An Overview of JALT's National Special Interest Groups

JALT has two types of organisations, the regional chapters, which number about 39 at present and the National Special Interest Groups (N-SIGs) of which JALT has 12 and two are currently forming. N-SIG members receive three or more newsletters yearly. N-SIGs are also active in international networking and special publications. This special edition of the JALT The Language Teacher, for example, is part of the PALE N-SIG mission to promote international relations and publications. The N-SIGs conduct an annual forum and annual general meeting (AGM) at the international JALT conference, held this year, October 9-12 in Hamamatsu, Japan. N-SIGs also conduct roundtables and colloquia at the conference as well as events throughout the year in regions all over Japan. The N-SIGs can be contacted individually with the information included with each brief or through the central office in Tokyo.

Bilingualism (BL N-SIG)

Linguistic, geographic and political factors have worked together to make bilingualism less prominent in Japan than in many other countries. Nevertheless, a small percentage of the Japanese population has always been bilingual, and this percentage continues to increase. The Bilingualism N-SIG was formed to help serve this growing community of bilingual speakers and scholars. We strive to encourage bilingualism research, facilitate the wide dissemination of findings on bilingualism, and provide a base for mutual support among our members.

At the time of our N-SIG's formation in 1990, the majority of our members were parents trying to raise and educate their children bilingually in Japan, and child bilingualism remains a core issue for our N-SIG. At the 1996 JALT International Conference, the best attended of our three presentations on bilingualism was a roundtable discussion entitled "Educational Options for Bilingual Children in Japan." Six panelists described how and why they choose between Japanese public school, international school, distance education, self-organized Saturday school, and boarding school for their children's formal education, and how they balanced this education with the language environment in their homes. Every year we organize several presentations on bilingualism at the JALT International Conference.

Our N-SIG has never limited itself to issues concerning child bilingualism. We encourage a variety of bilingualism studies, and as our membership (over 300 at present) continues to increase so does the range of bilingual issues that we are able to address in our presentations and publications.

The Bilingualism N-SIG produces three types of publications. N-SIG members receive our 20-page bimonthly newsletter, Bilingual Japan, which contains a mixture of formal and informal articles about bilingualism and biculturalism in Japan. Regular newsletter columns include "Bilingualism and Biculturalism in the News," "Research Forum," "Bilingual Case-Study," "Bilingual Child-Raising in Japan," and "Children's Books."

We have published four monographs on bilingualism which can be purchased by members and non-members. Three of the monographs are written in English and one in Japanese. The material in all of the monographs originally appeared in our newsletter as a serial.

In 1995 we published the inaugural issue of our annual journal, The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, as a forum for longer research articles on bilingualism. The third issue will be published in the fall of 1997. The journal is available by subscription to both members and non-members.

To assist N-SIG members in obtaining research materials on bilingualism, we have established The Bilingual Resource, an extensive bibliography of books and articles on bilingualism which members have access to and are willing to lend to other members. For more information about the activities or publications of the Bilingualism N-SIG, contact Peter Gray at: 1-3-5-1 Atsubetsu-higashi, Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo JAPAN 004. Tel/fax (h): +81 (11) 897 9891; Tel. (w): +81 (11) 881 2721; Fax (w): +81 (11) 881 9843; Email: <>.

College and University Educators (CUE N-SIG)

CUE networks with instructors of foreign languages employed at colleges and universities in Japan and internationally. We address the specific needs of foreign language teachers in higher education by (a) offering a base for mutual support, networking, and professional development among the group's members, (b) disseminating information about current research relating to language teaching in higher education, (c) helping members understand information related to teaching at colleges and universities in Japan, (d) providing a forum for the exchange of information and opinion between educators in higher education.

To reach our goals we have focused on the following activities:

  • Creating a database of members' research interests, and circulating these to members


  • Producing a newsletter to report on research, current language education policy and practice, and print related articles written by professional educators


  • Providing a translation resource in English of forms and notices commonly circulated in Japanese colleges


  • Organizing regional meetings, mini-conferences, and CUE N-SIG activities at national JALT conferences

We believe that working toward these goals will not only benefit the CUE N-SIG members, but also their students and institutions.

