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2009 Meeting Minutes

October 11th, 2009 - More than Words: Integrating TOEIC vocabulary into EFL writing exercises for university students

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:37 PM by Hamamatsu JALT

More than Words: Integrating TOEIC vocabulary into EFL writing exercises for university students

Tom Pals and Mark Sheehan

Dr. Pals and Dr. Sheehan shared the online TOEIC vocabulary system they developed and are using at Shizuoka University of Arts & Science. In a "hands on" demonstration held at their university members got an inside look at the system and how it is incorporated into almost all English classes in the department. Students go through three cycles of questions throughout the term. In each cycle students answer 70 questions in different content areas. The program then analyzes the results and determines the three weakest sections in which students are given additional questions and need to score 60 correct to pass, thus reinforcing the work in their weak areas. Once the students complete three cycles they can take the TOEIC examination and if they achieve a prescribed score (based on their projected abilities) they can gain extra-credit.

Dr. Pals & Dr. Sheehan discussed how the program was conceived and incorporated, how it was received by faculty and students, and facilitated discussion on various aspects of the system and TOEIC in general. Judging by the lengthy Q&A most members seemed very eager to learn about the system and hearing about the fruits of the presenter's labour.

Reported by Jon Dujmovich

September 13th, 2009 - Sharing 18 Years Experience with Language Immersion in a Japanese K-12 School - Insights and Implications

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:36 PM by Hamamatsu JALT

Sharing 18 Years Experience with Language Immersion in a Japanese K-12 School - Insights and Implications

Mike Botswick

Mike Botswick, original designer and director of Katoh Gakuen in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, spoke about his school’s immersion program. Katoh Gakuen is the oldest and most successful immersion program in Japan. It has Japanese students being exposed to English in learning basic subjects from kindergarten through high school, roughly half or more of each school day. Mr. Botswick showed us how the view that introducing English too early may damage children’s development of their native language (in this case, Japanese) is false. He said not a single study has evidence of this – around the world. On the contrary, thousands of studies show that children’s native language development is the same or better than other children who are not exposed to a foreign language early. He showed films of first grade children doing math problems by arranging English word cards to form an appropriate question and then answer it, and of high school students debating in English. There were a wide range of questions from the audience and people left with a desire to learn more about immersion education.

Reported by Dan Frost

July 25th, 2009 - Changing English education in Japan at its roots

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:29 PM by Hamamatsu JALT

Changing English education in Japan at its roots

Dan Frost and Tetsuya Ozono

Dan and Tetsuya are team teachers at a private junior high school in Hamamatsu. During the spring – summer term they tried several new ideas in teaching first year students. Two of their main goals were to expose students to natural English and guide students to learn English through English. They used simple story-books, written by native speakers, and they developed a personal picture dictionary, which the students could write in words by themselves. Finally, Dan and Tetsuya demonstrated ways that basic grammar can be taught with very limited explanation in Japanese. Switching the Subject and Verb when asking a question, was demonstrated by assigning different colors to the grammatical functions. Dan also pointed out that in currently used textbooks approved by the Ministry of Science and Education, some of the English is quite unnatural and even contains mistakes. One way to avoid this in the future would be to choose materials written by native speakers which are designed for beginning learners.
Reported by Dan Frost

June 14th, 2009 - The 30-second Ad in the Classroom: Using TV Commercials to Liven Things Up

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:28 PM by Hamamatsu JALT   [ updated May 23, 2012, 6:47 AM ]

