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 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
-Move!
-creativity
-challenges
-personalization

All of these principles were illustrated with examples and ideas.

Reported by Joseph Tomei

Nara Chapter

Sunday, April 9, 2017
by Masayuki Takano

Takano got the audience engaged in his well-researched talk. He first touched upon the general background of teaching English in Japan's EFL context, in which a lack of students' motivation to learn the language can be disputable largely due to insufficient opportunity of their daily use of English. Therefore, English proficiency examinations such as Eiken, TEAP, TOEIC, and TOEFL are an extrinsic motivation booster for those students to study English. Changes in such proficiency English exams and suggestions to reform English education in Japan by MEXT were also introduced. Takano then discussed the new course of study for Japanese high school students: "Communication English" and "English Expression." The first focuses on the improvement of the four language skills to communicate in English (i.e., speaking, listening, reading, and writing). The latter emphasizes the importance of improving logical thinking skills in English. At this stage, he raised a question about how to help students improve thier logical thinking skills in English in class. Cultural and social norms may be intertwined with logical thinking. This challenging question led the audience to an active exchange of opinions. Despite the second speaker's absence owing to illness, Takano never disappointed us and elicited enthusiastic discussion from the attendees.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Sunday, February 26, 2017
by
Tadashi Izumitani
Carl Eldridge
Ray Santos

Izumitani, a first-year junior high school teacher, introduced teaching struggles, specifically with the use of a hybrid PPP (Presentation, Practice, and Production) approach. "Small talk" is used as the threshold of grammar instruction in the presentation stage. This talk aims to draw students' attention to grammatical structures, thus encouraging them to notice basic usage and function. However, time constraint is a common classroom issue. Izumitani indicated that the production stage tends to get reduced, with most time allocated to the first two stages. Eldridge explored the core concepts of English tense, aspect, and modality. A schematic diagram mapping English tenses and aspects looked complicated at first glance, but was revealed as a fresh tool to aid students and teachers in understanding the relationships between tenses and aspects. Similarly, a modality diagram was also well structured. The more exposure to the uses of modal verbs students have, the more clearly they understand the choices in modality in real life situations. Santos used his vast teaching experience to introduce an important message using a small timer; time helps students focus on tasks. Participants in pairs memorized a short dialogue and recited it within a designated short period of time. Additional effective ways to use "time" were further explored among the audience.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka
Saturday, December 10, 2016
by
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
Sunday, August 21, 2016
by
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
by
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
by
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
by
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

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