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Chapter Reports - September 2013
Posted August 15th, 2013 by webadmin
AKITA: June — Facilitating written feedback on students’ writing by Rachael Ruegg, Akita International University. Teachers of writing may often wonder when, how, how much and how often to give feedback. Ruegg addressed two frequent questions raised by teachers; should teachers give feedback on every assignment? And is peer feedback useful? For over a one-year period Ruegg, as part of her research doctorate, conducted research on 71 Japanese students. Ruegg used the results of her research to give advice on how to facilitate written feedback on students’ writing. The presentation was attended by several local high school teachers, so the question and answer period was most informative for the multiple perspectives it afforded.
Reported by Stephen Shucart
GIFU: May — Bridging the gap: Neuroscience and education by Adam Jenkins. Anyone who even takes an occasional glance through the literature concerning ELT will be aware how often the word “neuroscience” pops up. The premise for Jenkins’ presentation was that there are vast untapped resources in the field of neuroscience that can enhance our language teaching methodology. One need not have a PhD in psychology to make sense of it, but if we make some effort to get up-to-date with research, our students will benefit.
Jenkins started his presentation by interfering with everyone’s semantic networks via a memory test. Once those networks had been encroached upon, he went into some detail about how to (and how not to) teach vocabulary effectively. The common technique taught on most CELTA and TEFL courses is to teach vocabulary in semantic clusters. However, this has been shown to cause interference, so words take longer to learn. But is that such a bad thing? Jenkins contended that not all interference is detrimental to learning, as often it is an indication of a deeper level of processing.
All together, the participants were treated to some interesting ideas from the field of neuroscience, and encouraged to look for ways to bridge the gap between that and language education.
Reported by Paul Wicking
GIFU: June — Debate as an intellectual and physical activity by David Kluge. Kluge opened his presentation by asking participants to ponder what debate has in common with horseback riding. Answer: they are both often considered the domain of the ‘elite’. However, Kluge argued that with the right coaching and instruction, even quite low level students are able to enjoy and actively participate in debating. Research by Dewar (2011) suggests that young native-speaker children who had been trained in debate grew considerably in logic and reasoning, as well as critical thinking skills such as the ability to make dual-perspective arguments.
Having grounded his approach in theory, Kluge then stripped off his shirt and trousers and taught us how to box. The glove bump, the jab, the guard, and the right hook are used as physical metaphors for the debate procedure, along with “The Rocky Pose” for when you win. Leading students through the physical act of boxing when teaching debate helps them to internalize procedural rules and speaker roles, as well as break down any barriers of shyness and self-consciousness through laughter. My personal summation of the presentation: “It’s so crazy, it just might work.”
Reported by Paul Wicking
GUNMA: May — Cooperative learning and the changing role of the teacher in the new MEXT revisions by Joël Laurier. MEXT’s call for increased group work and English use in the newest revision of the Course of Study will certainly challenge teachers who favor more traditional, teacher-centered approaches. In his presentation, Laurier introduced some interactive, task-based activities that could help teachers bridge this gap. These activities, or rather the structures around which they are built, form the cornerstone of Cooperative Learning (CL), which can be thought of as a more dynamic form of group work. By working in groups to complete task activities, Gunma JALT attendees were shown how CL can increase active participation between students, build confidence for teachers, and deliver student-centered English lessons. Laurier’s presentation style showed plainly that learning facilitators (née teachers) should guide the classroom with a gentle but firm hand. In CL, the teacher can be anyone in the classroom. The learning facilitator’s job is “not so much to teach, but to make sure the learning is getting done.”
Reported by John Larson
GUNMA: June — Peace education in language teaching by Charles Kowalski. This workshop explored ways of implementing peace education in EFL. It began with an overview of the concept of peace, and an introduction of a model of peace as a series of concentric circles - inner peace, peace in relationships, peace in society and peace in the world. Participants joined in sample activities at each of these levels, and took home a variety of materials and resources. Kowalski has taught content-based peace studies classes at Tokai University and Tokyo Keizai University, and conducted peace education workshops for language educators throughout Japan and other countries in Asia. He also plays a mean Irish whistle.
