Chapter Reports - May 2013

GIFU: January — The voices of academic publishing in Japan by Theron Muller. Muller survived a car collision that morning to give an informative presentation on his research into the motivations and goals of scholars in Japan pursuing academic publishing. Data was presented from an interview with one particular scholar trying to break into the field with his first published manuscript.
There followed an interesting group discussion into the issues surrounding academic publishing. It seems that many who are new to the field are unsure how to go about preparing a work for publication, and often lack people to go to for advice. Two primary motivations for publishing highlighted in the meeting were career advancement and a desire to contribute to the EFL teaching community. An interesting point raised was the perceived status of journals by academic institutions. Most universities have a ranking system by which they award points for publications at different levels. This created some interesting discussion that no doubt fuelled further contemplation by all who attended.
Reported by Paul Wicking

GIFU: February — Integrating music into the classroom by Brian Cullen and Jim Smiley. An evening of song, discussion, and fun began with a rousing song, “Maggie in the Woods,” sung by Cullen and accompanied by Smiley. The presenters demonstrated several ways of integrating music into the classroom. The motto of the evening was sing it, play it, learn it and Gifu JALT’s members certainly did all three.
After the initial song we discussed reasons for and against using music in the classroom. Some students and teachers believe music is a waste of time as they need to steer the lesson towards the all important test. Teachers often feel the language in songs can be difficult but the presenters demonstrated how rhythm can help develop students’ speaking and listening skills through examining the commonalities between music and language.
Between wonderful musical interludes which beautifully punctuated the evening the presenters demonstrated several ways in which music can be used in class. Grammar can be outlined, verb tenses explored, and new vocabulary learnt. We were given a useful worksheet which explained how to use music, including simple activities such as cloze exercises, jumbled words, and rhyming exercises.
Even though music shouldn’t be used in isolation, the presenters concluded that having fun with music should not be disconnected from learning.
Reported by Brent Simmonds

GUNMA: January — What young people should know about energy and nuclear power issues: Lessons from content-based university English classes by Keiko Kikuchi. Kikuchi strongly believes in content-based teaching. When the 3/11 disaster and meltdown occurred, it gave her a chance to introduce the topic of nuclear power, a topic she has strong feelings about, to her students. Kikuchi started her presentation as she starts her classes, by giving attendees a survey gauging their knowledge and opinions about nuclear energy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, her students generally know little about the science behind nuclear power, and are split evenly as to its necessity and perceived danger. The results from Gunma JALT attendees were not much different. Next, Kikuchi laid out her justification for using nuclear power as a subject of study in an English class: simply, it is such an important issue with such wide-ranging societal effects that teachers of all disciplines should touch on it in their classes. Interspersed with questions and discussion, Kikuchi used the rest of her time to introduce attendees to some of the numerous information sources she shares with her students before allowing them to draw their own conclusions. Please find a list of links to these sources at the Gunma JALT website <sites.google.com/site/gunmajalt/>.
Reported by John Larson

GUNMA: February — From dutiful daughters to English professors: How gender shapes the professional lives of Japanese female university English professors by Diane Hawley-Nagatomo. Hawley-Nagatomo explains for background purposes that education is gender stratified because, for one reason, the role of housewife and mother are highly idealized and women leave the workforce soon after childbirth. From her research, she explains that many women, however, do enter higher education but more often than not attend “lesser” quality institutions no matter their ability. Some reasons are that parents want to keep their daughters at home, or that education for women is more of a self-fulfilling endeavor whereas education for a male is for his own (and future family’s) livelihood. We can see that family plays an important role here. Keep the daughters close for family caretaking, push the sons as much as possible for financial caretaking. Her participants pointed out that families also play an important role in encouraging women to study English, thought to be a “feminine” subject. Women who do progress to professional careers share characteristics such as both their mother and father are university graduates themselves and live in urban areas already. In academia, participants reported that it’s still a man’s world and often they can not crack the secret code of their male colleagues. 
Reported by Lori Ann Desrosiers

