Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Nara Chapter

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

Niigata Chapter

Sunday, May 28, 2017
by Alison Nemoto

“Examining the effects of interactive storytelling in changing pupils images of English”
Ms. Alison Nemoto, Miyagi University of Education
E-mail: alison@staff.miyakyo-u.ac.jp

Focus: Storytelling techniques and research (with a lowercase ‘R’).

She covered the following subjects in her talk:
- Favorite books
- Tips for choosing and reading stories
- Images of English before and after storytelling and students’ comments

Ms. Nemoto’s background:
Came to Japan in 1989, was a JET Programme participant for three years.
2001 - 2012 primary school teacher
- Designed and taught curriculum

2012 - present - University of Education in Miyagi Prefecture
- Teaching young learners
- Part of a rare program where primary school educators carry a major in English

Received her Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Young Learners in 2015 from the University of York. She is now an in-service teacher trainer.

Ms. Nemoto is also participating in an exchange program with a Myanmar Primary School where she is participating in a curriculum revision, the first in 30 years, working closely with MEXT to guide the curricular revision/development.

Main Talk:

1st text was Leo Lionni’s “A Color of His Own.”

Ms. Nemoto recommends beginning by examining the book cover art in depth first before even opening the text. Make sure to take students’ background information into account when telling stories.

Elicit student information before reading begins emphasizing that there is no ‘wrong’ answer. Answers should be shouted out for the entire class to share. Students should start verbalizing and participating.

Really get students to go for it with replies while also sharing praise for their answers.

Be sure to watch out for appropriate vocabulary
Example: Heather ---> Lavender (for Japanese students)

Asking comprehension and critical thinking questions to promote deeper textual examination while reading.

Also, add questions based in the book’s content to improve student interest.
Example: What will happen next (in the story)?

Several groups were created and given a specific question to answer (set to the level of attending instructors, not elementary students)

Example: What message does Leo Lionni want us to think about?

Reference to Krashen and the ‘i + 1’ model for education, challenging the students with one discrete step beyond their present level of comprehension.

Emphasis on meaningful interaction is required.

Also, pay attention to translatable themes emerging in various texts.

Also, be aware that texts function as repositories of culture. Cultural elements can be made salient with the correct storytelling text.

Pre-reading Activities:
- Vocabulary
- Gestures associated with repeated textual actions
Example: Hungry or Caterpillar
All students can be made into active participants with entertaining and engaging gestures.

Props and realia are also vital to storytelling.
This process also lends itself well to collaborative teaching
- A Japanese teacher can help with Japanese versions of the same text if the students are struggling with comprehension
- Clearly active learning as the teacher and learners (students) interact over the course of the storytelling.
- Also student --> student interaction as students fill roles in the story.

Post Reading:
- Drawing
- Games
- Quizzes
- Interviews
- Artwork
- Students want to move around, so try to structure your after reading activities in that vein.
-
Circumventing exorbitant class sets of texts
- Go to on-line resources
- Create power points/Keynotes as storytelling tools
- Larger format for students

The British Council also adapts several children's books for classroom/teaching use. (see Handout 1, page 6)

Research:

Also, participated in a voluntary teaching project in coastal area of Miyagi, where:
- 8 storytelling sessions took place, and
- 2 original student (university) plays were acted out
-
Research Aims:
1) Develop pupils’ English skills via storytelling
2) Increase pupils’ mental well-being
3) Test effectiveness of short study periods (20 minutes)

(See Handout 1, page 4 for statistical analysis)

Pupil involvement
- Pre- & Post- story English impressions
- Large (~75%) change to the positive

NB:
- Use movement and rhythm to assist understanding
- Use prediction and interactive reading to engage students
- Create simple plays for children
- Values of slowly changing stories into dramas
- Allows examination of moral messages implicit in story
-
Points to Keep in Mind (Please consult Handout 2, page 2)

Cross-curricular Opportunities (Please consult Handout 2, page 4 & 6)

Reported by Matthew Diaz
Saturday, April 8, 2017
by Howard Brown

Date: 8 April 2017

Topic: Current Trends & Future Developments on Language Education

Presenter Contact Information: brown@unii.ac.jp, The University of Niigata Prefecture

Brief Biographical Information:
Has been working at The University of Niigata Prefecture from 2009 until the present. A prolific publisher involved in CLIL and has a published book forthcoming.

Remarks and Lecture Content:

The scholastic environment in changing according to Mr. Brown. His research involves what will be coming into the classroom in 5 - 10 years and beyond.

Opening Getting to Know You Activity
- Survey with different answers (see attached)

Core of the activity is what changes will take place in the future, in 5 - 10 or more years into the future, and will the changes have a direct or indirect effect on classroom teaching.

Brainstorming occurred in 2 groups with 4 members.

Howard Brown made note that period of study abroad being evaluated was getting shorter and shorter compared to the more lengthy (1 academic year) periods previously enjoyed by students studying abroad.