Reported by John Larson
HAMAMATSU: May — Cambridge English language assessment: Practical, benchmarked, and learner friendly by Jim George. George, from Luna International, Matsumoto city, informed the Hamamatsu JALT of the Cambridge testing process, particularly for children. The Cambridge system emphasizes a can do system, which highlights and works with children’s existing knowledge and abilities. At lower levels, studying for the Cambridge exams can easily be worked into everyday classroom settings. Students enjoy their lessons and also get authoritative recognition by taking part in the exams. This recognition is a confidence booster, which encourages students further in their English studies, and satisfies the need for official acknowledgement of progress made. The exams are activity-based and are offered at three levels: Starters, Movers, and Flyers. George runs training sessions within Japan for those wishing to become qualified examiners. Cambridge exams follow the Common European Framework (CEFR) benchmarks, and at higher levels, are equivalent in weight to IELTs and TOEFL in terms of gaining work in, or studying in, English.
Reported by Susan Sullivan
HAMAMATSU: June — Drama in the EFL classroom by Staci Ali and John Wolfgang Roberts. Drawing on the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, among others, Staci Ali and John Wolfgang Roberts of Aichi University outlined how utilizing the natural capabilities of play aided L2 learners in acquiring their second or other language. Incorporating this theory of play within their separate classes, groups of students dedicated twenty minutes each week for five weeks towards developing dramatic plays that were then performed to the rest of the class. Ali and Roberts feel that negotiating play in the form of developing dramatic plays allow students to develop cognitively and socially. When creating abstract stories and ideas, the need to negotiate roles and determine the appropriate language, and aspects of language, including proxemics, arises. This student-driven output and input, means that the language used becomes an intrinsic part of the learners’ acquisition. It also promotes autonomy. Within this preparation and production, students develop levels of appropriation, ownership and accuracy. Ali’s method of implementation was more structured with the instructor providing some of the vocabulary and the roles to be undertaken. Roberts’ method was more student-generated but still involved guidelines.
Reported by Susan Sullivan
HIMEJI: May — Keep kids happy, active and engaged by Catherine Littlehale-Oki. The Himeji JALT chapter met for our second seminar-meeting of the year at the end of May. Our guest speaker for this session was Catherine Littlehale-Oki, who presented a workshop on teaching young learners. The majority of our members work in elementary schools, so this workshop was very popular and highly attended.
Littlehale-Oki began by introducing the series of textbooks which she co-authored, “Happy Valley,” and demonstrated various techniques, activities and teaching points which could accompany the books. Vocabulary and awareness-raising activities were discussed and then practiced, with members applying Littlehale-Oki’s ideas to their own contexts. While the activities generally were aimed at younger learners, they centrally focused on repetition, continuity and authentic language use to underpin the learning process.
We would like to thank Littlehale-Oki for her time, and we all look forward to putting the ideas discussed at the meeting into use!
Reported by David Lees
HIROSHIMA: May — Writing graded readers by Rob Waring. Educator, author and well-known presenter, Rob Waring, treated us to a passionate insight into how to write a graded reader. He guided us through the process of how graded readers are written, including the stages of pre-contract, development and manufacturing, issues surrounding the procedure of writing a series syllabus and the challenges that present themselves in making a wordlist. His message to any aspiring writer is ‘Story, Story, Story!’, in which the motives of concept, high stakes, great characters and setting, real conflict, and a satisfying and believable ending need to be ruminated over.
He touched on concerns regarding idiomatic language, onomatopoeia and cultural references as well as the various compliances and rules that publishers are restricted to. He also pointed out that graded readers cover a wide range of genres ranging from adaptations of classic literature to original stories, to factual materials such as biographies and reports. He concluded by saying that graded readers can be used in different ways, and understanding and grasping these ways is important for authors to consider when writing a successful reader.
