Chapter Reports - September 2011

 
AKITA: May—Akita-JALT 2010 Nagoya national conference all-star presentationbyWayne Malcolm, Carlos Budding, Sean Arnold, Bobby Takahashi,and Steve Shucart. This meeting was divided into four parts,which wereversions of talks given at the 2010 JALT National Conference. Budding started the afternoon with his presentation:Lights, camera, action - Using drama and theatre in the language classroom. NextArnold took over talking about Developing leaders through reading and discussion. Takahashi and Shucartfollowed with their talk Using story-telling in the CBI classroom. The final presentation, Latest developments of “Investigating and exploring non-judgmental stances,” was an update on the Nagoya presentation Malcolmgave with his partnerTakaaki Hiratsuka, who was unable to attend, as he is now at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Malcolmpresented the most recent findings from their study. Each presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session.
Reported by Stephen Shucart 
 
AKITA: June—Autonomous language earning: Efforts in Akita citybyJoe Sykes andYo Hamada (Akita University), Marjo Mitsutomi (LDIC at Akita International University), and Ayumi Fujita (CILL at College Plaza). Mitsutomi, a native of Finland, started off with a short introduction to the Language Development and Intercultural Center (LDIC) at Akita International University. Next Fujita spoke about the Center for Independent Language Learning (CILL) at College Plaza in downtown Akita. Finally, Sykes andHamada talked about Akita University's current effort to motivate students to extend their learning options. Recently, they started the Autonomous Language Learning (ALL) rooms, which are open to all AU students. Sykes and Hamada coordinate the operation, but there is a large student presence in the day-to-day operations. This meeting was in two parts: 1) short presentations and 2) a moderated discussion.
                                                                           Reported by Stephen Shucart
 
GUNMA: MayPursuing the perfect presentation: Content, design, narrative, structure, and deliveryby Rab Paterson. Paterson prefaced his presentation by saying, despite its title, there is no such thing as a perfect presentation. Perfection in presentation is instead a "Zen-like state" which one never fully achieves, but is nonetheless to be constantly sought. Toward this end, Paterson walked Gunma Chapter members through the basics of making and delivering exemplary presentations. He spoke to the importance of evoking emotion in order to induce dopamine production, thereby increasing memory retention. He presented various helpful pneumonic devices such as KISS (keep it simple stupid), the three As of content selection (it must be accessible, appropriate and attractive), the CRAP principles of design (contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity), and the rule of three (three beers are better than one). Most importantly, he prevailed on us to have fun and inject our own joy and humor when presenting. Perhaps more informative than Paterson's content, however, was watching Paterson's presentation itself. Like any master, he made the art of presentation look easy and even enjoyable. Organizational tactics and presentation strategies learned this session will no doubt enable Gunma Chapter attendees to give better presentations and to teach our students to do the same.
Reported by John Larson
 
GUNMA: June—Moving music to center stageby Deborah Grow. Grow admits freely that she has no formal education training. Indeed, she seemed proud of learning to teach at the "school of hard knocks." In her career teaching both in New York and Japan she has taught all ages and continues to do so using theory and techniques gleaned from her background in musical theatre and music composition. In her presentation/workshop, Moving music to center stage, Grow introduced Gunma JALT members to practical activities she uses in her classroom and the theory behind them. By relying on rhyme and rhythm, music can help non-natives with difficult pronunciation and tempos of English. Likewise, song lyrics are often sung in phrases, rather than word by word, and this chunking can aid students' memories. And music can naturally be used as a powerful motivator in the classroom. Keeping her promise of a hands-on experience, Grow finished her lecture by leading Gunma JALT members in some music-based activities. Members beat Hawaiian rhythm sticks, played games and participated in a sing-along. While Grow has successfully made the jump from artist to teacher, it seems doubtful that any of our members will embark on a similar career change from education to music.
Reported by John Larson
 
