Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Gifu Chapter

Saturday, September 26, 2015
by Aya Kawakami

Kawakami opened by sharing how awkward she feels presenting in front of a large group of people. Presenting is quite different from acting, because an actor puts on a mask, which gives a sense of security. The dramatic mask used in acting can be put to good effect in the communication classroom.
Difficulties in the communication classroom can arise with students being shy, unmotivated or apathetic, and textbooks lacking authentic dialogues with emotion and depth. Drama techniques can address these issues by focusing on emotion, exploring conflict, and examining physicality, tone and non-verbal messages. Kawakami demonstrated this by using a dialogue from a popular communication course book. The dialogue was explored through “hot seating” and improvisation. In another activity, characters were developed from a role-play scenario and then a scene was improvised based on that situation and those characters.
It was also shown how drama activities can be extended beyond the classroom, through writing exercises (such as a journal entry as the character or a script), visual exercises (a poster or a comic), and making a movie using smart phones.

Reported by Paul Wicking

Gunma Chapter

Sunday, February 12, 2017
by Samuel Nfor

Nfor (the N is silent) presented results from a study which investigated Japanese students studying English who participated in an applied drama project emerged with improved pronunciation skills. Students’ sketches were recorded and transcribed to identify pronunciation problems so as to make informed interventions in a series of lessons and were again recorded and transcribed after the intervention to assess progress made in addressing the original pronunciation problems. The study also used questionnaires and interviews at the start and end of the course to gauge students’ enthusiasm and to analyse their self-assessment. The study concluded that language taught through applied drama supplied a motivation for positive change in the students'; pronunciation of English.

After a break, Nfor led participants in various drama-based activities including rhythm-based group chants and a charades-like pantomime game. To finish, he led a wide-ranging discussion about teaching and correcting pronunciation, goals of pronunciation instruction, and pronunciation role-models.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, January 22, 2017
by Richard Sampson

Whatever our teaching context, as practitioners we often consider it our own task to “motivate” students. Cookbooks of “motivational strategies” for teachers abound, propounding the idea that motivation in the classroom is, in large part, down to the teacher.

This workshop introduced participants to a more complex view of motivation that places agentic individuals – students and teachers – and interactions – with others in the class group, with opportunities afforded, with ideas – at the centre of classroom motivational processes. The session began with a brief outline of two currently prevalent motivation theories and one scientific theory which were drawn on throughout: Self Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002), The L2 Motivational Self System (Dörnyei, 2009), and Complex Systems Theory. The majority of the session then was turned over to allow participants to take part in a number of classroom activities that encourage students and teachers to explore their own motivation and share ideas across their class group. Activities included those intended to encourage realization of a more communicative approach to learning, explore messages and expectations from society about English, share ideas about classroom and future English use, and co-adapt motivation through collaborative activities and projects. The presenter also occasionally referred to some of the reflections and realizations emergent from students in his past learning groups through undertaking these activities.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, November 13, 2016
by Barry Keith

Research shows that the faster we read, the better we understand. Why is that? The reading rates of 500+ first-year students majoring in engineering at a Japanese university were tested using timed readings. Streamed by a standardized placement test, students learned English in a coordinated curriculum. They read extensively toward a target of 220,000 words per annum. Their reading rates were tested three times in the academic year: at the beginning of the first semester, at the end of the first semester and at the end of the second semester.

Keith's presentation reported on a comparison of the reading rates of students in five, lower-level classes (n=150) in the second semester. Three classes served as a control group and two classes formed a treatment group (n=55). Both groups used the same textbooks and participated in an extensive reading program (reading target = 140,000 words). The treatment group practiced timed readings for 12 weeks by reading 300-word passages and answering five comprehension questions without referring to the passage. Students recorded their reading rates and comprehension scores on a chart. Although the control group had 5%-11% reading rate gains in the final reading rate test, the treatment classes increased by 70% and 81%. Students' understanding of the texts also increased as they read faster, These results led to the adoption of timed reading practice for all the lower-level classes in the following academic year. Keith's results suggested that a combination of extensive reading and timed readings will greatly benefit students’ reading fluency.