The following are the priorities we see for language teachers in higher education:

  1. We are responsible for our level of competence. Ongoing research, reading, and documentation are essential to improve our competence. We also urge teachers to document their classwork and be prepared to justify activities and decisions made in class.


  2. Just as continuing education is essential for keeping abreast of research, the increasing demands, and the competitive nature of employment in higher education are increasingly making advanced degrees and publications primary requisites for employment.


  3. The working relationship we have with our colleagues and administrators should not be haphazard. We need to be informed of our rights and obligations. Leave nothing to chance and document your activities and the demands made on you. Inform yourself of the public laws and the institutional guidelines.


  4. Networking and professional relationships with other educators are imperative to be cognisant of employment positions for yourself and for other educators who need the benefit of your expertise.

For more Information contact: Sandra T. Nakata--Co-Coordinator, 4811 Kami-Tsuruma #353, Sagamihara-Shi, Kanagawa-Ken 228. Tel: +81 (462) 51 1520 ext 267-6178; Email: <> or Thom Simmons--Co-Coordinator, 2-28-10-303 Morigaoka, Isogoku, Yokohama 235 JAPAN. Fax: +81 (45) 845 8242; Email: <> or our Web page at <>.

Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL N-SIG)

The JALT CALL N-SIG: this "letter soup" means we are the computer special interest group in Japan's second largest language teaching organization. With about 275 members in June 1996, we hope to act as a force within JALT and the language teaching profession to encourage and facilitate computer use for teaching, learning, research, administration, and evaluation.

We were founded in 1992 through the efforts of Professor Kazunori Nozawa, Toyohashi University of Technology, and officially recognized as a JALT N-SIG in 1993. Since then we have been disseminating information through our newsletters, published three times a year.

In 1993, we held a conference on computers and composition at Kinjo Gakuin University in Nagoya. In 1994, we published the proceedings of the conference, held a software fair, and participated in several regional conferences. In 1995, we held another software fair, and provided CALL programs at JALT's international conference, JALT95, regional conferences and chapter presentations.

We established our own Internet e-list for EFL in Japan, <jaltcall>. This list allows anyone from around the world to participate in an ongoing discussion of topics related to teaching languages in Japan. Professor Ozeki at Chubu University maintains the computers, while Steve McGuire manages the list. Steve has also started other lists for JALT executives and N-SIG officers. Kazunori Nozawa also started our electronic journal, JALTCALL-EJ, in 1995.

For more information, try our Web Page, maintained by Larry Davies, at: <>.

To subscribe to< jaltcall> send the following message to <>.



Please read the welcome message you will be sent to learn how to receive <jaltcall> as a digest.

For more information contact: Kevin Ryan, Showa Women's University, 1-7 Taishido, Setagaya, Tokyo 154 JAPAN. Email: <>.

FL Literacy (FLL N-SIG) (now forming)

If you are in any way interested in the concerns discussed in the article (this issue), "Literacy in Foreign Language," (or in the teaching and learning of reading and writing as it relates to FLT and your own teaching and research interests), you are by all means encouraged to join and empower this forming N-SIG. Become an officer or an active member and help see this through to fruition. The field of FL Literacy is undeveloped and wide open and so is this nascent N-SIG.

Contact Coordinator Charles Jannuzi at: Fukui University, College of Education, Bunkyo 3-9-1, Fukui-shi, Fukui-ken 910 JAPAN. Tel/Fax: +81 (776) 27 7102; Email: <> or <>.

Global Issues in Education (GILE N-SIG)

As educators in the 1990s, we live in critical times. How can we prepare our students to cope with the problems facing our global village? What is our responsibility as language teachers in a world of war, poverty, prejudice, and pollution?

These questions are addressed by JALT's Global Issues in Language Education N-SIG, a unique group of professional language educators working to promote global awareness, international understanding, and the study of world problems through foreign language teaching. Our N-SIG is comprised of classroom teachers, school directors, and textbook writers who share a special interest in global education, a new approach to teaching which aims at enabling students to effectively acquire a foreign language while empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and commitment required by world citizens for the solution of global problems. Our SIG thus has a double commitment to excellence in language education and to "teaching for a better world."

The Global Issues N-SIG was established in June 1991. Our official aims are: (a) to promote the integration of global issues, global awareness and social responsibility into foreign language teaching; (b) to promote networking and mutual support among language educators dealing with global issues; and (c) to promote awareness among language teachers of important developments in global education and the related fields of environmental education, human rights education, peace education, and development education.