Reported by Timothy J. Wilson
HIROSHIMA: June — Choice and Cooperation in the Children’s Classroom by Chris Hunt. Chris Hunt of Wisehat English laments that school is too often “less about learning and more about what the teacher wants you to do”. In his presentation, Hunt advocated the importance of offering choices to children in the classroom as a means of boosting their motivation to learn. For a little over two years he has centered his lessons around the principle of democratic education: that students themselves – not only their teachers – should have a say in what happens in the classroom. He employs cooperative activities rather than competitive ones to further reinforce the concept of learning as a democratic, team effort. He makes exclusive use of cooperative learning structures based on the “P.I.E.S.” principles, which stress that students should work together to achieve a positive outcome (Positive Interdependence), be able to perform as individuals when required (Individual Accountability), participate as equals (Equal Participation), and be engaged in activities simultaneously (Simultaneous Interaction).
Hunt demonstrated his system for having students choose their own activities. It aims for a balance between genuine choice for the children and flexibility and control for the teacher through the use of activity cards. In essence, the children create their own “ad-libbed” lessons, which are then moderated by the teacher. Overall, it was a very lively, informative presentation that contained an unusually large amount of audience participation, and it was met by smiles and laughter from all who attended.
Reported by Paul Jensen
HOKKAIDO: May — Listening activities in the classroom: Exercises for beginner to EAP students by Joshua Brook Antle. Joshua Brook Antle presented the advantages of extensive listening; where learners listen to large quantities of self-selected comprehensible input. He hypothesised that extensive listening would increase learners’ reading speed. However, when putting this hypothesis to the test, he discovered that despite students volunteering for the study, motivation to do extensive listening outside of class time was difficult to realise. Many students who were initially motivated ended up not listening to enough material, making the expected positive effects of extensive listening difficult to measure while also highlighting the difficulty of motivating learners to do extensive listening. He then introduced many exercises that could be used in class to practise and improve listening skills. To give a few examples, there were sound perception exercises for beginners such as identifying word divisions, word ordering for intermediate learners, where learners listen to a story and re-order jumbled sentences to reflect the aural input, and summarising for more advanced learners where they listen to a text and then summarise it in their own words.
Reported by Haidee Thomson
IBARAKI: June — Our local chapter enjoyed an annual two-day mini-conference and had the pleasure of hearing five inspiring presentations.1) Academic reading skills for student success by Robert Peacock. Defining critical thinking as the base of all the 21st century skills, Peacock introduced us to an ELT textbook called Q: Skills for Success: Reading and Writing, which is designed to promote critical engagement with current topics. He demonstrated some classroom activities from the textbook, which invite language learners to tackle challenging, thought-provoking questions, as well as informational ones. 2) University students’ views on an English program by Takeshi Kikuchi. Kikuchi started to work as the coordinator of the common English program at his current university two years ago. Having heard a number of negative remarks about the program, he decided to conduct a program-wide survey to verify them. He shared the survey results and his subsequent analyses with us and explained one of the major changes he had made, which was to narrow down the program’s focus to two language skills from the four previously used. 3) Creative Writing in ELT: Organically grown stories by Clay Bussinger. According to Bussinger, creative writing is often underappreciated in ELT even though it has various linguistic and even emotional benefits. Sharing some amazing works by his own students, he introduced us to several effective methods of teaching creative writing, including the one called “Mandala,” which he has found to be especially valuable in bringing out students’ latent creativity. 4) Sherlock Holmes and the mystery of language learning by Jeroen Bode. Bode looked at Sherlock Holmes stories through a variety of editions such as graded readers, facsimile edition, annotated edition etc. He believes that accommodating students’ levels will facilitate students’ understanding of the material, as well as their acquisition of English. In his classes, he uses stories of Sherlock Holmes, and sometimes uses supplemental books such as The Scientific Holmes and The internet in order to increase students’ interest and to gather new necessary information. Students keep records on what they have learnt in their own notebook and do some research for their classroom projects. Through these activities, students learn vocabulary, language structure, and reading strategies. 5) Let’s get real-fun and useful English projects for the real world by Deborah Grow. Grow introduced her classroom activity which focuses on real communication with “21st century skills.” She guided students in making their own TV commercials and video news programs. The purpose of doing these kinds of activities was to let students learn practical skills, which could be applied to the real business world after they graduate. As a result, the students learnt how to use technology effectively and how to convey their messages to other people in a better manner. Also, these activities inspired the students’ imagination, which might lead them to be more creative in their thinking. As a result, their motivation was greatly increased.