The second part of the meeting consisedt of our chapter's Annual General Meeting (AGM), in which we selected officers to administer and lead our group for the coming year. The positions selected were Chapter President, Treasurer, Membership Chair, Publicity Chair, and Program Chair, Hospitality Chair, Speakeasy Editor, and Facility Chair. Details of the AGM will be included in our yearly Chapter Report which will be posted on our webpage.

Reported by John Larson
Monday, October 24, 2016
by Anne Burns

Have you ever wanted to explore challenges in your teaching or work to further understand learners and their engagement with activities in your classroom? JALT Gunma and Gunma University were the proud co-sponsors of an action research workshop with Professor Anne Burns from the University of New South Wales (Australia). This was a very hands-on session that provided attendees with some steps to get started with their own action research. Participants were given opportunities to share their ideas about language teaching and learning with other teachers and to develop some new ways to understand what goes on in their classrooms.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, October 9, 2016
by Christopher Philip Madden

On October 9th, Chris showed the participants at Kyoai Gakuen College results from his research project utilizing a “Secret” Facebook group where students upload numerous speaking videos. He instructed Gunma JALT members how to create a secret group, and suggested numerous activities for how to use it to increase students’ talking time, listening time, English writing and even motivation, all outside the classroom.

Also, Chris showed Gunma JALT attendees two YouTube videos. In the first, Steve Jobs talked about collaboration, and was an appropriate level for any university student. Chris shared his worksheet with cloze, discussion questions, and writing homework. In the second, “Drive” by Dan Pink, regarded motivation, and with the worksheet could be used with higher level students. In it, Pink proved through two social experiments that external incentives hamper cognitive performance. Then he outlined the three vital factors necessary for motivation in all of our lives; autonomy, mastery and purpose. This second video served as a point of departure for a fruitful discussion among Gunma JALT participants.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, September 4, 2016
Junko Yamanaka
David Gann
Daniel Hooper
Ming Qu

Lecture 1: What Should Every Teacher Know about Extensive Reading?
by Junko Yamanaka
Experts state that extensive reading is indispensable for all language programs. The presenter agrees. She believes that ER plays an important role in the paradigm shift second language education is going through right now, and that it has potential to bring drastic changes in the Japanese EFL environment. In this session, “What is ER?”, “Why ER?” and “Keys to success in ER” was discussed.

Lecture 2: Developing Critical Thinking and Language Skills
by Junko Yamanaka
In today’s world, helping students develop critical thinking skills is an important role for educators. MEXT proposes it can be most effectively done in language classes. The presenter feels it makes sense. In language classes, language, communication, critical thinking and cooperative learning can be naturally and effectively integrated. This session focused on how EFL teachers in Japan can develop students’ critical thinking and language skills at the same time, while students are involved in communication, working cooperatively.

Presentation 1: Critical Thinking Skills Instruction through Deception
by David Gann
This demonstration of a collaborative five-skills magic trick showed what critical thinking skills instruction means in an EFL learning environment.

Presentation 2: Success Closer to Home: Utilizing Near Peer Role Models to Empower English Conversation School Students
by Daniel Hooper
This study suggested the value of NPRMs in empowering students by providing motivational support along with evidence that English proficiency is not something monopolized by native speakers.

Presentation 3:Japanese Teachers' and Students' Attitudes towards Peer Assessment
by Ming Qu
This presentation showed the results and offered some recommendations on the usage of peer assessment.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, July 24, 2016
by Alison Stewart

Exploratory Practice, also known as "inclusive practitioner research" (Allwright & Hanks, 2009), is a set of principles for conducting research on learning with students. Different from "action research", EP places an emphasis on the learners' concerns or "puzzles", or on seeking a better understanding of issues that face the class as a whole. Rather than finding solutions to specific problems, the focus in EP is always on improving "quality of life". In this workshop, participants were introduced to EP through the experiences of three researchers in different teaching contexts, before going on to reflect on and discuss "puzzles" in their own teaching and learning situations.


Alison Stewart is a former coordinator of the Learner Development SIG and now edits the SIG's newsletter, Learning Learning. She has been involved in the last three SIG book projects, as an editor and contributor, including a chapter, co-authored with Robert Croker and Judith Hanks on Exploratory Practice.