HAMAMATSU: December — My share. Ten members presented at this year’s “My Share.” The event is always lively and well attended. Attendees first participated in a warm-up exercise that Jon Dujmovich uses in his classes which encourages speaking, listening and interaction. Susan Sullivan spoke about use of the literature movements of the twentieth century to further students’ creative writing skills and heighten their cultural awareness. The literary theme was continued as Jane Nakagawa presented on using poetry in the classroom. Dan Frost introduced student-created dictionaries and definitions, and Disney was used by Staci Ali to demonstrate how she widens her students’ abilities to interpret film. Atsuo Hirano asked why many students end up hating English, and spoke of ways of making English more appealing. Zane Ritchie gave an informative session on how to close-caption/subtitle videos. Developing many aspects of English is possible through the use of Mind Maps, as Nami Takase discovered. Bogdan Pavliy divided the room into two teams to play English whiteboard soccer and Greg McNabb demonstrated a useful piece of software which can control the speed at which students read instructor-selected texts.
Reported by Susan Sullivan

HAMAMATSU: January — Let’s delve into the minds of “bad” students (Alternative TESOL/ Second language learning during a short-term homestay program) by Jun Harada. Harada is an accomplished teacher with TESOL experience in the U.S., as well as in Japanese secondary and tertiary schools. Having often encountered unenthusiastic students, he decided to find out why. Using interview techniques, and tailoring study tasks to students’ particular interests, he found their confidence, attitude and aptitude increased. Focusing on autonomy, relatedness and esteem, Harada found that so-called “bad” students developed interest and skills in English. He concluded that it was best to try to let students use English instead of teaching them English, and from this they will one day be ready to learn. Students showed increased enthusiasm and ability as a result of this method, but an associated increase was not particularly reflected in exam scores.
Harada’s second presentation concentrated on homestays. After accompanying students on a homestay program, Harada discovered that students’ communicative skills increased. Language became meaningful for them, as they tried to negotiate meaning with their homestay families and new English-speaking friends. This also gave students intrinsic reasons to try and improve their English skills. Harada found that students made qualitative gains (not quantitative) in fluency, socio-linguistic knowledge, and vocabulary. Harada suggested using stories in context, film and task based lessons to simulate an overseas experience in the classroom. He found the activities (and homestays) do not improve test scores as such, but are worthwhile for the development of communicative competence, output, interaction and social aspects of the L2.
Reported by Susan Sullivan and Dan Frost

HIMEJI: February — It’s great to integrate! by Jason White. Participants at this quarterly workshop meeting were asked to consider their lessons and activities from an integrative perspective, in terms of lesson goals, language achievement, and motivation. Initial issues raised and discussed involved the three elements of motivation (effort, desire, and affect) and how their relation to the Japanese EFL classrooms of JALT members and workshop participants. The discussion also touched on the background beliefs of stakeholders in this L2 acquisition context; chiefly, whether or not students view the target language in a positive light, as well as whether those in the students’ wider social context believe that learning English “adds” to rather than “replaces” or “alters” their identity.
White’s presentation moved on to how activities and lessons can be planned effectively to engender a positive view of English, whilst simultaneously working towards and attaining useful language goals in a motivational classroom environment. Participants were invited to share activities that they utilize, which were then analyzed to see if there was any room for improvement. The meeting ended with a review of how members felt that they could help improve their lessons’ integration of goals, achievements and motivation.
Reported by David Lees

