Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Hamamatsu Chapter

Sunday, September 20, 2015
by
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
Saturday, January 21, 2012
by Bogdan Pavliy

In this era of multimedia, it is now possible to incorporate video into the classroom. In his presentation, Mr. Pavliy demonstrated the problems of dwindling student motivation and learner anxiety. Following audience reflection and brainstorming Pavliy showed that these problems can be addressed by using materials that are both entertaining to students and stimulate students' imaginations. After explaining the theoretical basis of using video in class as an exercise in task-based language teaching while generating intrigue and improving motivation. Using examples from his teaching, Pavliy demonstrated ways of using videos (easily downloaded from Youtube) to grab students' attention and then have students engage in prediction tasks and reflect on the accuracy of their predictions. Everyone left the meeting with some great ideas on how to motivate students and tap students' creative potential using video materials.

Reported by Adam Jenkins

Hiroshima Chapter

Sunday, July 10, 2016
by Brett Walter

Dr. Brett Walter of Hiroshima University’s Institute for the Promotion of Global Education opened this presentation by describing how an Atla’s Complex often works against language teachers. Thinking they need to hold up all the instructional weight can lead to lessons heavy with highly controlled drills that do not put appropriate communicative load on learners. Emphasizing that language does not exist merely to be practiced grammar point by grammar point but to be applied in a meaningful and communicative manner, the point was made that too often drilling robs learners of meaningful input and the chance to produce meaningful output. After reviewing some SLA history and describing the various types of drills that are commonly found in textbooks and/or employed in language classrooms, workshop participants were then offered the opportunity to try adapting some of these drills to make them more communicative in nature. Finally, participants were allowed to get truly creative and develop novel communicative activities that emphasized a grammar point.

Reported by Aaron C. Sponseller
Sunday, June 19, 2016
by David Paul (Plenary)

Teacher Journey’s 2016 was held at the YMCA in Hiroshima on June 19th. Organized in conjunction by the Teacher Development SIG and Hiroshima JALT, the all-day event had a total of 18 presenters plus an outstanding plenary from Hiroshima legend David Paul. Drawing on his vast experiences in Japan as a language teacher, language school owner, and founder of ETJ, Mr. Paul’s plenary offered those in attendance a chance to pick and choose the topics they wanted him to speak on. From stories about developing trust over a game of shogi, to lamentations on the profit motive in education, the plenary was exemplary. The 18 presenters came from all over the country and shared elements of their journeys as language learners, teachers, and materials developers. Total attendance was a modest but extremely diverse 40. An eclectic group of presenters who have taught and learned in a wide variety of contexts shared amazing, insightful, and memorable stories about their respective journeys. According to a post event survey participants and attendees were all very pleased with the quality of the event. Thank you to everyone who worked hard putting this event together, and thank you to the YMCA for being gracious hosts!

Reported by Aaron C. Sponseller
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
by
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
by
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
by
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
by
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
by
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

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