GUNMA: July—The brain, the self, and the successful learner by Chuck Sandy. A common approach in language education is banking language for use at some unknown point in the future. Sandy believes this approach is just not working and must be changed. While institutions don’t seem to be interested in our individual classes, we must be. He encouraged the audience to “Be the Change,” one class at a time. One change should be to view language as a toolbox, language for the here and now communication of that classroom, in order to break the cycle of failure many of our students come to our classes with. Students learn what they want to learn, and to increase learning, the classroom must be viewed as a community where everybody has something to contribute. He gave us examples where his students share their personal stories and how this sharing led to a community where everyone in it became cool. His textbook series, Active Skills for Communication, written with Curtis Kelly, is designed to help students say what they want to say about themselves and their lives through a series of pair/group work activities that engage students’ emotions, cares, and dreams. 
                                                            Reported by Lori Ann Desrosiers
 
HAMAMATSU: May—Common sense in English education through textbooks used across Asiaby Najma Janjua. The presenter began by addressing Japanese common sense in English education in Japan, namely that using Japanese in and for English education in Japan is natural. The particular area on which the presenter focused was the amount of English used in Japanese high school textbooks. The presenter then compared this amount with the amount of English used in some high school textbooks in four other Asian countries where English is also taught as a foreign language. The textbooks from all the countries had to be government approved, used in compulsory English education, and had to be high school English textbooks. The presenter found that the Japanese textbooks used Japanese in the textbook, whereas the other textbooks used English only. In conclusion, the presenter deduced that the use of Japanese in English high school textbooks in Japan follows Japanese common sense, and that this common sense likely differs from those of the other countries involved in the study.
Reported by Kate Sakakiyama
 
HAMAMATSU: JuneThe status of compulsory English in public elementary schoolby Ann Mayeda. Confusion among teachers and administrators over how to implement English education in public elementary schools seems to be the norm across the country. This presenter aimed to settle the muddy waters by first defining and clarifying the MEXT Course of Study for elementary school foreign language activities, then through a discussion on the realities of the classroom with the presenter sharing her insights as trainer, teacher, and parent along the way. In the end, participants left with a clearer sense of the MEXT goals and how conflicting interpretations between "teaching" English and "enjoying English activities" leads to the confusion.
Reported by Jon Dujmovich

KAGOSHIMA: AprilEaster activities my share seminar at Kagoshima English booksby various presenters. This was our third event of the year. This seminar focused on the most mysterious of Western holidays, Easter. We discussed the origins of Easter and the meaning of the Easter symbols: the egg and the bunny. We also shared many Easter themed activities that we could use in the classroom and played a rather fun Easter Egg collecting board game, eating some Easter chocolates in the process! After our seminar we had our first party of the year.
Reported by Lee Glenister
 
KAGOSHIMA: MayTeaching proficiency through reading and storytelling (TPRS)by Melinda Kawahara.The fourth event of the year, at Sunyell, was an entertaining and informative introduction to the teaching methodology of TPRS – Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. First we were treated to a demonstration lesson, in Spanish! This gave everyone a sample of the central ideas in the method: using students’ ideas in a story and repetition of key words. After that, we had a go at giving our own mini-lesson, in any language we wanted. We were lucky to have a wide variety of people attend, so were treated to stories in many languages, from Danish to Cebuwano!
Reported by Lee Glenister
 
KITAKYUSHU: JuneTesting times: Ensuring success by Michael Phillips. Phillips gave us a zany and fun glimpse into the principles of test construction (and an invitation to see it again in its entirety online at <prezi.com/zx8dwynovou3/testing-times-ensuring-success>), insisting we anticipate answers for our as-yet un-posed questions, in groups, in an effective way of teasing out the knowledge we might have about the subject, such as how and to what extent diagnostic, summative, and formative assessment impact learning. Later we were invited to mull over the overlapping meanings and relative importance of evaluation, measurement, and testing. He ran us through types and purposes of tests, pointing out that while certain high-stakes tests may rate someone as having a high level of achievement, that score does not necessarily translate into real-world fluency. Washback, which is the students’ attitudinal reactions to testing, is a big obstacle to reliability. For him, the most interesting part of the testing cycle is testing for learning, rather than learning for testing. Phillips finished up with a great little video reminder of what teaching and learning should feel like. 
Reported by Dave Pite
 
