2013 Events

December 14th: A data-driven

Nicholas Medley, Sophia University/Meiji Gakuin University/Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages

In this extremely insightful, informative, and professional workshop, participants were led by Nicholas Medley through a practical explanation of data-driven learning (DDL) and corpus-informed language teaching. Although DDL has been around for a long time, many teachers are still hesitant to apply these methods in their own classes. Participants were introduced to the concept of a data-driven classroom where students take vocabulary learning into their own hands, and were shown how to create vocabulary activities using freely available websites and software.

November 29th: Globalization, Culture, and Language Teaching 

Sandra McKay, San Francisco State University

We were honored to welcome renowned sociolinguist Sandra McKay to JALT Tokyo chapter. As a specialist in second language pedagogy and second language teacher education, her research in English as an International Language (EIL) provided invaluable perspective on the term globalization. Prof. McKay discussed various definitions of globalization and examined what these suggest for current language use and language teaching.  She argued that while English often serves as a lingua franca in the present-day globalized world, this is not always the case. However, when it is used as a lingua franca, it is typically used in cross-cultural exchanges in which cultural frameworks are complex and negotiable. Given globalization and the complex linguistic landscape it generates, Prof. McKay explored what this means for English teaching today, specifically in terms of the following questions:  What should be the cultural basis of English teaching?  What grammatical, pragmatic, and discourse norms should apply?  What should be the cultural basis of classroom materials and methodology?  Participants actively discussed these questions during the presentation, and Prof. McKay explained the implications for curriculum development.

November 14th: Reconsidering Japan’s English Education Based on the Principles of Plurilingualism

Kensaku Yoshida, Sophia University

Long term Ministry of Education (MEXT) committee member, and member of the Board of Trustees of the The International Research Foundation (TIRF) for English Language Education, Prof. Yoshida addressed an eager audience on the current issues facing Japan's English education. He convincingly argued that the negative effects seen among the Japanese when compared by means of so-called international English proficiency tests, such as the iBT TOEFL, IELTS, etc., will not go away so long as the Japanese are always compared with people from other parts of the world in term of native-based English proficiency. He explained that the role of English education in Japan is not to create 'bilinguals' in English and Japanese, but to produce 'plurilinguals' who are capable of using multiple languages, not necessarily on the basis of native-like criteria, but on the more practical criteria of how well the user is able to use the foreign language for the specific purpose for which he is learning the language. The claim he made is that confidence in using English should come not from comparing ourselves with native speakers, but by comparing ourselves with the more specific objectives we have set in order to accomplish practical goals that the user has set for him/herself.  It is assumed that the goals can be achieved by changing the criteria for measuring English proficiency from the 'knowledge-based' criteria used in most English tests conducted Japan, to the more performance-based Can-do criteria. The lecture closed with proposed changes in the college entrance exams to meet these new objectives. Click here to download the PDF of the presentation.

November 1st: Why are we still teaching the wrong grammar the wrong way?

Scott Thornbury, The New School (New York)

Language teachers spend a lot of time teaching "tenses", and textbooks suggest that the tense system in English is both intricate and opaque. Accordingly, it is typically described and taught in terms (that Dr. Thornbury argued) are remote from linguistic or psychological reality. In this workshop, Dr. Thornbury critiqued the standard pedagogical model, and then simplified it, by first distinguishing between tense and aspect, and then suggesting ways that a simpler, more elegant system might be applied in practice. Alternative approaches might require viewing grammar, not as a discrete, sentence-level, system but as both “big lexis” and “small text”. Likewise, teachers might be better off aiming to inculcate, not rules, but a “feel”, for the way that the systems interrelate.

October 23rd: Teaching Large, Heterogeneous Classes

Penny Ur, OBE

In this highly informative and interactive lecture, Professor Ur defined what is meant by ‘large’ and ‘heterogeneous’, and then went on to list some of the main problems – but also the advantages! – that we encounter when trying to teach them. Professor Ur pointed out that as with many educational problems, there are no easy solutions. She discussed possibilities: preparing different tasks to suit different groups within the class; or by preparing several texts at varying levels of difficulty, as suggested by some methodologists. But most of us have neither the time nor the money to invest in such elaborate preparation, let alone the time to check the results later.  Professor Ur proposed and discussed a series of practical teaching principles, illustrated by practical procedures, that involve very little (or no) extra preparation, that can make our job teaching large heterogeneous classes easier, and that go some way towards bringing about more effective learning. Click here to download the power point slides used in the lecture.


