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Review of  Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning

Reviewer: Chunsheng Yang
Book Title: Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning
Book Author: Eli Hinkel
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Language Documentation
Language Acquisition
Issue Number: 22.4197

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EDITOR: Eli Hinkel
TITLE: Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
YEAR: 2011

Chunsheng Yang, Northwestern University


This landmark volume provides a state-of-the-art overview of current research
and knowledge about second language (L2) teaching and learning. Altogether there
are fifty-seven chapters, organized into eight thematic parts.

Part 1, Social Contexts in Research on Second Language Teaching and Learning,
focuses on the social contexts of L2 learning and the types of L2 learners.
Chapter 1, ''Dual language programs” by Donna Christian, concerns dual language
education, in which two languages are used to provide literacy and content area
instruction. The chapter discusses four major types of dual language programs
along with the main characteristics of each. The four are developmental
bilingual, foreign language immersion, heritage language immersion, and two-way
immersion programs. Chapter 2, ''Teacher education and teacher development” by
Amy B. M. Tsui, relates to L2 teacher education and teacher development. Tsui
reviews studies on the following strands: 1) teacher cognition; 2) teacher
knowledge; 3) teacher learning and teachers’ professional development; and 4)
teacher identity. Chapter 3, ''Learning to write in the second language: K-5” by
Maria Estela Brisk, illustrates what bilingual learners need in order to
successfully write in L2 in school contexts, within the theoretical models of
systematic functional linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 1994) and Walters’ (2005)
model of bilingualism. Chapter 4, ''Social practice and register: Language as a
means of learning” by Bernard A. Mohan, shows how a systematic functional
linguistic approach (Halliday & Martin, 1993: 22) provides metalinguistic and
analytic tools to examine the role of language as a means of learning in social

Chapter 5, ''Vocational ESL'' by Denise E. Murray, reviews studies on vocational
English as a second language (ESL) in English-speaking countries. Topics
discussed include program types, research foci, program evaluation, and
directions for future studies. Chapter 6, ''English for academic purposes” by Liz
Hamp-Lyons, provides an overview for the field known as EAP. The current strands
of EAP research include discourse communities, disciplinary variation, genre
analysis, assessment, new media and technologies, corpus-based research, case
study and ethnography, contrastive rhetoric, and ''academic literacy''. Chapter 7,
''Research in English for Specific Purposes” by Brian Paltridge and Sue
Starfield, reviews the main threads of ESP research, including genre analysis in
ESP, corpus-based ESP studies, English as a lingua franca, studies on advanced
academic literacies, writer identity (or voice), and application of ethnographic
approaches in ESP.

Chapter 8, ''English as international lingua franca pedagogy'' by Sandra Lee
McKay, discusses English as an international lingua franca (EILF), instead of
world English or English as a lingua franca (ELF). The chapter reviews several
areas of EILF research, including imagined communities, learner identity,
inequality of access in English language learning, and standards and EILF
pedagogy. Chapter 9, ''Teaching English as a foreign language in Europe” by
Vivian Cook, discusses two issues about the teaching of English as a foreign
language (TEFL), namely the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and
English as a lingua franca (ELF). Cook argues that the CEFR, and the two
versions of ELF (i.e., the product ELF and the process ELF) provide very
different and incompatible solutions to the TEFL in Europe. Thus, she proposes a
multi-competence approach of language teaching, which is defined as ''the
knowledge of two languages in one mind'' (p. 151). She also proposes the notion
of the ''independent L2 user''. An independent L2 user is someone who can
successfully use the second language for the purpose of their life and who ''has
reaped the mental benefits of learning another language as well as its
utilitarian use'' (p. 152). Chapter 10, ''World Englishes: Contexts and relevance
for language education” by Yamuna Kachru, presents a brief survey of the state
of research on world Englishes (WE) in various regions of the world. Kachru
mainly discusses the aim and focus of WE research, the relevance of WE as a
field of research, lingua franca and global Englishes, and directions for future