Alison Stewart氏はLearner Development SIGの元コーディネーターで、現在は同グループの会報Learning Learningを編集している。Robert CrokerやJudith HanksとのEPについての共著を含め、過去最近3つのプロジェクトに編集者や貢献者として参加している。

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, June 26, 2016
by Nicole Gallagher

In this presentation, Gallagher and attendees discussed about how we can foster critical thinking in our language learning classes. She began by sharing some of her own teaching puzzles that she met in her first year as an instructor at the Center for English Discussion Class at Rikkyo University. Gallagher also talked about her own experiences of practitioner research over the past few months. The presentation finished with a useful discussion of ideas and experiences employing critical thinking in classrooms.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Mark Deadman
Sandra Wigmore & Florence Ito Valderama
Jonathan DeNardis

Gunma Chapter welcomed three presenters from Saitama, and one home-grown speaker, in this second-half of the Saitama-Gunma Dual My Share.

Logical Directives
by Jonathan DeNardis
This presentation introduced a novel replacement for the be-verb/auxiliaries that DeNardis calls Logical Directives. Logical Directives are a new way of teaching the hard-to-teach helping verbs. This tour de force took participants from the common difficulties Japanese have learning English, through circles, dots, lines, and supercomputers, and landed on a cute little character named Tenten.
Jonathan DeNardis can be reached at Jonathan@hardlyenglish.com

Building Friendly Classroom Communities
by Sandra Wigmore & Florence Ito Valderama
This presentation helped participants explore the role of creativity in the classroom, both in the sense of helping students to express their unique creative identity, and also by helping them to think about and use language creatively, through a series of specially designed classroom activities using manipulatives. The activities presented were suitable for a broad range of students, from lower to high levels, and can be used alongside a wide range of course materials.
Sandra Wigmore & Florence Ito Valderrama can be reached at sandra.wigmore@gmail.com and renz17vito@gmail.com respectively

Day to Day Critical Thinking
by Mark Deadman
This presentation showed one teacher's experience starting January 2016 of using Day to Day challenges on the social website medium of Facebook to gather new ideas for critical thinking, teaching and self-reflection. This easy to do self-improvement exercise is free, convenient, accessible and sharing on nature. Participants were shown how it can be tailored it to their own needs.
Mark Deadman can be reached at markdeadman0@gmail.com

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, April 3, 2016
by Keiko Yoshihara

Yoshihara reported on her qualitative narrative study that explored the transitional processes of Japanese women giving up their jobs, entering higher education, and becoming university EFL teachers. The participants included six Japanese women who changed careers to become university EFL teachers in Japan. Data included a background survey, interviews, and e-mail communication from August, 2014 through October, 2015. The exploration of such mid-career changers broadened attendees' understanding of the complex relations between individuals and the gendered social world. Yoshihara presented two main themes that emerged from her participants’ narratives of their crossing from one setting to another; push and pull factors informing the decision to leave their previous job and gender issues in their new profession as EFL teachers.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, March 20, 2016
David Gann
Joël Laurier
John Larson
Daniel Hooper and Jacob Reed
Raymond Hoogenboom

Saitama Chapter welcomed six presenters from Gunma in this first-half of the Saitama-Gunma Dual My Share. David Gann, Joël Laurier, John Larson, Ray Hoogenboom and Daniel Hooper and Jacob Reed all shared their skills, feedback, and experiences.

Magic as a Means to Dialogical Discourse
by David Gann
Critical thinking begins with the ability to comprehend and analyze arguments. This involves distinguishing premises from conclusions and evaluating arguments on the strength of the logic linking the former to the latter. Gann introduced a fun and practical four-skills activity which treats a magic trick as an argument with a hidden premise.
David Gann is co-producing of Critically Minded Podcast and JALT Critical Thinking SIG Coordinator. He teaches at Tokyo University of Science.

Starting the academic year with the right team building tools
by Joël Laurier
As teachers, we set the tone of the class’ academic and social journey for the year. So often, we set the wrong tone through the choices of activities we present to the students. With the right activities to start the year off, so many classroom management issues can be addressed. Attendees joined Laurier in a short demonstration of social activities that can help students interact with each other while helping them reach their academic potential.
Joel Laurier is a lecturer in the Learning English for Academic Purposes at Toyo University. He is a cooperative learning trainer and a firm believer in the flipped classroom concept.

