Chapter Reports - January 2013

 

GIFU: September — ELT 2.0 by Michael Stout. Participants at this workshop were introduced to the next generation of English Language Teaching, otherwise known as ELT 2.0. This form of ELT is based upon an “architecture of participation,” where all of the content is learner-generated. As such, students spend a lot of time interacting with each other, producing and responding to peers via a range of new technologies.

Professor Stout introduced 12 web-based applications for facilitating this brand of ELT. As well as old favorites such as Blogger, Flickr and Fotobabble, some lesser-known applications with great potential for use in the language classroom were also presented. For example, Quizlet allows students individually, and even whole classes working together to create their own flashcards for vocabulary learning. These cards can then be automatically turned into a mini online test. For classes that are more creatively inclined, Toondoo, Makebeliefcomix, Goanimate and Dvolver aid students in creating short cartoons or animated presentations.

All in all, there is a whole host of applications available on the Web, most for free, that can be used to inspire creativity and personalization in the language classroom.

Reported by Paul Wicking

 

GUNMA: September — Empowering student presentations with PechaKucha by Sylvan Payne. Death by PowerPoint. There are 300,000,000 PowerPoint users around the world right now. 30,000,000 PowerPoint presentations are being prepared right now. 1,000,000 PowerPoint presentations are being given right now. And half of them are terrible. Students around the world see these bad presentations and mistakenly think that the PowerPoint style of presentation is all there is. They learn to give PowerPoint presentations, and in turn teach future generations how to give them. The vicious cycle continues. But there is hope. PechaKucha is a new style of presentation where presenters are only given 20 slides and 20 seconds to present each slide. Slides progress automatically, forcing the presenter to be succinct, racing their slide deck. Sylvan Payne sees the PechaKucha 20X20 presentation style not only as a confidence-building classroom activity, but also as a necessary component of a paradigm shift away from PowerPoint. Payne was able to show Gunma JALT members his successful implementation of PechaKucha in his classes and successfully introduced the many benefits of PechaKucha, namely: it's short, high-interest, practical in large classes, and most of all, fun. The meeting ended with a group discussion about the various ways Gunma JALT attendees use presentations in their classrooms.

Reported by John Larson

 

GUNMA: October —  Students' voice and critical thinking about environmental issues through news item writing by Inggy Yuliani Pribady. Genre pedagogies have drawn on Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, which views language as a resource for making meaning in social context—also known as a semiotic system. It embodies the idea that the grammar system of the English Language facilitates certain kinds of social and interpersonal interaction, represents ideas about the world, and connects these interactions and ideas into a meaningful and relevant contextual scheme. Pribady's presentation described ways in which appropriate scaffolding teaching and learning activities in genre pedagogy helped her students to critically shape ideas to the issues of environment through their writing. This scaffolding took the form of a particular sequence of activities known as ‘teaching and learning cycle,’ namely Building Knowledge of The Field, Modeling of the Text, Joint Construction and Independent Construction.

This meeting fell on the same day as the Maebashi Festival and was located very near the center of the action—afterwards, it was the privilege of Gunma JALT attendees to introduce our guest to her first Japanese festival.

Reported by John Larson

 

HAMAMATSU: September — Annual general meeting/informal Q&A with Steve Cornwell. Eri Gemma, Dan Frost and Jon Dujmovich presented the chapter officer reports for the year prior, followed by elections. Coordinating Committee Positions filled were Treasurer (Gemma), Publicity Coordinator (Frost), Programs Coordinator (Dujmovich), Membership Coordinator (Colin Verstrepen) and President (Dujmovich). Supporting positions filled were Facilities (Santiago Cortez), Reception (Pierre Allard) and Meetings Reporter (Susan Sullivan). As Hamamatsu was the host city for the 2012 JALT National conference, Steve Cornwell—JALT National Director of Programs—and representation from the National Conference Committee, provided attendees with a preview of some of the 2012 JALT National Conference events and activities. A casual question and answer session followed. It was noted that members would host and be invited to dinner and discussion with the JALT 2012 Balsamo Asian Scholar Featured Speaker, Inggy Yulaini.

