Chapter Reports - March 2015

AKITA: December — Let’s examine Ondoku-based learning strategies from various perspectives by Yo Hamada, Akita University. This workshop focused on learning strategies for listening and communication from three different perspectives: as a teacher, as a learner, and as a researcher. The presenter’s university developed a unique English language learning environment, called ALL (Autonomous Language Learning) ROOMs, in which teachers instruct student staff members in SLA and learning strategies, the staff then assist students’ English learning. The presenter described the learning strategies and considered their effectiveness by examining them from a teacher’s perspective, a learners’ perspective, and a researcher’s perspective. Specifically, the presenter introduced various types of “Ondoku” based activities including shadowing, repeating, and dictation. The presenter introduced the activities academically and practically, and the participants engaged in these various activities to understand them better.

Reported by Stephen Shucart

GIFU: November — Gifu JALT conference preview by Mike Stockwell, Kathleen Cahill, Brent Simmonds and John Spiri. Participants were treated to a tag-team style preview performance of the JALT National Conference, as four Gifu members ran through their scheduled presentations. Firstly, Mike Stockwell presented Crossing Borders: Projects with Authentic Audiences. Stockwell noticed that students get motivated when the discussion is authentic, particularly in four important areas: input, task, output, and audience. A number of examples were given of students engaging in authentic use of English, such as getting involved in English language conferences and creating websites. Kathleen Cahill then gave her presentation, Classroom Interaction in Elementary Eikaiwa Classes, which reported on her investigation into teacher question and feedback strategies with young learners in English conversation classes. Congruent with past research, Cahill found that the most common type of questions were display questions, and closed questions greatly outnumbered open questions.

Brent Simmonds and John Spiri then treated participants to their poster presentations. Simmonds’ NGO Gender Awareness Material showed how resources from organizations such as UNICEF and OXFAM can be integrated into EFL classes to teach and raise awareness of global issues. Spiri, in his presentation Academic Topics for English Language Learning, took us through the process of developing academic (scientific) materials for use in tertiary EFL classes.

Reported by Paul Wicking

GUNMA: November — Acquisition of basic vocabulary using two different methods of instructions: Core schema-based vs. translation-based by Masanobu Sato. It was a long time in the works, but finally Gunma JALT was able to host Masanobu Sato on November 1st and he lived up to the billing. Sato, as a graduate student at Keio University, showed us how he explored the thought pattern and learning done by Japanese learners of English. Using simple vocabulary items such as look, see and watch, he explained how complex it was for students to learn the contextual meaning of these three words. As these perception verbs caused great concern among his students, he compared the effectiveness of core schema-based instruction (SBI) and translation-based instruction (TBI) in helping teach the meaning of the respective meanings. A set of three questionnaires were devised in order to examine learner ability to choose the right verb in context. Sato concluded that overall, the results show that SBI is as effective as TBI in the short run and more effective than TBI in the long run. The results showed that the SBI taught students retained high scores even after two weeks after the instruction session, while the TBI group’s performance leveled off. Sato ably fielded an array of questions which looked into the level of the vocabulary usage and the varying usage of the three perception verbs. Gunma JALT members were also treated to a nice display of visuals to help develop schema with students.

Reported by Joël Laurier

GUNMA: November — Where do new ideas come from? by Alan Maley. Maley suggested five possible sources for new ideas. The first was Teacher Interaction such as teacher training, conferences, staffroom conversation and informal teacher circles. Including teachers from other disciplines is necessary to break down the walls that both protect and sequester. The second is Heuristics—simple ‘rules of thumb’, which, when applied inevitably change teaching interactions. Many new insights can be gained by trying new things and breaking from your normal teaching styles and methods. The third was Re-explorations of Traditional Technique, wherein Maley introduced “old-fashioned” language teaching techniques that have been renovated: dictation, homework, vocabulary, reading and grammar. He also suggested some others ripe for re-development, such as repetition, questions, dialogues, drills and translation. In his fourth source, borrowing from Feeder Fields he suggested the potential benefits to be had from considering areas outside education such as neuroscience, the psychology of consciousness, and creativity theory. Maley’s last and most obvious source for new ideas was Information Technology and social networking services. In less than two hours, Maley gave attendees a hundred new roads to walk down to find new ideas. Most of these roads may lead to dead ends, but it is the search which is most important for the motivational and developmental progress of teachers and trainers.