HOKKAIDO: February — The “WOW!” factor: Ideas and activities for young English learners by Robert Olsen (Tomakomai Komazawa University). This presentation was jam packed with ideas and activities to “wow” learners, with a special focus on young learners. Robert Olsen talked about the importance of keeping learner attention right from the beginning, referring to the 47-second hook, where people decide whether what you have to say is worth listening to. He also talked about optimizing concentration through the use of variety, with an 18-minute wall representing the maximum time people will concentrate on one activity. He encouraged the use of surprise in lessons to avoid too much predictability and heighten learner attention. However, he also cautioned that too much surprise can end in paralysis by analysis, where learners are too afraid of what might come next for learning to occur. A balance between predictability and surprise is obviously necessary. He introduced a few techniques for teaching, such as building up from known material to unknown material in a lesson, and looping, where something new is taught, followed by something different, and then the new item is returned to so that concentration and learning are optimized. He also encouraged the use of songs and tangible goals to enhance learning. Overall it was a very entertaining presentation and one can imagine that Robert Olsen’s classrooms are filled with laughter and learning.
Reported by Haidee Thomson

IBARAKI: February — This month, co-sponsored by the GALE SIG, our local chapter had the privilege of having three guest speakers. (1) From dutiful daughters to English professors: How gender shapes the professional lives of Japanese female university English teachers by Diane Hawley Nagatomo. Nagatomo shared with us a revealing finding from her dissertation project, which indicates that profiles of female university English teachers are very much alike, in contrast to those of their male counterparts. Namely, strongly encouraged by their parents to study English over other subjects, they climbed the ladder of education, eventually actively pursuing it in order to free themselves from social and cultural binds in Japan. By analyzing female teachers’ personal accounts in light of Gee’s (2000) theoretical framework of identity, Nagatomo concluded that their decision to pursue their current profession was very much shaped by their gender identities. (2) Integrated speaking tasks used for teaching and assessment by Rie Koizumi. In this presentation, Koizumi introduced us to the concept of integrated speaking tasks, which require the use of two or more language skills including speaking (e.g., reading and speaking; listening, reading, and speaking). She explained that integrated tasks are gaining popularity because they could improve not only speaking but also grammar, vocabulary, and so on. While maintaining its effectiveness, Koizumi also emphasized the importance of designing a task carefully and choosing an appropriate method of assessment for it. She showed us various sample tasks and method of assessment and offered us an opportunity to evaluate students’ work so that we could experience the benefits and difficulties of the tasks first-hand. (3) Bringing gender issues into the language classroom by Michele Steele. Steele began her presentation by asking us if we had included gender issues in our classes. Then, drawing on her involvement in the GALE SIG and WELL (Women Educators and Language Learners), she stated how attention to gender issues had enriched her personally and professionally. As can be seen in the case of changing a surname upon marriage, gender issues are prevalent in Japan, as in other countries. Steele maintained that language teachers could promote students’ critical thinking as well as tolerance and understanding by strategically employing gender-related topics and language exercises as part of their classes. 
Reported by Naomi Takagi 

KITAKYUSHU: January — TOEIC vocabulary seminar applying CLIL approach by Takashi Uemura. Uemura finds that the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach successfully combines cognitive and academic language proficiency (CALP) with basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) (Cummins, 1984) to transcend traditional methods and improve learner performance.  Scaffolding and translanguaging are vital to his approach, based on a “4 C Framework” (communication, culture, context, and cognition).
An English conversation school teacher for six years, Uemura began by asking us to visualize his presentation from a learner’s point of view; some are intrinsically motivated to study TOEIC, others want raises, promotions, or overseas positions.  For relevance, he integrates finance and accounting into his course, defining meanings of key words in context.  As a holistic overview of his teaching philosophy, Uemura started by displaying several vocabulary items of these fields for volunteers to read and guess their meaning.  He showed indistinct sketches of famous people for us to identify. The three-letter initials of corporate titles were displayed and we guessed what they were short for.  Tongue-in-cheek, Uemura then listed the assets and liabilities of (his) marriage to parallel such considerations with a corporate relationship (including shareholders equity) to introduce vocabulary and continued with a closed written discussion of a tantalizing topic relevant to both relationships - why can’t you receive all your bonus?
Reported by Dave Pite

