Understanding Language Classroom Contexts: The Starting Point for Changeby Heather Hilton

System

About

Year
2015
DOI
10.1016/j.system.2015.01.008
Subject
Education / Linguistics and Language / Language and Linguistics

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Text

through a qualitative profilewriting analysis, and identifies factorse improving spelling, accuracy andfluency, and providing a writers, and should be integrated in the instruction of higher-level writing strategies at an early stage. The innovative measurement tools (keystroke-logging and eye-tracking) are worth noting for they enable teachers, researchers and test dePart III, consisting of the last four chapters, describes how to link assessment results to practice in oral and written language assessment and instruction from a practical perspective. In Chapter 20, Nelson provides readers with field evidence

Book reviews / System 50 (2015) 69e7770about a curriculum- and classroom-basedwriting lab approach in language assessment and intervention, in particular the use of written story probes, dynamic assessment and individual scaffolding to assess written texts in multiple levels (sound, word, sentence, discourse) and guide intervention for students with special needs to improve their writing abilities. Silliman's

Chapter 21 outlines a new practice model framed by interconnecting features of informational writing (text organization, topic development, lexical and syntactic density) with new educational standards, leading to more reliable language learning profiles. Connelly in Chapter 22 comments on the integration between writing research and research into oral language disorders, and the challenges it faces, including lack of common terminology and measurement, more complex questions emerging in applying new measurement tools, lack of research on integration theory building, implicit connection of instruction and writing development, disregard of environment impact, etc. The last chapter authored by Dockrell and Arfe broadens readers' focus by exploring the complexity of learning environment concerning children with oral language disorders, and identifies a series of factors that might impact on teaching and learning for readers to consider: different language systems, teachers' assessment and instruction literacy, writing curriculum differences, children's writing difficulties, needs of struggling writers. The major contribution of this final part lies in inspiring the linkage in practice and stimulating future study in the under-researched areas.

However, a few issues, to my mind, are worth mentioning. Firstly, most of the empirical studies are not process-oriented, but product-oriented. Though written outputs can be used to diagnose exceptional children's linguistic difficulties encountered inwriting, the process approachmight bemore revealing of their subtle differences, since, for example, the same linguistic difficulty may be underpinned by different cognitive struggling. Secondly, most studies are limited to the spelling difficulties of childrenwith language problems, yet much remains to be explored about higher-level linguistic measures, such as coherence and latent semantic analysis, to ensure a more comprehensive assessment of children's writing difficulties. On the whole, though, this volume has made considerable advances in understanding the relationship between writing and oral language deficiencies from theoretical, empirical and practical perspectives, and it will be of great significance to anyone who has an interest, a concern and a professional part to play in the assessment and instruction of these exceptional children.

Youxia Sun

School of International Studies, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

E-mail address: youixa_sun@126.com http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2015.01.011

Understanding Language Classroom Contexts: The Starting Point for Change, MartinWedell, Angi Malderez. Bloomsbury,

London (2013). 238 pp.

I began reading Understanding Language Classroom Contexts thinking that it would be a book designed to help teachers organize classroom observatione and the first two chapters of the book indeed seemed to be developing along these lines (a bit vaguely, as I thought). As it turns out this is not, in fact, a book on classroom observation, but rathere as the subtitle suggestse a book written to help guide teachers in their implementation of “local” or micro-level classroom change, through amore complete understanding of the context(s) inwhich this change occurs. This is an unusual, highly focused but also quite useful subject, in these times of rapid language policy change (where teachers are asked almost yearly to rethink, upgrade,velopers to penetrate into writers' minds, thus effectively assessing their cognitive processes in writing.positive emotional learning environmentewhichmay be effective treatments for these children. The profile analysis is worth recommending for it allows a comprehensive assessment of children'swriting abilities and canmonitor their progress. Chapter 18, by Wengelin, Johansson and Johansson, reports a thorough discussion of the writing skills and writing difficulties of

Swedish adolescents with reading and writing difficulties, measuring both process and product variables for each essay by keystroke-logging recording and eye-tracking recording. Spelling is also found to be the major cognitive load of these special12 discuss how individual differences in terms of language measures and social identity can be explored through a mixed methods profile analysis of the writings of Spanish-speaking English learners with language learning disabilities. The research method proposed is extremely helpful for teachers and researchers as it can capture bilingual learners' strengths and challenges at language level and self-esteem level.

The third theme (Chapters 14e19), children with dyslexia, mainly discusses how such exceptional children approach spelling difficulties and other linguistic demandswhilewriting. In Chapter 17, Correa assesses Brazilian children'swritten texts classroom change”, and 10 “On understanding […] the process of change”)e those that I found by far themost interesting and language teachers would not understand normal academic discourse); perhaps the book is intended primarily for a non-Anglophone or student audience, apparently conceived of as needing these types of scaffolding for basic textual words) to slip through the editing process.