Reported by John Larson

HAMAMATSU: October — E-learning systems workshop by Adam Jenkins and Gregg McNabb. The purpose of the workshop style presentation was to show that becoming proficient in e-learning systems is simple and explain how it contributes to teachers’ best practices as regards to pedagogy. The basics of Moodle, the current world standard in learning management systems, were demonstrated. Jenkins explained that e-learning and blended learning will soon be facts of life and that MEXT has already determined that e-learning will be part of teachers’ futures. He explained numerous reasons why using a learning management system (LMS) is sound pedagogy. Primarily, it allows teachers to focus on aspects of active learning and collaborative learning. He explained how using an LMS effectively can save hours and hours of work, especially when collaborating with other educators. McNabb further explained how to use the LMS feature by feature, intoning that as LMSs will become a de facto part of education in Japan for five core subjects within the next five years, teachers must familiarize themselves with new technologies. All detailed explanations about using Moodle are still available in Japanese or English from either of the presenters and both also have Japanese language presentations available that explain important rationales for adopting a nationwide standard.

Reported by Gregg McNabb

HAMAMATSU: December — My share and year-end get together by various presenters. On December 13, Hamamatsu had its annual My Share presentations and year-end get together. Gregg McNabb led off with a Canadian version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to demonstrate how learners can use Quizlet and Moodle’s quiz plug-in to do review or self-study (listening and vocabulary). Sue Sullivan shared with us in some detail how she has flipped classrooms by having student-led lessons to empower them. Abbi Spencer exposed us to a variety of informative and extremely well-designed short videos, such as the effects of caffeine on our system. Jon Dujmovich brought his children in to perform a heartwarming Canadian version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Toward the end we really believed it was “10 salmon leaping, 9 Mounties riding….” Jane Joritz-Nakagawa provided meticulously prepared handouts and spoke about gender-balanced poetry. We learned that there are many accessible, appropriate poems we can and probably should introduce into our classes. Adam Jenkins also talked about the flipped classroom from several perspectives, but mentioned something that we tend to overlook: we need not flip an entire lesson (we tend to think in whole-lesson blocks), just 15 minutes may be enough. From considerations about which poems to use to an actual poetry recital, Dan Frost recited three seasonal classics: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, the first and last section of Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” and “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” also by Robert Frost. Finally, Serena Samsel wrapped up the evening with a brief demo lesson to encourage beginning speakers to become more active.

Reported by Gregg McNabb

HIROSHIMA: November — Storytelling from the beginning by Bill Harley. Bill Harley, a two-time Grammy-winning children’s musician from the United States, was one of the plenary speakers at JALT2014 in Tsukuba in November. Before the conference, he stopped by Hiroshima to lead us in a very special workshop on storytelling. He offered basic advice and practice in the telling of stories, with an emphasis on telling stories in your own way, appropriate to your own setting. Bill gave many examples and insights on using personal stories, the effect and functions of storytelling in the classroom, storytelling ideas you can use in your class, and lots of encouragement. And of course, he told and elicited many good stories!

Reported by Ariel Sorensen


IWATE: December — Developing automaticity in reading: A study of university students in Japan by Bryan Hahn, Akita International University. Akita International University has a strong emphasis on English and they have a goal to bring their students’ reading levels up as high as possible.  Hahn worked with students who were enrolled in advanced reading classes at the University and tested whether or not there was progress to be gained by having them read words in “chunks” that allowed them to gradually read more words at a time.  He showed us some of the techniques he used to get the students to practice their readings, followed by a pre-test and then a post-test to allow him to determine if any progress had been made. His hypothesis is that substantial progress can be made with this kind of reading practice. Hahn stated that having the students read in more manageable chunks and getting them reading more words at a time helps them improve the number of words-per-minute they can read.   We want to thank Bryan for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak to us.