KITAKYUSHU: February — Love that dog: Making a difference with multimedia by Linda K. Kadota. Kadota first asked how many of us taught poetry and used iPods or other technology.  She said many teachers are afraid of poetry.  Her classes begin with riddles, which is a good and fun way to get students thinking outside of the box.  (What’s a deer with no eyes?  No idea.)  This starts them thinking about words and meanings in new ways; some get the answers, some come up with new answers.  Motivation is vital; if teachers cannot maintain it, classes will fail.
Incorporating into the classroom the five basic types of multimedia — text, video, sound, graphics, and animation — we can use technology to help students better access the English language and appreciate the existence of multiple levels of meaning within it.  At first students cannot imagine they can write poetry but realize by the end that they are poets.  Among many examples of zany and innovative poetry on her handout is the URL of a web-based concrete poetry generator and new verses generated from Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, a text designed for teaching fourth grade students in the U.S.  The handout also included compelling lists of the benefits of classroom multimedia use for both students and teachers.
Reported by Dave Pite

NAGASAKI: February — Proficiency and personality by Masa Tsuneyasu. In her presentation, which included both a research report and introduction of practical teaching activities, Tsuneyasu introduced her exploratory study into the relation between learners’ proficiency and personality, followed by a series of classroom exercises geared towards different personality types. Tsuneyasu reported on the findings of her small-scale study into her students’ personality profiles, measured by the Yatabe-Guilford personality inventory, as they correlated to language proficiency scores, measured by the TOEIC test. Tsuneyasu explained her results and then led interactive class demonstrations of several activities aimed at learners with individual personality differences. Tsuneyasu conducted her demonstration activities in Japanese, which was both an enjoyable and enlightening role reversal for the many English teachers in attendance.
Reported by Joel Hensley

NAGOYA: January ― The voices of academic publishing/Narrative inquiry in the classroom by Theron Muller. Muller, a dissertation supervisor and editor of academic publications, showed semi-structured interviews about academic publishing interests and experiences. His research methodology is mainly EFL, all language-related and trying for the balance of Japanese and non-Japanese participants. He organizes texts, drafts of papers, correspondence, official documents, interviews, and dissertations. Nowadays, to get a position in university, even if it is a part-time teacher’s position, you need to submit at least two publications, otherwise you cannot be hired. Muller shared his students’ writings and his assessment criteria, which included total words, lexical density, lexical profile, and sentence length. The positives of this approach are its ease of implementation, and its negatives are its lack of assessing the writing’s deeper context. Muller thinks that teachers should focus on rapport building among all parties in the learning context.
Reported by Kayoko Kato

NAGOYA: February ― Music & EFL-Play it, sing it, learn it by Jim Smiley and Brian Cullen. Commonalities in music and verbal language lie in their rhythm, affect, poetry and lyrics, and content-based possibility. Cullen and Smiley showed us how to introduce songs with movements to the class to teach easy English, using a song, “Good Friends” composed by Cullen, and how to develop phonological awareness (A-E-I-O-U) using a song “Apples and Bananas.” Cullen played the guitar, and Smiley, the recorder, very beautifully. The key to motivation and learning is authentic contact, conceptual integration, verse content, and experiential/meaning-based learning. As a practical way to integrate music into materials, Cullen showed us how to use lyrics for learning grammar, writing, and for building vocabulary, using clozes, line ordering, proverbs, and discussion. Teaching rhyme, rhythm, metrics, stanzas, alliteration, and assonance is also helpful to understand the features of English. Much of the teaching of suprasegmentals can be simplified by using musical notation. An initial taxonomy of the use of music in ELT is traditional uses of music, class management, and interconnectivity.
Reported by Kayoko Kato