Reported by Naomi Takagi & Rika Otsu
IWATE: February — TOEIC instruction that makes students want to come back by Yurina Azuma, Iwate University and Iwate Prefectural University and Yes, it’s possible: Communicative—Even fun—Methods for using literature in the EFL classroom by Bern Mulvey, Iwate University. Tapping into her ten years of related teaching experience, Azuma shared multiple activities (including the use of movie excerpts, pronunciation drills and even music) that allow for effective TOEIC instruction in an interesting—even fun—atmosphere. Azuma explained how she had been asked by Iwate University to take over as the instructor of record for the various intensive, noncredit TOEIC courses. Before her, dropout rates over the ten-week period were typically over 60%. After she instituted her new curriculum, these rates dropped to under 20%, with very high student satisfaction reported in the end-of-session evaluations. As she explained, while creating a “fun” TOEIC classroom atmosphere can be challenging, doing so enables teachers to engage and maintain student interest, not to mention helps them to improve student English abilities in a variety of areas simultaneously.
Mulvey’s presentation followed, in which he discussed tactics for using literature successfully in a “communicative” EFL classroom. Literature, when properly presented, provides one of the best sources of material for generating discussion, sparking student interest, improving student vocabulary levels, and broadening and deepening their cross-cultural understanding. Still, the use of original literary works in the EFL classroom remains rare in Japan, partly because of low student reading comprehension levels in the L2, but also because of how literature (including in the L1) is taught in this country. Mulvey provided specific examples of the culturally derived hurdles—e.g., the idea that textual meaning is not negotiated but “explained” and then memorized, that one (and only one) correct interpretation of each work exists, with the teacher’s role limited to dispensing this “knowledge” through lecture—that EFL instructors need to overcome when attempting to get students to discuss a literary work in class. He then followed this with concrete examples of how proper assignment scaffolding, combined with creative activities and the judicious selection of level-appropriate literary texts, enables literature to become the focus of real classroom discussion, as well as an ideal vehicle both for illustrating language use and for introducing differing cultural assumptions.
Reported by Bern Mulvey
IWATE: April — Online tools for teaching and learning by Christine Winskowski. Winskowski provided a thorough introduction to numerous, and very cool, online educational resources—several for teachers, several for students, and of course some for both. The online sites she shared included places to easily construct online lessons (e.g., Zunal, Rubistar, TED Ed Talks and Teacher Vision), online text-to-speech resources (e.g., imTranslator and EmbedPlus), whiteboards (A Web Whiteboard), and concept-mapping (Bubbl.us), as well as web resources for quiz construction and rubric construction. In all, over 30 websites were discussed, with Winskowski explaining the pros and cons of each in engaging, and very understandable, English.
Reported by Bern Mulvey
IWATE: May — Curriculum changes in Japanese high school English education by Cory Koby. In 2009 Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) introduced its once-in-a-decade reform to the ‘Course of Study,’ the final phase of which came into effect in April of this year. In a fast-paced yet clear (and often fascinating) presentation, Koby outlined the changes to the high school English language curriculum, paying particular attention to what is not changing. His discussion of the latter, especially his disclosure of empirical evidence highlighting the significant obstacles facing the implementation of MEXT’s goal of TLEIE (Teaching and Learning English in English), led to a lively and extremely informative discussion!
Reported by Bern Mulvey
KITAKYUSHU: May — Online reading and vocabulary environments- present and future by Rob Waring. Waring organized his presentation into three parts. In part one, he reviewed the current online reading environment, ﬁrst noting how common reading online has become across many markets, while pointing out the plus and minus features of reading online. EFL learners, for example, often do not know enough high frequency words, and the online texts can be difficult to understand. One solution is graded readers, which are becoming more available online. These however, pose problems such as the cost involved for the user, as well as lack of adaptability to the learner.
