Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Hiroshima Chapter

Sunday, January 17, 2016
by Paul Goldberg

This month we were privileged to have a promotional presentation by Paul Goldberg. We learned about differences in extensive reading and intensive reading and why it isn’t enough by itself. Paul outlined some of the shortcomings of currently practiced extensive reading as well as to intensive reading. After discussing the shortcomings, Paul showed us his online solutions designed to assist teachers and students in overcoming these problems.
Online extensive reading means students are able to read graded readers on their computers or smartphones. It can put powerful tools like an interactive dictionary, character lists, audio-on-demand, and book ratings, right at their fingertips. Also students can read whenever and wherever they want, not just while at school or at the library. Using a learning management system such as Xreading allows teachers to monitor and track their students’ reading progress with greater accuracy. Teachers can know which books their students have selected, how many words they read, and even their reading speed. In this presentation, the speaker, who developed the learning management system Xreading, explained how teachers can get the most out of using online extensive reading with their classes. Other websites that might supplement Xreading were also introduced.

Reported by Ariel Sorensen
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Eleanor Carson
Yukari Rutson-Griffiths
Matthew Porter
George Higginbotham
John Tennant
Monika Szirmai

This month we had a special treat as six presenters who are headed towards Shizuoka gave us a special preview of their four presentations.

First, Eleanor Carson discussed her longitudinal research about how time plays a role in changes observed in preferences of Japanese university students for the use of L1 in courses. Eleanor investigated these changes over the course of one year. Some of the conclusions were that proficiency influences learners’ preferences, and that mother tongue support should be decreased over time, especially in the first semester when most changes normally occur.

George Higginbotham and John Tennant presented their principles of materials development, such as word knowledge, frequency of use and learner autonomy. From there, they continued by taking these principles and demonstrating how they put the principles into practice in their classrooms. Of particular note is the use of explicit teaching of vocabulary in the classroom.

Yukari Rutson-Griffiths and Matthew Porter discussed the duties of a learner advisor, and then their study into conversation analysis. Their study focused on oral interaction between learner advisors and learners. Matthew and Yukari showed the audience how they collected and analyzed their interaction data.

Monika Szirmai introduced us to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) for foreign languages. The CEFR is a framework for assessing levels in various courses including languages, and assigning levels to the learners and programs. Using this framework courses and students can be compared across different educational systems in European countries. The merits of such a standardizing system were introduced to orient the audience to this system. After the introduction of how this linguistic goal-oriented system works, the inherent problems were outlined. The presenter showed us how Hungarian is a good demonstrator of how goal-oriented assignment of levels does not work as well with some languages as with others.

Reported by Ariel Sorensen
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Ariel Sorensen (Hiroshima Shudo University)
Katherine Song (Hiroshima University)

There were two speakers at the October chapter meeting. The first was Ariel Sorensen, who gave a very interesting and detailed description of the research he has been conducting for his Ed. D. dissertation on shadow education. First, he gave a brief history of shadow education, including examples from China, where shadow education has existed for at least a thousand years. 'Shadow education' refers to the industry of private supplementary education, for example, cram schools, language schools, etc. He then described previous research studies and how they differed from his own approach of going directly to an institution and asking to observe the classes. His research so far has mainly comprised of establishing a typology that distinguishes six types of shadow education. It was a fascinating look into an area of education in which little research has been carried out.

Katherine Song is currently working on her Ed. D. coursework. Her presentation shared what she had learned in a course on materials development, and explained how the course has shaped her own beliefs and approaches to creating and adapting materials. Some beliefs she shared were: 1) affective engagement increases the impact of the learners’ language experience; 2) a negative effect is better than no affect; 3) the benefits of practice; 4) cognitive engagement is necessary for progress; 5) focus on form is important. She gave some entertaining examples of how she supplemented textbook topics using her own materials.

Reported by Naomi Fujishima
Sunday, September 27, 2015
by Renaud Davies

In our September HiJALT meeting Renaud Davies demonstrated how free mobile applications for both iOS and Android devices can be utilized to create an engaging learning environment for students. Participants had a hands-on introduction to several applications which can be used both inside and outside the classroom to not only connect students and teachers better, but allow for a more interactive, creative and autonomous learning experience for students. Both simple and more complex tools were discussed so as to cater to both the tech savvy and non-tech savvy participants in the audience. The presentation introduced the SAMR framework and each application was considered within this model of classifying classroom technology.