Part II, Second Language Research Methods, focuses on the methods of research in
L2 teaching and learning. The five chapters address different aspects of L2
research, including data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation.
Chapter 11, ''Approaches and methods in recent qualitative research” by Linda
Harklau, profiles trends in qualitative research on L2 teaching and learning
since 2003, based on the analysis of over 230 papers indexed in Linguistics and
Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA). Chapter 12, ''Quantitative research in second
language studies” by James Dean Brown, examines the role of quantitative
research in L2 studies. The chapter also reviews studies that compare articles
and books on quantitative research. Chapter 13, ''Case study” by Keith Richards,
focuses on the core methodological challenges in case study research, and the
distinctive contribution that case study research makes to the field of language
teaching. Chapter 14, ''Shifting sands: The evolving story of ''voice'' in
qualitative research” by David Nunan and Julie Choi, examines ''voice'' (i.e.,
''the centrality of the human story to qualitative research in terms of what the
story is about and how the story is told'' (p. 222)) in qualitative research.
Nunan and Choi examine the evolution of qualitative research through the lens of
voice, and the ways in which making the ''I'' (i.e., the research) visible
challenged and transformed the nature of the research report, and the ways in
which research can be defined. Chapter 15, ''Action research in the field of
second language teaching and learning” by Anne Burns, discusses developments and
trends in action research in language teaching and research, as well as the
different positions and controversies that have arisen.

Part III, Second Language Research and Applied Linguistics, examines the areas
of applied linguistics that deal directly with research in L2 teaching and
learning. Chapter 16, ''Second language acquisition research: Applied and
applicable orientations to practical questions and concerns” by Teresa Pica,
describes the relationship between SLA and the field of applied linguistics
across ''applied'' (i.e., to address practical questions) and ''applicable'' (i.e.,
to address theoretical questions) orientations. The chapter mainly discusses
three questions: 1) the optimal age to begin formal classroom L2 study; 2) the
effective ways to integrate the yet to be acquired L2 with subject matter
content; and 3) the contributions of L1 to classroom teaching and learning.
Chapter 17, ''Constrained but not determined: Approaches to discourse analysis”
by Sandra Silberstein, argues that language use is constrained by structural,
cognitive, and contextual factors. However, the complexities of all three, along
with the important element of human agency, make language use and acquisition
never determinate. The chapter reviews research within three frameworks, namely
conversation analysis (CA), a Vygotskyan-influenced sociocultural approach, and
discourse pragmatics.

Chapter 18, ''Language socialization in multilingual and second language
contexts” by Robert Bayley and Juliet Langman, focuses on studies in language
socialization. The authors argue that careful attention to language forms and
the examination of how forms are tied to contextually bound meanings and
subjectivities are essential for studies in language socialization paradigm.
They review studies of language socialization as continuity (i.e., the
successful and relatively unproblematic trajectories of L2 socialization) and as
change (i.e., the examination of the ''bad” subjects’, resistance, and the
development of hybridized or multiple practices). Chapter 19, ''Integrating
sociocultural theory and cognitive linguistics in the second language classroom”
by James P. Lantolf, argues that sociocultural theory (SCT, Vygotsky, 1987,
1997) and cognitive linguistics (CL, Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Langacker, 1987,
others) can be integrated into a unified approach to language development in the
classroom setting. Chapter 20, ''Second language pragmatics” by Virginia
LoCastro, focuses on L2 pragmatics and the development of the ability to
comprehend and produce appropriate language in complex, social interactions.
Eight areas of research which contribute to our knowledge of how human beings
comprehend and produce pragmatic meaning are discussed. Chapter 21,
''Conversation analytic research into language teaching and learning” by Paul
Seedhouse, reviews the latest CA (conversation analysis) and CA-informed studies
in different areas: teaching language for specific purposes; language
proficiency assessment; competence; teacher training and development; language
classroom interaction; teaching and learning activities; language teaching
materials design; identity; non-native speaker (NNS) talk outside the classroom;
and bilingual and multilingual code-switching. Chapter 22, ''What corpora can
offer in language teaching and learning” by Toney McEnery and Richard Xiao,
explores the potential use of corpora in three aspects: 1) the indirect use of
corpora in teaching; 2) the direct use of corpora in teaching, and 3) the
further teaching-oriented corpus development.