Reported by Jason Hill

KITAKYUSHU: November — Pecha-kucha night by various presenters. In The Japanese Languages, Michael Phillips went over the genetics of language/linguistics and the relationship of the Japonic language family, briefly going into the different language groups across the world and the debate of which groups are related or not, as well as touching on diglossia and how it applies to the topic. Roderick van Huis told us about Pronunciation Prediction for the Classroom, offering suggestions on how we can do spot treatment pronunciation in class with no preparation on things that suddenly pop up. In Marcus Yong’s Game Design and Motivation presentation, Yong explained what makes games so addictive and how we can use those elements in our classroom. To further his point, he demonstrated how the free online game “Classcraft” can be used in classes. In Stephen Case’s presentation, 20 Websites for 20 Lessons, he went over some websites that were intended for education use and others not specifically intended for education use and how they could be applied to classrooms in unique ways. 

Reported by Jamar Miller

KITAKYUSHU: January — Gamification and language learning by Markus Yong. Yong talked about game theory, what constitutes a game from a theoretical standpoint, and how it can be applied to a classroom setting. He began by introducing the online role-playing game “Classcraft”, a free online application designed specifically for a classroom setting, and explained the rules by having the audience participate in the actual game itself. He then went into detail on how he has implemented this game in some of his university classes, listed some of the advantages and drawbacks to the game, and provided suggestions for how to adapt the game specifically for Japanese learners.

Reported in honor of Dave Pite

KOBE: November — The teaching power of stories by Bill Harley. See Osaka Chapter for more details.

KYOTO: November — The teaching power of stories by Bill Harley. See Osaka Chapter for more details.

KYOTO: December — Teacher employment issues by Richard Miller and Michael Parrish, JALT Career Development Centre. This informative talk touched upon a number of points of interest to teachers seeking part-time, contract, or tenured positions in Japanese universities. Miller and Parrish encourage jobseekers to think about four areas to consider and improve for their job-hunting: publications and presentations, academic qualifications, work experience, service. They also noted that the requirements for each of these four areas changes depending on the level of position one is applying for. For publications and presentations, Miller and Parrish suggested a number of venues both within and outside of JALT for beginning speakers and writers, and noted that many seeking their first university jobs often fail because they do not have academic publications, particularly since this is increasingly required for even part-time work. Another major point in this talk was the importance of service, since it shows potential employers that you don’t just do the minimum required, as teachers are often called to go beyond that. Active participation in JALT chapters and SIGs can be a real boost in job applications and interviews, as can education-related volunteering. In all the work one does to keep a CV updated, the presenters encouraged attendees to constantly add to their CVs and to see what is lacking. Keeping an up-to-date CV on hand, along with summaries of articles and translations of these summaries, can greatly speed up the relentless job-hunting process. Following the presentation, the discussion continued, with both speakers and attendees sharing their experiences and advice.

Reported by Thomas Amundrud

NAGASAKI: July — Blending your classroom with Moodle by Thom Rawson, Nagasaki International University. In his presentation, Rawson introduced the participants to the possibility of using Moodle as a tool for enhancing a classroom. First he gave a brief overview of Moodle and its capabilities, explaining the current state of Moodle implementation around the world and giving numerous examples of possible situations in which it can be used. Rawson then provided those in attendance with the opportunity to try using Moodle in a controlled and organized environment. He had the participants create several practice activities that one might use in an EFL classroom. These practice activities included making a questionnaire that might be used to gather feedback from a class, as well as making a digital assignment. Additionally, Rawson demonstrated the process of creating a digital rubric to aid in assessing the previously created assignments. Rawson suggested that instructors could use the information presented in the presentation to begin using Moodle in conjunction with their normal teaching methods. The presentation proved to be both interactive and thought provoking. 