Reported by Susan Sullivan

 

HIMEJI: October —  Research and resources and Teaching students about plagiarism and citation by Susan Gilfert. Coinciding with the AGM and election of new officers, where three relatively new members came forward to take on roles, Himeji Chapter hosted two presentations by Susan Gilfert. Drawing on her qualifications and professional work as a librarian, a teacher of Advanced Writing for ESL in the US, and years of experience teaching EFL in Japan, Gilfert first outlined where academic researchers and advanced students can locate information and find credible resources. Sources were differentiated between those used to become generally informed a field and those providing more rigorous academic or scholarly content. A list of 8 criteria was provided for evaluating information, along with a checklist researchers can look to when searching sources. Due to a lack of coverage, she has found in typical writing course books, including those for academic writing, Gilfert next shared an extensive set of handouts for teaching citation and avoiding plagiarism. The materials went from working through the search menu of an online database to scanning abstracts to outlining specific details to be aware of in APA citations and reference lists. Participants in the workshop had a chance to understand how the models can be introduced in class with time leftover to work both through samples of practical exercises for teaching citation and referencing when writing research papers and graduation theses. Lunchtime provided an opportunity to thank outgoing officers Wendy Tada, Andrew Philpott, and Rika Tanaka, to recognize the ongoing efforts of Treasurer – Shigeo Sakata and Publicity Chair – Cecy Wales and to welcome newly elected Jason White, David Lees, and Jennifer Vizcaya as President, Program Chair, and Membership Chair respectively. 

Reported by Greg Rouault

 

HOKKAIDO: October — Genre pedagogy to lead students to a high stake of learning: Students’ voices and critical thinking about environment issues through news item writing by Inggy Yuliani Pribady. Pribady, a JALT 2012 Balsamo Asian Scholar, kicked off her JALT Japan tour at our meeting in Sapporo. She is a junior high school teacher in Indonesia and her report about the English curriculum in Indonesia had us all intrigued. In Indonesia, the public schools are given a curriculum framework but also the freedom to independently create their own curriculum sensitive to the school’s situation and context. Students start learning English from grade one in elementary school, and from junior high school it is the language of instruction for the subjects of math, art, science and technology. Referring to systematic functional linguistics (SFL) and a genre based approach (GBA), Pribady went on to describe how students work on projects (content based learning) which give them further opportunity to study a topic (sometimes linked with their studies in science or technology) in English. A four-stage model was described where students build knowledge of the topic through critical reading. A text is then given as a model and the teacher gives explicit instruction on its structure, grammar and language features. Next, the teacher and students critically discuss the topic and students work together to create texts. Finally, students independently write draft texts, which are teacher and peer reviewed, edited and then published. Products of this process were presented: these included posters and videos in the genre of news items on global warming and environmental issues created by students. The presenter also spoke of regular class interaction with an English class in South Korea via Skype through the British Council Schools Online program. She emphasized the need to accept different varieties/accents of English and this program was giving her students experience in communicating using English as lingua franca, while also making friends abroad.

Reported by Haidee Thomson

 

IBARAKI: September — 1) Idea-generating tools: Applications to teaching argumentative writing to groups of college students in Japan by Naomi Takagi. Takagi presented her research on using brainstorming and brainwriting (Pin Cards) as part of group writing projects in EFL classroom in Japan. Her classroom observations and student reactions suggest that the EFL students may respond more favorably to brainwriting (Pin Cards) than to brainstorming for its effectiveness in generating a number of useful ideas. However, in terms of enjoyableness, they may prefer brainstorming as it helps to enhance the sense of solidarity among group members. She concluded her presentation, stating that spending time on idea generation may be beneficial because students can mull over the subject, look into their own knowledge and experiences, and learn from others, all of which are conducive to their growth as writers and thinkers. 2) Using T.V. commercials in English class by Joyce Cunningham. In this interactive presentation, Cunningham discussed the use of commercials in order to enhance EFL learners’ cultural and linguistic literacy. After exploring advantages and disadvantages of commercials as teaching materials, she emphasized that instructors need to reflect on and tailor their objectives accordingly. For instance, if the aim is to enhance students’ understanding of the target culture, the class may look into aspects such as the commercial’s audience, explicit & implicit messages, or use of non-verbal communication. If the goal is to learn language in context, the class may focus on reviewing grammar, pronunciation, or words and expressions used in the commercial. The class could also spend an entire semester on studying commercials as well as planning and producing student-generated commercials. Throughout the presentation, Cunningham offered opportunities for attendees to analyze sample commercials for effectiveness and usefulness as teaching materials. 