The 30-second Ad in the Classroom: Using TV Commercials to Liven Things Up

Dr. Phil McCasland

Prof. McCasland presented at our chapter to answer this question. He established what constitutes effective language activities when using TV commercials and showed what roles the teacher can take during those activities. He recommended us to use TV commercials as an accessory to regular English lessons. He mentioned that TV commercials provide linguistic and cultural content for communicational and creative language use in the classroom. Students are encouraged to develop their skills in listening and speaking. There is visual and audio input through a short story from TV commercials. TV commercials have advantages for English learning students. Most importantly, they are entertaining and humorous. As a teacher, we all know how it is difficult to motivate and encourage students to use English and try out their learned utterances. In order to facilitate the student’s communicative competence, teachers can use TV commercials to get attention from students. TV commercials also provide authentic language and culture values. They encourage students to use their creativity and imagination through various activities. Finally, TV commercials allow students to develop their critical thinking. Participants were provided with numerous useful URLs for internet sites for classroom use of TV commercials.

Reported by Eri Gemma

June, 2009

April 26th, 2009 - Can Adolescents Become Autonomous Learners?

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:23 PM by Hamamatsu JALT   [ updated May 23, 2012, 6:46 AM ]

Can Adolescents Become Autonomous Learners?

Dr. Marshall Childs

In the April meeting, co-sponsored by the Toyohashi chapter, Dr. Marshall R. Childs gave a presentation on autonomy in adolescents and the obstacles that prevent autonomy in teenagers and young adults. Dr. Childs, started the discussion by defining autonomy and its value before examining the barriers to promoting autonomy in adolescents. Dr. Childs described two sources of impediments to autonomy. At first, conventional school organisation was explored in terms of the controlling effects of classroom schedules and activities on teenagers’ behaviour. Then the focus was shifted to the adolescent brain and how some areas of the adolescent brain are still developing into their early 20s. Dr. Childs suggested that these factors impede adolescents’ path to maturity though not everyone is affected equally. Dr. Childs concluded that an understanding of what autonomy is and the forces that drive students toward autonomous learning is essential for the teacher to facilitate autonomy.

Hamamatsu Chapter thanks Toyohashi Chapter for co-sponsoring this event!

Reported by Adam Jenkins

Apr, 2009

February 15th, 2009 - Leveraging your language teaching experience in Japan for a global market

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:15 PM by Hamamatsu JALT

Leveraging your language teaching experience in Japan for a global market

Randal Potter

Randall Potter, as a representative of Aperian Global in Tokyo, talked with us about how we can use ("leverage") our teaching experiences for a wide range of potential employment opportunities. He began with an open discussion about the kinds of skills we have gained as language teachers. For example: management of groups of people and time, communication between speakers of different languages, cross-cultural competency, planning and public speaking were all mentioned as skills we have gained. He guided us to see how these kinds of skills can be used in a wide variety of professions, such as: recruitment, training, project management, sales, government work, NPO work, public relations, consulting, etc.. Randall's main message was that we should not belittle ourselves because our main working experience has been in teaching, but see that as a door to many other opportunities. With the current economic situation in the world being quite precarious, some of us will need to look at new possibilities for work in the future. The meeting was very upbeat and thought-provoking.

Reported by Dan Frost

January 11th, 2009 - Extensive Reading & Improving TOEIC Scores

posted Jan 15, 2012, 10:13 PM by Hamamatsu JALT   [ updated May 23, 2012, 6:45 AM ]

Extensive Reading & Improving TOEIC Scores

Jonathan Robinson

Jonathan Robinson, a representative of Oxford University Press, first introduced us to his publishing company's book that is meant to prepare students for the TOEIC test. He showed us figures on the breakdown of people who take the TOEIC tests around the world, and it is clear that Japanese people consider the test particularly important. The book has many helpful tips on how to use time efficiently when taking the test. After a break, Jon told us about Oxford's extensive reading program. He showed us samples of how classics, such as "Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain, have been adapted by skilled authors to the levels of different students of English as a foreign language. The reading programs are also graded, which is helpful to teachers and students when trying to decide what kinds of books are appropriate for different levels. It was a engaging afternoon, and the participants went away with new ideas as well as book samples which they will try in each of their own teaching and learning situations.

Reported by Dan Frost

Jan, 2009

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