Event Reports

Event reports from our chapters and SIGs.

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Tottori Chapter

Sunday, July 5, 2015
by
Andrew Caldwell
Bettina Begole

Caldwell began by explaining how he modified Dictogloss, or Grammar Dictation as it is also known, for use in his junior high classes. He explained that his students work in pairs rather than groups, and he reads the text four times: In the first reading, the students listen only; second reading, student A takes notes; third reading, student B takes notes. After the fourth and final reading he asks the students to use their notes to reconstruct the text, and after this they compare their writing with other pairs. Caldwell pointed out that to have a positive effect, Dictogloss should be done on a regular basis.
Begole's presentation was titled Learning activities disguised as games and she began by emphasising the importance of students having fun while they are learning. Her workshop was about activities that can be used with students who cannot yet read or write and are thus not quite ready for four-skills lessons. First, she talked about different types of bingo that can be used in the classroom, for example, telling the time. She then divided us into groups, gave each group a different game and asked us to make our own rules and plan a way to use the game in our classes. Finally, each group explained their game to the other participants and Begole gave extra information explaining how she has used each game.

Reported by Shirley Leane
Sunday, April 12, 2015
by Dr Rob Waring

Dr Waring provided insight into the overrepresentation of intensive reading as a method of learning in Japanese schools, highlighting tendencies in Asian education systems of focusing more on knowledge than use of language, with little assumption that material covered will be recycled in later lessons. Waring also called attention to the inherent risks of exaggerated sense of student failure in the 'teaching causes learning' paradigm. Participant discussion brought attention to the necessity of repeated exposure to chunks of language in order to make use of active vocabulary. Also explored were the benefits of extensive reading on fluency as well as improvements in vocabulary as measured on standardised tests. Waring presented a plethora of resources for incorporating extensive reading into a variety of teaching systems.

Reported by Tremain Xenos
by
Naho Iwata
Noriko Nakada
Hitomi Taniguchi
Nicolas Verhoeven
Shirley Leane

On September 13, 2016 Tottori JALT held a “My Share” event at Tottori University. Naho Iwata (Aoya high school), Noriko Nakada and Hitomi Taniguchi (both from Tottori Higashi high school) talked about Using iPads in the Classroom. Nicolas Verhoeven of Tottori University of Environmental Studies talked about What is a ‘Good’ Teacher? And, Shirley Leane of Tottori University gave a workshop on Assessing Communication Skills in Large Classes.

Presentation 1: Naho Iwata, Hitomi Taniguchi and Noriko Nakada talked about the pressures that public school teachers are feeling recently to use ICT tools, such as the iPad, in the language classroom. Such tools are being encouraged in order to improve students' learning and scores. The speakers discussed what they learned through actually using the iPad in their own classrooms (the good, bad and the ugly) and shared several teaching ideas that displayed ways to effectively use the iPad as not only a teaching tool, but more importantly, as a learning tool. They introduced two main activities. The first was a show and tell introduction of the students’ favorite spots around school. The students videotaped their speeches using iPads and then compiled several videos into a seamless video presentation. The second was a jigsaw activity where the students became ‘experts’ about various endangered animal species through researching information on the iPads (in English or Japanese) and then did group discussions and presentations. In conclusion, the speakers believe that there are limitless possibilities for ICT tools to improve our students’ learning, motivation and confidence, but that such tools must be used properly if you want effective learning to actually occur.

Presentation 2: Nicolas Verhoeven actively discussed with the audience the question of What Makes a ‘Good’ Teacher? He reminded us that our own cultural backgrounds and personal experiences create “ideal images” of "the good teacher." Nico had us passionately discussing in no time our own ideas about what the teacher is supposed to do in the classroom, and shared with us his ideas on some bad habits (such as “flying with the fastest student”) that language teachers need to avoid. He emphasised that “inside a good teacher’s classroom there is a lot of LEARNING going on” and suggested the book Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener as a great reference for those who want to become great teachers.

Presentation 3: Shirley Leane discussed the difficulties of Assessing Communicative Skills in Large Classes. We talked about the reasons why teachers assess students, the large variety of tests that exist, and which of them might be useful in our classes. In no time Shirley had the audience in groups of four debating hot topics related to assessment and evaluation. She presented the audience with various difficult testing situations in classrooms where the teacher had to somehow find a way to accurately assess the students’ language abilities. She then asked us what we would do in that situation, whether we agreed with the suggested means of assessment, and if we had any suggestions for improvements. The presentation was thoroughly engaging and every participant got a chance to give their opinions and discuss various interesting aspects related to the difficulties language teachers face every day. The take away message was that assessment must meet the goals of the class. She recommended a free online reference called “Teaching and Learning Languages, A Guide” as a good resource for busy teachers.

Reported by Christopher Hollis
by
Mutsumi Kawasaki
David Barker

We were delighted to welcome Mutsumi Kawasaki and David Barker of Gifu University to Tottori for a witty and relatable presentation on the personal experiences of learning Japanese and English. This was a particularly memorable presentation because it was the first one held in Tottori that was conducted in both English and Japanese.

David began by explaining in Japanese how he went about the task of learning the language, and what he discovered about language learning on the journey. Drawing from his experiences, he talked of his belief that learners need to move from being students to users of language and they have to feel that they are making success. While there may be emotional ups and downs with learning a language, the fundamental message is that a massive investment of time and effort – especially applied outside the classroom – will see a huge payoff in language acquisition.

Continuing this thought, Mutsumi related in English how she overcame her initial negative feelings about the language that began at a young age and she experiences both highs and lows with learning English almost on a daily basis. She said that while she does not believe that language learners necessarily have to travel abroad to acquire another language, she built upon David’s message that diligent repetition and perseverance are crucial elements. Interactive group activities got the presentation participants involved by having them consider their personal enjoyment and achievement in their own language studies.

Many thanks and a big well done are extended to Mutsumi and David for the engaging and practical presentation - one that each and every member can take lessons from, both for their own learning and that of their students.

Reported by Raymond Levy

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