August 21st: Keynote in the Classroom

Steve Paton, Apple 2013 Distinguished Educator

Held at the Apple Store in Shibuya, this hands on workshop took participants through the basics of Keynote. The presented explained to teachers how using Keynote in your lessons can help to make them more engaging and interesting for your students, and more fun, productive, and efficient for you.

In the workshop, participants learned about getting started with built-in templates, simple builds and animations using text and images, cool transitions, and a few very special effects that you just can’t get from chalk on a blackboard!

July 3rd: Japan's Revised Labor Contract Law

Yumiko Nakajima, general secretary of the National Union of General Workers, Tokyo Nambu

Japan’s revised labor contract law went into effect as of April 1, which may not affect you immediately but in a few years time will affect many of you. This is an opportunity to learn the three important points of the new law from a labor expert and to prepare for any potential troubles concerning your employment. Even if you have permanent employment contract, there is always a chance that your companies may change your status. Materials in English explaining the new law, which is not made available yet by the Labor Ministry, were provided - translation by Chie Matsumoto.

Photo: Yumiko Nakajima, with Chie Matsumoto (interpreter) Check the home page for the video for this event, or click here.


June 28th: Teaching Materials in EIL (English as an International Language)

Aya Matsuda, Arizona State University

World Englishes specialist Dr. Aya Matsuda gave a stimulating presentation examining teaching materials in English as an International Language to a enticed audiee that led to a very fruitful discussion. Dr. Matsuda explained that the global spread of English has resulted in varied forms and functions of the language as well as the diverse profile of English users. In her presentation she explored what kind of teaching materials would help teachers bring the sociolinguistic complexity of English in today’s world into their classroom. After a brief discussion of what it means to teach EIL, Dr. Matsuda suggested 5 criteria for evaluating materials, and presented a 3-step process for supplementing materials along with some ideas for possible sources of supplemental materials.

June 8th: Teaching Writing in Context

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University

Tokyo JALT was honored to host Dr. Paul Kei Matsuda for a 2nd time (we hope to make this an annual event!). In this very well-attended event, Dr. Matsuda's insightful and practical presentation was very well received, providing valuable advice for English writing education in Japan and generating a lively discussion. Dr. Matsuda explained that context is one of the most important concepts in the teaching of writing; at the same time, it is the most difficult concept to implement in the classroom. Drawing on socioculturally-oriented theories of learning and writing, he emphasized the importance of teaching writing in realistic contexts of written communication. He examined typical writing prompts and their shortcomings, and then discussed how they can be revised to create more effective opportunities for literacy development.

May 24th: Moving Beyond Moodle - Next generation LMS 

John Martyn, Language Cloud Inc.

In this fourth and final installment in the 2013 Language and Technology Series, CEO John Martyn of Language Cloud, Inc. led a very lively discussion on the future direction of online language teaching management. He first explained that for almost a decade the difficulties of using Moodle has frustrated teachers and students. The lack of better options forced many teachers to continue to bang their heads or quit altogether. With the advent of newer web 2.0 technologies in recent years, increasingly teachers are moving away from Moodle to newer web 2.0 solutions that are not only more user friendly but more powerful in functionality. One such web 2.0 solution is Language Cloud, an LMS develop for language teacher and students. Participants had much to say about the issues and solutions, with some important considerations to keep in mind and some great ideas for taking advantage of what the new technologies have to offer.

Congratulations to our members who attended all four events in the series! They were awarded a Certificate of Completion as part of Tokyo JALT's initiative in promoting professional development. All attendees to the final event were given a USB flash drive containing the JALT Journal archives.

May 11th-12th: Reacting to the Past workshop

Dr. Nick Proctor (Simpson College, Iowa), Dr. Stephanie Jass (Adrian College, Michigan), Dr. John Moser (Ashland University, Ohio), Drs. Bettina Gramlich-Oka and Mathew Thompson (Sophia University, Japan)

Reacting to the Past” (RTTP) is an exciting educational approach that uses content to get students to engage in debates, research and prepare papers and speeches, in a way that allows students to develop invaluable critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork skills. It was developed by academics looking to improve these skills at Barnard College (Columbia University) in New York, and quickly spread to more than 300 colleges and universities. In this workshop, three RTTP experts came from different colleges in the US to lead participants through one of three RTTP “games”.

Attendees participated in roles with detailed character descriptions based on real historical figures. Through the game format, they gave speeches and participated in debates based on actual historical events. It was an excellent opportunity to learn an innovative way to put students at the center of the action, having fun, and potentially rewriting history! The participants were given links to the RTTP Teachers Forum on Facebook as well as a Certificate of Participation. We hope this is the start of an annual event!