Part IV, Research in Second Language Processes and Development, addresses the
foundational elements of L2 teaching and learning. Chapter 23, ''Language
learning: An ecological-semiotic approach” by Leo van Lier, examines the
ecological-semiotic approach which rests on different theoretical and research
foundations from those in language contact, linguistic landscaping, and other
ecological/linguistic interrelationships and connections. Chapter 24, ''Cognitive
aptitudes for second language learning” by Robert DeKeyser and Joel Koeth,
reviews studies on language aptitude, mostly on working memory (a component of
aptitude in second language acquisition). Chapter 25, ''Around and beyond the
critical period hypothesis” by David Singleton and Carmen Munoz, presents and
appraises research relating to the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH). Even though
CPH may seeming to be correct, it is fraught with problems. It is argued that L2
acquisition is shaped by the dynamic interactions of multiple factors.
Specifically, cognitive, social, and cultural variables interact with each other
and shape the learners’ language environments, and in the end their language

Chapter 26, ''Interactional competence in language learning, teaching and
testing'' by Richard F. Young, concerns interactional competence (IC). IC differs
from communicative competence in that IC is not what a person knows; it is what
a person does together with others. Young provides a survey of the development
of IC. Chapter 27, ''Second language speaking” by I. S. P. Nation, talks about L2
speaking from four perspectives: meaning-focused input, meaning-focused output,
language-focused learning (including pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar,
sociolinguistic competence), and fluency development. Chapter 28,''Second
language listening: Presage, process, product, and pedagogy” by Larry
Vandergrift, explores the listening construct from three aspects: presage,
process and product (e.g., miscomprehension). It is argued that helping language
learners develop a greater awareness of the process of listening can help them
better regulate the process and become more successful listeners. Chapter 29,
''Second language literacy” by Lee Gunderson, Dennis Murphy Odo, and Reginald
D’Silva, provides an overview of L2 literacy in China, India, Africa, North and
South America, and Europe, as well as some non-standard L2 literacy in digital
and programming codes. Chapter 30, ''Out of my orthographic depth” by Barbara
Birch, reviews research on the transfer of L1 knowledge and processing
strategies to L2, the learner variables in L2 reading acquisition, and the
different reading strategies that L2 learners employ in L2 reading. Chapter 31,
''Grammar teaching: Research, theory, and practice” by Penny Ur, discusses the
correctness and acceptability in grammar teaching, implicit and explicit
teaching of grammar, and two influential theories of grammar acquisition (i.e.,
noticing and the teachability hypothesis). Chapter 32, ''What research on second
language writing tells us and what it doesn’t?” by Eli Hinkel, provides an
overview of L2 writing research and its findings. Hinkel examines research
findings on discourse (macro) properties and the morphosyntactic and lexical
(micro) attributes of L2 writing. The chapter also discusses the error patterns
in L2 writing, L2 writing instruction and curricula, the techniques in teaching
L2 writing, and the prevailing methodological and theoretical directions in L2
writing curricula and instruction.

Part V, Methods and Instruction in Second Language Teaching, focuses on several
prominent exemplars in second language teaching which are widely adopted all
over the world. Chapter 33, ''Communicative language teaching: An expanding
concept for a changing world” by William Littlewood, provides a detailed
discussion of the insights that communicative language teaching (CLT) offers to
the goals of language learning and teaching, to the learning experiences, and to
the pedagogy that facilitate the learning experiences. Chapter 34,
''Re-evaluating traditional approaches to second language teaching and learning”
by Lixian Jin and Martin Cortazzi, re-evaluates traditional approaches to L2
teaching and learning. The historical perspectives and five different versions
of traditional approaches are reviewed in the chapter. Chapter 35, Focus on
form, by Shawn Loewen, mainly discusses the presence of focus on form (FonF) in
the L2 classroom, the communicative context for FonF, the explicitness and
intensiveness of FonF, the timing of FonF, the initiation of FonF, and the
options of FonF. Chapter 36, ''Corrective feedback in language teaching” by
Younghee Sheen and Rod Ellis, discusses the types of corrective feedback (CF),
the cognitive and sociocultural theories of CF, the pedagogical positions on CF,
and previous research on oral and written CF. Chapter 37, ''Content-based second
language teaching” by Roy Lyster, focuses on the content-based L2 teaching, in
which non-linguistic content is taught to students through L2. It is proposed
that content-based and form-focused instructional options can be counterbalanced
through activities that interweave balanced opportunities for input, production,
and negotiation.