The amount of students going to the US and UK is falling; however, student short trips are on the increase to other countries as well as scholarships becoming more available.

The ‘when’ of students studying abroad is changing:
- Number of high school students is on the rise while the number of 1st and 2nd year college students is decreasing
- Number of students who have been abroad is higher than ever before
- Students to Malta and the Philippines for English study is on the rise
- Not always English, Chinese study is becoming more and more popular

The number of International students is on the rise
Also increasing is the number of special needs students
There is a pronounced turn toward recruiting more internationals students as a larger pool of students as a percentage of the overall student population

Uncovering problems in traditionally taught courses in Japanese high schools and universities
- Largely input driven
- Students lack ability to synthesize information
- Lack of critical thinking skills

Key Demographic Changes
- Japanese population on decline
- Sweeping effect on education

What is the Future of on-line education
- Rise of Skype run English classes
- http://eikaiwa.dmm.com/material/ English learning services

Points regarding Teaching English in English (TEE)
- Students are coming to university with more English interest
- More skills
- More confidence

Other consequences of educational trends:
- Absorption of under-enrolled schools’ student populations into remaining institutions
- Overall lowering of overall student competency level due to lower-tiered schools disappearing and their students being absorbed my higher-tiered schools/institutions

Impact of ADHD, ADD, and other special needs students
- Instructors lack information and skill needed for most special needs students
- Teachers need training!

Technological Implications
- Most instructors untrained for competent technology use
- Many previously text based sources have gone on-line
- More tech in being used in class
- More fear of plagiarism due to lack of skill in using on-line databases for citation
- Conclusion?
- Get trained!

Reported by Matthew Diaz
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)

Monitoring
- 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
by
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
by
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
Saturday, September 26, 2015
by
Luc Gougeon
Carlous Ochante

Gougeon and Ochante illustrated the challenges of setting up an ICT environment. They covered good Web 2.0 practices, the creation of a dedicated ICT space, the use of Google applications for language learning and class management. Furthermore, the speakers addressed the use of SNS to connect teachers with students and the new IT TA (teacher assistant) program which supports efforts to set up a rich ICT environment.

Reported by Jason Lowes
Saturday, July 11, 2015
by Charles Browne

Browne opened with an overview of his considerable background in Extensive Reading (ER), vocabulary acquisition and in technology and how this has led to the development of the New General Service List (NGSL) of important vocabulary words for students of English as a second language. He next outlined some of the problems with the current educational environment in Japan, primarily that students are not being presented with a sufficient number high frequency words which is leading to lower ability and lower confidence levels. Reading texts that students encounter are too difficult for them to be able to guess the meaning of new words from context. Browne highlighted the need to expose students to texts with which they have a 95% confidence level at minimum. Teachers need to teach important high frequency words and it is with this in mind that the NGSL has been developed. He continued by explaining the methodology of how the NGSL was created - the corpora from which it is based. Browne is keen to see the NGSL become easily accessible, so it is freely available and it has been incorporated in a variety of online learning tools. Browne also spoke about intensive and extensive reading in the Japanese HS environment. All too often overly the use of overly difficult texts has led to a vicious downwards circle. Intentional vocabulary study in conjunction with extensive reading is needed. He closed his presentation by providing an in depth review of online tools and how, with the advent of smartphones, students can be engaged more easily that ever.

Reported by Anton Potgieter

Okinawa Chapter

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
by Suzanne Gundermann

After the previous day's successful introductory lecture a larger audience gathered for this exciting workshop.
The 90-minute workshop was aimed at university teaching staff who are currently teaching content in English (or planning to do so in the near future), University teaching staff who are teaching English language courses in English
and secondary school teachers who are teaching English language classes in English.

Dr Gundermann led the workshop by first disambiguating what exactly "English-taught" means and then showing teachers how to identify the influence of diversity in their classrooms. She then spoke about how to identify some of the common pitfalls and challenges in class and how they can be avoided using pre-class measures and in-class measures. She finally showed the audience how to enhance comprehension in class using interaction in class and communicative micro-methods.

In this highly interactive workshop groups were given various tasks which raised their awareness of the challenges of studying and teaching in an non-native language they were also introduced to various strategies that could help to limit language-based challenges.

Dr. Gundermann's workshop was informative, challenging and professional and a boon to any educator that attended.

Reported by Justin Foster-Sutherland
Sunday, February 12, 2017
by Michael Stout

A small crowd gathered to join in this three-part workshop. We were first introduced to a free online learning management system called Coursebase, Following that we were shown the pros and cons of using this LMS for academic writing instruction. Though the LMS is not feature rich the features it does have are quite useful for academic writing.
Next we were shown an example of academic reading circles which used Google Docs, it was fascinating to see the interesting take the students took on classic literature.
In the third part the we were shown how speaking classes benefit from action research. We were shown how we can incorporate these ideas into our own situations.
All in all this was a wonderful workshop and there was something relevant for any teacher at a university or any other institution for that matter.

Reported by Justin Foster-Sutherland

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