NARA: February — The annual Tenri University and Nara JALT joint seminar: “On teaching English in English by Hiroko Taniguchi, Toshihiro Nakae, Rintaro Sato, Hidetami Nakai, Matthew Reynolds, and Shuhei Kadota. Taniguchi introduced a storytelling activity conducted in English in her junior high school class, stating that pictures and gestures help students understand a story even though there may be some unfamiliar words and expressions. Nakae’s ten-month project focused on his high school students’ improvement in English communication skills through pair work and reading-aloud practice without the translation methodology, encouraging more exposure to English. Sato emphasized the importance for teachers to conduct English lessons in as much English as possible before teachers can expect students’ spontaneous verbalization in English. Nakai also encouraged classroom instruction in English, but suggested a gradual increase of English in class to reduce teacher anxiety. Reynolds explained the benefits of a phonics program at elementary, junior, and senior high schools. These benefits include improving confidence in reading and writing, and building a positive attitude toward English. Kadota highlighted the efficacy of shadowing practice as a tool to increase learners’ output and transform their explicit knowledge to implicit memory.
Reported by Motoko Teraoka

OKAYAMA: February — Revisiting content-based instruction by Akemi Morioka; E-learning trends: Lessons from experts in four different countries by Keiko Sakui and Neil Cowie. Morioka described CBI as an approach and not a method, leaving the applications of the approach open to some interpretation. One interesting gauge she uses, however, is asking students what they remember from a language course. If they name content as opposed to linguistic structures, then the course could be described as CBI. She then related her experience using CBI while teaching Japanese language courses in the U.S., and concluded that CBI might work differently for EFL in Japan than it would for JFL in the U.S. In general the success of CBI depends on expectations of both the language program and the students.
Sakui and Cowie set out to educate themselves in e-learning by interviewing experts in the field. They outlined a few dedicated online learning websites, but then said that, surprisingly, the experts they interviewed hardly used such sites and instead used standard online social media and collaboration tools. The advantages of this are that students may already know how to use the sites, and teachers need not rely on institutions to provide materials and infrastructure. Tech-wary teachers were advised to try implementing technology little by little, for example assigning blog entries rather than paper journals.
Reported by Scott Gardner

SENDAI: January — We started off the year with two of our favorite local presenters. (1) DIY NeuroELT – Making your textbook more brain-friendly by Marc Helgesen. Following up on our June 2012 “Sendai Brain Days” event, Helgesen helped us make the jump from theoretical to practical brain science with this immediately useful presentation that we could bring into our classrooms the very next day. Helgesen said “…some people think the brain is like a sponge, soaking up more information than we can really use. No, it is really more like a sieve. 99% of the input we receive is discarded nearly instantly. How do we make sure the important information in our classroom doesn’t disappear? Brain science is making huge progress in the field of mind, brain, education. But how to connect those ideas to the books we are using in our English classrooms?” In this session we looked at seven ways we can make our current textbooks more brain-friendly. Helgesen showed examples for English Firsthand, plus ways to add them to books, even where they don’t currently exist. (2) 4 good ways to motivate children and 1 bad one! by John Wiltshier. What are some proven principles that can increase a child’s motivation to become an active learner? Wiltshier outlined four great examples, making use of both theoretical insights and practical suggestions. Wiltshier supported his presentation, where appropriate, with examples from his new children’s course and online world—Our Discovery Island. In addition, one bad idea for trying to motivate children, although commonly used, was dissected with clear explanations of why it is not good. You will have to attend one of his presentations to find out more about these four great (and one bad) ways to motivate— no spoilers here! While the presentation focused on teaching young learners, the motivational principles discussed are generally applicable.
Reported by Cory Koby

