In the first half of the presentation, José discussed how traditional textbooks and classroom materials often fail to expose students to authentic spoken English conversation due to the limitations of the textbook medium and the tendency for instructors to use a “teacher” voice rather than a natural voice when addressing students in the classroom. He then introduced a website he developed to provide learners with authentic spoken English covering a variety of topics that aims to teach more natural forms of pronunciation and speech patterns. In the second half of the presentation, Robert summarized the results of a study conducted at his institution to explore gender differences in fluency and dysfluency of Japanese university students. Robert and his colleagues developed a corpus constructed from over 100 conversations between male and female students in order to analyze in detail trends in speech rate, pauses, conversational gambits and a variety of other linguistic traits. The study suggests that men tend to often unconsciously control conversations while female students often remain passive as evidenced by the data collected. Robert suggested that these trends could be contributing to the falling marriage and birth rates of the overall population in Japan and that further study would be necessary to develop methods for remedying this societal problem.
Reports of our meetings. Click on a month to see details.
Our chapter held its annual PechaKucha night and four people gave presentations on a variety of topics. For the first presentation, Zack Robertson (“Quiet Learners: What to do?”) talked about different factors that can contribute to quiet, unenthusiastic classes and what can be done to improve them. He discussed psychological, physiological, cultural, and pedagogical causes of student non-participation and offered concrete activities and management strategies to improve them. Next, Michael Phillips (“Using Facebook Groups as W-LMSs”) talked about utilizing Facebook groups to manage and facilitate communication between students and the teacher. He explained how to set up groups, add students, and offered suggestions how utilize the various functions and tools to make the most use from the platform. In the next presentation, Stephen Case (“Using Movies in the Classroom”) introduced a variety of websites and applications that offer short movies that can be used as both full lessons and supplemental activities. After showing part of an example movie, Stephen elaborated on potential lesson ideas that can accommodate a broad range of ages and language abilities. For the final presentation, David Wilkins (“Mobile Technology in the Classroom”) introduced a few mobile apps that can be used to facilitate classroom discussion and participation. He demonstrated how the Kahoot! App can be used as an interactive quiz that teachers can create and students can answer using their smartphones.
Robert discussed various maxims from his collaborative research related to NeuroELT and the theoretical underpinnings of some of these concepts. He began by briefly introducing Kurt Fischer’s dynamic skill theory, a cognitive theory that postulates dynamic development from reflexes to complex systems within the human mind. According to this framework, all learning including language learning follows these principles and as such we should strive to incorporate these concepts into our language teaching approaches. In the second half of the presentation the audience was invited to choose from a short list of NeuroELT maxims and try to develop new ways they could implement these concepts in their own language classrooms. These ideas were then presented and discussed with the entire group.
Barbara introduced several approaches for eliciting and developing creativity in the language classroom built around 4 key concepts: Communication, Collaboration, Creative Thinking, and Critical Thinking. Ideas centered around students collaboratively creating learning content together in the classroom, with the teacher as a helpful guide. These activities ranged from simple word/letter puzzles, original story development, and allowing students to make their own game from simple everyday items. For the second half of the presentation, the audience was invited to develop their own language learning activity from a variety of everyday items directed at their target age group. The groups then shared their activities with the rest of the audience to demonstrate the ideas and concepts in practice.
Tom introduced several ideas for bringing the latest neuroscience and technology into the language classroom. Augmented reality has now become a relatively feasible possibility for language learners utilizing google street view and expeditions with headsets, and Tom demonstrated how this technology could be harnessed to cover a wide range of language functions and content. He also demonstrated how the latest smartphone apps can be used to gather instant feedback from a classroom of students by utilizing an ad hoc local area network. He finished the presentation by discussing certain physiological aspects of the brain and how it relates to learning, citing the importance of sleep and meditation for memory and attentiveness.
