Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

  • Click on the heading area (presentation date) to see the complete report
  • Click on an event tile (blue italic text) to see the original event announcement
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Kitakyushu Chapter

Saturday, January 9, 2016
by Andy Boon

In this presentation Andy discussed how to get students talking in class using examples from Inspire II which he co-authored.

He outlined a variety of communicative activities designed to encourage students to speak, build confidence and break the silence usually encountered with Japanese university students. These included a Kaiten Zushi activity where students rotate their partners while asking the same question and building longer responses. Second was ZigZag where students stand in parallel lines and alternate between asking 'have you ever...?' and 'how was it?' questions and answering their partner. Picture Naming is an activity designed to access background schemata. It involved students standing up and sitting down once they had named something in one of the double page sized photos in Inspire II. Lastly, using the Inspire II videos, Andy illustrated how one student could watch the video with no audio while their partner closed their eyes. The student then describes the video to their partner.

Andy also explained the theory behind these books and provided a large selection of Cengage textbooks for inspection.

Reported by Andrew Quentin
Saturday, November 14, 2015
by Various

The chapter held its annual pecha-kucha night, which featured six presenters discussing a variety of topics related to language teaching and learning.
Andrew Quentin, 16 Communicative Classroom Activities Using the 4 Strands. Andrew discussed how to address four key areas to language instruction: meaning focused input, meaning focused output, language focused learning, and fluency development. He offered a wide array of practical lesson ideas for implementing these strands in a variety of classroom settings.
Jason McDonald, Presenting Like a Boss - Hints and Tips for Great Presentations. Jason discussed several ways to improve presentations at both a formatting and organizational level. He alluded to several famous presenters and the techniques they use such as making use of props, keeping slides simple, and making sure there is a minimal amount of visible text on each slide.
Zack Robertson, We Teachers Are Weirder Than We Think. Zack talked about how language teachers bring with them certain ideas about self-esteem and achievement that we consider universal but are actually culturally informed. He went on to discuss a study held in both Canada and Japan which suggests that Japanese and Canadian students hold fundamentally different conceptions of the idea of self-esteem, which resulted in drastic differences in motivation to achieve in an experimental setting.
Markus Yong, Game Theory in English Teaching. Markus discussed the theoretical components of what constitutes a game, important aspects being voluntary, enjoyable, challenging, and containing rules or structure. He offered ideas for incorporating elements of game design into normal classroom instruction to make the activities more enjoyable for students such as integrating a story or randomization.
Stephen Case, 20 Books 20 Thoughts. For his presentation, Stephen introduced twenty books that he felt offered benefit to English teachers, both directly and indirectly. The books covered a wide variety of topics and genres, some directly related to language teaching while others were more focused on personal discovery and development.
Charles Ashley, Challenges of Teaching Pronunciation in Japan. Charles discussed some of the unique challenges facing Japanese learners in developing pronunciation skills in the English language. He pointed to several linguistic and neurological reasons for why Japanese learners often struggle with certain English sounds, and offered practical approaches to dealing with the topic in the classroom. He went on to suggest that overemphasis on pronunciation is not the best pragmatic use of time in the classroom and that we as teachers should instead remain focused on communicating as the primary focus of classroom instruction.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, October 10, 2015
by Stephen Case

Stephen discussed how games, both digital and traditional card games, can be utilized to develop and facilitate classroom tasks and activities that both engage students and encourage cooperative language development. Stephen suggested that teachers should keep an open mind about how simple sandbox smartphone games can serve as mini-tasks for the language classroom. He also demonstrated the practical pedagogical benefits of party-themed card games. Stephen ended the presentation by having the audience play through a card game and discuss how that kind of game could be incorporated into their own teaching situation.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Rick Eller
Zack Robertson

For the first part of the presentation, Rick discussed how Rory’s Story cubes can be utilized to generate a variety of assessment protocols that can be used in a variety of educational contexts. Rick argued that traditional assessment does not always capture certain aspects of language performance such as creativity, emotional involvement, and co-construction and that the cubes offer a method for operationalizing these areas of assessment.
In the second half, Zack discussed Semantic Clustering Interference (SCI), a psychological phenomenon where vocabulary items from the same semantic category (fruits, sports, etc.) interfere with one another when first encountered by a learner. Zack began by first discussing the nature of SCI and previous research on the topic before discussing the results of a study he conducted at three elementary schools. His results concurred with other studies and implied that presenting new words together in semantic categories may hinder initial retention for beginner level language learners.

