automatic processes. The reasons for these investigations stem from two fundamental issues in L2 learning. One involves the (non)interface between explicit and implicit knowledge types, i.e. whether the two types of knowledge are independent of or dependent on each other. Another issue that is of great interest in L2 learning is the role of declarative and procedural knowledge as components of long-term memory in L2 performance. Based on Ullman’s declarative/procedural model (2001, 2004), which points to gradual attenuation of procedural memory and enhancement of the declarative memory after puberty, it is known that those linguistic functions that are subserved by the declarative system in the L2 are regulated by the procedural system in the L1. Therefore, it can be argued that explicit knowledge and controlled processes play an important role in late L2 learning. One wonders, then, how the cognitive reliance on one type of knowledge (explicit) and processing (controlled) affects the development of reading comprehension in the L2. Those linguistic aspects (e.g. morphosyntax) that normally depend on automatic processing as implicit pieces of information in the L1 are handled by controlled processes of explicit information in the L2, thereby imposing unnecessary loads on WM’s limited capacity. This leads to bottom-up processing of a reading text at graphemic, phonological, morphological, lexical, semantic, and syntactic levels. This process takes up so much of the reader’s attentional control that the restricted capacity of WM becomes unavailable or partially available to implement the top-down reading tasks. Consequently, the current study, taking account of these specific issues, examines the relationship between explicit and implicit knowledge types with respect to L2 competence. Next, it aims to explore the way each type of knowledge is related to the functions of WM capacity in the L2. Finally, the independent contributions of explicit linguistic knowledge, implicit linguistic knowledge and WM capacity to L2 reading comprehension are investigated.

Linguistic characteristics of early child bilingualism (Çocuklarda iki dilliliğin dilbilimsel özellikleri)
Starting Date:
March, 2010
Expires:
November, 2011
Sponsor:
The Boğaziçi University Commission for Scientific Research Projects (BAP)
Team:
Ayşe Gürel (Principal Investigator), Feride Özdemir
Description:

This project aims to identify the language transfer phenomenon in early bilingual children by examining specific linguistic features such as the use of articles. The study compares the spoken data collected from the monolingual English children to the Turkish-English, German-English, and Serbo-Croation-English simultaneous bilingual children aged between 4-7 via three different oral tasks (story telling, puppet game, picture description). The acquisition of English articles (the, a/an and zero article) is analyzed in threee semantic contexts (+definite; +specific; -definite;- specific; -definite; +specific).

Raising the target language awareness of pre-service English teachers during the practice teaching program
Starting Date:
September, 2009
Expires:
March, 2011
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Sumru Akcan
Description:

This study aims to increase the target language awareness of senior pre-service English teachers when they teach English during a practicum. For this purpose, the target language awareness training sessions will be offered by the researcher/supervisor in order to improve the student teachers’ target language use in the classroom during FLED 416 course (Seminar on Practice Teaching in EFL) in the Spring semester of the 2009-2010 academic year. The teacher trainees and the supervisor will work on their grammatical and vocabulary knowledge and examine their own target language use when teaching English in practicum schools. One of the main purposes of this study will be to investigate the challenges that non-native pre-service English teachers experience in their target language use when they do their practicum in actual language classrooms. The data collection instruments will include classroom observations, videotaping the lessons, feedback sessions, and discussion meetings with the teacher trainees. This study will particularly explore the challenges that the teacher trainees encounter while introducing the lesson, giving instructions, implementing an activity, using English for classroom management, and finishing the lesson for the purpose of improved instruction.

Pragmatic analysis of participation and interaction in the foreign language classroom
Starting Date:
January, 2008
Expires:
December, 2010
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Leyla Martı (Principal Investigator), Yasemin Bayyurt, Ebru Bağ
Description:

This project aims to investigate the interaction patterns of secondary school students in EFL classrooms. In order to understand interaction patterns in a classroom context, it is necessary to analyze the following: duration of the interaction, type of interaction, turn-taking strategies of the participants, interruption, initiation, floor yielding, backchannel responses, roles of the participants. The data is collected via video and audio recordings in the classroom. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods are used.