Reported by Ariel Sorensen

Ibaraki Chapter

Saturday, September 10, 2016
Jeroen Bode
David Gann

IBARAKI: September—Education never ends: Language education post-academia and the Dutch “permanent education” policies for official (certified) translators/ interpreters by Jeroen Bode, The University of Tsukuba; Multi-step course design for aiding students in the development of critical thinking competence and dialogic discourse by David Gann, Tokyo University of Science. In the morning, Bode presented details about his translation and interpretation work and explained that to remain certified in the Netherlands he is required to undergo continuing professional education (CPE). This system requires translators to accumulate CPE units, which can be generated by attending lectures and courses and by creating publications; however, Bode also described aspects of his “permanent education” that are not credited, but he felt were necessary to continue his specialist work translating reports for the Japanese police. Examples of unaccredited education were reading literature in Dutch, Japanese, and English about police procedure and legislation and attending police lectures and seminars where proof of attendance could not be provided. Bode referred to arguments that if restrictions on CPE are too severe, they can restrict innovation, but he also described flexibility in the Dutch system in its recognition his study of Japanese calligraphy, which he explained helped him identify characters in damaged handwritten texts referring to Dutch prisoners-of-war dating from the Second World War. In the afternoon, Gann described his efforts to create course based around language skills required for critical thinking and to make the administration of the course sustainable. Gann argued existing university textbooks often try to promote dispositions associated with critical thinking through introducing political or ethical issues without introducing the language skills students require to recognize argumentative form or treat texts objectively. Gann describes how he felt it necessary to create a course of original materials, including podcasts and text reconstruction activities, teaching critical thinking skills that prepared students for discussions (online and in the classroom). Gann’s multimedia presentation showed examples of this content and how it could be used by students working autonomously outside of the classroom or by groups of students working collaboratively and sharing a computer in lessons. Gann also demonstrated a collaborative data collection activity where students were required to test a hypothesis and report on their findings. Gann ended the presentation by describing the challenges of assessing and providing feedback to students in the course but explained how the use of cloud-based applications helped him streamline the process.

Reported by Hugh Kirkwood
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Hidenori Kuwabara and Yosuke Ogawa
Tim Cook

IBARAKI: June—Applicability of the silent way method: Evaluating in terms of foreign language anxiety and conversation analysis by Hidenori Kuwabara and Yosuke Ogawa. We learned how the Silent Way Method, which had gained popularity 4 decades ago, was discredited and pushed aside with the advent of the Communicative Approach in the 1980s. The presenters demonstrated uses of this method for the teaching of both Japanese and English and their positive feelings about this “outdated” method. Language instruction through cultural participation: The peculiar case of shape notes by Tim Cook. In this presentation, Cook introduced us to shape-note singing, which was invented in the late 1700s to improve congregational singing. Cook suggested the possibility of incorporating shape-note singing as part of the language classroom, for it offers a unique cultural experience as well as an opportunity for language learning.

Reported by Naomi Takagi and Martin Pauly
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Hugh Kirkwood
Bruno Jactat
Marc Helgesen

IBARAKI: March— Corpus linguistic analysis of NESTs’ informal online discourse by Hugh Kirkwood, Ushiku & Hitachinoushiku Elementary Schools. Kirkwood first stated that informal, often anonymous and relatively uncensored discourse could provide insights into the professional development of Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTs). He then introduced us to corpus linguistics analysis and explained how he used it to identify key words in the discourse and analyze them in the context of surrounding lines of text. Based on the results of his analysis, Kirkwood argued that NESTs in Japan’s informal online discourse was often focused on Assistant Language Teaching (ALT) and English conversation schools, suggesting that these contexts were perceived to provide an entry into work in Japan, while extended work in these contexts was viewed to be harmful to professional development both outside of and within language teaching. Acoustic Impedance: How it impacts language learning by Bruno Jactat, University of Tsukuba. Hearing plays a crucial role in language acquisition, but according to Jactat, this ability can be hindered by factors like surrounding air quality and childhood linguistic input. This so-called “acoustic impedance” puts some people at physiological disadvantage when they try to learn a new language. For instance, Japanese tend to have trouble learning French and English because they cannot hear high-frequency sounds required in those languages. Jactat, however, asserted that teachers can help learners overcome such disadvantage by training their listening skills, and he showed us actual ways of doing so. DIW NeuroELT: 7 keys for making your textbook more brain-friendly by Marc Helgesen, Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University. In this presentation, Helgesen introduced 7 principles that can be used to make language lessons and textbooks compatible with the human brain. For instance, Helgesen says that making contents and activities emotionally engaging is important because people can retain information better if they feel personally connected to it. As he explained principles and sample activities, he also gave us opportunities to work in pairs and groups to discuss how we can apply them to our own teaching practices.

Reported by Yuko Koike & Naomi Takagi
Saturday, December 12, 2015
by Yuko Koike

English Pronunciation Instruction: Considering Phonological Differences between English and Japanese
By Yuko Koike, Ibaraki University
Koike explained pronunciation problems that Japanese learners of English tend to face, and pointed out that one of the main causes was phonological differences between English and Japanese. She also shared with us some teaching materials for practical exercise that may handle the issues. The materials were unique in that they contained comparisons between English and Japanese, which would let learners clearly notice the suprasegmental differences of the two languages. The audience seemed to understand the importance of letting learners first be aware of the phonological differences explicitly, as the audience enjoyed experimenting with some sample words that
Koike provided.

