Michael began by first introducing the concept of an “innovation” as a response of a particular social community to a perceived need for change and then describing the various stages in which an innovation passes through when diffusing throughout society. He then provided several examples of several modern innovations and discussed the various types of actors that affect the rate and extent of diffusion for a particular innovation. In the second half of the presentation, the audience was asked to apply this framework to innovations in language teaching and how they identified themselves in relation to adopting those particular innovations.
Reports of our meetings. Click on a month to see details.
Adam introduced a card game that can be used to both introduce new vocabulary and strengthen the lexical recognition of already learned vocabulary. For the first part of the presentation, the audience was taught the rules of the game and were allowed to play the game using made-up words. Adam then introduced a simple computer program he has developed that can be used to quickly generate game cards from any set of L1/L2 vocabulary pairs. For the final part of the presentation, the audience tested themselves on their acquisition of the target vocabulary and added input regarding the deployment of the game and its practical uses in the language classroom.
Michael began his discussion by reviewing several ways men and women have been suggested to differ physically, psychologically, and cognitively in addition to touching on the extent to which these differences are a result of biological hardwiring, social programming, or a combination of these two factors. He then turned discussion to the various gender issues that can arise in modern day language classrooms and how teachers may better adapt their pedagogical practices to meet the various strengths and weaknesses of both sexes.
Joseph discussed different models of assessment in the language classroom, comparing the traditional a priori assessment models that measure student performance in an isolated and decontextualized manner to an interactive model that allows the teacher to scaffold the student during the assessment session to grasp the upper limits of student capability. Simpson began by covering the different theoretical underpinnings for dynamic assessment and followed by presenting two actual assessment sessions, one traditional and the other dynamic in order to highlight the difference in student performance.
Kitakyushu hosted two presenters this month: Creative Variations for Textbook Conversations, by Bill Pellowe and Assessing Gains in Extensive Reading by J. Lake. In the first presentation, Bill talked about various methods for adapting English conversation textbooks to various classroom settings, offering several unique approaches for engaging students such as having students use smartphones for recording and assessing dialogue performance. In the second half, J. Lake presented recent research findings supporting the incorporation of reading for speed as a means for improving learner reading fluency, motivation, test scores, and streamlining various cognitive and neurological processes that strengthen overall language competency.
Markus talked about game theory, what constitutes a game from a theoretical standpoint, and how it can be applied to a classroom setting. He began by introducing the online role-playing Classcraft, a free online application designed specifically for a classroom setting, and explained the rules by having the audience participate in the actual game itself. He then went into detail on how he has implemented this game in some of his university classes, listed some of the advantages and drawbacks to the game, and provided suggestions for how to adapt the game specifically for Japanese learners.
(reported in honor of Dave Pite)
In “The Japanese Languages”, Michael Phillips went over the genetics of language/linguistics and the relationship of the Japonic language family, briefly going into the different language groups across the world and the debate of which groups are related or not, as well as touching on diglossia and how it applies to the topic.
Roderick van Huis told us about "Pronunciation Prediction for the Classroom", offering suggestions on how we can do spot treatment pronunciation in class with no preparation on things that suddenly pop up.
In Marcus Yong's "Game Design and Motivation" presentation, Marcus explained what makes games so addictive and how we can use those elements in our classroom. To further his point, he demonstrated how the free online game "CLASS CRAFT " can be used in classes.
In Stephen Case’s presentation, "20 Websites for 20 Lessons", he went over some websites that were intended for education use and others not specifically intended for education use and how they could be applied to classrooms in unique ways.
Beuckens loves teaching English as a foreign language, appears passionate about his hobby, entrepreneurship, and shared lots of information with us from his years of experience.
He showed us the basics of starting an online business—from finding something lacking in the vast TEFL field (“How many here have had to work with a textbook they hated?”), to filling that niche, then getting the project operating, getting people to use it-- and monetizing it.
He credits his initial motivation for online publishing to a student who kept demanding more resources. His thriving online Elllo (English Listening Lesson Library Online) was completely free for three years, until it started attracting sponsors.
Pointing out that starting a business was mostly about attending to all the details, Beuckens listed several useful outsourcing services, elicited from the audience (and rewarded with cookies) lists of salable digital items under the headings of Ads, Products and Services and then got us into groups to create and record language exercises which he will soon upload to the free site >
Attracting the biggest turnout at our chapter in years, this presentation gave a good picture of the time, effort and dedication required to make a useful website.
Robertson explained the cognitive development stages of young English language learners (YELLs) acquiring their first language, then differences in language learning/acquisition processes between children and adults. He ran us through various physiological/neurological, psychological/cognitive and sociolinguistic patterns that are emerging currently in the fields of SLA, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics, noting that individual variation resists compartmentalization, which may prejudice our teaching approaches.
While language development is better viewed as a continuum rather than defined through rigid age brackets, other considerations such as the Critical Period Hypothesis and puberty (both influenced by possibility versus effort) and the Reticular Activating System affect intrinsic/extrinsic and integrative/instrumental motivation. While YELLs tend to look to their teachers to provide these and often fail to negotiate meaning, older learners tend to display a wider variety of learning strategies in their language acquisition and are simply better at finding ways to supplement formal study.
Following this intensive input was a quiz, “Who is better at what?” We answered whether children or adults were likely to be more successful at specified language learning tasks. Robertson then had us review further by discussing in small groups where we see and how we might use the presented concepts in our teaching practice.
Fab 5 started, as usual, with online required and recommended pre-reading to “get everyone on the same page”. Friday afternoon and evening featured an advanced workshop exclusively for presenters and those enrolled in the certificate course. Saturday started with examinations of connections between memory and language processing, moving into the first of four plenary broadcasts by featured speaker Vanessa Rodriguez, shifting focus from the learning to the teaching brain. This was followed by pecha kucha presentations, lectures, workshops and demonstrations by a diverse international group of academics sharing a strong interest in language teaching impacting the intercultural mind from a neurolinguistic viewpoint-- all scheduled around a uniquely organized set of book and poster sessions and continually relieved by energy breaks involving yogic breathing and meditation to maintain the frenetic pace throughout the entire three days. Lesson planning, textbook adaptation and computer games designed to optimally stimulate learners enjoyably and dynamically were introduced and practiced in novel ways. In the final session the 50 original main maxims of the conference were reviewed and condensed into seven practical tips for lesson planning.
The dinner and banquet/beer garden organized events went over very well and the overall social ambiance was stimulating and friendly.