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, 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
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

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

Saturday, December 10, 2016
Parisa Mehran
Mehrasa Alizadeh

Showing a world map and zooming in on the location of Iran, two fascinating presenters, Mehran and Alizadeh guided the Nara JALT audience with their knowledge and witty talk through the whole of Iran - pretty much everything from history, architecture, and food, to culture and language. Sialk Hills, the archeological hills located in Kashan city boasting their magnificence and sings of the oldest settlement; Wind Towers, a natural cooling system exhibiting the compatibility of architectural designs with Iran's hot-dry-and-humid climates; Faravahar, one of the most common symbols of the Zoroastrian religion representing "good thoughts,""good words," and "good deeds"; and the Seven edible 'S' foods of the Persian New Year - these were some of the things Mehran and Alizadeh introduced and explained to the audience. However without doubt, what most attracted to language teachers in the audience was the Persian alphabet. With a right-to-left horizontal writing system, it engaged us in writing our own names in Persian as beginners of the Indo-European language. Two friends of the speakers' also served patient teachers who constantly praised and encouraged us. The following Christmas party in a nearby restaurant warmly wrapped up Nara JALT's year of 2016 and made us look forward to another exciting year for the chapter.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
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


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