The Language Teacher - Issue 23.5; May 1999

Volume: 23
Issue No. 5
Date of publication: May 1999
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Active Learning Special Issue

This special issue of The Language Teacher was conceived as a forum for language teachers to document their research and practice with Active Learning/Teaching strategies. Active teaching strategies include methods that many TESL professionals consciously use in their classes daily. The literature in this area, however, is primarily focused on promoting active learning strategies in mainstream college education. This volume expands the discourse of Active Learning beyond the research literature in higher education.

This special issue should have appeal in the general context of Japanese education as well. In 1997, the Curriculum Council of the Education Ministry issued a report recommending that student-centered approaches to learning replace lecturing on facts. The purpose for these recommended changes reveal clear links with Active Learning: to develop social skills and global awareness; to develop autonomous learning and critical thinking skills; and to promote education based on the needs of a student population. Active learning strategies can transform traditional classrooms where students passively receive knowledge to centers where students are actively seeking information and reflecting on what they have learned.

Katharine Isbell opens this issue with an interview of James Eison who lays out some of the background to the field. Following this, Keith Ford describes an interview technique to promote listening, speaking, and critical thinking. Next, Cheiron McMahill and her students share their experience transforming a university course from a lecture-based format to one that is more experiential. The use of action logs to foster metacognition and learner autonomy is the focus of the contribution from Linda Woo and Tim Murphey. In the fifth article, Keith Lane promotes the use of graphic organizers to help build learner schemata. Shinsuke Kishie, a professor of Japanese Expression, describes a course project that makes use of debate to develop skills in argumentation and critical thinking. Finally, Veronkia Makarova outlines active learning strategies to teach pronunciation to Japanese learners.

We extend our thanks to the authors for staying with us through numerous revisions and to the volunteers of TLT for their advice and support. We hope readers will enjoy this issue.

Katharine Isbell, Julie Sagliano, Michael Sagliano, & Timothy Stewart

Active Learning Special Issue Co-Editors


The Language Teacher

An Interview on Active Learning with Dr. James Eison
by Katharine Isbell, Miyazaki International College

The Living Abroad Interview: An Encounter Project for Fostering Learner Independence
by Keith Ford, Waseda University

Transforming the Cultural Studies Curriculum in Partnership with Students
by Miho Kitsukawa, Cheiron McMahill, Mami Nakamura, Akemi Sato, Shizue Shimizu, & Reiko Tagohka, Gunma Prefectural Women's University

Chapter in Your Life: Gifu JALT: A Chapter in the Making
by Paul Doyon, Asahi University

My Share

Encouraging Risk-Taking and Spontaneity through "Quick Write"
by Bill Perry, Miyazaki International College; David Rehorick, University of New Brunswick

Activating Content-Based Assessment
by Katharine Isbell; Miyazaki International College

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