Semester Two 2012
Winner: Elaine Ng
Paper title: Cognitive advantages of writing in two languages: bilinguals, biliterates and monolinguals
The effects of bilingualism have been widely debated. Past research has generally pointed towards cognitive advantages being associated with speaking two languages. Little research has examined the cognitive effects of biliteracy and writing. This paper reports on research on the writing processes of three groups of Year ten and eleven writers in Sydney high schools: English monolinguals, Chinese-English bilinguals and Chinese-English biliterates. Study one is a quantitative study that examines what the writers know about writing in terms of metacognitive knowledge (i.e. knowledge about text characteristics and writing strategies) and metalinguistic awareness (i.e. awareness of metalanguage and language rules). Study two is a mixed methods study that examines in detail the three groups’ actual writing processes. Study one’s findings indicate that the monolingual and biliterate writers appear to have different strengths in terms of knowledge about metacognition. Study two’s findings indicate that the three groups carry out writing processes and solve writing problems differently. These findings are discussed in relation to the social context in which the study took place.
Winner: Hua Zhong
Paper title: Learning to use a word: What receptive vocabulary knowledge is needed for its productive use
Previous research, focusing on the fragmentary stage of vocabulary learning, offers a general idea of how a word is learned. However, the progression from receptive vocabulary knowledge to productive word use is still unclear because vocabulary size has been the primary focus of receptive and productive vocabulary research. While size is an important indicator of a learner's vocabulary knowledge, it does not fully reflect the complex nature of word knowledge. The present study intends to look at the internal structure of vocabulary knowledge along the receptive and productive continuum under a multi-aspect framework informed by Nation (2001) and Coxhead (2011, 2012). It will examine receptive knowledge of meaning, form, morphology, collocation and association and explore their relationship with productive vocabulary knowledge and how much they contribute to the productive use of a word with a multi-task approach. Participants are 620 Year 8 Chinese EFL learners from two secondary schools in China. They completed a set of five different tests capturing six different aspects of 26 target words. Results support the multi-aspect construct of receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge. It quantifies the contribution of each aspect to productive word use, suggesting an optimized cost-effective allocation of time in classroom vocabulary teaching and learning. The findings also offer insights into the use of existing vocabulary assessment instruments which prone to contain construct-irrelevant elements due to the cross-aspect interference. Researchers and teachers should closely examine the instruments used for vocabulary knowledge assessment and diagnosis, and interpret learner’s performance with care.