Reported by Naomi Takagi

 

IWATE: September ― The M&M’s of teaching English to young learners by Kathleen Kampa. Kampa talked about the power of music, movement, and multiple intelligences (MI) to create a dynamic learning environment. She explained that music enhances memorization as well as a specific critical process in language acquisition. Correspondingly, the movement invites students to learn by doing, a process that builds neural networks in the brain and throughout the body. However, an important question was, “Are music and movement effective for all learners?” At this session, we learned to incorporate different elements of MI and help young learners succeed in the EFL classroom. It was interesting to learn that I was “Picture Smart.” I never thought I was!

Reported by Harumi Ogawa

 

KITAKYUSHU: September — Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Fad or future? by Michael Phillips. Phillips posited the need for a new theory of education to cover 21st century changes in information processing and communication technologies.  We all brainstormed together and watched a short film depicting how quickly things are changing and assessed whether new critical thinking skills are being taught in the modern classroom, or if it is just the case of recycled skill-sets being delivered at faster speeds.  He reported that digital literacy is moving from learning and storing to accessing information and that creating has supplanted evaluating.

Siemens (2004/5) maintains that behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism need a concept driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly changing knowledge foundations.  After a theoretical review of connectivist learning theory which considers new meanings of ‘learning and knowledge’ that would meet the needs of learners in the digital age, present and future, we were encouraged to discuss in small groups how this information could impact our teaching practice.

The presentation finished with a thought-provoking video clip which outlined some ways of accessing information on the web and underscored the necessity of good teachers to thus disseminate it all into something in which students can relate and respond.

Reported by Dave Pite

 

KITAKYUSHU: October — Helping our students become multi-competent academic writers by Carol Rinnert. From a three-hour presentation delivered in half the time, we got an impression of what is involved in researching the development of English writing abilities among EFL students in Japan.  

In the U.S. Rinnert taught composition at Boise State University and researched Japanese writers there.  She found they tended to go from specific to general, in contrast to their American counterparts.   After coming to Japan, she teamed up with Hiroe Kobayashi at Hiroshima University, encountering new trends in multilingualism—particularly a tendency to downplay the hitherto favored focus on monolingual mastery of the target language—and the realization that intercultural speakers and writers are potentially superior role models.  Alternatively, attention is shifting to Vivien Cook’s (1991) notion of multi-competence (the compound state of a mind with two grammars) as a standard of evaluation. 

Results were reported of Rinnert and Kobayashi’s long-term, multi-stage research project and their implications for improving multi-competent academic writing.  Diagrams illustrated essay structures in three different languages as demonstrated by different writers; “think-aloud” techniques helped show changes over time and how repertoires of writing knowledge expand and are internalized.   Discussion followed regarding adaptation of this model and implications for teaching, such as goals and methods of writing instruction.

Reported by Dave Pite

 

KYOTO: September — Annual general meeting and ‘Practice makes perfect’ practice event for the national conference. Chapter officer elections for 2012-2013 started the meeting followed by three presentation rehearsals for the Hamamatsu National Conference, with each session succeeded by 10 minutes of feedback concerning content, delivery, and visuals.  (1) Learning to make a difference at the Model U.N. by Calum Adamson.  Keeping with the conference theme of ‘Making a Difference’ Adamson outlined Kyoto Gaidai Nishi High School’s Model United Nations(MUN), and argued that debate about real-world issues in a MUN setting gives learners ample opportunity to develop their English and critical thinking skills. (2) L2 Motivation:  Natural Sciences vs. Liberal Arts by Karl Hedburg.  The presenter reported on a questionnaire-based quantitative study concerning factors that motivate these two groups of tertiary students.  Pedagogical implications were also discussed.  (3) Using Manzai to energize slow learners at university by Ted Bonnah.  For Bonnah, manzai-themed student presentations were a successful twist on the traditional presentation-style lesson for his low-ability and low-motivation learners.  Performances captured on video kick-started lively student-reflection sessions in class and were a treat to watch for members in attendance.