Chapter 38, ''Content-based instruction and vocabulary learning” by I. S. P.
Nation and Stuart Webb, relates to vocabulary learning in content-based
instruction. Nation and Webb discuss the instruction of four types of vocabulary
(i.e., high-frequency words, the academic word list, technical vocabulary, and
the low-frequency words). The chapter also examines the four major types of
tasks in vocabulary learning, namely, experience tasks, shared tasks (group
work), guided tasks, and independent tasks. Chapter 39, ''Written discourse
analysis and second language teaching” by Dana Ferris, reviews research on
written discourse analysis and second language teaching. The chapter mainly
focuses on three aspects (contrastive rhetoric, corpus linguistics, and genre
studies) in written discourse analysis and their application in L2 instruction.
Chapter 40, ''Computer-assisted language learning” by Dorothy M. Chun, offers an
overview of research in computer-assisted language learning (CALL). CALL
research within four theoretical frameworks is reviewed, namely, the
psycholinguistic approach, the interactionist approach (computer-mediated
communication), the cultural-historical approach, and the ecological approach.
Chapter 41, ''Second language learner strategies” by Andew D. Cohen, discusses L2
learner strategies, including the good language leaner, strategies for the
various skills, strategies for students in distance learning courses,
test-taking strategies, and research on validating the measure of learner

Part VI, Second Language Assessment, edited by Carol Chapelle, underscores the
vexing complexity of language testing and assessment. Chapter 42, ''How language
ability is assessed” by Rob Schoonen, provides a detailed discussion of the
operationalizations of language assessment exemplified by language assessment
practices in recent SLA studies. The chapter mainly examines the following
topics: the prompts of language assessment, including stimulus materials, the
instructions and the constraints that come with the instructions, and the
scoring and interpretative procedures that are used to go from the language
performance to a score or any other kind of evaluative statement. Chapter 43,
''Validation in language assessment” by Carol Chapelle, takes the praxis step
towards validation, which focuses on the need to make practical and useable the
concepts, theory, and philosophy associated with validity and validation.
Chapelle explains the key concepts that are important in the praxis step, with
an example of TOEFL illustrating how the praxis step in validation has resulted
in concrete and useful guidance for developing validity arguments.

Chapter 44, ''Quantitative research methods in assessment and testing” by James
E. Purpura, reviews the various quantitative methods used in studies on language
assessment. Purpura discusses the roles of quantitative methods in justifying or
refuting claims of test validity in three theories of validation (i.e.,
Trinitarian model of test validity, test validity as a unified notion, and the
argument-based view of test validity). Chapter 45, ''Qualitative research methods
in second language assessment” by Bernard A. Mohan, discusses problems with
testing academic language ability, and illustrates how the systematic functional
linguistic (SFL) framework for discourse analysis can be used to address the
qualitative need. Chapter 46, ''Assessment of classroom language learning” by
Joan Jamieson, talks about the more traditional and more contrived classroom
assessment, the criterion-referenced assessment. Criterion-referenced assessment
is to assess students’ performance against a list of standards. Jamieson
discusses the differences and similarities between norm-referenced assessment
and criterion-referenced assessment, and reviews studies on assessment of
language learning materials.

Chapter 47, ''The social and political tensions of language assessment” by Steven
J. Ross, surveys the socio-political issues related to language assessment in
immigrant countries, in Asia, in Asian ex-colonies (i.e., Hong Kong and
Singapore), and in Europe. It is shown that language assessment cannot be
understood exclusively as limited to the technical issues of reliability and
validity in that language assessment is infused with issues of power, identity,
national sovereignty, macro- and micropolitics, as well as macro- and
microeconomics. Ross argues that successful language assessment policies are
those that can eventually find the optimal utilitarian common ground satisfying
all the important criteria for ethnical, just, reliable, and valid tests.

