2014 Events Archive

December 2014

Teacher Employment Issues with Richard Miller and Michael Parrish

December 14th, 2014

This presentation will begin with an overview of the job market for language professionals in Japan, and the current trends for the job market. Results from surveys and questionnaires that the presenter has obtained through his role as the Job Information Centre (JIC) editor will be given. A brief overview of what an academic CV is will be given, then the presentation will then go into areas that educators may want to focus on to improve their CV. This includes what the presenter refers to as “the balanced scorecard” and how audience participants can look for weaknesses in their own career marketability. At the presentation, copies of past published articles will be distributed as well as other worksheets.

Richard Miller was the Job Information Centre (JIC) editor for the JALT Language Teacher. He has published numerous articles on employment issues, getting employment and improving resumes for teaching professionals. He is an associate professor at Kobe Gakuin University in the Business Administration Department in Kobe.

Michael Parrish is the current editor of TLT’s Career Development Corner 
column.  He has been slowly crawling up the language teaching career 
ladder in Japan and the US since 1990. Currently, he is the Coordinator 
of the Intensive English Program at Kwansei Gakuin University.

September 2014

Kyoto JALT Graduate Research Showcase

September 27th, 2014

Join us for an afternoon of learning and discussion as six scholars from a variety of fields and interests present on a host of language teaching topics. There is quite literally something for everyone today, so whether you’re a regular attendee or a first-timer, please feel free to come, listen, and learn.

1. Training lower secondary school learners in use of word cards for vocabulary learning
Gretchen Clark, University of Birmingham, UK; TEFL/TESOL, MA

For the Japanese secondary EFL learner, high achievement on tests is key to advancement.  A traditional preparatory method is the deliberate study of vocabulary and grammar.  While most learners appear to tackle this type of study with ease, several struggle.  This presentation describes a small scale study of a vocabulary study strategy training program implemented at a junior high school in Japan.  After introductory lessons on current strategy usage, a strategy chain utilizing word cards was taught and monitored over the course of a six-week period.  Learners were encouraged to develop self-reflection techniques throughout the data collection period in learner logs.  Short vocabulary tests were used to track progress and provide an impetus for study.  Cumulative pre- and post-tests were used to measure any improvement in vocabulary knowledge.  Analysis of these scores showed marginal improvement, but closer examination of the logs showed extremely low uptake.  Additional findings include: all learners, regardless of proficiency are aware and utilize several vocabulary learning strategies; more-successful learners report higher levels of concentration during study; Time devoted to study does not correlate with proficiency; All learners recognize weaknesses in preparatory method, but more-successful learners more often propose specific ways to improve, unlike their less-successful counterparts.

2. Bridging Related Fields: English Literature and Language Pedagogy
Megumi Ohsumi, University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), Classical Philology, Ph.D.

For Japanese students studying the English language, learning how Japan is – and was – viewed by the English-speaking world can be a novel experience, from Marco Polo’s Zipangu and geishas to cosplay and anime. Alexander Pope, the principal subject of my doctoral dissertation, once wrote: “On shining Altars of Japan” (Rape of the Lock, III, 107). Through the use of excerpts from the original eighteenth-century poem and with the aid of pictorial slides of Japanese artwork exported to Europe, students learn about the history of their own country by reading English literature. As a language teacher, raising students’ motivation levels is key in maintaining an actively engaged class, and I introduce in this presentation ways to incorporate literature in language classrooms. A researcher when outside of the classroom, I also share my current revision process for my dissertation in view of eventual publication and introduce such handbooks as Germano (2013) and Luey (2010) that may serve as useful guides across all fields in the humanities, including applied linguistics.

3. Effects of explicit instruction on oral proficiency development
Shzh-chen Nancy Lee, Temple University, Applied linguistics, PhD candidate

The present study aims to longitudinally examine the development of learners’ speaking proficiency from the effects of explicit instruction. A total of 80 first-year Japanese university students participated in this study. Classes taught by the presenter were randomly assigned and participants were divided into one control group and two treatment groups: 1) explicit teaching and 2) self-review. Once a week for ten weeks, participants were exposed to different inputs and then narrated four-picture comics in English. Pre, post and delay-post tests were conducted over the period of seven months. Recordings of the narrations were transcribed and proficiency development was measured by examining changes in speaking fluency, accuracy and complexity. Results of the study indicate that speaking proficiency has developed over time in fluency, accuracy and complexity. However, the effect of explicit instruction was insignificant compared to self-review and control group in most CAF measures. The speaking development of first-year Japanese university students will be reported and the potential effects of explicit instruction in the speaking classroom will be discussed.

4. Engaging EFL students in academic English writing classes through community contribution
Jennifer Louise Teeter, University of Sheffield, Advanced Japanese Studies, M.A.