Reported by Zack Robertson
Saturday, June 13, 2015
by Michael Phillips

Michael began by first introducing the concept of an “innovation” as a response of a particular social community to a perceived need for change and then describing the various stages in which an innovation passes through when diffusing throughout society. He then provided several examples of several modern innovations and discussed the various types of actors that affect the rate and extent of diffusion for a particular innovation. In the second half of the presentation, the audience was asked to apply this framework to innovations in language teaching and how they identified themselves in relation to adopting those particular innovations.

Reported by Zack Robertson
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

Nagoya Chapter

Sunday, October 25, 2015
by Ben Shearon (Tohoku University)

All people must be interested in money very much. Especially, many teachers in Japan would like to get their finances in order, but do not know how to do quite well. The presenter gave them various wisdom how to keep and grow their money for the purpose of achieving the goals of life. Through his experiences, he got some ideas. Those were very realistic & useful ideas for the audiences, even though he is not professional about finance.
According to him, doing nothing is more dangerous than doing the wrong things or getting ripped off. It is never begun that you begin money management when you afford financially. He emphasizes that "now" is the best time for you to start it. Though you can talk with somebody professional, you might not get satisfied answers about your personal finances. Why don't you learn for yourself to find the best way in accord with each situation? The information of fantastic books and websites were provided, too.
You must be ready! Start NOW for your future!!

Reported by Sumiko Shiraishi
Sunday, September 27, 2015
by Duane Kindt -- Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Who thought of the good idea to use the head-hold camcorders in English classrooms? This unique idea of Kindt can help students to develop their English oral communication ability obviously. 3 samples of the activities focused on pragmatic development: 1) understanding explanations, 2) using strategies in pair work, 3) and greeting, small talk and leave-taking in role plays were showed by video & transcripts on the handout. The participants found the increasing students’ pragmatic skills enough so far.
In the latter half of the presentation, Kindt's research analyzed the straggles that students manage to maintain collaborative interaction in order to survive in the class. The camcorders captured their modalities – talk, gesture, and artifacts in three sample clips. We saw the scenes where students display varying effectiveness completing communicative tasks through ongoing alignment with our own eyes. Through this presentation, all participants respected everything Kindt does for his students.

Reported by Sumiko Shiraishi

Nankyu Chapter

Saturday, July 9, 2016
by Marc Helgesen

Marc Helgesen gave the first of two presentations, this one in Kumamoto before a second one in Nagasaki. Bringing his trademark energy, he spoke about the need to think about the brain in teaching, presenting some 'brain keys' to integrate the research on the brain with textbooks and English teaching material. They were
-Go for Emotion
-Give students choices
-We need novelty
-Teach across the senses

All of these principles were illustrated with examples and ideas.

Reported by Joseph Tomei

Nara Chapter

Sunday, October 2, 2016
by Atsushi Mizumoto

Mizumoto first got the audience into small groups and asked us about what "strategies" are. This general question gradually led the audience into his talk. He explained important factors for successful learners of SLA, such as age, linguistic affinity between L1 and the target language, language aptitude, motivation, and learning strategies. He emphasized that only learning strategies among the five factors can be taught or introduced in class. His research has shown that there are different strategies all coming into play when a new word is learned. "Discovery strategies" - quessing, dictionary, and social strategies - and "Consolidation strategies" - note-taking, rehearsal, encoding, activation strategies - help a learner acquire the target vocabulary. This process becomes "Metacognitive strategies." Successful vocabulary learners choose to use a wide range of vocabulary learning strategies and use a structured approach to learning vocabulary. Teachers themselves need to know various vocabulary learning strategies, try them out, and reflect on the strategies that work for themselves. Thier experience of learning a foreign language or two may play an important role in teaching vocabulary learning strategies.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Hiroko Shikata
Scott Crowe

Shikata emphasized that English is a communication tool not a subject that makes pupils feel daunted. Many of the pupils she teaches at elementary schools are afraid of making mistakes when they speak and want to confirm whether their English is accurate or free from errors before they actually speak. Homeroom teachers also have little confidence in speaking English. Classroom activities she introduced such as Bongo, Dobon game, and Keyword game are simple, enjoyable, and the targets attainable. Those activities are also easy for homeroom teachers alone to conduct and continue with little or no help from Japanese Teachers of English (JTE) or Assistant Language Teachers (ALT). Crowe first introduced high-frequecy words in children's books based on the Dolch word list (Non-nouns for Pre-primer). Then he asked the audience how naturally those words such as "a,""away,""come,""make,"and "where" should be exposed to children. He led the audience to an imaginative birthday-party play based on a storybook he wrote, where such high-frequency words naturally appear and spontaneous responses naturally occur. By repetitively performing the play, children remember the story line with high-frequency words and they engage themselves in learning activities with a teacher as a facilitator.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Masayuki Takano
Angela Wren
Rachel Stuart
Adelia Falk