Reported by Gretchen Clark

 

NAGOYA: September ― ELT 2.0 by Michael Stout. Web 1.0 is the original Internet, ‘read only’, but to Web 2.0, anybody can post user-generated content, like Twitter, Mixy, and Facebook. ELT 2.0 is the next generation of ELT designs based on architecture of participation, which lever the power of collective intelligence. Stout uses Blogger as a tool of his projects using learner-generated content. At the beginning of his lessons, he handed out an intensive reader and its comprehension questions. Next, he gave out a detective story as extensive reading. He had students make comprehension questions, quizzes and add their own stories to the original. The other class students also contributed comments to the story from their cell phones, which then created conversation among them. Stout shared several useful applications for lessons: Voicethread, Fotobabble, Xtranormal, and so on, giving these instructions: 1. Choose a theme for the project, 2. Determine the final outcome, 3. Experiment with different applications, 4. Choose an application and make a model, 5. Structure the project, 6. Introduce the application to the learners, 7. Share the final outcome, 8. Evaluate the application.  With an iPad given by Stout, each group made their own lesson plan per his instruction.

Reported by Kayoko Kato

 

NARA: September ― Ways that work in teaching children by Takako Watanabe and Kazuo Watanabe. A twelve-year-old Japanese girl made a several-minute speech fluently in English and another student said she did not like her English teacher at junior high school conducting class in Japanese. These were excerpts from a video recorded at Watanabe English School, where Takako Watanabe, an experienced bilingual English teacher, has implemented an immersion teaching program in an interactive learning environment. Her teaching principles are founded in language-conscious content teaching, which is essentially based on Harold Palmer’s principles of language teaching. Here, grammar is not intensively learned at the school. Instead, students are given a great deal of exposure to graded readers in the school library, where thousands of books are kept. Books are an indispensable study tool for the students, in that they learn how English texts are organized, find discussion topics for interactive activities, and can also examine English writing techniques. In fact, they copy some pages of a book into their own notebooks and from this understand sentence structures and grammatical functions. Watanabe’s challenges continue, as she started to teach math and science in English, too and always enjoys new challenges.

Reported by Motoko Teraoka 

 

OKAYAMA: September — Students (and teachers) as legitimate peripheral participants by Akiko Nagao and Ian Willey. Both speakers approached Lave and Wenger’s Situated Learning Theory from different perspectives. Nagao presented a case study of a Japanese student assimilating into her ESL class in Australia. She displayed evidence of the student starting in the “periphery” of the classroom community and through experience approaching the “core” or feeling that she has achieved relative mastery in the community. Nagao described this process in terms of SLT and the Community of Practice concept (both which share ideas with Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development).

Willey turned the lens toward Japan-based EFL teachers and their various communities of practice, specifically as editors for others’ academic research papers. He also took a case-study approach, interviewing several EFL instructors with no background in medicine who nevertheless edit medical research papers for colleagues. By analyzing their behaviors and attitudes, Willey hoped to measure how these respondents move from the periphery of this particular situated learning context toward becoming “experts” at what they do (though even as they master the process, they may not be accepted as equal members in the community of authors). Both presenters emphasized that SLT focuses on how people gain knowledge themselves in their various respective communities (perhaps even unconsciously), and is not meant to measure the result of any formal teaching process, even in a classroom context such as Nagao’s study.

Reported by Scott Gardner and Richard Lemmer

 

OKAYAMA: October — Guiding student discussion of graded readers by Jason Cox. In Cox's ER course at a local university, students discussed graded readers in class. The students didn't know how to talk about books and needed language help. Cox gave them a set of phrases to discuss the books, as well as questions to ask their partner about genre, setting, character, etc. This helped discussions in class but not the final test outcome. Eventually, Cox produced a rubric which had all the required discussion elements. In sum, while the students needed some help with the language to analyze and discuss texts, they greatly benefited from a detailed discussion by rubric.

Reported by Magnus Kuwahara

 

OKAYAMA: October — Demotivation, amotivation or overmotivation? An action research project by Peter Burden. Without motivation, according to Burden, learning cannot take place. Here, the presenter gave questionnaires to low-level non-English majors at a national university, where the students' described extremely negative feelings towards English classes in high school. Burden blamed the test-driven learning environment. Demotivated students believe they cannot learn English: in order to blame factors other than intellect, they don't study. Furthermore, teachers attend less to low-ability students. Burden suggests the following remedies: let the students know their importance to the teacher than class performance, help students to be goal oriented so they can enjoy success in class, and teach learning strategies.