Reported by John Patrick Owatari-Dorgan

NAGASAKI: October — Japanese high school English curriculum changes by Cory Koby, Sendai Shirayuri Gakuen. Koby outlined the changes in the Japanese High School English Curriculum outlined by MEXT. One of the bigger changes to the new curriculum is the addition of 800 words to the list of words required in study for JHS and SHS. This makes the total of words studied by the time Japanese students graduate from high school to be around 3000 words. This is the first time in 30 years that the number has been increased.  The overall number of hours to study English per week for students hasn’t changed; the maximum number of hours is 21 and the minimum number is just 2 hours. Koby then took us through MEXT learning objectives and the challenges Japanese teachers of English face in implementing the somewhat unclear policy that they have been asked to follow.

Reported by Thom W Rawson


NAGASAKI: November — A four-step process for critical thinking instruction by David Gann, Tokyo University of Science. In November, Nagasaki JALT members were treated to an informative and interactive workshop-style lecture centered on critical thinking. As the co-author of a podcast <>, Gann knows the ins and outs of taking students through a comprehensive curriculum centered on critical thinking with the outcome of learning English as a second language. The online resources and classroom discussion and explorations provide a full range of listening goals and text reconstruction activities designed not only to develop English ability but to also increase meta-linguistic awareness in students.

Reported by Thom W Rawson

NARA: November — The teaching power of stories by Bill Harley. See Osaka Chapter for more details.

OKAYAMA: November — “We’re going global?” A look at local efforts to implement Japan’s national English education goals by Tom Fast. Fast recently spoke to a group of high school English teachers from 67 schools in Okayama Prefecture. The group included JETs and JTEs. His presentation reviewed the results of a survey he administered to those teachers. Beginning with a history of government programs and guidelines for teaching English, the speaker moved on to the differences demonstrated by JTE’s ideals and reality in teaching communicatively. More than 60% have spent a year or less abroad and 50% spend 10% or less of class time speaking in English. Students’ inability to follow instructions and JTEs lacking confidence were the main reasons for not using English more. Fast then outlined fallacies many teachers were operating under and provided ways to motivate students in a communicative classroom. In concluding, the presenter listed what is now being done in the prefecture to improve English instruction and what steps remain to be taken in order to reach goals set by M.E.X.T. The chapter AGM and installation of new officers followed the presentation.

Reported by Richard Lemmer

OKINAWA: December — Trends in language teaching conference. On December 13, JALT Okinawa hosted a Trends in Language Teaching Conference. Seventy people attended the conference, and presentations were given by about 30 people, two-thirds of whom traveled from outside Okinawa to attend. Andy Boon of Toyo Gakuen University and David Kluge of Nanzan University served as keynote speakers. Awards were given for poster presentations and included Charlotte Lin for Outstanding Poster Presentation, Samantha May for Excellent Poster Presentation, and Lorraine Kipling for Outstanding Poster. We also had three presentations from young scholars: Wataru Gima (Study Abroad, Hawai’i), Yu Hsiang, and Hsu Jia Ping (Study Abroad, Japan). This groundbreaking and historical event for Okinawa JALT was made possible thanks to an energetic group of volunteers who worked 24/7 to help create and promote an atmosphere of learning, sharing, and professional development. We’re very grateful to the seven students from the University of the Ryukyus and Meio University who worked as interns. Promotional support was provided by Cengage Learning, and JALT Okinawa would especially like to thank Rika Kojima for her kind and generous assistance. Additional support was provided by the University of the Ryukyu’s Center of Community (COC) Project.

