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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Nara Chapter

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
Sunday, June 14, 2015
by Various

This event materialized with the cooperation of the THT-SIG (Teachers Helping Teachers) and drew a full house. Seven presenters talked about their projects carried out in Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal where teaching materials and resources are limited. Their mission is to provide workshops, presentations, and lectures in those areas to further professional development for the local teachers. Some need less theory, more practical methods, and classroom activities that are geared toward students with mixed levels and in large-size classes; others need a more balanced approach between theory and practice. Those projects have to accommodate local needs and demands. What was most impressive to me is the perspective of all the presenters on helping and sharing. Their entirely voluntary activities are not only to provide something but to receive something else. One of the presenters said, "don't underestimate what you have done." Our experiences and knowledge as teachers may serve well for others through overseas volunteer opportunities.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Cameron Romney
John Campbell-Larsen

Romney talked about how to create supplements, focusing on two parts: the content and the handout. In the content of supplements, A Cope: "analyze," "consult," "produce," and "evaluate" system comes into play. A ready-made supplement is analyzed through three factors: linguistic form, context, and function, and then other similar materials are looked into to find any differences. Producing your own supplement follows, and then after a trial evaluating and modifying. Actual handouts have to be easy to use. The layout (typeface, size, space, lines, shapes, and graphic) should enhance students' motivation and comprehension. Campbell-Larsen emphasized the importance of explicitly teaching spoken language features such as, marking, backchanneling, vague counters, and vague category markers to have students acquire fluency. Further, he introduced a template for an expanded turn: 1) opening discourse markers; 2) statement; 3) turn-initial discourse markers; 4) expansion; and 5) closing discourse markers. Template questions (double question, question + answer, alternative question, and embedded question) are also important to know how to promote a smooth and natural conversation. This MW SIG's (Materials and Writers) co-sponsored event was a great success and strengthened the bonds of the Kansai JALT.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka

Niigata Chapter

Saturday, January 28, 2017
by Andy Boon

Summary of Andy Boon's Presentation - 28 January 2017

Presenter Contact Information:
Mr. Andrew Boon
Toyo Gakuen University
E-mail: andrew.boon@tyg.jp

Getting Students to do Research

Approach to Research

Why do projects? (Answers submitted by audience members)
- Cooperative - Improve student buy-in - Active learning
- Different from normal class - Interdependent projects
- Related to a product @ the end - Responsibility among peers
- More minds = more creative projects - Meta-cognitive benefits
- Encourages work beyond classroom - Not just textbook work
- Real world skills - Social skills - Autonomy

Answers Supplied by Mr. Boon
- More opportunities to use English for research purposes
- Integrated language & content - Four skills integration
- Student centered - New roles & responsibilities - Cooperative aspect
- Product, not just process - Motivating experience

Which classes were the research projects conducted in?

Academic Learning & Professional Skills (ALPS) (2nd → 4th year students)
- Pre-Intermediate → Intermediate
1st Year College (English Communication)
- Global Interaction, Japan with other countries
News Media (1st years)
- Pre-Intermediate → Intermediate
- Journalism oriented
British Culture (1st years)
- Pre-Intermediate → Intermediate
Core Speaking (1st years)
- Intermediate

Example of an ALPS Research Topic
Should people in Japan work less?

What Skills Do Students Need to Be Successful?
(Answers submitted by audience members with Mr. Boon’s answers also added)
- Academic Writing - Interview styles - Background reading
- Comparing statistics (Japan and the rest of the world)
- Presentation skills -- making slides -- conducting Q&A sessions -- Logical flow -- Keeping to time
- Large enough sample for comparison
- Planning
- What Questions to Ask
- Research Techniques

Project work can help unify students

Project - Set-up
- Introduce project to students (Lessons 1-8)
- Explain criteria for evaluation
- Research proposal OR Choose a theme from a provided list
- Decide a research topic / Develop a research question
- (Optional) “So what?” Test
- Discuss their project thoroughly
- Develop a research plan
- 1st & secondary data, etc.

