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The JACET-Kanto 4th Annual Convention

Writer(s): 
Katsuhito Watanabe, Obirin University

The JACET-Kanto 4th Annual Convention was held at Hongo Campus of Toyo Gakuen University in Hongo, Tokyo, on Sunday, 27 June 2010. Conveniently located in the centre of Tokyo, the campus is a short walking distance from Suidobashi Station on the JR Sobu line, close to the Tokyo Dome, the home of the Tokyo Giants. Registration started at 8:30 am (1,000 yen for members and students, and 2,000 yen for non-members). A number of articles and booklets were available to peruse before the conference started. The main theme of our JACET-Kanto 4th Convention was “What is expected in college English education from a global perspective.” At the opening ceremony, key JACET officials including Yukinari Shimoyama, Executive Chairperson of Toyo Gakuen University, and others gave initial remarks. The 4th convention featured eight research presentations, four case studies, two workshops, five symposiums, two publisher presentations, and two special events from Toyo Gakuen University. All research presentations and case studies were 30 minutes long, while workshops and symposiums ran about an hour long. Highlights of research presentations included an analysis of the fluency of three Japanese graduate students who studied in the UK. This was a one-year longitudinal study focusing on the graduates’ abilities in the areas of linguistics, communication, and fluency. Another highlight was titled “Toyo Gakuen Session,” by two presenters from Toyo Gakuen University, who concentrated on ALPS and developing good language learners. They emphasized the strengths and limitations of good language learners. It was possible to attend many other interesting presentations and workshops in a variety of areas such as content-based course design, effective use of the L1 in EFL classrooms, CALP-based learning, and so on. All were well attended. The featured speaker of the keynote lecture, Nobuaki Minematsu of the University of Tokyo, gave an inspiring session on his analysis of English pronunciation. The title was “English Pronunciation in the Globalized Era and the Scientific Method of its Analysis.” His point of view of English pronunciation is not only drawn from English education, but from the fields of science and engineering as well. In his talk, Minematsu discussed the importance of English pronunciation in English education in Japan. In the past, many students in primary and secondary education were taught English by the “repeat after me” technique. From a scientific point of view, Minematsu argued that this procedure of repeating after the teacher is but one of the many ways for students to acquire English pronunciation. He stated that the acquisition of English pronunciation needs to be further analyzed. The procedure presented in his session was a striking one, demonstrating how various types of gadgets such as buzzers, cylinders, and tubes could improve the understanding of the listeners as to how different sounds are made. Two procedures showed how people articulate sounds using soft tubes, and musical instruments with hard cylinders. Minematsu simply attached a buzzer to all sorts of soft tubes to show human articulation. Just as humans change their articulation by changing the size of the opening of their mouths, soft tubes were squeezed to produce a variety of sounds. On the other hand, hard cylinders cannot alter their shapes, similar to musical instruments. These examples of articulation were only a few of the many aspects of his analysis of English pronunciation. The importance of the level of pronunciation to be acquired was also addressed in that Minematsu believes learners should set their own goals to acquire pronunciation at the levels of Hollywood stars, diplomatic officials, presenters who often speak at international conferences, Japanese business people traveling to non-English speaking countries, and finally that of tourists doing some shopping. The scientific and pedagogical ideas laid out in this presentation were truly inspiring and will surely attract more researchers and educators of English pronunciation in the future. For more information about the next convention, please check the JACET Kanto Chapter website at . Although the official announcement has not yet been published, previous conventions were all held within the same time frame and at major universities in the central Tokyo area and it is highly likely that the next convention will follow suit. We look forward to welcoming you warmly to the next convention.

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