Reported by Magnus Kuwahara

 

OMIYA: September — Omiya chapter’s AGM and monthly event. Several new executives were elected. A productive discussion of chapter goals was had; good things can be expected over the next year!

During the event, Keiko Kikuchi presented on her efforts to teach students issues surrounding nuclear power behind the backdrop of Japan’s recent problems. The audience was shown materials and information that Kikuchi used in classes, which interested all involved. 

A second presenter, Evelyn Asaka, conducted a workshop on activities for a wide range of group sizes and abilities. Participants could gain insights on activity design.

Reported by Brad Semans

 

SENDAI: September  — This was a very special month for our local chapter as we enjoyed a visit by JALT National President Kevin Cleary. Our regular meeting was preceded by a lively board meeting, during which we engaged in discussion of the now-approved overhaul of JALT’s information management system. This was followed by two very well organized presentations: 1) What benefits should a language teaching association provide to its members? by Kevin Cleary. It is very important for a professional association to understand the needs of its members and do its best to meet them. During this discussion, we identified some unmet needs that members have in regard to our relationship with JALT, and did our best to generate ideas on how JALT can better serve us. With a room filled with passionate and active members, we hope that Cleary brought home with him a bounty of ideas to guide him in his continued leadership of the organisation going forward. 2) Creating a Lifelong Learning Community by Kevin Cleary. After a short break, we completely shifted gears and enjoyed a great look into both Cleary’s professional life and personal interests. He advocated that one of the strongest motivators for adult language learners is the chance to join and participate in a community of like-minded people.  Cleary discussed the key factors necessary to create an environment where learners flourish, welcome new members, and build up a community of practice. Materials development, peer support strategies and classroom management issues were also discussed. The presenter highlighted his success with an English Through Cinema class, and openly shared strategies for employing a teacher's area of interest into a sustainable lifelong language learning community.

Reported by Cory Koby

 

SENDAI: October — Focus on speaking- 3 presentations. 1) What Japanese university students don’t know about English phonology: A survey and activities by Soichi Ota. In the first half of the presentation, Ota presented data from a survey he administrated on what his students know about English phonology, which led to a discussion of what possibly causes the lack or shortage of English listening proficiency and “Katakana” pronunciation among Japanese university students. In the latter half, he presented some tips to design better listening activities based on a number of studies and suggested a couple of activities that he’s been using to improve his students’ English listening skill. This was a great opportunity for our members to gain insight from not only a very talented young educator, but also a successful product of the very system that we all strive to improve. 2) The rhythm of English: Making yourself understood through stress-timing by Rick Meres. Meres explained that good pronunciation is one of the keys to making oneself understood. But proper stress-timing is another key element. The amount of time it takes to say something depends more on the stress-timing in the sentence than the actual number of syllables. Understanding the relationship between the stressed and unstressed syllables is what helps make the speaker understood. Meres presented our chapter with some very revealing independent and unpublished research he undertook strictly to satisfy his professional curiosity, and our members were amazed with the results. Meres was able to empirically demonstrate that the Japanese ear is not well-tuned to native-like timing and pronunciation—in stark opposition to a much better ability to decode “Katakana” English, whilst evidence collected from resident’s of Mere’s hometown in America were the complete reverse. 3) The ABC's: Going back to basics, going forward to ... Wherever by Lorne Spry. Spry gave a presentation of how he helps students understand the differences between the Japanese and English sound systems. We were able to understand Spry’s lifelong dedication to fostering improvements in the skills of his students. 