NAGOYA: May—Textbooks and common sense in Asia byNajima Janjua. Janjua had been making postdoctoral human genetics studies in Montreal. Getting a fellowship to study at Okayama University, she had never thought of learning Japanese, thinking English would be spoken in Japan. However, her Japanese students do not understand her in English, having learned English in Japanese through the grammar-translation method, using English textbooks with commands and explanations in Japanese, throughout their high school years. Her comparative study of Japanese high school textbooks with other non-native Asian counterparts, namely, of China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Russia shows that all the textbooks but Japanese ones are written exclusively in English, not using their respective vernaculars, and that Japanese common sense in the use of L1 in the textbooks appears to be different from that in other Asian countries. As for oral communication, all textbooks use Japanese despite being meant for oral communication. Janjua’s conclusion is to make it common sense to avoid using L1 in textbooks, to give instructions for tests in English, to give meanings in English, and to fill gaps between goals and implementation to cultivate the Japanese into fluent English speakers.
Reported by Kayoko Kato
 
NAGOYA: June—An introduction to the Montessori method byKaren Ricks. Montessori’s materials were created through kids’ senses. Ricks encouraged us to touch, try, experiment, and explore her materials. They stir up people’s interests because a small picture is hidden beyond the door or a soap bubble comes out from an ice cream cone and you can blow bubbles if you like. Those materials cause students to find different crossover fields, for example, soap bubbles to the bubbles in hand washing, in a washing machine, and in flush water, and teach many words and sentences with a sense of cold and warm water. Kids are interested in repetition, touching, feeling, smelling, tonguing, wondering how to handle the material, picking it up, and trying it. Ricks showed how to transfer activities in silence to concentrate their attention with observation. Puzzles of a picture with a peg arouse a kid’s curiosity. A wrong piece doesn’t fit the hole of the picture. Montessori called it “Control of error.” Materials are made self-correcting so kids have confidence to know they can get a right answer by themselves. Sandpaper letters and perfumed lids teach kids phonics and later comparison. Kids always have A-ha moments.
Reported by Kayoko Kato
 
OKAYAMA: May—Social justice and critical consciousness in the university EFL classroom byAlexis Pusina. Pusina started his presentation with a personal history outlining how the sociopolitical and personal contexts of his youth have influenced his interest in social issues, including teaching through critical pedagogy. Following his personal narrative, Pusina solicited similar stories from those in attendance and asked that they try to relate how their personal stories have influenced their teaching/approach to education. This approach, of eschewing the common roles of teacher as informant (Paulo Freire) and student as patient information receptacle (object) in favor of teacher and student equitably contributing to the narrative, is a hallmark of critical pedagogy. Pusina then guided the attendees through a series of quotes by influential thinkers on critical pedagogy. Two qualities that were examined in some depth were the aim of instilling a sense of social consciousness in students and the goal of empowering them with the skill of cultural critical thinking. Consideration and discussion about the means, appropriateness, and acceptance of using critical pedagogy in collectivist societies was held. Pusina closed his presentation with some concrete suggestions for integrating critical pedagogy into both communication of and writing TEFL classes.
Reported by Mutsumi Kawasaki
 
OKAYAMA: JuneWhat do English teachers need to know about English?byDavid Barker. Barker believes very strongly that English teachers should know a lot about the English language if they are to be taken seriously as professionals, and in turn that teachers should spend more time actually teaching language in the classroom. With this in mind, in a highly informative and entertaining manner, Barker raised participants’ awareness of what he means by language knowledge and how teachers might get that across to students. The areas that he focused on included style and errors, language analysis, meta language, and tricky questions that students might ask (such as what is the difference between convince and persuade? Or when do you use the Oxford comma?). Participants worked together to try and solve Barker’s linguistic conundrums and in the process became aware of any knowledge gaps that a committed teacher should try to fill. If you are not sure about convince/persuade or the Oxford comma then go find out, or ask David!
Reported by Neil Cowie
 