We produce an exciting quarterly newsletter containing a wealth of information: global education abstracts from language teaching journals, articles on topics such as women's issues and human rights, reports on peace education conferences, and overseas pen pal programs, classroom activities on rainforests and prejudice reduction, and a "Who's Doing What?" section profiling teachers involved with areas such as AIDS education, intercultural understanding, and world hunger.

In addition to the newsletter, our N-SIG has also produced three special issues of JALT's monthly magazine containing articles, activities, book reviews, and bibliographies on topics such as global education course design, Third World study tours, conflict resolution, and global issues in children's EFL.

We are proud of our many networking contacts, which include peace and global issue groups in TESOL and IATEFL as well as international organizations such as Educators for Social Responsibility, Amnesty International, and UNESCO. Each year our N-SIG organizes a variety of presentations for local, regional, and national conferences. Typical events include chapter presentations on world citizenship, workshops on global awareness EFL games, a recent Tokyo symposium on peace education, and annual colloquia and roundtables at JALT's national conference on such topics as LINGUAPAX, environmentally friendly language teaching, global issues in textbooks, and socially-responsible teaching materials.

Other N-SIG activities include EFL book donations to resource-poor countries such as Vietnam, fund-raising for children's homes in India, national lecture tours by Russian and European peace educators, and promotion of international events such as Earth Day. Those interested in our SIG are warmly invited to join or to write us for more information and a sample copy of our newsletter.

Kip A. Cates, the Coordinator can be contacted at: Tottori University, Tottori City, JAPAN 680. Tel/Fax (w): +81 (857) 31 5650; Email: <>.

Japanese as a Second Language (JSL N-SIG)

What Is It? The JSL N-SIG is a network for those who are interested in teaching and learning Japanese as a second language. The JSL N-SIG publishes its quarterly newsletter for information exchange and sharing. In 1996, we published our first journal on Japanese-language education. The publication coincided with the fifth anniversary of its birth. Besides publication activities, we plan local study meetings, co-sponsor workshops and meetings with chapters and other N-SIGs, introduce speakers in the field of JSL for conferences, and support Japanese language learners.

For Whom Is It? The JSL N-SIG is for both teachers and learners. Actually, one of its unique features is that learners as well as teachers constitute this N-SIG. Most of the members are interested in Japanese-language education with a broader perspective of applied linguistics in general. We are interested not only in Japanese-language education per se but also language analysis for teaching and learning, general aspects of language education. In other words, it is for everybody interested in language teaching and learning with a focus on Japanese language whether you may be in Japan or abroad, regardless of your field of interest.

How to Get Involved. Since the N-SIG is operated and managed by volunteer staff, members' active participation in its management is always welcomed. The officers of the managing committee are elected every year at the annual general meeting during the JALT annual conference. Thus, the officer positions are rotated among its members on a regular basis.

The Current JSL Situation and Tasks we Face: As the number of Japanese-language learners has increased since the mid 80s, learners have become very diverse. Along with this diversity, it is getting more and more important to consider how to meet individual needs of learners. Here is a brief list of JSL issues we need to address:

  • learner autonomy in JSL, support of volunteer teacher, and support of independent learners with information on available resources


  • CALL/CAI in JSL to help meet individual needs, teaching Japanese to children (including returnees)


  • kanji learning and teaching for learners from non-kanji cultures


  • teacher development in JSL


  • study of existent JSL materials and methodology and developing materials methodology


  • study of evaluation in JSL


  • research and analysis of Japanese language with focus on the preceding issues

When looking at this list, one may wonder how challenging and demanding it is to consider and study all these issues. In a sense, the JSL N-SIG is a meeting place of people with various specialties within the field of general second/foreign language education. We are in a stronger position for this, since we can exchange ideas and information with members of other N-SIGs who are more tuned to each specific issue.

For more information contact: Hamada Mori, JSL Coordinator, Garden Heights Machida 102, 2-10-9 Naka-Machi, Machida-shi, Tokyo 194 JAPAN. Tel (h): +81 (3) 5562 3507; Tel/Fax (w): +81 (427) 27 5763; Email: <>.

