Introduction of the Other Language Educators (OLE) SIG


A Few of OLE’s Achievements

In providing a network for and about languages beyond English and Japanese, OLE has been able to activate many teachers and even learners of other languages to become interested in and attend JALT events and even present and publicize their ideas, projects, and research outside of their own language teacher associations. OLE has so far produced 88 newsletters and sponsored many internationally renowned researchers, such as Profs. Kasper (Hawaii), Ushiyama (Tsukuba) and Nishiyama (Kyoto). It also serves as an important access point to other foreign language institutions in Japan.

At the annual conference, OLE has initiated various individual language workshops, the multilingualism forum and the Embassy panel for cultural departments of official missions. Also, it has offered full two/three-day programs, resulting in close to 200 events since 1995—with 3 presenters on average totaling up to about 600 presentations (it stands to reason that few SIGs of such a small size have more!). OLE launched a yearly conference in 2012. In 2019, on October 5th and 6th, the 7th OLE conference “OLE7” took place in Kurume with Stephanie Houghton as Invited Speaker and two days of presentations.

OLE has provided opportunities for publications, often in OLE conference contribution compendiums and helped many teachers and researchers to find job positions. (Please look at the archives of our publications on the website listed at the end of this article.)

A Very Brief History

OLE started out after JALT 1993 in Omiya when Rudolf Reinelt was asked to form an official group in order to adequately represent languages beyond English and Japanese within JALT. Rudolf Reinelt served as coordinator for more than two decades and his dedication to the task was remarkable and is appreciated by his younger colleagues and the officers who stepped into his shoes

Preparations, first under the name “LingX” and from 1997 on as OLE, included the first newsletters and attendance at all EBMs. Despite its always small membership (below 30) due to simultaneous double membership in other language teacher associations, it has set up an extensive program of presentations at each annual conference.  OLE became a forming SIG with the acceptance of its constitution in 1997 and attained voting member status in 2018.

Plans for the Future of the OLE-SIG

In the future, OLE wants to increase its service as a networking point for teachers of languages beyond English and Japanese. Its workshops with presentations in German, French, Spanish and sometimes in and about Chinese, Malay, Russian, Persian, Thai and other languages have attracted widely varied audiences. The Multilingualism Forum at JALT National is open to teachers of languages which are not as widely taught as European languages.

One future OLE research focus will be on teaching L3 and how this influences the proficiency in L2 or even L1. Future goals include increasing the visibility of other languages within JALT and providing for other language learning incentives and a wider world view beyond English in Japan. On the job market this will include the advantage of an additional language with its wider variety of thinking and cultural values. Additionally, the 8th OLE-SIG-Conference is planned for 2021 in Muroran, Hokkaido, so, please stay tuned.

Despite its small size, OLE and its energetic officers strive to provide attractive forums and fruitful discussions on further language teaching in the future.


Editorial Note:

Until now, the SIG Focus column provided an in-depth view of one different SIG each month and since July 2015 we have been able to showcase almost all JALT SIGs. Starting from the next issue in May, the SIG Focus column will begin a series of articles that will develop our understanding of the role of SIGs and the benefits of becoming more involved with them.

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