JALTCALL 2012: A sneak preview

Adam Murray, Tokai University


The JALTCALL special interest group will be holding ourannual conference from June 1-3 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The conference will beat the Konan Cube in the Hirao School of Management at Konan University. We are expecting that the wide range of paper presentations, show & tell presentations, workshop presentations, and poster presentations will have something of interest for everyone.

Our keynote speaker, Stephen Bax, will deliver his talk on Saturday, June 2.He is a Reader in English Language, Learning, Assessment, and Technology in the CRELLA Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire. In his presentation, he will revisit the concept of normalisation as a way of understanding innovation and CALL in language education. He will focus on the roles of teachers and managers in implementing new technological innovation in educational settings. In addition, he will emphasise the centrality of syllabus integration in the normalisation process. Throughout the talk, Bax will use examples from East Asia and elsewhere to illustrate his points.

In addition to our keynote speaker, we are pleased to have two plenary speakers. The first plenary speaker, Lance Knowles, is the President and Head of Development at DynEd International (USA).Knowles has been a pioneer in the field of CALL for more than 25 years. His award-winning courses, used by millions of students, have been approved by Ministries of Education in Europe and Asia. His language learning theory, Recursive Hierarchical Recognition (RHR), is based on neuroscience. In his presentation, Defining Roles: Who Does What and Why? Knowleswill focus on the need for a learning theory that defines the roles of teacher, learner, and technologies in blended learning configurations. Although the term “blended learning” is often used, many teachers are still unprepared to deal with technology. One reason is that many teacher-training programs do not adequately prepare teachers for a future where technologies play an increasing role. In this talk, fundamental assumptions about language teaching and language sequencing are challenged. Also, Knowles will discuss a new set of skills and a means for assessing progress.

The second plenary speaker, John Brine, is an Associate Professor in the Center for Language Research at the University of Aizu. In his presentation, Language Technology: Predictions and Unintended Outcomes, Brine will talk about how educators’ expectations and unmet prior predictions have been updated or revised over the years. The promise of the educational potential of technology continues to motivate enthusiasm for each new development. However, focusing excessively and optimistically on potential seems to contribute to inadequate attention to the unintended outcomes (positive and negative) of new technologies. Interestingly, early signs of unintended outcomes of mobile technologies, and other technologies of relevance to language learning, are now being detected and debated. Brine will discuss the importance for language educators of considering both predictions about technology and unintended outcomes.

This year we are delighted to have the support of several commercial sponsors. By attending commercially sponsored presentations and visiting commercial displays, conference attendees will be able to learn about the latest in materials and resources. Last year’s commercial sponsors includedCHIeru Co. Ltd., Compass Publishing, EnglishCentral, Macmillan LanguageHouse, McGraw Hill, Oxford University Press,andPearson Longman.

All conference attendees are invited to attend the networking reception on Saturday evening. This reception provides an excellent opportunity to meet up with old friends, make new ones, and enjoy lively discussions.(Note: Admission to the networking reception is complimentary for those attendees who have pre-registered.) We look forward to seeing you in Nishinomiya at the conference from June 1-3. For more information, please visit the JALT CALL SIG website: <jaltcall.org>. You can also stay informed of SIG news by following @jaltcall, the SIG’s official Twitter feed.

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