Introducing Our New SIG Liaison Representative, Benefits of Being a Member of the LD-SIG

Ian Hurrell, Grant Osterman

Collaboration is a cornerstone of JALT activities and the same goes for SIGs. While many people often think of collaboration within a SIG, there is an ever-growing amount of collaboration between SIGs as well as between SIGs, chapters, or other groups. This year, the SIG Focus column would like to focus on SIG collaboration in all its forms. Please feel free to contribute or suggest ideas by emailing us at To start this series, we have a message from the JALT SIG Liaison Representative—a role that helps facilitate interaction and collaboration between SIGs and JALT as a whole.


Introducing Our New SIG Liaison Representative

Hi TLT Readers,

As the new SIG Liaison Representative, I have been asked to say a few words about SIGs. First just let me say I am currently a member of two SIGs and am thinking about joining more. To me, SIGs are the bread and butter of our organization—the place where specific topics are entertained and developed. My main role as the SIG SRL, is to act as a liaison among the SIGs and the board of directors. The SRL is elected by SIG coordinators every odd year for a two-year term, according to Standing Rule 1.17. As for regular activities, the SRL should communicate with SIG coordinators and other SIG officers via email and face-to-face at conferences and meetings.

My personal experience with JALT has been one that I think many have experienced. That is, like so many, I initially thought JALT was a place where old men sat around smoking cigars and talking theology. Much to my surprise, and much to my enjoyment, I was terribly wrong. What I found back then, in 1995, was a small group of educators who really wanted to help like-minded individuals get better at what we do. Through mentorship, I was introduced to JALT in a way that was easy to handle and understand.

Granted, the early 1990s were a busy time in my life with my young daughter and family responsibilities, but some teachers would often meet on Sundays to discuss pedagogy. I would attend as much as I could, but it was not until my daughter grew up that I started taking on more responsibility. The more I got involved the more I realized JALT was something that our community really needed. As stressful as teaching can be, it is great to know that other professionals will help with useful ideas and collaboration.

I also realized that through collaboration, more ideas were raised, discussed, and put into action. As the SIG Liaison Representative (SIG SLR), I hope to continue the tradition of helping others become better educators. I believe the SIGs are organizations where people meet to discuss topics relevant to the group. At the JALT SIG level, educators can focus on specific areas of education and where deeper connections can be made across the country. With my role as the liaison representative, I hope to help bridge gaps between the SIGs, work on collaboration between SIGs and chapters, and more open communication with our parent organization.

My vision is that SIGs will be able to collaborate together and form bonds to reach similar goals. Along those lines, we are currently working on ways to collaborate with presenters to get a consistent and unified honorarium system for SIGs so that presenters know what to expect in the form of payment. We are also trying to work with SIGs to provide a list of presenters who are experts in their respected fields.  That would help SIGs and chapters when deciding who to ask for a specific presentation. These are just a few of the things SIGs can do to help their membership. I hope to collaborate with each SIG and will strive to keep the SIGs user friendly and beneficial to their members. This can not be done by collaboration only, but through a mentor system that will make lasting relationships and strengthen our organization.


Grant Osterman

Due to space constraints, we were unable to include Ian Hurrell’s SIG Testimonial in the last issue of TLT.

Benefits of Being a Member of the LD-SIG

Ian Hurrell

Member of the LD-SIG Tokyo Get-together Organizing Team

Since joining the Learner Development SIG in 2012, I can say that being a member of this group has had a profound impact on my development as both a teacher and researcher. My first interaction with the SIG was at their forum at the 2012 JALT International Conference. The open and energetic atmosphere of the event, with simultaneous presentation sessions followed by group reflection discussions, offered plenty of opportunities to talk and make valuable connections with the other SIG members. While attending this event, I was encouraged to apply for one of the LD SIG grants to attend a conference focused on self-access learning at Kanda University of International Studies. At the time, I was working at a private language school, so it was a great financial burden for me to travel to conferences. However, with this grant I had the opportunity to participate in and write a publication about the conference, which was of great benefit to me when trying to find a job after completing my master’s degree. Since then, I have been a dedicated member of the SIG, attending and helping to organize the regular get-together meetings in the Tokyo area, participating in their forum events at various JALT Conferences, and also participating in their annual Creating Community Learning Together conference. All of these events organized by the SIG have allowed me to make long lasting connections with other professionals; provided me with many opportunities to discuss, present, and publish my research; and also to develop as a teacher who can help my students become better learners.