EFL education in Japan is often framed as a passage to “international society,” detached from the students’ local realities despite the numerous of potential local applications of English. Nevertheless, scholars and academics argue that in order to engender  “active global citizens,” educators need to harness students’ ability to draw connections between local and international communities (Battistoni, Longo, & Jayanandhan, 2009; Hosack, 2011; Kameyama, 2009). With METI (2006) and MEXT (2006) emphasizing the importance of global citizenship education, not taking advantage of the EFL classroom to facilitate student awareness of their potential to contribute to local and global society would be a wasted opportunity. After describing the current situation of citizenship education in Japan and work in the EFL classroom connected to citizenship education, this presentation will explore pedagogical tools which the presenter has trialed in her EFL classes for science majors through which the EFL classroom can form such a bridge, specifically focusing on activities tailored to academic writing. Furthermore, it will detail how these methods increase student motivation and sense of active global citizenship.

5. The differential effects on learning of different types of corrective feedback
Brad Perks, Newcastle University, Master of Applied Linguistics

My research investigated the differential effects on learning of different types of Corrective Feedback (CF), and the durability of the learning achieved as a result of CF over a 4 week period. The aim of the research was to provide empirical evidence about the most effective form of CF for learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Japan. 
The talk will briefly explain the difference between implicit knowledge and explicit knowledge and implicit and explicit CF explaining why their distinctions are important. 
Explicit CF is claimed to promote explicit conscious metalinguistic knowledge, while implicit feedback is claimed to promote spontaneous implicit knowledge (Sheen & Ellis, 2006). A key issue in the SLA process is can explicit knowledge transfer into implicit knowledge. Krashen (cited in Ellis, Loewen & Erlam, 2006) is a key critic against the transfer of explicit knowledge into implicit knowledge and claims that explicit instruction only contributes to explicit knowledge, and not into implicit knowledge. This is referred to as the ‘Non-interface Hypothesis’, whereas a key advocate in the possibility of this transfer process is DeKeyser (cited in Ellis, 2012) who claims that explicit instruction acquired as declarative knowledge can be converted in procedural knowledge through practice in communication. 
I will explain that my research challenged the ‘Non-interface Hypothesis’ by examining the acquisition of inflectional morphemes among subjects receiving both explicit and implicit forms of corrective feedback 
The talk will discuss my results which indicated a strong effect for metalinguistic explanation and how certain CF types are more suited to learning easier or more difficult linguistic targets. 

6. Collaborative gender talk: A case study of Australian men’s and women’s talk
Yoshihiko Yamamoto, University of Canberra, Discourse Analysis, Ph.D

Many studies of gender interactions have discussed differences in masculine and feminine conversational styles (Lakoff, 1975 , Wardhaugh, 1992, Tannen 1993, Hay, 2000).  Collaborative talk has been regarded as a feminine conversational style (Holmes, 2000 & 2006).  Recent research shows that collaborative talk occurs in male and female conversations (Tannen, 2007 and Coates, 2007).  Thus, this present study investigates collaborative talk between men and women to see: 1, whether collaborative talk is a characteristic of women’s talk or it is found in male conversations only; 2, if men show collaborative features in their conversation, whether men use collaborative features in their talk similarly or differently to women.  
In order to identify trends of collaborative features, the quantitative approach was adopted.  Discourse Analysis (DA) and Conversational Analysis (CA) were adopted.  The data for this present study was collected in Australia and included including young male and female participants.  The results of this study show that both male and female participants employed collaborative features.  Both men and women showed both similar and different ways of incorporating these collaborative constructions.  This result suggests that collaborative talk is not only women’s feature in talk but also it can be a men’s feature in talk.  

June 2014

March 2014

Kyoto JALT My Share Event

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

9:30 Doors open/Registration

All times include 20 minutes for presentation, 10 minutes for Q&A/Discussion, and roughly 10 minutes break between speakers

10:00 Opening comments

10:05 Michael Furmanovsky (Ryukoku University) 

Getting to Know You: A First Day of the Year Activity that Keeps on Giving

A positive first impression that acts to humanize the instructor can create a good impression and sense of trust from day one. This activity gives students interesting and humanizing information about the teacher through a first day collaborative activity in groups of three. The teacher places around 10 items that reflect his or her interests and background in a bag. These can include books, magazines, CDs, favorite snacks, photos etc. The class is divided into groups of three, A,B and C. A goes outside the room with the teacher who then talks for 5 minutes about her/his background and interests. Students B and C stay in the classroom and look at different items from the bag that are placed in different parts of the room. The three then reunite and discuss what they learned about the instructor. This is followed by a simple True/False quiz about the instructor in which all three students must collaborate to get the answer.

10:45 Atsuko Kosaka (Aichi University)

Finding and Developing Students Writers’ Voice by Utilizing Unexpected Questions

Voice is often recognized as one of the traits of good writing (Anderson 2005, 56-57). Yet it is not easy for L2 students to give voice to their writing. This presentation focuses on the interactive activity of exploring and developing one’s own voice in the prewriting stage. First, the presenter briefly discusses the finding of topics to write about and offers possible lists and questions. Then, she assists the participants in creating unusual questions for others that may help to uncover and extract interesting information.. Next, the participants choose unexpected questions and brainstorm ideas in a small group. The presentation will end with examples of questions that students created (such as “What is the most expensive item you have ever bought?”) and with a brief analysis of how interactive topic finding helps L2 students to develop their voice.