The list of presenters included: Shizuyo Asai, Ritsumeikan University; Andy Boon, Toyo Gakuen University; Stuart Champion, Kanda University; David Kluge, Nanzan University; Jeremy Eades, Kanda University; Norman Fewell, Meio University; Tetsuko Fukawa, Kanda University; Wataru Gima, University of the Ryukyus; Tim Greer, Kobe University; Chad Hamilton, Kanda University; Takaaki Hiratsuka, University of the Ryukyus; Joseph Hosback, Ritsumeikan University; Yu Hsiang, University of the Ryukyus; Shawn Hupka, Kanda University; Lorraine Kipling, Kanda University; Fernando Kohatsu, University of the Ryukyus; Nicholas Lambert, Toyo University; Ryan Lege,  Kanda University; Chris Leyland, Kobe University; Charlotte Lin, Kanda University; George MacLean, University of the Ryukyus; Samantha Marta, Kanda University; Bill Pellowe, Kinki University; Kristina Peterson, Ritsumeikan University; Jia Ping, National Taiwan University of Science; Kim Rockwell, University of Aizu; Paul Shimizu, Fukuoka; Tokuyu Uza, Meio University; Kevin Watson, University of the Ryukyus, and; Madoka Yabiku, University of the Ryukyus.

Reported by Meghan Kuckelman

OSAKA: November — The teaching power of stories by Bill Harley. As part of the Four Corners Tour, JALT2014 National Conference plenary speaker, Bill Harley, brought his stories and music to a chapter presentation co-sponsored by the Kansai area chapters. Grammy award-winning Harley opened the session with a song reminding us that rhyme, rhythm, and repetition are ways that teachers can make their work memorable. Throughout the session, Harley blended findings from neuroscience and educational psychology with experiences from the classroom and his own personal stories. His message included the notion that a teacher is someone who gives a story to others so that people may then be an agent of their own shared memories. Harley showed how meaning is context-embedded and explained that the real purpose of stories is to get listeners to think about themselves. He also explained how stories exist even before they are coded into language. Participants were asked to identify stories that defined their own lives (e.g. an early childhood memory and where our name comes from) and all were reminded that since teaching is relational to tell our own stories to engage with students. Another of Harley’s songs closed out the session and those in attendance certainly left with greater depth of reflection into their own stories and how they might use the technique in upcoming classes.

Reported by Greg Rouault

SHINSHU: October — My share, coordinated by Heather Fukase. In this installment of our Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) series, five educators shared a wide variety of activities which could be used in the young learner classroom. Charles Ward introduced his Homework for Kids worksheets which incorporate listening, reading and writing components. The exercises appear in order of increasing difficulty and include matching, answering yes/no, open and discussion questions, conversations, dictation, Odd One Out, filling in the blank, putting words in order, math problems, creating one’s own questions and much more. Jonathon Loch presented Active Activities, starting with a dance which became progressively faster. He also explained how songs and games can be made more exciting by including students’ names in the lyrics and using a blindfold and coins in his version of Simon Says. Karen Ricks and David Varnes demonstrated activities, based on the Montessori Method, which respect the needs and curiosity of the child and engage the child physically as well as mentally. Various activities based on TPR were also introduced. Many of the activities Masumi Kina presented were customized for the holidays and included How many eggs, Mr. Wolf?, Easter egg hunt, Christmas bingo and Christmas dodgeball, among many others. These presentations were interspersed with Heather Fukase’s Twenty Things to Do with Flashcards (that aren’t Karuta), such as Beat the Clock and Mastermind, all of which were designed for language acquisition in a non-competitive, highly engaging and meaningful way.

Reported by Mary Aruga

SHINSHU: December — An afternoon with Juan Uribe and Christmas social by Juan Uribe. In a stop on his worldwide trek, Uribe shared his insights on Affective Language Learning (ALL). To Uribe, ALL is about going to the core of what/how students feel. It is not about our teaching but about the students’ learning, with everyone being able to learn in their own way. Uribe described three kinds of teachers: 1) the lecturer, who expects a mass of detailed knowledge to be understood by the students, 2) the teacher, who focuses on group dynamics, or the “how” of teaching and 3) the facilitator, who knows the students, where they are coming from, where they want to go and what they would like to change. The facilitator builds the course together with the students, reflects and empathizes. Uribe provided a myriad of ideas the facilitator can use, including welcoming the students, allowing the occasional use of L1, planning the students’ success with achievable goals and clear instructions, making decisions together, offering choices, and above all, smiling. In his words, “children do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Reported by Mary Aruga