The topics of Ideology, Identity, Culture, and Critical Pedagogy in Second
Language Teaching and Learning, are covered in Part VII. Chapter 48, ''Ideology
in second language education” by James W. Tollefson, takes ideology as the
cultural perspective toward social and political systems. Five categories of
studies on ideology in L2 education are reviewed. He argues that analysis of
ideology deserves the highest priority in L2 research and education because the
success of international cooperation through which the solutions to the great
problems facing humanity (i.e., national and ethnic conflicts, etc.) can be
developed requires a deeper understanding of the process by which social,
economic, and political inequalities are created, masked, and sustained (p.
814). Chapter 49, ''Identity in second language teaching and learning” by Brian
Morgan and Matthew Clarke, reviews studies on identity in L2
education/acquisition. Topics discussed include selective appropriations,
identity as pedagogy and text, the recent themes and priorities, and the new
domains and the neglected areas of research, and the neoliberalism and regimes
of accountability. Chapter 50, ''Language teaching and learning from an
intercultural perspective” by Anthony J. Liddicoat, highlights the importance of
developing intercultural awareness among L2 learners. The intercultural teaching
is to enable language users to decenter their own cultural and linguistic
framework in order to see the world from alternative perspectives, or ''to make
the strange familiar and the familiar strange'' (p. 839). The principles of
teaching intercultural knowledge and two models of intercultural learning (i.e.,
the development model of intercultural sensitivity by Bennett et al. (1999) and
progression in intercultural learning by Liddicoat (2006)) are discussed.
Chapter 51, ''Critical literacy and second language learning” by Allan Luke and
Karen Dooley, reviews the studies on language planning and ideologies, and the
educational status of linguistic and cultural minorities.

Part VIII, Language Planning and Policy, guest edited by Richard B. Baldauf Jr.,
presents an overview of the important directions in research of language policy
and planning, and the impact of these on minority language rights. Chapter 52,
''The history and theory of language planning” by Jiri Nekvapil, reviews the
history of language planning, and details the classic language planning and
three other paradigms (i.e., the ''reversing language shift'' model, the circular
model of language status change, and the language management framework). Chapter
53, ''Language planning: Approaches and methods” by Nkonko M. Kamwangamalu,
reviews the most recent approaches to language planning, with a focus on the
following: critical language policy, game theory, language economics, and
language management theory. Chapter 54, ''Actors in language planning” by Shouhui
Zhao, discusses the actors or ''agency'' in language planning and policy. Zhao
mainly addresses the categorization of actors, the roles of actors in status
planning, corpus planning, acquisition planning, and prestige planning.

Chapter 55, ''Macro language planning” by Robert B. Kaplan, focuses on the
purposes, difference from language policy, the relation to modernization and
development, to human rights, to internal inconsistencies, and to politics, and
the goals, scope and assumptions of language planning. Chapter 56, ''Micro
language planning” by Catherine Chua Siew Kheng and Richard B. Baldauf Jr.,
examines local aspects of language planning. Chapter 57, ''Global language:
(De)Colonisation in the new era” by Catherine Chua Siew Kheng and Richard B.
Baldauf Jr., discusses the selection of global languages, and global language
policy and planning from ten different globalized perspectives.


This handbook rightly claims (back cover) to provide a broad-based,
comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview of the current knowledge and research
into second language teaching and learning. The authors are leading authorities
and all chapters follow a similar outline. First, an explanation of how the
topic fits into a larger picture of the domain of L2 research is provided. Then,
the important developments, trends, and traditions in the discipline, as well as
current controversies and their reasons, are discussed. Following that is a
detailed examination of the current research findings and directions for future
studies. Each chapter ends with substantial references that can assist
interested readers in identifying references for further reading (p. xvi). Due
to its wide coverage, the handbook will be a great resource for all types of
second and foreign language professionals: researchers and
researchers-in-training, graduate students, pre-service and in-service teachers,
teacher trainers/trainees, curriculum designers, materials developers, and even
those who are considering joining the profession (p. xiv).

