Graduate school student presentations, and a surprise guest speaker.
This month Gunma JALT had the pleasure of hearing three presentations given by graduate school students at Gunma Prefectural Women's University.
Nao Irikawa set out to answer the question: what are the rules for turn-taking in a conversation? Irikawa examined turn-taking in various Japanese TV panel shows ranging in topics from economics to comedy to politics. She found many similarities, such as the tendency for panel members to follow certain turn-taking conventions which allow for orderly and polite discussions. She also expressed her surprise at the critical role chairpeople play in arbitrating these discussions.
Sayo Nakamura used a questionnaire to research how her fellow university classmates answer their cellular phones. Using this information, she examined the ways standard phone greetings have changed as cell phones have overtaken traditional, fixed-line telephones. She found two main differences, and both were associated strongly with the caller-id function ubiquitous in today's mobiles. When the identity of the caller is known before answering, people use that information to adapt their greetings and speech style to one that is appropriate to the caller.
Ikumi Miyagawa showed how biases specific to particular newspapers are reflected in how they report on a story. In this presentation, Miyagawa compared two articles London newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian that took different sides on the contentious issue of the involvement of British personnel in the war in Afghanistan. She showed techniques used by both sides were similar, but noticed also that different positions on certain topics lend themselves to certain techniques better than others. In the articles she researched, Miyagawa noticed that the article written in defense of the British involvement in Afghanistan had more uses of person deixis; referring to "we British" and "our fellow soldiers". The opposition piece, on the other hand, used lexical choice more prevalently to persuade their readers, referring to the war as a "bloodbath".
As a special surprise, Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen High School teacher Mari Tsukamoto also presented the findings of her thesis English in Bangladesh: Road to Success. After a brief background covering some of the difficulties Bangladesh faces, Tsukamoto showed the vital role played by English education in the country. The English Language Teaching Improvement Project being carried out by Bangladesh and British governments promotes not only communicative English teaching, but also makes Bangladeshi students aware of important issues in their daily lives. Bangladeshi English texts cover topics such as disease prevention, the importance of vitamins, human rights and gardening in ways to prevent flooding.