In part two, Waring focused on online vocabulary learning. After reviewing concepts important to language learning, such as the form-meaning relationship of words and the deeper meaning of words, he introduced the Kitakyushu JALT attendees to different web sites devoted to different aspects of vocabulary learning. Again, good points as well as deﬁciencies were pointed out.
Waring offered his solution in part three. It is a non-proﬁt web site that he is creating with Charlie Brown. The site addresses all the issues explained in the presentation. It is helpful for writers of extensive reading texts, or for anyone creating texts for use in classes. On the site, there are texts, leveled according to ER Foundation levels, and vocabulary learning and practice sections. One main point is the adaptability that this site provides. The content is free. Teachers as well as students will have a wealth of information available for learning, teaching and research. Waring concluded his presentation by encouraging submission of texts to the site.
Reported by Linda Joyce
KITAKYUSHU: June — Decoding the L in JALT by Michael Phillips. Introducing himself via “googlegangers” to kick off a light-hearted sampling of aspects of linguistics as an alternative to the usual microanalysis dictated by our profession, and by stepping back and looking at the big picture of what language really is, Phillips gave us a three-session approach to defining and understanding what language codes embody and represent, examining idiolects and language identity and challenging participant notions of correctness, acceptability and accommodation through diglossic issues.
Citing our students as examples, Phillips reminded us that knowing the language was more than just knowing the grammar and that agreement and systematic behavior regarding language use, as well as appropriation and semantics, influence our using it differently from how they do.
Viewing a picture triggered different images in our brains; watching some movie clips highlighted different idiolects among speakers and the emerging dialects of non-standard English with various types of fillers employed, rife with modern slang for solidarity building. We then attempted to describe elements of our own idiolects, with their various accents and lexical items.
Finally, a discussion between standard and non-standard speakers of English—Noam Chomsky and Ali G—illustrated appropriation and marked language in an amusing way.
Reported by Dave Pite
KYOTO: June — Teaching collocations and building word lists by Dr. Dongkwang Shin. Shin, who works at the Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, made a case for how teachers can utilize the vast amount of online data to make word lists in his presentation on collocations.
Shin began by outlining what collocations are, a group of two or more words that occur frequently together, before making a case for teaching collocations; they are an efficient and data reliable way of instructing learners.
Shin introduced several different corpora, such as COCA and the British National Corpus, which offer authentic and contemporary examples of written and spoken English. He outlined a number of efficient methods of teaching collocations in the classroom from matching exercises to brainstorming collocations using node words, and finding the odd word. Shin even noted the value of simply bringing students’ attention to collocations by noting them on the blackboard as they occur in texts.
Shin concluded his presentation by showing how teachers can make their own graded word lists using the free software RANGE developed by Paul Nation, under whose tutelage Shin obtained his PhD. While the software takes a bit of time to navigate Shin used it to show how to construct a unique word list and how to analyze and compile data rich information about student work.
Reported by JJ O’Donoghue
KYOTO: July — Reflections on iPad collaboration in Japanese and Indonesian contexts by Roger Palmer. This presentation talked about the affordances of iPads for language teachers, or what tablet PCs enable us to do, or do differently. Palmer distinguished his approach from that of other iPad-oriented presentations in that he did not focus upon particular apps useful for language learning or teaching, but on what teachers and students are able to do with tablet PCs in the classroom, and how iPads can facilitate collaboration between teachers, even across cultures.
Following studies in multimodal discourse analysis, Palmer referred to iPads as “convergent devices,” tools that take previously disparate items – MP3 players, cameras, laptops, etc. – and put them together, and in doing so enable new kinds of behavior. Looking at the classroom context in particular, Palmer showed how using iPads broke down the barrier between instructional technology and students so that students could freely use the teacher’s iPad to, for instance, perform collaborative shared writing activities, or play competitive games. He also showed how iPads could perform many of the functions of an interactive whiteboard, but at a much lower cost. As convergent technologies, he found that students in both the Indonesian and Japanese classrooms he looked at spent more time photographing activities in the classroom. The engagement iPads encouraged was confirmed in survey results from the Indonesian students, which were overwhelmingly positive, with many students expressing how much they enjoyed using iPads in class. Beyond classroom activities, teachers were also able to use iPads to easily make materials, incorporating realia from their homes, and could more readily take pictures of classroom activities to use for evaluation and later recycling.
