Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Hiroshima Chapter

Sunday, April 17, 2016
by Arthur Rutson-Griffiths

Behavioural economics is the study of how psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors affect decision making. Despite its name, many of the findings uncovered in this emerging field have many practical benefits in the classroom. Just a few small changes and additions to everyday classroom activities can increase students’ extrinsic motivation and engagement with the target language. This presentation covered a number of findings from behavioural economics research, while relating each one to a number of techniques and tips the presenter has used and that teachers can use in the classroom to motivate their students.

The ideas that were introduced can be used with students of any age and in almost any classroom context. Hiroshima JALT members that attended were introduced to social proof, loss aversion, anchoring, the Ikea effect and the egg theory, commitment and consistency, deadlines, gambling and rewards, and honour codes that can help us maintain motivation in our classrooms.

Reported by Ariel Sorensen
Sunday, March 6, 2016
by Dawn Kobayashi

The Hiroshima JALT chapter was treated to a workshop about how to introduce drama in your classes. The workshop was based on how to adapt the book “Hi, friends”, commonly used in elementary school classes, to get the students up, moving and motivated. This textbook is visually appealing and has some listening activities, but has a limited vocabulary and may result in passive students.
MEXT recommends that elementary school English lessons should allow students to experience the joy of communication, actively listen to and speak in English, and learn the importance of verbal communication. Dawn showed us how these recommendations can be implemented using drama, even at young ages. Although these activities were originally intended for elementary school students, we found that they could be adapted to any ages and we enjoyed trying them out ourselves.

Reported by Ariel Sorensen
Sunday, February 21, 2016
by Jordan Svien

In February Jordan Svien gave a presentation on some of the essential aspects required in order to facilitate students’ critical thinking skills in an English-only environment. First he outlined some of the current definitions of critical thinking. This was followed by a list of principles that he used to create his current curriculum. These principles included: Learner engagement, Inquiry based learning, Global topics theme units, Opinion sharing, Skill building, Project based assessment, Tech in the classroom, Media usage in the classroom and Recycling and reflection.
After detailing these principles, Mr. Svien gave us an inside view of how these principles were applied to the curriculum in which he is teaching. These principles were outlined with an eye towards the evolving needs of the students. Finally, some hints at how these principles and procedures can be adapted to other curriculums, as well as some of the challenges and limitations to applying such a program were introduced.

Reported by Ariel Sorensen
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, February 11, 2017
by Colin Thompson

In his presentation, Colin discussed how practice relates to language acquisition from both a theoretical and research perspective. The first half of the presentation focused on theoretical aspects of practice and how it relates to language skill development. Certain factors of practice that were mentioned included production vs. input based practice, intensive vs. gradual practice, and the amount of repetition. He also discussed issues relating to practice that are currently being researched such as the nature of the practice, how deliberate the practice is, and the transfer effect of acquired skills into tangential domains. For the final half of the presentation, Colin reviewed research that suggests that intensive, concentrated practice may be of greater benefit to lower level learners than more spread out practice in certain learning contexts and that input based practice may yield more positive benefits than purely productive practice.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, January 14, 2017
José Cruz
Robert Long

In the first half of the presentation, José discussed how traditional textbooks and classroom materials often fail to expose students to authentic spoken English conversation due to the limitations of the textbook medium and the tendency for instructors to use a “teacher” voice rather than a natural voice when addressing students in the classroom. He then introduced a website he developed to provide learners with authentic spoken English covering a variety of topics that aims to teach more natural forms of pronunciation and speech patterns. In the second half of the presentation, Robert summarized the results of a study conducted at his institution to explore gender differences in fluency and dysfluency of Japanese university students. Robert and his colleagues developed a corpus constructed from over 100 conversations between male and female students in order to analyze in detail trends in speech rate, pauses, conversational gambits and a variety of other linguistic traits. The study suggests that men tend to often unconsciously control conversations while female students often remain passive as evidenced by the data collected. Robert suggested that these trends could be contributing to the falling marriage and birth rates of the overall population in Japan and that further study would be necessary to develop methods for remedying this societal problem.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Zack Robertson
Michael Phillips
Stephen Case
David Wilkins

Our chapter held its annual Pecha Kucha night and four people gave presentations on a variety of topics. For the first presentation, Zack Robertson (“Quiet Learners: What to do?”) talked about different factors that can contribute to quiet, unenthusiastic classes and what can be done to improve them. He discussed psychological, physiological, cultural, and pedagogical causes of student non-participation and offered concrete activities and management strategies to improve them. Next, Michael Phillips (“Using Facebook Groups as W-LMSs”) talked about utilizing Facebook groups to manage and facilitate communication between students and the teacher. He explained how to set up groups, add students, and offered suggestions how utilize the various functions and tools to make the most use from the platform. In the next presentation, Stephen Case (“Using Movies in the Classroom”) introduced a variety of websites and applications that offer short movies that can be used as both full lessons and supplemental activities. After showing part of an example movie, Stephen elaborated on potential lesson ideas that can accommodate a broad range of ages and language abilities. For the final presentation, David Wilkins (“Mobile Technology in the Classroom”) introduced a few mobile apps that can be used to facilitate classroom discussion and participation. He demonstrated how the Kahoot! App can be used as an interactive quiz that teachers can create and students can answer using their smartphones.

Reported by Zack Robertson
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


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