OMIYA: April—Putting Truman on trial – an academic speaking workshopby Jason White and Content-based classes for fun and profit by John Helwig. White’s workshop provided teachers with the opportunity to get a firsthand look at how an eight-week long academic speaking project gets a group of 21 students to step beyond their normal ideas of English speaking and challenge themselves to produce a collaborative final. Putting World War II President Harry Truman on trial for crimes against humanity supplies the role-playing framework for students to learn and develop the essential academic speaking skills of inference, persuasion, and elaboration. The workshop put the audience in the roles of the students, allowing them to discuss and participate in the preliminary activities of the project that led to the final presentation. In the second half of our session, Helwig spoke on how content can be added to most skills-based classes. The presenter led the audience step-by-step in how to create one’s own content-based class visually providing examples from his own experience. Helwig also discussed the Photography 101 class he created last year. He provided solid reasoning for using these heavily content-based techniques.
Reported by Ivan Botev
OMIYA: May—Practical activities using Mac Keynote byMary Nobuoka andTeaching English – It’s YOUR businessbyMiguel Gervais. Nobuoka demonstrated practical ideas and classroom activities utilizing Mac Keynote software (much of which is applicable to PowerPoint software). The presentation included tips and cautions on preparing and using technology in the classroom. Teachers were involved in integrating fun, interactive, and engaging activities for their digital-age students and gained practical ideas to bring back to their classrooms. Towards the end of the presentation participants were encouraged to share their experiences and ideas using Keynote or PowerPoint in the language classroom. In the second half, Gervais covered a somewhat novel topic – that of the business-side of teaching English. The presentation provided some interesting ideas for improving cash flows and personally managing a teacher’s own affairs in a turbulent economy. It also sketched out a personal business plan and discussed some of the nuts and bolts of the business of teaching English in Japan. Gervais provided some intriguing data on the corporative situation as well as his solid reasoning behind starting a sole proprietorship of an English school in the country.
Reported by Ivan Botev
OSAKA: MayBeyond knowing words: Assessing the quality of vocabulary knowledge by John Read. On his way to give a plenary speech at the 2011 PAN SIG conference in Matsumoto, Nagano, Read spent an evening with Osaka JALT, assessing the quality of second language vocabulary knowledge. Read examined the differences between evaluating vocabulary breadth (size) and depth (quality). He briefly reviewed various well-known vocabulary tests available, including Paul Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test, the New Vocabulary Size Test, and the computer based Yes/No Test. Read then discussed other measures of L2 vocabulary knowledge that go beyond knowing individual words, such as the use of word association tests. This led to a lively discussion about the role of words as single lexical items and as part of academic formulae (e.g., multi-word lexical units, collocations, lexical phrases, chunks, phrasal expressions, etc.). Read closed the presentation by discussing different potential test formats that address the quality of vocabulary knowledge. Read is the author of Assessing Vocabulary, published by Cambridge University Press. Osaka JALT would like to thank Cambridge University Press for the promotional notebooks given to all attendees.
Reported by Laura Markslag
 
OSAKA: June7th annual Tech-Day Plus by various presenters. The seventh annual event featured 30 presentations and raised nearly ¥50,000 for Tohoku orphans via the Ashinaga charity group. (A special thanks to Gordon "Good Job" Wilson, who hooked up wires for the presenters!) Under the theme of simplicity and practicality were ideas that language teachers and learners can use. The "Tech" presentations took place in three computer labs, with other presentations on non-technical topics in the "Plus" room. The plenary speech was titled Online education and virtual organizations, given bySteve McCarty, who was several times president of the U.S.-based NPO World Association for Online Education <waoe.org>.  Other presentations included John Campbell-Larsen's Creating a video corpus, Troy Guze's How to protect sensitive data on your computer with encryption, and Chris Brizzard's Creating podcasts with audacity. A talk on Teaching paperless was given by Kelly Butler and Michael Wilkins, while Andrew Philpott spoke on Motivating students using CALL and blended learning, and Harry Carley presented on Working with Wikis, technology in teachingWilliam Hogue gave three Google-focused talks called Flip your classroom with Google, followed by Course websites with Google sites, and Google forms for homework? Simon Bibby presented on Investigating student preferences, proficiency and usage patterns: PCs versus cell phones. This year's event even included a scholar passing through from Poland, Michal B. Paradowski, who spoke on InfoVis Interfaces: Moving beyond corpus in the language and culture classroom. Summaries of the above can be viewed and downloaded here: <osakajalt.org/blog/>. The final roundtable discussion concluded with a consensus that although there is a lot of technology out there for teachers to use, the focus should always be on the learning benefit of the students, rather than simply using technology "because it's there." This conference gave those who attended great examples of effectively melding technology with teaching, and as technology continues to impact the classroom, our Tech-Day Plus events are sure to grow, so please join us for number eight next year!
Reported by Ray Franklin
 