How to pass notes in English class
by John Larson
Do you remember the joys of exchanging notes in class? Risking a heart-pounding dangerous pass... Smiling silently writing the unsayable... Waiting hungrily for the hopeless heartbreaking reply... In this presentation, attendees learned how John incorporates passing notes into his English classes.
John Larson has been experimenting with different EFL techniques at Isesaki High School for over a decade. He has volunteered in various roles in Gunma JALT and currently oversees their websites.

Using word lists and MALL for vocabulary acquisition
by Daniel Hooper / Jacob Reed
This presentation centered around the utilization of recently developed high-frequency word lists used in conjunction with mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) to allow for efficient and rapid vocabulary acquisition. Reed and Hooper also referred to a study that was carried out with the app 'Memrise' in a university setting and briefly discuss relevant findings.
This presentation had a largely practical focus with information on the benefits of the chosen app and how this approach can be introduced into a number of different teaching contexts.
Daniel Hooper is a student in the Kanda University of International Studies MA TESOL program and a teacher in a private conversation school in Ota City.
Jacob Reed is an instructor in the ELI program at Kanda University.

Setting Up and Maintaining an Extensive Reading and ER Journal Project for First-Year University Students
by Ray Hoogenboom
According to Nation (2007), a well-designed language curriculum should contain a balance of meaning-focused comprehensible input (listening and reading), opportunities to produce meaning-focused output (speaking and writing), form-focused instruction (grammar), and fluency development (speed). Of these four, this presentation focused on input and output. Hoogenboom discussed how he sets up and maintains an extensive reading (ER) and written ER response journal project for first and second year university students.
Ray Hoogenboom is an Associate Professor at the Center for Language Teaching in Gunma University, and is the President of the JALT Gunma Chapter.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, February 28, 2016
by Chiyuki Yanase

In this workshop, Yanase explored how story-based approach can develop essential language learning skills of young learners as well as explore a number of storytelling styles and story-based activities. Participants also be experimented in developing their own story-based lessons using a picture book. Participants were shown various ways to use these ideas in their classes to facilitate their students’ language acquisition in a pleasurable and creative learning environment.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, January 24, 2016
by Yuka Kusanagi

This workshop introduced the participants to some techniques and activities of gundoku, or reading aloud as group performance. Gundoku is similar to Reader’s Theatre which is widely practiced in English-speaking countries. Although they are similar in practice, they developed independently in the East and West. Gundoku developed from appreciation and voice performing of Japanese classical literature by the well-known Japanese playwright, Junji Kinoshita, in the 1960s, and was adopted into Japanese language education mainly at primary and secondary schools. Gundoku also works successfully in second language and foreign language classrooms.

Similar to the drama approach, gundoku has a good deal of educational benefits: building a positive classroom community through strengthening learners’ empathy and solidarity, developing learners’ self-expression, creativity, communication skills (listening attentively, negotiating with others, raising awareness of nonverbal aspects of communication), and language skills (prosody and pronunciation).

Another strength is its flexibility, for example a wide variety of texts such as tongue twisters, poems, stories, or classical literature can be used. The number of performers is also flexible, ranging from two to a hundred people. In addition, gundoku is especially helpful for introverted learners who are reluctant to speak out in front of others and find it difficult to work with others cooperatively. It also helps learners who struggle with the target language sound system. Gundoku can be practiced solely, and used as an exercise introducing a drama.

The workshop began with ice-breaking activities: reading aloud tongue twisters, rhymes, poems, and stories, and making a script. The participants were encouraged to consider (a) for what purposes gundoku activities can be used, (b) how the activities can help learning a target language, and (c) what outcomes can be related to their own teaching situations. The facilitator also introduced a short report on her gundoku practice at a Japanese university.

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, November 1, 2015
by Various

The first part of our November 1st meeting was a Materials Exchange! Attendees were asked to bring some kind of classroom material or idea they can present in three to five minutes. Lesson plans, activities, games, textbooks, worksheets - anything and everything was presented! Attendees took turns explaining their materials in a group-work style. It was a lively and laid-back atmosphere.

The second half of our November 1st meeting was our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and election. The election this year saw lively and friendly debate about a range of important topics. Results and topics discussed can be found on our website: https://sites.google.com/site/gunmajalt/reports/2015

Reported by John Larson


The Asian Conference on Language Learning - http://acll.iafor.org/
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