A quick glimpse at the section and chapter titles in this handbook would lead
one to think that second language teaching and learning, second language
acquisition, and applied linguistics differ from each other in terms of their
range of topics, even though they may overlap to an extent. On the one hand,
second language acquisition is clearly a sub-branch of second language learning
and teaching. For example, bilingualism usually does not fall within second
language acquisition. Thus, it is plausible to separate second language
acquisition from second language teaching and learning. However, it seems that
there is not much difference between second language teaching and learning, and
applied linguistics. A brief comparison of the section titles in the ''Routledge
Handbook of Applied Linguistics'' (Simpson, 2011) and those in this handbook of
second language teaching and learning reveals little difference in terms of
their coverage. Thus, it is a little puzzling why second language teaching and
learning are separated from applied linguistics in this handbook. For example,
Part III is titled ''Second Language Research and Applied Linguistics'', which
clearly considers applied linguistics different from second language research
(i.e., learning and teaching).

Another issue is probably due to the particular design of this handbook (i.e.,
the wide coverage and easy accessibility to a wide audience): some chapters,
especially those chapters in Part II, only provide a very rough picture of
issues in L2 teaching and learning. Although interested readers may turn to the
bibliography to identify the original sources for further reading, it is
regrettable that those chapters have not delved deeper enough into some issues
in L2 teaching and learning. A third problem is that most chapters discuss
research methodologies in L2 teaching and learning, with the assumption that
readers already know the approaches or paradigms. For example, think-aloud
protocols are mentioned in several chapters, but the mechanism of how
think-aloud protocols work is not always clearly explained. A more accessible
reference handbook would have provided a more reader-friendly description of
those most frequently-used research methodologies (such as think-aloud protocol
in writing studies) so that readers can apply them in their own research.
However, it may be argued that chapters in such a comprehensive handbook can
only aim for comprehensiveness, which will inevitably leave out many specifics.

A last issue, unavoidable in a handbook written by so many authors from
different backgrounds, is divergent writing styles. Although this is not a big
problem itself, it does pose some difficulty for readers, especially non-native
speakers of English, to adjust to changes in style. Furthermore, although almost
all chapters follow roughly the same outline, some authors did better than
others by providing a brief introduction at the beginning. Although the
introduction at the beginning of a chapter may sound trivial, it will for sure
provide readers with a rough idea of the content of a specific chapter, based on
which the readers can decide whether the chapter is worth further reading or not.

In spite of these minor drawbacks, this handbook will prove to be an immensely
invaluable reference for many people who are already in the field, as well as
many others who are just stepping into this intriguing field of research.


Bennett, J. M., Bennett, M. J., & Allen, W. (1999). Developing intercultural
competence in the language classroom. In R. M. Paige, D. L. Lange & Y. A.
Yershova (Eds.), Culture as the core: Integrating culture into the language
curriculum (pp. 13-46). Minneapolis: CARLA, University of Minnesota.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.).
London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Martin, J. R. (1993). Writing science: Literacy and
discursive power. Pittsburgh, PA: The University of Pittsburgh Press.

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.

Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar. Volume 1: Theoretical
prerequisites. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Liddicoat, A. J. (2006). Learning the culture of interpersonal relationships:
Students’ understanding of person reference in French. Intercultural Pragmatics,
6(1), 55-80.

Simpson, J. (2011). The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics. New York:

Vygotsky, L.S. (1987). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 1: Problems
of general psychology. Including the volume Thinking and Speech. New York: Plenum.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky. Volume 3:
Problems of the theory and history of psychology. New York: Plenum.

Walters, J. (2005). Bilingualism: The sociopragmatic-psycholinguistic interface.
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Chunsheng Yang has a PhD in Chinese linguistics. His research interests are phonetics, phonology, language pedagogy, and second language acquisition (especially the acquisition of second language prosody). He is a lecturer in Chinese at Northwestern University.

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