OSAKA: June—Purposes and approaches to foreign language education: Universalism or particularism?by Mike Byram. The lecture was co-sponsored by the FLP SIG, East Shikoku Chapter, and Osaka Chapter. Byram first discussed language teaching curriculum policies and practices that include the promotion of nationalism, internationalism, or cosmopolitanism as stated (or unstated) goals. Found especially in public/state schools is nationalism – with the primary purpose of strengthening students’ identification with the state. Internationalism, which is less often a stated goal of language education, includes practices that strengthen ties between people of certain nations, while individuals maintain a sense of national identity. While not stating that one aim of foreign language teaching ~ism is necessarily better than another, as a third option Byram introduced what he calls cosmopolitanism, which is a mindset of foregoing identity with a certain state and being a part of a world community/culture. Next Byram mentioned that the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) does not include intercultural competence measures; however, such goals and objectives can be clearly stated and implemented. Intercultural competence can be broken down into five parts: 1) skills of interpreting/ relating documents or events from another culture, 2) knowledge of other cultures’ artifacts or practices, 3) critical cultural awareness of perspectives, practices, and products in one’s own and other cultures, 4) attitudes of curiosity/openness to one’s own cultural identity and other cultures, and 5) skills of discovery and interaction. Before fielding questions from the audience, Byram asserted that intercultural communicative competence is not only something teachers might include if they have extra time, but it is something that can be leveled and assessed in a similar way that linguistic skills are using the CEFR.
 
                                                                                    No reporter listed
 
SHIZUOKA: AprilSolving puzzles and encouraging curiositybyJohn F. Fanslow. Fanslow arrived, moved our furniture, and made us think. He made us solve and write hieroglyphic puzzles and then recommended activities which encourage curiosity by giving incomplete information or information in a different medium from what students have to produce or translate. He emphasized that it is students, not teachers, who need to have the questions in order to learn. He spoke about the beauty of contrasts and how constantly looking for alternatives can help us help our students and help ourselves in our teaching: What happens if I do/try X?  What happens if I don’t do/try Y? Simple, binary choices are the foundation for so much learning, as they lead to another question, or set of possibilities.  With a stellar career including being Professor Emeritus at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Fanslow spoke against emphasizing tests we quickly forget instead of stories, literature, and poems, which we remember. He is a tall, quiet hurricane of knowledge and ideas. One participant told Fanslow she was “shockingly inspired by his methods.” I encourage everyone who loves education to listen to him speak as often as possible. You should also check out his blog: You call yourself a teacher!? Or, like some of us did, buy one of his books: Contrasting Conversations (Longman 1992) and Try the Opposite (SIMUL 1992).
Reported by Jennifer Hansen
 
TOKYO: July—English Rakugo and its effectiveness in English educationby Tatsuya Sudo. This seminar introduced English Rakugo and its use in English education. Rakugo is a traditional verbal entertainment. The lone storyteller sits on the stage, and without standing up from the Japanese seiza position, the performer depicts a long, complicated, comical story using only a paper fan and a small towel. The story always involves two or more characters, and the performer depicts the differences only through changes in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head. Sudo claims the effectiveness of Rakugo in English class, since learners can practice conversational English without partners, and they can learn Japanese traditional culture, humor, and cross-cultural elements. He explained the history ofRakugo and English Rakugo, and how it can be taught in English class. The highlight of the seminar was Sudo's own English Rakugo performance.
Reported by Akie Nyui-Kozuka
 

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