The games at the workshop included:

· Greenwich Village 1913: Suffrage, Labor, and the New Woman - run by Dr. Stephanie Jass, Adrian College (Michigan) – RTTP pioneer (More information: http://reacting.barnard.edu/greenwich-village-1913-suffrage-labor-and-new-woman)

· Japan, the West, and the Road to World War, 1940-41 – run by Dr. John Moser, Ashland University (Ohio) – RTTP pioneer and creator of the game (More information: http://reacting.barnard.edu/japan-1940)

Legacy of the 47 Ronin – run by Dr. Bettina Gramlich-Oka, Sophia University, and Dr. Nicolas Proctor, Simpson College, Chair of the RTTP Board (More information: http://www.earlymodernjapan.org/rttp-legacy-of-the-47-samurai-working-title)

April 19th: Integrating technology in the classroom: Lessons from a University Writing Center

Gene Thompson, Rikkyo University

In this well-attended and highly interactive third event in this year's Technology in Language Teaching series, presenter Gene Thompson focused on how the freely available LMS ‘Language Cloud’ is being used in his program to mediate classes and integrate the department's writing center into the learning environment. He began by briefly explaining the rationale for the adoption of Language Cloud, by considering Puentedura’s SAMR model for technology integration before outlining the different ways in which the LMS is being used to enhance the learning environment for students and teachers. A lively discussion on problems and solutions followed, with participants taking away fresh ideas related to online writing feedback and assessment, as well as managing writing centers.

March 31st: Organizing Intensive English Camps: Plans, Ideas, & Activities

Jerry Halvorsen, Sapporo International University
In this high-energy event, very enthusiastic presenter Jerry Halvorsen demonstrated through audience participation in a number of activities how intensive English camps can not only be a lot of fun, but educational, too. He explained, from the perspective of an intensive English camp organizer, that the purpose is to communicate in only or mostly English from one day to one week can lead to increased motivation on the part of the participants and a life-long interest in learning English. Topics covered included the following: Why intensive English camps, Activities, Staff, Follow up, Selecting a venue, Planning a menu, Plan B, and Budget. The presentation finished with a detailed explanation of how to organize English camps. One lucky participant took home Jerry's book Home Run! Team History MLB, 2011, Perceptia Press.

February 8th: Practical Applications for Google Apps

Rab Paterson, International Christian University
This dynamic, insightful presentation provided attendees with valuable free resources via Google Apps. Rab Paterson of ICU (one of the Japan winners of the Apple Distinguished Educators awards for the Asia Pacific region) explained and showed how these many apps can be of use to teachers. Apps covered included Gmail, Tasks, Calendar, Translate, Groups, for class management. Blogger, Reader, Books, Scholar, Trends, Maps, Search, Images, Videos, Youtube, for student research purposes. And Docs, Drive, Sites, for student project work. All these tools are free and platform neutral (i.e. they will work on all computers) and will work properly on most popular browsers' most recent versions.


January 18th: An Introduction to Online Learning Management Systems for Language Teachers

John Martyn & Billy Martyn, Language Cloud, Inc.

In this well-attended first session in the 2nd annual "Tech Series", Co-founders and brothers John and Billy Martyn of Language Cloud, Inc. covered a broad introduction to different Learning Management Systems (LMS)s, their history, their motivations, successes and failures, and what has brought us to a clearer understanding of the benefits of an integrated LMS such as Language Cloud. A good LMS not only helps teachers reduce the time and effort they spend on manual tasks such as creating and grading assignments, and organizing and sharing course materials, but also allows for more learning to happen through increased communication and faster turnaround of assignments. There was an active discussion between participants and the presenters and their team. Participants enjoyed a lively happy hour as part of the event.


January 9th: Teaching Content in EFL Classrooms

Prof. Heath Rose, Trinity College, The University of Dublin
This dynamic workshop explored issues surrounding the teaching of content through the English language in EFL classrooms. The speaker, Dr. Heath Rose, from the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at Trinity College, The University of Dublin, touched on a number of issues connected to pedagogy in higher education today, including teaching content with language sensitivity (CLIL), curriculum design and assessment in the multilingual classrooms, and recent paradigm shifts away from using native speaker norms as a yardstick for non-native English speaker performance in higher education. Dr. Rose provided a detailed description of the program he developed at the College of Business, Rikkyo University, from 2007-2011. Participants had the opportunity to discuss practical issues of unifying and streamlining curriculum content to move students toward a common goal.

Presentation slides and classroom materials covered in the workshop can be downloaded from heathrose.net

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