Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Gunma Chapter

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
Sunday, October 18, 2015
by Stephen Howes

In the past 5 years, many schools around the world have been rushing to introduce technological devices in the hope of developing an e-learning environment, particularly for blended learning. In some cases, this has happened at a pace greater than the desires of the staff, leading to negative attitudes and ill-prepared implementation. In 2013, Brisbane Grammar School in Australia created the Blended Learning Design Research Team to develop a framework for teachers to complete a successful transition from their current traditional pedagogy to a new pedagogy based on e-learning tools and systems.

This presentation first outlined the formation of the team and the goals and expectations of the staff. It then focused predominantly on Howes' experimentation with various software and the feedback he received from students, and in the process introducing the participants to a plethora of tools. The outcomes of the team's efforts was discussed as well as an update of the current state of use. Even though the information and data was retrieved from a high school context, it proved useful to any institution that utilizes, or wishes to utilize, a technology-supported environment. Howes engaged the participants in various online activities during the course of the presentation that required the use of either a smartphone or computer.

Stephen Howes is a full time teacher of English at Tokyo Seitoku University Fukaya High School and Junior High School. He took up this position in April 2015 and is the sole native speaker of English in the school. Prior to this, Stephen taught conversational English in the corporate environment in Japan for almost 8 years, before returning to Australia at the end of 2008 to take a position as a teacher of Science and Japanese at Brisbane Grammar School. Stephen was heavily involved in the e-learning development and implementation in a 1:1 tablet environment, in particular the trialling of blended learning. In addition to Science and Education degrees, he has a Masters of Applied Linguistics from the University of Southern Queensland and is particularly interested in sociolinguistics, etymology and technology-assisted language learning. <stakemjomia@gmail.com></stakemjomia@gmail.com>

Reported by John Larson
Sunday, September 27, 2015
by Joël Laurier

The reliance teachers place on themselves as the primary source of knowledge often contradicts academic gains made possible according to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Having students teach each other is an effective way to build knowledge while enabling the teacher to more easily evaluate the progress of each student on a more regular basis.
This presentation demonstrated the essential components of an Oral Presentation course Laurier taught in which first and second year university students taught themselves the entire course content and subsequently used the information from these presentations to build a 10 minute oral presentation. Laurier's presentation outlined the components that helped the students claim ownership of this course.
Gunma JALT attendees gained a students’ perspective of the class. While the course was delivered at the university level, attendees found that it can easily be applied to speaking classes at junior high and high school levels. This hands-on workshop demonstrated how students can effectively teach themselves. Attendees learned, taught and had a blast in cooperative learning groups.

Reported by John Larson
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Dr. Mark Pegrum from the University of Western Australia
Stephen Howes

This two-part workshop gave an overview of emerging and future developments in educational technologies, suggesting that the adoption of new technologies will largely be determined by their fit with ongoing educational trends.

Presentation 1: From High-Tech to Low-Tech Environment: The Challenge of Introducing Technology to ESL in the High School Context
by Stephen Howes
Until his recent move to Takasaki, Howes had been working at Brisbane Grammar School where he was responsible for trialing and implementing flipped lessons and blended learning as a teacher of science and Japanese. His current position at Tokyo Seitoku University Fukaya High School is a vastly different context. In this 30-minute presentation, Howes discussed the challenges he has faced coming from a high-tech to a low-tech teaching environment, and detailed his methods for introducing his current students to the benefits of technology in small chunks.

Presentation 2: Handheld Video Games and English L2 Learning
by Benjamin Thanyawatpokin
A relative newcomer to research in the field of education and technology, Thanyawatpokin has recently finished his master’s thesis at Ritsumeikan University in their Language Education and Information Sciences department. He currently teaches part-time at Ritsumeikan Uji High School and Kansai Gaidai University. In this 30-minute presentation, Thanyawatopokin discussed research done on using handheld video games to support English studies at the university level along with the issue of using video games in English education here in Japan.

Workshop 1: Where are Today's Technological Trends Taking Us?
by Dr. Mark Pegrum
This first part of the seminar focused on the technological context. It highlighted key hardware and software developments: looking at technologies carried by humans, including mobiles, wearables, and embeddables/implantables. Participants looked at independently or semi-independently mobile technologies like smart vehicles, drones and robots; and they also saw the way the mobile ecosystem connects to a larger, mostly stationary ecosystem, with particular emphasis on the internet of things. They then were shown technological trends in the form of changing patterns of usage, covering: natural user interfaces; augmented reality; big data; and empathic systems. The workshop finished by discussion some questions about artificial intelligence.
This focus on the technological context lead into a focus on the educational context in the second part of the seminar.