Reported by Cory Koby

 

 

SHINSHU: September — Making your own chants is easy and fun and Using picture books in English classes by Mayuka Habbick. In the first workshop, after providing some background to chants in the ESL/EFL classroom, Habbick led participants through the basics of creating them. She illustrated how through creating their own chants, students can learn without undergoing tedious drills. Simultaneously, they can personalize their learning and unconsciously acquire the rhythm and intonation of English.  Participants tried creating their own chants, then Habbick offered advice on how to make them more realistic and communicative. In Using picture books in English classes, Habbick illustrated numerous ways picture books can be used as learning tools in the EFL class. Citing Wright (1995), she stated that reading stories to EFL learners should promote language awareness and communication and provide stimulus for speaking and writing. She stressed the importance of piquing young learners’ curiosity and providing ways in which they can personalize the stories. According to Habbick, the learning process should progress from feeling to imaging to speculating to organizing to expressing. The workshop culminated in her “JJ [Joy of learning, Joy of teaching] Book Review” activity based on the book “The Carrot Seed” by Krauss/Johnson. 

Reported by Mary Aruga

 

 

TOKYO: September — The future of language learning: A new learning management system by Language Cloud and The US Embassy. The presenters led an enlightening panel discussion on the challenges and successes using technology as part of language education, including some significant predictions of how the learning experience will change the new cloud-based technologies entering the market.  

Reported by Shunsuke Kuwayama

 

 

TOKYO: October — 1) “Projects international” project-based learning by Language Cloud and the US Embassy. This presentation focused on Projects International (PI), a network of educators working to develop student’s communicative competence to participate positively in a global society. The presentation looked at the PI philosophy and method of project-based learning, reviewed past projects and discussed how similar initiatives can be developed in classrooms throughout Japan. 2) Writing center in India: Offering tutoring services to students with diverse backgrounds by Ranjit Rodrigues and Ashok Dange. For a second year, faculty from the Chowgule College in Goa presented and discussed the results of an important study conducted through their writing center, and explained how the results of this study affects facilitation of the center. Questions such as “Should sessions be conducted in the native or target language?” were addressed among others.

Reported by Shunsuke Kuwayama

 

 

YOKOHAMA: September — The craft of action research by Robert Croker. Just in time for the new university semester, Robert Croker gave the participants of the September Yokohama JALT meeting the tools needed to plan and do their own action research in class. In a daylong workshop, first Croker explained that action research is used for teacher self-improvement: to help teachers improve their ways of teaching, develop new ideas, tasks and activities, or solve problems in their classrooms. Croker went on to describe how action research can be used to accomplish these personal goals. Next some participants were invited to begin planning their own action research projects with the help of Croker and the other participants through brainstorming ideas and discussion. The last part of the presentation focused on ways to develop effective questionnaires for gathering information. The participants were finally encouraged to start their own action research projects which will later be presented at a poster presentation in November 2013 at Yokohama JALT.

Reported by Tanya Erdelyi

 

 

YOKOHAMA: October — Global issues in scholarly writing: Towards academic publication by Atsushi Iida and Critical media literacy by Anna Husson Isozaki. In the first presentation, Iida shared case study data which focused on some of the difficulties and pitfalls of trying to publish in peer-reviewed journals.  She facilitated discussion of several different issues and attendees were challenged to review their own ideas about and direct experiences with academic publication.  The first issue discussed was the problems experienced by any would-be writer were discussed.  Iida then focused more specifically on the challenges experienced by writers for whom English is not their first language.  Apparent biases towards “native speaker” English were brought up, as well as possible prejudices against non-Western rhetorical styles.  Also found in the case study data were apparent gross misinterpretations regarding the purpose of submitted works, where readers who reviewed them for potential publication appeared to entirely misunderstand the purpose of the submitted work.  After the case study data was shared, participants continued to investigate possible solutions and types of things writers might have to consider before submitting a work.  The final message by the presenter was a very positive one, emphasizing that although a work might be refused by one journal, the refusal should not be taken personally, and the author should be prepared to submit the work to other journals. 

The second presentation examined ways to foster critical thinking skills when engaging with English media. Isozaki teaches several higher-level classes of future journalists, but the information she provided could be applied to any teaching situation that uses English media in the classroom.  Isozaki gave some ideas on how teachers can undertake the challenge of fostering critical thinking skills in their students.  The importance of acknowledging media bias and finding multiple sources for the same news stories was emphasized.  Nearly half of this presentation then involved participants logging onto computers and exploring the very long and comprehensive list of media websites that could be of use to students in a classroom setting.  By clicking on the links provided by Isozaki and visiting the sites themselves, participants were able to experience a nice hands-on guide to increasing critical media literacy.  

Reported by Paul Nehls

 
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