Junior and Senior High (JSH N-SIG)

The main project of the N-SIG this year has been in student-centered language learning (SCLL).

Various presentations were given throughout Japan on "Making Your Classroom Student-Centered." These presentations took place in Tokyo for the JALT Tokyo Bookfair, in Kyoto for the JALT Kansai Bookfair, and in Osaka for the Osaka Teachers Union. Other presentations were given for the JET Program in Kobe for their Kobe Renewers' Conference.

In addition to the presentations, the N-SIG has published three newsletters and will soon be publishing its handbook, Holistic Student-Centered Language Learning (SCLL) Handbook for Japanese Secondary Foreign Language Education. After this handbook is published, we plan to give three or four Saturday workshops on SCLL in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and/or Kanazawa.

We will begin another project: the development of an activity/project cards packet. This packet will include 250 junior high school and 250 senior high school activity and project cards, teacher's instructions, translation of high school card directions, supplementary materials, and an email Teachers' HOTLINE line for those who have questions about using the cards. For more information contact: Michael Reber, JSH N-SIG Joint Coordinator, 148 Nishishin-machi, Matto, Ishikawa-ken 924. Tel (h): +81 (762) 74 3144; Tel (w): +81 (762) 76 1111; Fax (w): +81 (762) 741634; Email: <>.

Learner Development (LD N-SIG)

Many students of English in Japan ask their teachers, "What is the best way to learn English?" Meanwhile, many language teachers are struggling with their own language learning experiences. On both sides of the language "street," one often finds frustrated learners who look back on years of study and practice and ask, when will I really be able to speak/read/write/understand _______ (insert language name here) well?

Japanese classrooms, like those in other countries, have a history of teacher control and student passivity. In the search for alternatives to that paradigm, some teachers see great potential in the trend toward learners taking responsibility for their own learning. It was with this hope for effecting change in language learning that we started the LD N-SIG in 1994. It is a network for language teachers interested in developing learner autonomy, improving use by students of learning strategies and improving our own language learning ability. About half of our current (over 180) members are Japanese (teaching English or Japanese as a second language), while the remainder are foreigners, most of whom are teaching English.

We have just decided to merge our two quarterly, bilingual newsletters, Learning Learning and Learner to Learner, into one. The new Learning Learning will feature articles on learner autonomy and learning strategies together with regular columns on learner development related conferences and activities in and out of the country, conference presentation reviews, book reviews, journal reviews, and members' publications. It will include a feature of our previous publication Learner to Learner, a forum for members to share ideas and advice about their own learning of Japanese and other languages.

There is also a Learner Development web page at: <> that carries information about the N-SIG, event information, links to other sites, and some of the articles in the back issues of Learning Learning.

Apart from local meetings, we sponsor individual presentations and colloquia at the annual International JALT conferences. The Learner Development N-SIG co-sponsored a symposium with the Shizuoka JALT chapter on "Strategies for Learner Autonomy" in May 1995, which featured presentations on topics ranging from cooperative learning to self-access arrangements and classroom-based learner training. In 1996, The Learner Development N-SIG worked with the Japanese as a Second Language N-SIG to organize a day of presentations on "Kanji Teaching and Learning," and a one-day program of twelve action workshops with the Teacher Education N-SIG in Tokyo.

Internationally, we already have strong links with groups that include HASALD in Hong Kong, Thai TESOL's Self-Access SIG, and IATEFL's Learner Independence SIG. We hope to extend such links to other groups, and at the same time maintain our focus on the Japanese context. Those interested in the Learner Development N-SIG are warmly invited to join or to write us for more information and a sample copy of our newsletter.

For more information contact, in Japanese, Yaeko Akiyama at: 635-12 Miyagasaki Koo, Imbari-shi, Ehime 799-15. In English contact: Jill Robbins at: Doshisha Women's College, English Department, Tanabe-cho, Tsuzuki-gun, Kyoto-fu, 610-03 Japan. Email: <>.