The discussion resulting from Palmer’s talk focused upon how teachers could better incorporate tablets into their classes, and the challenges faced by some schools in doing so. Palmer said that he found his Indonesian collaborator to be incredibly imaginative in her use of the iPad with her students, and strongly encouraged all of us to consider collaborating with teachers in different countries and cultures in order to enrich our understanding through exposure to different ways of teaching.
Reported by Thomas Amundrud
NAGASAKI: May — A treasure chest of activities for young learners by Kim Horne. In this lively and interactive workshop, Horne introduced and conducted a typical lesson aimed at young learners. Horne first gave a short introduction to the make-up and functioning of the human brain, augmented by three easy-to-remember chants. She then led the group in a full range of interactive activities she has developed to engage, motivate, and help young learners retain new material through iterative use of structured activities. This included the systematic nature of her lesson planning, using excitement and emotion to engage and impress material upon young learners, the use of pictures to introduce new concepts, and the importance of task repetition.
Reported by Joel Hensley
NAGOYA: June ― Cultural and institutional obstacles that stand in the way of teaching communicative English in Japan by Robert Aspinall. Born in a monolingual community with close bonds and dependence on their family, and learning through socialization, the role of the group and the norm of the classroom, Japanese students try not to be selfish or ostentatious. Most good senior high schools suffer a “wash-back” effect of university entrance exams. They say the study of communicative English is a “waste of time.” In some universities, foreign language class sizes are large with a wide range of motivation and aptitude. Middle or low-ranking private universities, not wanting to get a reputation for failing many students, are called ‘leisure land.’ Universities lack in quality control ― professors grade their own courses with little or no outside checks. Further, many foreign language professors have little training in the appropriate methodologies, and focus on highly abstract or theoretical aspects of the subject. Aspinall’s possible solution is to teach English as a four-skill modern language from day one. His plan includes allowing for different English tracks in high school with advanced English only for a certain proportion of students, and to give a complete overhaul to the examination system, therefore ensuring the quality of English that is taught in university.
Reported by Kayoko Kato
OKAYAMA: May — Caring about learners of nursing English: Adaptable vocabulary activities for ESP and beyond by Simon Capper. Capper identified problems ESP students encounter: work/primary course study demands, lack of suitable materials, and vocabulary load. Capper then emphasized the importance of developing techniques relevant to ESP learners’ needs. For ESP to work well, students need a large general vocabulary, support with technical words, an understanding of the role of discourse (organizing words), and strategies for independent vocabulary learning. Activities that repeat, review, reinforce and recycle vocabulary will lead to remembering. Capper next demonstrated effective vocabulary building activities which can also be adapted for general (non-ESP) courses.
In a second, shorter presentation Capper introduced the 4th JALT “Teachers Helping Teachers” SIG Kyrgyzstan in 2012. Capper was part of the Kyrgyzstan seminar which saw eight Japan-based teachers make 35 presentations to around 100 faculty members of universities in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. Capper spoke of the benefits for participants; publishing, presenting at an international conference, experiencing an adventure with purpose, expanding your network of friends and discovering new opportunities.
Reported by Anton Potgieter
OKAYAMA: June — Reflections on peer assessment of oral presentations by David Townsend and Tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) and EFL by Magnus Kuwahara Magnusson. Townsend described taking over a communicative class requiring students to perform three presentations and receive peer assessment. He developed an assessment scheme comprising of 30% students’ peer grades and 70% his own assessment. Five core presentation skills were evaluated: posture, eye contact, voice, gestures, and understandability. Several classes were dedicated to increasing students’ specific presentation skills. His findings included positive backwash in terms of students’ performance and improvement due to peer feedback (of varying quality). Although students’ peer assessments had remarkable deviations, the overall average correlated highly with his own assessment.