Presentation 3: The Use of Audio Journals as an Outside-of-Classroom Activity to Foster L2 Acquisition in College Freshmen
by Raymond Hoogenboom and Barry Keith
Hoogenboom and Keith are Associate Professors at the Center for Language Teaching in Gunma University. Their presentation described the use of audio journals as an outside-of-class activity, and how such journals provide students with opportunities to receive and produce language meaningfully, acquire structural knowledge, and develop grammatical and lexical fluency. The presenters described the setting up, management, and assessment of a semester-long audio journal project.

Presentation 4: How do Japanese adult learners study English?
by Akiko Fujii
Fujii teaches Japanese as a second language at Tokyo University of Social Welfare. Her interests include discourse analysis and lifelong learning. Fujii presented the results of a study aimed at understanding how Japanese adult learners learn English. As data, she has collected and analyzed the stories of 13 Japanese adult learners. Subjects who maintained their studies for ten years or more were motivated by the "Ought-to L2 Self". Fujii focused on their motivation and discuss how they achieved their goals.

Workshop 2: Where are Today's Educational Trends Taking Us? by Dr. Mark Pegrum
Following on from the focus on the technological context in the first part of this seminar, the second part turned to the educational context.
The emphasis was on ongoing educational trends and how these are likely to intersect with the technological developments and trends covered in the first part. Participants looked at educational shifts towards: contextualisation of learning (enabled, notably, through augmented reality), personalisation of learning (through big data and learning analytics), diversification of learning (through Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs), student
support (through virtual assistants), student engagement (through gaming and gamification), student creativity (through makerspaces), and wider collaboration (through digital networking). This second workshop ended with group discussion about the technological trends presented and how those might impact participant's teaching practices.

Reported by John Larson

Hamamatsu Chapter

Sunday, September 18, 2016
by Jon Dujmovich

The final AGM for Hamamatsu Chapter was held on September 18th. Final because from April 2017 Hamamatsu chapter will merge with Shizuoka chapter to form the Shizuoka (ken) chapter.

The officers elected will serve for the interm, then most have expressed willingness to continue as officers in the new chapter, provided elected by membership.

The state of the chapter is financially sound and membership over twenty. Programs were set until the merger (March, 2017). Members agreed to hold a Pecha Kucha event for the annual December "My Share" with a bonenkai to follow.

Reported by Jon Dujmovich
Sunday, June 12, 2016
Chiyu Takezawa
Sharoll Albarracin
Kaho Taniguchi
Hitomi Isono
Kei Yoshizaki
Minori Sato,
Akiko Sakamoto
Yurika Deno
Shota Furukawa
Shiori Miyaji

The Shizuoka and Hamamatsu chapters cooperated to hold Student Voices, an event was designed to showcase the learning experiences of students. It was well-attended and overall turned out to be even better than the organisers had anticipated.

In considerable detail,10 students from very diverse backgrounds explained and entertained to convey how they had become competent in English. Interestingly, every speaker approached learning English rather strategically. Each person had considered very specific ways to learn English such as: keying in on Youtube videos and music, paying attention to body language and facial expressions, focusing on the exact language needed to conduct business, by watching (corny) old American sitcoms, and more. Each speaker literally brought a unique set of experiences to the table (the audience had to come to their tables) and fielded many questions from enthusiastic attendees.

Later on in the afternoon the students moderated their own forum where the audience was able to freely ask questions about a wide range of language learning issues.

More photos are here:

Special mention to Nana Kunii, who helped out on reception. Presenter abstracts can be found here:


Reported by Gregg McNabb
Saturday, May 28, 2016
by Adam Jenkins

Adam Jenkins from Shizuoka Institute of Science and Technology introduced a plethora of ways that Moodle technology, (including the Moodle online Reader created by Tom Robb) can facilitate learning. He made a point of referring to this as learning and not e-learning, suggesting that for many of our students there is little distinction between e-learning and learning. It is a point well taken since resistance to e-learning comes from boards of education, teachers and university instructors, not students. He showed how to use numerous Moodle features including online tests, online instant messaging, multimedia applications, and data analysis. He mentioned that it is possible to upload a lot of files as homework in order to use the classroom for different learning tasks.

The presentation took an unexpected turn when there was passionate discussion among those who value reading as something much more than a measure of ER language achievement. Some participants challenged the value and necessity of Moodle Reader and its testing format.

Reported by Gregg McNabb
Saturday, April 16, 2016
by Greg Goodmacher, Keiwa College professor (Shibata, Niigata) & freelance writer

Greg Goodmacher enjoys writing and sharing materials. The co-author of a number of textbooks, he led an attentive audience through a series of discussions and activities related to the various aspects of teaching materials, and how best to adapt them for optimum classroom use. Some areas to consider when adapting materials are personalisation, localisation, modernisation, adding choice, catering for various learner styles, providing more learner autonomy, encouraging higher level cognitive skills, and making language input more engaging, among other elements. Memory tasks were also focussed upon. The presentation concluded with teachers assisting other teachers in their endeavours to make textbooks more relevant and accessible to all stakeholders.