Materials Writers (MW N-SIG)

Now in its fifth year, the MW N-SIG brings together teachers interested in producing original teaching materials, whether intended simply for their own classroom use or to reach a wider audience through publication. Since we aim to embrace all media, perhaps "Materials Creators" would have been a more apt choice of names, but since the creation of all teaching materials begins with writing, "Materials Writers" will suffice. Some people, particularly those who have not yet published commercially, are perhaps intimidated by the sound of it and apprehensive about joining us. Don't be! We want to bring non-commercial writers in touch with commercial ones, novice writers into touch with more experienced ones, and everyone into closer touch with publishers. Our premise is that doing so will promote continually rising standards in language teaching materials.

In the last few years, our activities at JALT's international conferences have snowballed. We have sponsored speakers, arranged a publisher's roundtable on copyright, and organized an annual swap-meet of original teaching materials, which we co-sponsor with the Language Teacher's "My Share" column editor. "My Share--Live!" is now a regular feature of the conference and always attracts a good number of teachers with activities and lesson plans to swap. It also inspired a junior version at the Tokyo Spring Conference of 1995. Submissions from these three events were collected into a volume of teaching ideas, appropriately entitled Our Share (published in February 1997). It is our intention to continue hosting this event each year and to make the production of subsequent collections an ongoing project.

Our newsletter, now in its fifth volume, has attracted a wide variety of articles on a number of subjects related to materials writing. Submissions are always welcome, especially since last year's decision to increase its frequency to six per year. Our aim now and for the future is to maintain at least bimonthly publication. Articles range in genre from the personal experience ("how I did it") type to the more theoretical ("what considerations to keep in mind") type, including factually-oriented articles such as those keeping us abreast of commercial publishers' submission requirements, market needs, the intricacies of copyright law, and so on.

We see the MW N-SIG as perfectly capable of hooking up to just about any other, a "hub" N-SIG as it were. No matter what your interest in language teaching, active participation in MW will inspire you to translate your interests into teachable language materials. Join us to expand your horizons and project your expertise to future generations--become a Materials Writer!

For more information contact Jim Swan at: College of Liberal Arts, Nara University, 1500 Misasagi-cho, Nara 631, Japan. Answerphone/Fax: +81 (742) 41 9576; Email: <>.

Other Language Educators (OLE N-SIG) (now forming)

Many people learn languages other than English and Japanese at various institutional and private levels in Japan. Some of the members of JALT are teachers (and learners) of languages such as German, French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. The idea for OLE started with the insight that teachers and learners of other languages and cultures should be able to share as many ideas as possible with all people concerned and demonstrate their views, concerns, and interests on a wider scale within JALT.

Importance/Salience/ Present Relevance: Special significance arose from a Japanese Ministry of Education order which abolished the (second) foreign language learning requirement on the university level, which led to many majors and faculties abolishing second FL requirements and courses.

Aims: This N-SIG has the following aims and goals:

  • to gather and disseminate information on all aspects of the teaching and learning of languages and cultures other than English and Japanese


  • to provide OL teachers and learners with information and material to enable them to provide the organizational conditions for their work and research


  • to provide OL teachers and learners with information serving their profession especially in cooperation with educational institutions


  • to help OL teachers and learners arouse interest in their fields

Tasks: Presently, the following tasks seem to be urgent:

  • to show that teaching, learning and research in other languages and cultures are dynamic and wide spread over Japan


  • to show that second foreign languages are necessary for a wider view of the world


  • to disseminate information on this prospective N-SIG to all interested JALT members, and to inform OL teachers not yet members of JALT, of this organisation and form of representation

Activities for OLE Teachers

  • introduce the situation of OL teachers at symposia, local chapter meetings and extra-JALT events


  • produce a newsletter to inform others of recent developments and how to prepare for or initiate changes


  • maintain a reference list of publishers and materials available to the members.

Networking: Teachers (and learners) of languages beyond English and Japanese at all levels of education are invited to participate. A unique characteristic of this forming N-SIG, however, is that it has to network with many people still outside JALT (e.g. teachers organized in their own German, French, Chinese teachers' associations). Thus this N-SIG also helps with spreading knowledge about JALT.

For more information, contact Rudolf Reinelt at: Ehime University, Fac. of Law & Literature, Bunkyou-chou 3, Matsuyama 790 JAPAN. Tel. (w): +81 (89) 927 9359; Fax (w): +81 (89) 9279211; Tel/Fax (h): +81 (89) 9276293; Email: <>.