11:20 James Rogers (Kansai Gaidai University)

Formulaic Focused Vocabulary Instruction: Moving Beyond Isolated Vocabulary Teaching

Traditionally, vocabulary instruction has focused on singular lexi. “Word lists” have been at the heart of ESL curriculums for nearly a century, and still play a central role in materials creation and assessment.. However, research has shown this to be an inefficient way to learn. Many researchers are also beginning to rethink the concept of what is a “word.” Despite much research being conducted on the topic of formulaic language, and a multitude of recommendations of its inclusion in second language instruction methodologies, ESL students throughout the word still struggle to develop formulaic fluency. This presentation will discuss why formulaic language is so important for students in obtaining fluency in a second language. Reasons behind this lack of this essential aspect to obtaining fluency, and suggestions of ways in which teachers and researchers can approach the inclusion of such instruction in their research/courses will also be presented.

12:00 Gordon Leversidge (Otsuma Women’s University, Waseda University)
The Tiered Wedding Cake Merry Go Round: Vocabulary and Out of Date C20 Stereotypes

The presentation will begin with an information gap exercise from the 2013 British Class Survey and the Japanese Newsweek Edition’s visualization of it. This helps conceptualise some of the changes from C20 to C21 society and can be used to create activities, particularly for new and re-emerging vocabulary. The Japanese Newsweek’s very visual manga-like Tiered Wedding Cake Merry Go Round captures and instantly presents the results of a survey of the changes in British class and society. However, these changes are not limited to the UK; they are present to some degree in all industrialized societies, including Japan. The visualization offers a framework for the creation and analysis of many vocabulary groupings and a starting point for discussion on various topics. The personal danger is that students are more aware of and sensitive about which tier they are and others are on.

January 2014

Improving Reading Fluency through Extensive Reading and Speed Reading: Problems and applications

Sunday, January 12th, 2014


Ritsumeikan Junior and Senior High School 

ER – An Untapped Resource in Primary and Secondary Education in Japan 

Extensive Reading (ER) Programs are becoming more widespread across Japan in tertiary education. Momentum however, has not reached down to the secondary and primary levels of education. An ER program combined with current Ministry of Education approved textbooks (MEXT) and other course books can offer more support across the four skill areas for language learners. Moreover, student’s vocabulary acquisition typically increases as well as markedly improving reading speed, too. Challenges implementing a program include funding, book selection, lack of awareness and allocated time in the curriculum often stymie ER programs from even gaining traction or continuing for more than a year. This presentation will show you how a six-year ER program has been developed and sustained in a junior and senior high school in Japan. Included in the presentation will be research data from a quantitative analysis of surveys given to the entire student body, following on students’ experience with ER. A short discussion will follow giving participants the opportunity to brainstorm ways of expanding ER in primary and secondary education.

Speaker Bio  

Ann Flanagan has been teaching at Ritsumeikan Junior and Senior High School for the past 15 years. She has a MA in TESOL from the School for International Training. Her research interests include extensive reading, teacher training and curriculum development.


Kyoto Sangyo University 

Why do Japanese Students Use Their L1 Extensively When Reading English? 

Language learners have been shown to benefit greatly from reading large amounts of the target language, especially when it is graded so that the syntax and lexis are at a level that is easy for them to comprehend. The presenter’s research has shown, however, that undergraduates and high school students enrolled in required Extensive Reading (ER) programs are not reading directly in English much of the time, but are translating into their L1 occasionally, or even sentence by sentence. The research data include quantitative analyses of surveys of over 2,500 Japanese undergraduate and high school students. This is combined with qualitative data based on interviews and analyses of ER texts with 30 Japanese university students and 40 junior and senior high school students. The presenter will outline the reasons why students often analyze or translate into their L1. The presenter will then invite discussion based on the experiences of the participants as both learners and teachers of foreign languages.

Speaker Bio  

Amanda Gillis-Furutaka is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University. She has an MA in TEFL from the University of Birmingham and is a tutor and dissertation supervisor for the distance MA TEFL programme. Her research interests include the role of reading in language acquisition, content-based learning, music and media studies.


Ritsumeikan University 

Speed reading practice in EFL classes 

Speed reading has been demonstrated to be an important element in an L2 Reading course for improving reading fluency. By its very nature, speed reading aims to increase students’ reading rate and has been proven to improve the average reading speed by 52% or 73 wpm (Chung & Nation 2006). This increase does also transfer to authentic texts (Macalister 2010) and students benefit by having increased concentration and feeling more motivated (Chang 2010). Speed reading can also be added in a very simple manner to a variety of EFL/ESL classes, yet, it often is not. This presentation will both show how to conduct a speed reading course, discuss the results that have been achieved in the presenter’s classes, as well as in published research. In addition, the presenter will discuss with what frequency speed reading practice had better been done, drawing on data from eight Japanese EFL university classes collected over a two year period (Dalton & Fuisting 2011).

Speaker Bio  

Bjorn Fuisting is from Sweden and works as a full-time lecturer at Ritsumeikan University. His research interests include Extensive Reading, Speed Reading, and Peer Review in writing classes. He is committed to professional development and teacher collaboration, and currently is an Officer in the JALT ER SIG.