In Magnusson’s presentation, he defined RPG EFL activities as highly interactive stories created collaboratively by a Game Master (or GM, often the teacher) who provides a scenario, rules and dice; and groups of 5-7 students who venture to complete an objective as fictional characters, using English with each other and the GM. To improve RPG efficiency for EFL contexts, Magnusson noted that students must: be familiar with the genre (basic cultural understanding), have minimal rules, and be given objectives achievable within the timeframe of the class.
Reported by Louis Lafleur
OMIYA: June — Sainokuni 2013. JALT Omiya / Saitama ETJ held their annual joint event, Sainokuni, in Saitama City. Four presenters shared their ideas on a variety of topics. Miori Shimada presented on how to create catchy songs for young learners in ESL classrooms using familiar melodies. Attendees tried writing their own lyrics to fit specific language goals in this interactive workshop. Saori Kaji shared her ideas for fun, visually stimulating and engaging activities for young ESL learners. Participants also shared their own activity ideas. Tyson Rode shared his thoughts on the effectiveness of content-based instruction (CBI) in an immersion classroom. Participants pondered his message while making a mess through an interactive science experiment. Fumie Kakuchi presented her impressions of the mandatory implementation of Foreign Language Activities in public elementary schools and its benefits.
Reported by Rob Rowland
SHINSHU: June — Japanese students studying abroad by Laurel Luth. Luth introduced the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UH Hilo), discussed some of the cultures represented at the university and provided advice as to what Japanese students should pay attention to when preparing to study abroad. UH Hilo has over 4,100 students and offers excursions every weekend to surrounding places of interest. ELI is one of only 104 accredited ESL programs in the USA. The student to professor ratio is eighteen to one. Those with TOEIC scores of over 500 are free to study as they choose. Students live in a dormitory with students not from their own country. They also have “host families” with whom they do not live but share various activities together. UH Hilo also offers a TESOL program. The advice Luth offered as to how to prepare Japanese students for study abroad included having them: 1) learn how to send a formal email to faculty members, 2) become accustomed to more technology being used in the classroom and 3) being prepared to share their culture. After the program, students often choose to continue their studies at UH Hilo.
Reported by Mary Aruga
YOKOHAMA: May — Appreciative inquiry activities and ideal classmates research by Tim Murphey. In the May presentation, the results of a classroom-based questionnaire were presented by Murphey. The results showed that a simple questionnaire about what ideal classmates would do, what the students’ classmates do, and what the students themselves do helped them become increasingly helpful classmates and motivated learners. The presenter further attributed the improved students’ selves and classroom environment to reciprocal idealizing through critical participatory looping where showing the students what they expect from each other motivated them to be ideal classmates.
He also mentioned that a balance of active and passive as well as inter- and intra-mental socially intelligent dynamic systems (SINDYS) are needed and finally introduced seven steps to improvising which could help teachers cope with unpredictable classroom situations and therefore to create a successful learning environment for students.
Reported by Katsuya Yokomoto
YOKOHAMA: June — TOEFL iBT workshop by Kazuya Kito and Terry Yearley. Members of the Yokohama Chapter participated in a TOEFL iBT workshop this June. The first half of the workshop was led by Terry Yearley. He began by explaining the origin and purpose of the test, followed by other factors such as the test’s structure, sequence of sections, the probable score requirements of the test takers, the differences between the independent and integrated tasks, using templates, and using practice tests. Then he focused on the Writing section of the test. He took a closer look at the challenges of preparing students to deal with the two writing tasks in the test, and the differences between writing a summary and writing an essay. The main points Yearley made were that since the TOEFL iBT is a computer-based test, teachers should try to simulate writing on a computer in the classroom, and that students should make the best use of the time allowed by doing the most important things first. The second half of the workshop focused on the speaking section of the test, led by Kazuya Kito. Kito started by introducing the general format of the speaking section. He then talked about how the speaking section of the test is rated and scored by focusing on the rubric used and listening to sample recordings of the tasks. The participants were then given a chance to both rate the sample recordings and participate in the tasks themselves.
Reported by Tanya Erdelyi