Professionalism, Administration, and Leadership in Education Affiliate (PALE N-SIG)

The JALT PALE N-SIG was formed to provide information and discussion on a broad spectrum of issues that underlay the field of language education as a professional endeavour. We consider the welfare of society as the defining attribute of a profession as well as the mission and the standard of professional competence and success. To that end, for the sake of continued development of the profession, commitment to ethics and continued education are essential. Furthermore, since language education plays an essential role in society and access to quality education should be the right of all people, we promote the independence and autonomy of the professional community, and at the same time believe that individual professionals bear responsibility for their role in language education.

To keep teachers apprised of current research and trends, we maintain a professional forum for administration, education, research and leadership. The PALE Newsletter has included articles on peer observation, student performance, copyright laws, publishing on the Internet and in Japan, tenure, adjunct faculty, discriminatory practices, announcements from other professional education organisations, controversy surrounding the Japanese Ministry of Education's guidelines, implementing theory in applied linguistics in the classroom, and teaching in large classes.

PALE considers the following points essential for language educators:

  1. As a part of their normal worklife, teachers should consider reading publications in educational principles and methodology as important as the mechanics of lesson preparation. Knowing how principles and methods interact with society's expectations places teachers in a coherent social context. The uninformed, isolated mentality on the other hand, undermines professional growth;


  2. Cultivate an historical and international perspective of how the contributions made by others affects their working conditions, their ability to teach, and the demands on their own efforts;


  3. Participate in education organisations and forums rather than complacently expecting others to carry the ball, and work to insure others the opportunity to participate rather than focusing administrative control in closed circles; and


  4. Record your experiences for personal review and consider sharing them in the appropriate forum.

For more information, contact the Membership Chair Shiozawa Tadashi at: Jarudan Shinkanayama 301, Kanayama 1-8-19 Naka-ku, Nagoya 460. Email: <> or at his Web page: <>.

Teacher Education (TE N-SIG)

History: The original aim of the TE N-SIG, started up by Jan Visscher in 1993, was to network people involved in teacher training and development in English language education in Japan in varied settings. This aim has now broadened, as the N-SIG has drawn in people involved in prefectural INSET (in-service training) schemes; made contact with colleagues in other countries; and focussed on an exploration of teacher education as a synthesis of teacher training, teacher development and self-development.

Outreach: As the N-SIG membership increases, there has been a steady outreach to the members of the N-SIG, individuals and like-minded groups outside of Japan through the newsletter, regional programme coordinators, and bilingual publicity. We have concentrated on quality, consensus, grassroots activity, process, and cooperation as the guiding lights of our efforts to extend the network and involve more and more members actively in the SIG.

Local, regional and international cooperation: We have hosted Michael Wallace (1994), Madeleine du Vivier (1995), and Marie Nelson (1996) at the annual international JALT conference. Other leading teacher educators, such as John Fanselow, Julian Edge and Donald Freeman, have given us interviews for the newsletter providing us with their perspectives on teacher education. Locally, we have organised teacher development groups and peer mentoring teams, workshops, one-day meetings, and INSET courses. We have also cooperated with JALT chapters and other N-SIGs to provide workshops at Meiji University in Tokyo, on learner and teacher development as well as joint articles and reports in each other's newsletters. We plan to put on a second Meiji event in 1997 with Learner Development and Japanese as a Second Language N-SIGs.

Current focus: The N-SIG aims for a greater bilingual identity by organising more Japanese language presentations, and expanding the network through bilingual fliers and publicity. Our sponsored speaker for JALT96 was Professor Takaki, who also presented at JALT Fukuoka in May 1996. Other major innovations in 1996 involved: (a) expanding our three-times-a-year newsletter to 32 pages each issue; (b) including more bilingual text in the newsletter; (c) providing four 1500 word columns for The Language Teacher; (d) beginning work on an anthology of teacher education papers for publication in 1997, and on a collection of interviews; (e) creating a network database of teacher education interests; and (f) creating bilingual displays for N-SIG sponsored meetings and conferences.

Continuous development: We are of course learning a lot as we go along, not least of which is the growing feeling that if we wish to "walk the talk" of teacher education, we can best work by consensus; try our best to be bilingual in meetings and publications; and focus on the process of involving more and more people. Though we don't have a neat and succinct definition of teacher education to satisfy everybody, our focus is on exploring together what teacher education means to different people, and how different individuals go about organising teacher education for themselves and their colleagues. It's open-ended, in a word. Within and beyond TE N-SIG's expanding network of collaboration, this has become an interesting process of making sense of, and trying to explain, teacher education in as many different ways as possible.