Takano gave us the background of common English teaching practice in Japanese high schools: grammar-translation, reading-oriented activities, memorizing abstract English terms, and greater emphasis on accuracy than fluency. According to his findings, more than a majority of Japanese teachers of English serveyed reported their preference of the teacher-oriented approach. However, there have been some approaches to make classroom activities more communicative and interactive. Wren and Stuart introduced a 10-lesson debate unit, starting with the basics through developing a team debate by engaging students in interactive debate games. These games include taking a side, giving opinions, and rebutting. Students also acquired research skills to justify their opinions and make their arguments more convincing. Falk transformed a textbook into discussion material. Students were divided into 5-member groups and each member was given a specific task: summarizer (summarize paragraphs), word master (choose important words), passage person (choose meaningful sentences to make open questions), connector (connect the textbook story to the student's own life), or discussion leader (write scripts). Before presenting discussion of each group, students with the same task got together to improve their assigned tasks. Those teaching activities are practical and can be adjusted to our own teaching contexts.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Saturday, December 12, 2015
by Andy Boon

"Shouting,""Moving," and "Thinking" - these were what the audience enjoyed in the activities. Boon shared some of the speaking and listening activities introduced in "Inspire," a 3-level coursebook, which focuses on getting students engaged in meaningful communication by getting them talking to one another. Spectacular National Geographic photos in each unit are an excellent entree to lead learners to the main theme and activity. Needless to say, his presentation also started with a photo: three goats and a man on the peak of a mountain. He asked the attendees to say or "shout" where they thought the photo came from. Then he paired the audience up and had each pair think about and create the title of the photo, and took a vote on the best title. In the "Zigzag" game, each attendee took turns being a questioner and answerer, joining in two lines alternately. Another pair activity got the audience shouthing to each other because of a 5-meter distance between a pair. Class work would need students' mental and physical involvement in learning to get them active learners. In the post-event gathering, BoonEnkai, Boon played a few other roles entertaining the audience: a server, singer, and performer. What a great year-end event!

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Sunday, October 4, 2015
by Etsuko Shimo

Shimo started the preliminary results of her three-year project on teachers' belief: to discover the perceptions of Japanese university lecturers of English on their students' characteristics. She compiled the survey results from 324 participants who were teaching first-year and second-year students in the 2014 spring semester (English native lecturers, ETs: n=154 and Japanese native lecturers, JTs: n=170). The main teaching area of ETs was oral communication, whilst that of JTs was grammar including reading and writing. The results showed that ETs had regarded their students as "cheerful" and "communicative"; on the other hand, JTs as serious about learning." Regarding the willingness of using English in class, ETs tended more to agree than their Japanese counterparts that their students were not embarrassed to communicate in English. Another interesting finding was that ETs found themselves in a teacher-centered class, whereas JTs were in a student-centered class. The interpretation of student-centeredness can have differed between ETs and JTs. Lecturers' perceptions on their students' characteristics could also have differed according to the class a lecturer chose for the survey. Considering such perspectives, her research project continues, arousing further interest of those concerned in language teaching in the tertiary education.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Nanae Yukioka
Greg Crawford
B. J. Bulmer
Scott Crowe

The presenters introduced learning activities with mind, body, and heart activated for young learners. Yukioka introduced a mind-stimulated activity, "Docode a phone number" using Hi, Friends!, an English textbook designed for elementary school studetns by MEXT. This activity focuses more on creativity and communication than on language learning. Pupils uniquely code their telephone numbers after having looked at pictographs of ancient Egyptian numbers, show their partners their coded numbers, and ask them to decode the numbers in minimum English. Crawford and Bulmer's activities with songs and gestures energized and rejuvenated participants, and proved how powerful and effective songs are to learn language in a natural and fun way. They also advised us to pre-teach achievable songs for young learners at a slow pace before singing together. Crowe presented his highly original work on "emotional positioning." Commonly used English words, such as "go, come, away, here and there" come out in his original book and are introduced through story. The students need to use the language they have learned to help the protagonist to solve his problems. They are emotionally drawn into the imaginative world of the book.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka


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