Türk eğitim sisteminde ‘Sekiz-yıllık Eğitim Reformu’ ve yabancı dil eğitiminde kalite
Starting Date:
January, 2005
Expires:
December, 2009
Sponsor:
TÜBİTAK
Team:
Belma Haznedar (Proje Yöneticisi), Senem Yıldız
Description:
The role and significance of the concept of ‘culture’ in English language teaching: A pedagogical approach
Starting Date:
January, 2005
Expires:
December, 2009
Sponsor:
TÜBİTAK
Team:
Yasemin Bayyurt (Principal Investigator), Gülcan Erçetin, Şebnem Yalçın
Description:
 

In this study, the English as an International language model offered by McKay(2003) is examined to find out whether the teaching of English as an international language is applicable to contexts where English is taught as a second or foreign language. Interviews, questionnaires and observations are conducted to get their opinions. Results of the study indicate that teachers and students who participated in the study still think that there should be an ideal native speaker of English who is modelled by the learners. This model should be based on either British English or American English. Finally, a case study is conducted and a set of textbooks is content analyzed in order to see how culture is represented and offered to students who learn English via those textbooks. In sum, within the scope of this study, the results reveal that despite radical approaches to English language teaching and culture involvement in the foreign language classrooms, Britain and the USA are still the countries that are associated with so called ‘English culture’.

 
The effectiveness of using corpora on teaching collocations
Starting Date:
September, 2008
Expires:
December, 2009
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Senem Yıldız
Description:

The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of using corpora within a data-driven learning approach in teaching V+N collocations to advanced level Turkish learners of English. For this study, data was collected from first year ELT students currently enrolled at a compulsory composition course at Boğaziçi University, Foreign Language Education Department. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected through four types of instruments: a V+N collocation test, a collocation judgment test, a self evaluation questionnaire and semi-structured interviews.

English language teacher hiring practices in private schools in Istanbul
Starting Date:
January, 2007
Expires:
December, 2009
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Sibel Tatar (Principal Investigator), Senem Yıldız
Description:

This study investigates the English language teacher hiring criteria of private school owners or heads of departments in İstanbul and the role of native-speakerness in their hiring decisions. The study also looks into how the participants perceive the strengths and weaknesses of native/expatriate vs. non-native-English-speaking/local/Turkish teachers. The data for the study were collected through a 15 item questionnaire. The questionnaire was sent to a purposeful sample of primary and high schools in Istanbul and 92 questionnaires were usable. The results showed that Professional training and Pronunciation seems to be the most important criteria in hiring teachers while Country of citizenship is perceived to be the least important. Being a native English speaker is regarded important only by a 25% of the participants. The participants perceived that local teachers are the most successful in teaching grammar rules whereas Fluency in speaking English is perceived as the strongest aspect of expatriate teachers. The reverse is also true. Local teachers’ Fluency in English is perceived to be their least strong aspect while their Ability to teach grammar is perceived to be very high.

The role of the relationship between working memory and textual nativization in processing and comprehending a foreign language text
Starting Date:
March, 2007
Expires:
April, 2009
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Research Fund
Team:
Gülcan Erçetin (Principal Investigator), Cem Alptekin
Description:
 

The project aims to explore two main issues: (a) the role of L1 and L2 working memory (WM) in L2 reading and (b) the effects of WM capacity and content familiarity on L2 reading. WM capacity was measured through a reading span task administered both in Turkish and English. Following Kintsch’s (1998) model of text comprehension, L2 reading was operationalized as literal and inferential comprehension. Content familiarity was achieved through textual nativization of an authentic narrative text, which involved the sociological, semantic, and pragmatic adaptation of the textual and contextual cues of the text into the reader’s own culture-specific mental framework, while keeping its linguistic and rhetorical content essentially intact. Participants were 62 Turkish university students with an advanced English proficiency level. The results revealed a significant relationship between L1 and L2 WM capacities. However, only L2 WM was found to play an important role in inferential but not in literal reading comprehension. Moreover, independent and additive effects of WM capacity and content familiarity on inferential comprehension were found. No effects were observed on literal understanding.

 
Psycholinguistic investigations of bilingualism: Sentence processing in Turkish and English
Starting Date:
March, 2007
Expires:
March, 2009
Sponsor:
Boğaziçi University Scientific Projects Commission
Team:
Ayşe Gürel
Description:

This research project investigates sentence processing in Turkish-English bilinguals to identify: 1) how bilingualism affects sentence processing patterns in the mother tongue 2) whether or not late bilinguals demonstrate native-like performance in processing L2 sentences.

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