Facebook integration to check research proposals

Sample Themes
- Effects of Alcohol (4th year)
- Why do Japanese people admire America (3rd year)
- Culture of Christmas in the UK (1st year)

- Progress Reports → Data collection, primary questions
- Facebook groups to get feedback
- Constant updates
- Deadline reminders

Collecting Data
- Primary data collection
- Questionnaires, interviews, observation
- Tie to real class experience
- Survey Monkey
- Has a Japanese interface available
- Secondary data collection
- Books, newspapers, magazines, and the internet
- Facebook as an option for data collection

Sharing Research Findings
- Written Assignments
- Poster Sessions
- British Culture Powerpoint
- Mobile Audience
- Benefits of Repetition → Higher student confidence
- Unique → finale to course
- Change of environment for students

Student Feedback
- Positive
- Choose my own topic
- English outside class
- Reading about topic
- Improved speaking & writing skills
- Share useful information with peers
- Poster design
- Small audience for presentation
- Less intimidating with an intimate audience
- Not so good
- Difficult to choose theme / theme was boring
- Not enough time ~ super important to time right
- Limited responses to questionnaire
- Public speaking
- Writing the assignment
- Risky topic ~ needed courage
- Missed other presentations

Over to You
Participants were asked to discuss the following themes:
- What classes would you like to use research projects in?
- For project-based instruction what are the:
- Advantages / Disadvantages

Reported by Matthew Diaz
Saturday, October 15, 2016
by Martin Sedaghat

Martin's interactive lecture/workshop on Art in the Language Classroom was a well-attended, interesting, and fun presentation. After reassuring participants that we didn't have to be "good" at art, Martin started off the talk with a memory activity. Then, he proceeded to answer his main questions which were "What is 'art' in the language classroom?" "Why is visual communication important?" and "How can students benefit from making their own art?" Each question was followed by a numbers of reasons and hands-on activities, such as game cards, an "art gallery" activity, a sentence-drawing activity, feeling cards swap, and a guided visualization. The time went by quickly as Martin showed us how pictures can be used to increase not only students' language fluency, but also their accuracy. He also provided a useful book recommendation. All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon!

Reported by Melodie Cook
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Asako Kajiura
Greg Goodmacher

Although it was a lovely sunny Mother's Day, a sizeable group came out to hear Asako and Greg speak.

Asako's presentation focused on a problem that many teachers have these days: working in institutions which struggle to attract students, thus admit low-level students who have cognitive, developmental, or emotional disabilities. Such students also don't necessarily want to be in English classes and teaching them can be very challenging if teachers are unsupported by their institutions. Asako tackles this situation by teaching real world survival skills through English. Using graded readers as source material, she asks students to complete book reports in order to help them improve skills such as punctuality, reliability, and self discipline, as well as computer and organizational skills which will help them in their future places of work. She has found that students are generally positive about what she asks them to do because they can work at their own pace and receive individualized attention. She recommends that teachers working with such students ask their institutions for a teaching assistant if the numbers of students are high.

Greg offered principles that teachers can follow when choosing or adapting materials for their classes in order to ensure that students are learning language skills in addition to content, depending on the context. Greg asked attendees to brainstorm about different kinds of materials, including students' own imaginations, and how they can be mined for language activities. Using examples from courses he has taught, He then showed us how experiential learning can connect what goes on in classes with the real world. Another way of motivating students he showed us was to personalize discussion questions. Greg also advocates activities which stimulate critical thinking and that teachers use statistical sources that are up-to-date, such as those available through the Internet.

Reported by Melodie Cook
Saturday, April 9, 2016
by Lesley Ito

It was a gorgeous day outside, but many opted to stay indoors to hear Lesley Ito's talk. Lesley introduced her presentation by sharing with the group how she came to CLIL. She then defined it and explained how it is more common in Europe than in Asia. After that, she listed the advantages of using CLIL with young learners. This was followed by the elements of a good CLIL lesson; Lesley demonstrated that using examples from her own classes. One particular example she gave us was one in which she explained the process by which mummies are made by throwing her internal organs all about the room. She also showed us some very useful resources and even off-campus activities that students could do consolidate their learning. The talk ended with a short discussion on how teachers of other kinds of students could use CLIL in their own classes.