Reported by Susan Laura Sullivan
Monday, January 25, 2016
by Paul Anthony Marshall (Shizuoka University of Art and Culture)

Drawing on experience training workers on an Australian-run, Chinese-owned mine in Laos, Paul Anthony Marshall broke down his methods and research in using video and task repetition as an effective tool for improving language performance. Laotian workers, including teachers, miners, security guards and managers, were required to take intensive English lessons with the ultimate goal of transforming the mine into a Laotian-run endeavour. The workplace infrastructure and mining expertise were Australian-based, so initially knowledge and use of English was paramount.

Even though many workers were not well versed in the linguistic intricacies of their own language, it was expected some would ultimately receive instruction and instruct others on safety and practical measures around the worksite. The original language of instruction was English, therefore rapid acquisition of the same was expedient. Anthony and his students concentrated on the discourse elements of stress, repetition, pausing and stretching key words for emphasis within presentations. Students recorded and viewed their presentation, looking for these elements, conducted student self-assessment, and repeated the task. Using this deliberate form of noticing, improvement in language use in this setting was noted. The method is transferable to Japanese and other language students wishing to improve specifics of performance and communicative competence within presentations. Noticing and repetition can be beneficial in many language learning areas.

Anthony’s teaching experience was unique amongst the audience members, and his explanation and real life experience reflected the importance of effective English acquisition and use within the global community.

Reported by Susan Laura Sullivan
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Bogdan Pavily
Wendy Gough
Jon Dujmovich
Gregg McNabb
Adam Poludniak
Adam Jenkins
Michael Boyce
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa
Dan Mortali
Susan Sullivan

10 members presented at our ever-popular December “My Share” event. Bogdan Pavily joined us from Toyama and illustrated the effectiveness and excitement of fifty word stories. Wendy Gough explored how to expand writing journals from the insular to the interactive. Jon Dujmovich asked us to consider the importance of empathy in language learning, and Gregg McNabb demonstrated how controlling student reading speed helped increase student reading speed. Adam Poludniak explained how prediction exercises can encourage students to engage with material at a more authentic level, while Adam Jenkins spoke of ways to keep readers on track by using mreader (permission required from Tom Robb). Mike Boyce briefed us on what we would need if disaster were ever to hit Hamamatsu’s shores, and Jane Joritz-Nakagawa explored female representation in the content that can be used in the classroom, and whether gender representation was balanced. Dan Mortali went through some of the pros and cons of the life of an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in the Japanese secondary education system, and Susan Sullivan looked into how student-generated questions pertaining to allocated or chosen texts allow them to more fully engage with the content. Following, Santiago Cortez and Serena Samsel organized an end of year celebration enjoyed by all.

Reported by Susan Laura Sullivan
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Core Officers

Members and the core officers discussed the current state of JALT on a national level, and how chapters may have to rethink structures and operations for the overall health of the organization. As such, the possibility of Hamamatsu JALT approaching nearby chapters for potential mergers, was considered. A number of chapters in Kyushu have already taken similar measures.

The financial standing of the chapter was on the agenda, and we are in good health, yet we have low membership and attendance at meetings. Related to this, ways and means of promoting membership and creating an inspiring program for the following year were explored, such as holding a student voices event and offering workshops for teachers.

Reported by Susan Laura Sullivan
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Marie Kjeldgaard
Nicholas Bradley

Errors in language use – as opposed to mistakes – are systemic and difficult to correct and change. Marie Kjeldgaard’s (Aichi University) research focuses on three areas influencing Japanese learner errors when writing in or speaking English: differences between Japanese and English, direct translation, and English loan words. Using these ideas, Kjeldgaard isolated some possible causes of errors and presented students with short tasks designed to tackle them. Her results seem to indicate that error frequency varies by category and can decrease with direct instruction.

Nicholas Bradley (Nagoya University of Foreign Studies) addressed the increased popularity of including some form of “Culture” studies within Japanese EFL/EMI classrooms. His presentation explored many fascinating avenues, but especially dealt with various definitions of culture, stakeholder expectations, and whether the term “culture” holds any validity at all.

Reported by Susan Laura Sullivan
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
by Peter Ross

The title for Peter Ross' presentation guarantees intrigue, "Improvisational Psychodrama". In his extremely audience-centred workshop, Peter Ross demonstrated how simple stimuli such as pictures can be used to elicit stories that students develop into their very own improvisational psychodrama. First, students are presented with a stimulus and a brainstorming session is held in which several story ideas are produced by the students. Following this, students choose one of the story lines and elaborate on the content creating a framework for the drama. Next, it's action! The drama is played out by students who take turns in the various roles. Peter Ross also illustrated how the activity can lead to a deeper glimpse into the psyche when having multiple people play the "HONNE"(本音) and "TATEMAE"(建前) aspects for each character in the drama. - Sponsored by West-Tokyo Chapter

Reported by Adam Jenkins


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