SENDAI: February — (1) English education in Japanese junior high by Austin Lantz. Opening with a brief history of education in Japan, Lantz traced the developments of English education in junior high schools beginning in the 1980s. These historic developments were used as background to explain the most recent round of changes that took place these past two years in primary and junior high schools. Lantz led a rather animated group discussion on the role of ALTs and communicative English in the current ELT classroom at these fundamental stages of L2 education. (2) Ready or not, here it comes! High school curriculum changes 2013 by Cory Koby. Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology introduced its once-in-a-decade “Course of Study” in 2009, and the final phase of the mandated changes took effect in April of this year. Koby outlined the changes in high school English language curriculum, with particular attention paid to what is NOT changing. Teacher and student perceptions, attitudes, and practices were discussed by workshop participants at great length, and extensive empirical evidence was presented which illustrated the tremendous obstacles that lie ahead in pursuit of TLEIE (Teaching and Learning English in English) as MEXT has mandated. During the break between presentations, event attendees were able to view excerpts from a very recent all-English high school lesson conducted at his high school by a Japanese Teacher of English (JTE). Time was not nearly enough to sufficiently cover all of the ground that Koby had hoped, as workshop participants had a great deal to contribute to the very lively discussions that sprang forth from the many questions raised during this portion of the event. (3) Perspectives on curricular design by Jim Dochtermann. Dochtermann briefly discussed his secondary school’s programs and the changes being made due to the new curriculum. He reviewed some of the major curricular perspectives that school systems adhere to around the world followed by a brief group discussion to define the perspectives of participants and their respective schools. A break out session was planned to identify potential solutions to the disparities in perspectives and what can be done to enhance collaboration for a smooth transition into the new curriculum within secondary levels, and ideas regarding impacts on primary and tertiary levels, but because of time constraints we were unable to complete this final part of the presentation. In the end, it became quite apparent that there is a great deal of interest in secondary school language education policy and practice, and we will surely explore these issues further in future JALT Sendai events.
Reported by Cory Koby

TOKYO: January — Teaching content in multilingual classrooms by Dr. Heath Rose. This workshop explored the issues surrounding the teaching of content through the English language in multilingual classroom settings. The workshop touched upon a number of issues connected to pedagogy, including teaching content and integrated language learning (CLIL), curriculum design and assessment in the multilingual classrooms, and recent paradigm shifts away from using native speaker norms as a yardstick for non-native English speaker performance in higher education.
Reported by Shunsuke Kuwayama

YOKOHAMA: January — Imagining an L2 self through classroom practice by Garold Murray. The January presentation had the participants think of ideas for activities that could motivate students to realize their imagined L2 self in the present. In this daylong workshop, Murray counter-balanced the presentation of theoretical constructs on what it means to imagine an L2 self with opportunities for the participants to apply an understanding of those concepts in their respective teaching contexts.
Murray suggested that the meeting participants think of the theoretical constructs as tools instructors could use to design activities which: (1) encourage the learners to use their imagination to see things as they could be, (2) to feel a sense of belonging to a community, and (3) to be open to possibilities of self that the learners have yet to imagine. For the last point, citing research from Jerome Bruner (2002), Murray explained that the power of the narrative as a tool for imagination not only lies in the ability to create but also to reconstruct the self with each telling. 
The activities that the presenter used to reinforce the application of the theories included: discussing a working definition of imagination and how it related to identity, to describe which community that participants identified with, and to create an activity to help learners imagine a possible self as an English speaker. At the end of the last activity, Murray had each group present their ideas for activities. Overall, Murray’s scaffolding of activities for the participants demonstrated the realizable benefits of using imagination as a tool for increasing motivation and learner autonomy.
Reported by Dan Ferreira

YOKOHAMA: February — Applying principles of social psychology for better classroom management by Leander Hughes. Hughes showed concepts from social psychology research that can be effective in altering the perception of the classroom by learners, increasing their motivation and making classes easier to manage. Some of these techniques include priming, anchoring, the foot in the door technique, social proof, and the Pygmalion Effect. Using priming and anchoring, the presenter was able to demonstrate how teachers are able to create a good first impression. The foot in the door technique involves getting someone to follow through on a small task that will lead them to make a larger commitment. For example, ask students to read one page of a graded reader and later, ask them to read a full chapter. Social proof explains how we adhere to groups for positive benefits. Teachers can get learners to follow classroom norms and do class work if it’s presented as something the class majority does. The Pygmalion Effect shows how the belief teachers have in the abilities of their students has an effect on the attention they give the students. Therefore, singing the praises of our colleagues and students can create a more positive atmosphere in our school and classrooms.
Reported by Kevin Trainor
 

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