TOKYO: November — Song and story (lecture/concert) by Bill Harley. In this workshop, participants looked at how stories work in people’s lives, what stories define their own lives, and how to use stories in educational settings. Teachers gained new ideas for using stories in the classroom and a deeper understanding of their work as teachers. Harley explained that the story is the beginning—we can add movement, voices, props, puppets, or fireworks but none are as important as the telling of the story. This workshop offered basic advice and practice in the telling of stories, with an emphasis on telling stories our own way, appropriate to our own setting. Harley gave insights on using personal stories, the effect and functions of storytelling in the classroom, storytelling games we can use in our class, and offered lots of encouragement. He also explained that song and story go hand in hand—one starts where the other stops. Workshop participants explored the connection between song and story, did some simple exercises, and gained practical suggestions on how to use music in storytelling. 

Reported by Sayaka Amano

TOKYO: November — The future of English language teaching: International perspectives by Dr. John Hope. The English language-teaching world, as Hope explained in this presentation, is changing in ways never previously envisaged. As English rapidly becomes ubiquitous across Europe and increasingly, across Asia, more countries are offering programs taught in English and more countries are adopting English as a mode of instruction in schools. English instruction is beginning earlier and earlier in school systems, reducing demand for introductory English courses at the secondary and tertiary level. A number of other driving forces are combining in unique ways to change the demand for English language instruction. The Generation Y students entering higher education are different to previous generations and no longer want traditional senior secondary and higher education programs. The increasingly widespread offerings of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) are beginning to address the demand for English language tuition. What does all this mean for Japan? To answer this question, Hope provided a resume of international trends, followed by interactive discussion of the implications for Japan.

Reported by Sayaka Amano

TOKYO: November — The role of extensive reading (ER) in developing global awareness by Alan Maley. In this presentation, Maley began by rehearsing what ER is according to his understanding. Attendees discussed some of its undoubted benefits. Maley suggested that, alongside its purely language learning benefits, ER can also be a valuable resource for developing “Life Skills and Critical Thinking.” Awareness is increasing, so as language teachers we need to be more than passive technicians for delivering a package. In Kumaravadivelu’s terminology, we need to become “transformative intellectuals.” That is to say, as educators, we have a responsibility for raising our students’ awareness of the world they live in. Material was drawn from currently available graded readers. Attendees engaged in discussion of these issues. 

Reported by Sayaka Amano

TOKYO: November — The way forward: Translating the pedagogical principles of English as an international language (EIL) into classroom practice by Gregory Paul Glasgow. In this presentation, Glasgow intended to clarify any misconceptions about the pedagogy of EIL and to demonstrate how EIL principles can be gradually incorporated into pedagogical practice through curriculum planning, classroom medium of instruction, and materials development. Glasgow drew from his experiences as a curriculum coordinator, lecturer and instructor in upper secondary and tertiary education. The presentation was also combined with opportunities for participants to engage in reflection and discussion. The overall goal of the presentation was to provide participants with a sounder conceptualization of the pedagogical principles of EIL and incorporate them in ways that are effective and compatible with their local teaching contexts.

Reported by Sayaka Amano

TOTTORI: October — Workshop on activity development theory and practise by Shirley Leane. In the lecture portion of this presentation, Leane led an exploration of the history of various language education movements, including the audio-lingual method, with discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of pedagogy informed by the philosophical foundation of each. Emphasis was given to the distinction between ‘exercise’ (such as pattern practise) and ‘activity’ (involving communication), and the need to include activities in lessons. The workshop involved pair and small group work in constructing activities, which were then shared and discussed by all participants.

Reported by Tremain Xenos

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