Yumiko Cochrane - Lost in Katakana: Exploring the efforts of loanword cognates on English Acquisition. Yumiko began by stating that 10% of Japanese words are loan words, and only 6% of that 10% are English based. Looking at the different types of loan words firstly we have true cognates which have the same meaning in Japanese and English. Non true cognates include semantic changes (e.g. viking or mansion), morphological changes (e.g. stainless or ringtone), phonological (the open vowel sound 'katakana English'), or Wasei Eigo which are words unique to Japan (e.g. leiman shock or hi vision). Yumiko's findings were that literal translations lead to dangerous assumptions on the part of students. Once these errors are engrained in students' heads it is difficult to change them. In conclusion she stated that there's no shortcut to English acquisition using loan words, and keen awareness of the problems should be promoted. She instead recommended a 'katakana' of the day where the English and Japanese meanings of words such as mansion or dryer were contrasted.
Steve Paton - Freeing up fluency in a silent speaking class. In Steve's presentation he noted that students in Japan lack a usage of learning strategies. Steve divided these into Metacognitive (organising study activities, self management and self evaluation), Cognitive (repetition, note taking, deductive inferencing and linking new knowledge to old) and socio effective (used in actual communication such as 'can you repeat that?'). Steve stated that these strategies will be most effective if students understand the strategies, believe they're effective and don't consider them too difficult. He outlined a system of assessment points he uses with his students that encourages active spoken participation in class. His participation guidelines for the students were: extend your comfort zone and take risks, stay in English for the duration, communicate with the instructor in confidence, make the most of your English speaking opportunities and be outstanding. He stated that his participation system was a success and students participated much more in class.
In this presentation Bill showed his first year university students creating short 1 minute presentations about a variety of topics. An example assignment was students talking about a piece of art, answering three questions: 'what are you talking about?', 'where is it located?' and 'who was it done by?' which encouraged students to use the passive voice. Students used their own smart devices to record the clips and submitted them using sendtodropbox.com. In the videos viewed, it was clear the students found the assignment challenging and enjoyable, and students even created their own artwork to talk about. Bill gave out the assignments using QR codes or web URLs in class but said that receiving the videos from students could be overwhelming. In the second part of the presentation Bill described how he practised question and answer forms with groups of six students sat in a U shaped layout. By having students move between groups and repeating their presentations, the target language used by the students could be recycled.
Jason opened his presentation by explaining important factors that employers and administrators must consider when managing English programs at both a private and public level. Drawing from experience, he illustrated how managing a curriculum over time with multiple teachers requires clear and consistent communication between management and employees. He argued that many problems that occur between teaching and management occur when either sides make assumptions about the intentions and meanings of the other side’s actions without taking the time to understand what was actually intended. He concluded by stressing the importance of remaining flexible and patient when difficulties arise while always trying to understand a situation from the other side’s point of view.
Simon began his presentation by demonstrating the benefits of utilizing lateral thinking puzzles and riddles to create communication opportunities in the classroom and target specific question pattern constructions. He demonstrated how small groups could be utilized to scale the activities to a variety of classroom contexts and offered a range of sources for finding lateral thinking puzzles. In the second half of his presentation, Simon discussed how he approached teaching technical vocabulary at his nursing college. He demonstrated the benefits of a varied approach to vocabulary study by utilizing a combination of classroom activities such as bingo and homework formats such as crossword puzzles to stimulate student interest and increase word retention.
In this presentation Andy discussed how to get students talking in class using examples from Inspire II which he co-authored.
He outlined a variety of communicative activities designed to encourage students to speak, build confidence and break the silence usually encountered with Japanese university students. These included a Kaiten Zushi activity where students rotate their partners while asking the same question and building longer responses. Second was ZigZag where students stand in parallel lines and alternate between asking 'have you ever...?' and 'how was it?' questions and answering their partner. Picture Naming is an activity designed to access background schemata. It involved students standing up and sitting down once they had named something in one of the double page sized photos in Inspire II. Lastly, using the Inspire II videos, Andy illustrated how one student could watch the video with no audio while their partner closed their eyes. The student then describes the video to their partner.
Andy also explained the theory behind these books and provided a large selection of Cengage textbooks for inspection.