After the talk, we enjoyed ourselves at the sake museum, followed by a delicious dinner at a local izakaya.

Reported by Melodie Cook
Saturday, January 23, 2016
by Joseph Falout

Joe braved the cold and came all the way to Niigata to give his talk to a receptive audience. To start off, he asked participants to rearrange the seating in order to work more easily with a partner and feed back to the whole group. Joe asked us to talk about our past experiences as language users; that set the scene for Joe's focus on "academic emotional baggage" which students carry. Backgrounding the presentation with research in positive psychology, Joe explained that students' negative prior experiences with language learning may result in their being demotivated. He showed that students' past selves influence the choices they make along the long path to language learning. Especially, he looked at different types of errors that people make when allowing past experiences to influence their present judgment. Following this, Joe recommended a series of strategies that teachers can use to help students avoid the pitfalls of misapplying their past selves to present situations, such as cherishing good moments, reframing negative ones, and creating temporal self-continuity. He then offered several practical suggestions for ways teachers could do this. Following the talk a few of us went for dinner with Joe and introduced him to Niigata specialties, especially sake!

Reported by Melodie Cook
Sunday, October 18, 2015
by Atsushi Iida

Although it was a beautiful fall day, many came to hear Atsushi Iida speak on problems of traditional EFL pedagogy in Japan, the teaching of haiku, and implications and suggestions for doing so. He first gave background about the limitations of traditional grammar translation and audio-lingual teaching methods in Japan, with their focus on memorization of grammar and vocabulary. He then made the case for teaching haiku to help students transition from knowing about English to being able to use it. Sharing his own personal and contrasting experiences of being a "good" student in both Japan and the United States, Atsushi showed how traditional methods focus on linguistic knowledge at the expense of the learner as a human functioning in society. By teaching English through haiku, a familiar genre to Japanese students, teachers, he argued, can help students lower affective filters and take risks using the English they know. Atsushi then gave a quick definition of haiku and shared how each person interprets haiku differently; thus, haiku offers a chance for students to present their voices. Atsushi shared student-made and several of his own (sake-related) haiku with us and then we were encouraged to brainstorm ideas and write our own, which we shared with a partner in a pair review exercise which served to strengthen writer-reader interaction. Some members then volunteered to read their haiku to the whole group. Atsushi concluded by saying that haiku has value in that it promotes linguistic knowledge, genre-specific knowledge, and cultural knowledge. The high degree of participation attested to the presentation and workshop's usefulness and the group's high degree of interest in it.

Reported by Melodie Cook

Okayama Chapter

Saturday, January 9, 2016
by Chad Godfrey

Godfrey started off the year with a very informative and interesting presentation. Following a brief history and explanation of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), he proceeded to discuss the benefits of the approach as experienced at Saitama Medical University (SMU), which had introduced CLIL six years ago.

The workshop covered the basics of CLIL it’s pros and cons, and a brief review of the CLIL research carried out at SMU. Additionally, he shared several activities he has used with first-year Japanese students to help produce better language output. The second part of the workshop covered more “hands-on” planning. This included a planning a CLIL unit via a step-by-step lesson procedure. All in attendance felt that this was a engaging and valuable presentation.

Reported by Jason Lowes
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Peter Burden
Neil Cowie
Thomas Fast
John Rucynski
Ritsuko Uenaka
Rob Waring

The panelists (Peter Burden, Neil Cowie, Thomas Fast, John Rucynski, Ritsuko Uenaka, and Rob Waring) provided a roundtable discussion and spoke about the publishing process from the initial idea to create a textbook through to the final production phase. Many illustrative anecdotes from personal experience were shared to help the audience fully understand the pros and cons of various forms of publishing. Following the discussion, a lively Q&A section provided a chance to delve deeper into the subject. All in all, it was a very fruitful exchange.

Reported by Jason Lowes


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