For more information contact Andy Barfield at: Foreign Language Centre, Tsukuba University, Tennodai 1-1-1, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken 305. Email: <>.

Teaching Children- (TC N-SIG)

Everyone's students, no matter how old they are now, once were children. Chances are that if those children began learning another language when they were young, then their language skills, their understanding and appreciation of other cultures, even their social skills in their first language are better than those of their peers who didn't have the same opportunity.

Teachers of children know this, and we know how important it is for children to begin their language education early and successfully. Teaching children has therefore become one of the biggest and fastest growing fields in second and foreign language education. However, many teachers of children teach in isolation, or have limited contact with innovations and trends in the field. JALT's TC N-SIG has been formed to help these teachers.

We are one of the newer N-SIGs, having just celebrated our first birthday in January 1997. Teachers of children do many different things professionally: classroom teaching, materials preparation, research, even training other teachers of children. Our goals are to help this diverse group by offering a forum for sharing information, networking with other professionals, and providing support groups. Teachers of children want and need information about teaching in elementary schools, teaching returnees, preparing materials for children, and teacher training courses. We publish a quarterly newsletter with articles about these topics. In our first year the newsletter had articles about using picture books, computers in EFL for kids, Internet sources, and numerous tips and ideas for the classroom, plus a calendar of events for teachers of children all over Japan. We have worked with the Kobe and Gunma chapters to provide presentations for local area teachers, and sponsored a roundtable discussion at both JALT95 and JALT96, with speakers Yuri Kuno, Yoko Matsuka, Ritsuko Nakata, Masami Ormandy, and David Paul. Now we are working to form links with other international groups, as well as to cooperate in opening up international doors for educators of children.

Within the next 5 years, the Japanese Ministry of Education has plans to introduce English education into all elementary schools in Japan. What does that mean to those of us who now teach children? What role might we play in helping elementary school teachers with this new role? How can we work with schools to provide quality English language education to children? We will be discussing and debating questions such as these in the months to come. Join the TC N-SIG and help figure out the answers.

For more information contact the Coordinator Aleda Krause at: Park Ageo 2-123, 3-1-48 Kashiwaza, Ageo-shi, Saitama, 362 JAPAN. Tel: +81(48) 776 0392; Fax: +81 (48) 776 7952; Email: <>.

Video N-SIG

Video has vast potential for enriching language study and making it more enjoyable and effective. Research into how best to choose from and use available materials is our primary goal. Video can offer multilingual and multicultural perspectives in what are often otherwise essentially monolingual and monocultural societies. Its methodology extends across all disciplines and involves the areas of instruction, teaching training/ development, and research. We aim to confront the need for quality communication between specialist and beginner, to provide practical guidance, and to influence video producers to increase the choice, quality, and availability of pedagogically relevant material.

The Video N-SIG increasingly sees itself as part of an international and, in particular, an East Asian community. Since regional education systems share many similarities, we believe that our organization can help facilitate the exchange of insights into, and applications of, the use of video in our classrooms.

Our newsletter, Video Rising, is published three times a year and averages 16 to 20 pages; contributors hail from all over the globe. In addition to articles and announcements, it contains reviews of ELT and other video materials and reviews of Japanese language teaching videos. The section "Swap Shop" provides practical tips and ideas for video use in the form of lesson plans. While most issues addressed in Video Rising have to do with the use of authentic video (as opposed to ELT videos made specifically for teaching purposes), articles on the use of video cameras and the videotaping of both students and teachers also appear. Additionally, the Video N-SIG cooperates with other N-SIGs to see how video can serve their purposes.

Tips For Teachers On Video Use: Video can be as valid a teaching medium provided we keep the following in mind:

  1. Choose the video carefully to match students' age, interests, linguistic ability, and your teaching objectives.


  2. Develop language activities, either for listening to the content or for spoken or written reaction to the content, to match your teaching goals and the particular features of the video segment.


  3. Don't be over-ambitious. Students generally learn more from a three-minute segment played three or four times with accompanying activities than they do from an entire