Reported by Rika Otsu

Kitakyushu Chapter

Saturday, October 8, 2016
by Robert Murphy

Robert discussed various maxims from his collaborative research related to NeuroELT and the theoretical underpinnings of some of these concepts. He began by briefly introducing Kurt Fischer’s dynamic skill theory, a cognitive theory that postulates dynamic development from reflexes to complex systems within the human mind. According to this framework, all learning including language learning follows these principles and as such we should strive to incorporate these concepts into our language teaching approaches. In the second half of the presentation the audience was invited to choose from a short list of NeuroELT maxims and try to develop new ways they could implement these concepts in their own language classrooms. These ideas were then presented and discussed with the entire group.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, September 10, 2016
by Barbara Hoskins

Barbara introduced several approaches for eliciting and developing creativity in the language classroom built around 4 key concepts: Communication, Collaboration, Creative Thinking, and Critical Thinking. Ideas centered around students collaboratively creating learning content together in the classroom, with the teacher as a helpful guide. These activities ranged from simple word/letter puzzles, original story development, and allowing students to make their own game from simple everyday items. For the second half of the presentation, the audience was invited to develop their own language learning activity from a variety of everyday items directed at their target age group. The groups then shared their activities with the rest of the audience to demonstrate the ideas and concepts in practice.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, June 11, 2016
by Tom Gorham

Tom introduced several ideas for bringing the latest neuroscience and technology into the language classroom. Augmented reality has now become a relatively feasible possibility for language learners utilizing google street view and expeditions with headsets, and Tom demonstrated how this technology could be harnessed to cover a wide range of language functions and content. He also demonstrated how the latest smartphone apps can be used to gather instant feedback from a classroom of students by utilizing an ad hoc local area network. He finished the presentation by discussing certain physiological aspects of the brain and how it relates to learning, citing the importance of sleep and meditation for memory and attentiveness.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Yumiko Cochrane
Steve Paton

Yumiko Cochrane - Lost in Katakana: Exploring the efforts of loanword cognates on English Acquisition. Yumiko began by stating that 10% of Japanese words are loan words, and only 6% of that 10% are English based. Looking at the different types of loan words firstly we have true cognates which have the same meaning in Japanese and English. Non true cognates include semantic changes (e.g. viking or mansion), morphological changes (e.g. stainless or ringtone), phonological (the open vowel sound 'katakana English'), or Wasei Eigo which are words unique to Japan (e.g. leiman shock or hi vision). Yumiko's findings were that literal translations lead to dangerous assumptions on the part of students. Once these errors are engrained in students' heads it is difficult to change them. In conclusion she stated that there's no shortcut to English acquisition using loan words, and keen awareness of the problems should be promoted. She instead recommended a 'katakana' of the day where the English and Japanese meanings of words such as mansion or dryer were contrasted.

Steve Paton - Freeing up fluency in a silent speaking class. In Steve's presentation he noted that students in Japan lack a usage of learning strategies. Steve divided these into Metacognitive (organising study activities, self management and self evaluation), Cognitive (repetition, note taking, deductive inferencing and linking new knowledge to old) and socio effective (used in actual communication such as 'can you repeat that?'). Steve stated that these strategies will be most effective if students understand the strategies, believe they're effective and don't consider them too difficult. He outlined a system of assessment points he uses with his students that encourages active spoken participation in class. His participation guidelines for the students were: extend your comfort zone and take risks, stay in English for the duration, communicate with the instructor in confidence, make the most of your English speaking opportunities and be outstanding. He stated that his participation system was a success and students participated much more in class.

Reported by Andrew Quentin
Saturday, April 9, 2016
by Bill Pellowe

In this presentation Bill showed his first year university students creating short 1 minute presentations about a variety of topics. An example assignment was students talking about a piece of art, answering three questions: 'what are you talking about?', 'where is it located?' and 'who was it done by?' which encouraged students to use the passive voice. Students used their own smart devices to record the clips and submitted them using sendtodropbox.com. In the videos viewed, it was clear the students found the assignment challenging and enjoyable, and students even created their own artwork to talk about. Bill gave out the assignments using QR codes or web URLs in class but said that receiving the videos from students could be overwhelming. In the second part of the presentation Bill described how he practised question and answer forms with groups of six students sat in a U shaped layout. By having students move between groups and repeating their presentations, the target language used by the students could be recycled.

Reported by Andrew Quentin
Saturday, March 12, 2016
by Jason McDonald

Jason opened his presentation by explaining important factors that employers and administrators must consider when managing English programs at both a private and public level. Drawing from experience, he illustrated how managing a curriculum over time with multiple teachers requires clear and consistent communication between management and employees. He argued that many problems that occur between teaching and management occur when either sides make assumptions about the intentions and meanings of the other side’s actions without taking the time to understand what was actually intended. He concluded by stressing the importance of remaining flexible and patient when difficulties arise while always trying to understand a situation from the other side’s point of view.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, February 13, 2016
by Simon Capper

Simon began his presentation by demonstrating the benefits of utilizing lateral thinking puzzles and riddles to create communication opportunities in the classroom and target specific question pattern constructions. He demonstrated how small groups could be utilized to scale the activities to a variety of classroom contexts and offered a range of sources for finding lateral thinking puzzles. In the second half of his presentation, Simon discussed how he approached teaching technical vocabulary at his nursing college. He demonstrated the benefits of a varied approach to vocabulary study by utilizing a combination of classroom activities such as bingo and homework formats such as crossword puzzles to stimulate student interest and increase word retention.

Reported by Zack Robertson


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