Just searching through my inbox, it was way back in November 2008 that I received the call for papers sent to all members of the Learner Development SIG of JALT (The Japan Association for Language Teachers). They had just gotten the go ahead to put together another book in their series of edited collections, and were looking for chapters from the membership and beyond. Back in my student days, long before I was a JALT member, I had ordered their previous publications from the UK and enjoyed both immensely, so I thought it would be great to get involved.

(Aside – There are still a few copies left of ‘Autonomy you Ask’ and ‘More Autonomy you Ask’, and if you ask nicely you may be able to get hold of a copy. I think they are both excellent. I reviewed MAYA for ‘Independence’, the IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG)

So I put together some ideas and sent off my proposal, started working on the paper and developing it as a chapter. Something I had especially liked about the previous books was that each chapter had attached critical reflections written by reviewers, and other authors – it was an unusual idea, but I liked how it brought together the book as a whole, and showed the spirit of autonomy as collaborative. This project was to be no different, and in July of 2009 we gathered at a writers’ retreat in Tokyo, sharing our papers, talking through the section headings, book title , cover art and so on.

Alison Stewart and Kay Irie, our two editors, have been excellent all along and guiding the process firmly but democratically.

It was very exciting when we heard that Palgrave Macmillan were interested in publishing the book, and also that Richard Smith & Naoko Aoki would be able to write an introduction and Scott Thornbury would contribute a concluding chapter. The book is due early December, and most of the royalties will go to The Shanti Volunteer Association.

At the November 2010 JALT national conference I first heard the idea of a book launch conference mooted. Naively, I asked why such conferences were so often held in Tokyo or Osaka… which is how I fell into organising the Realizing Autonomy Conference at Nanzan University in Nagoya for October 29th 2011.

The call for papers is still operative, so you have a couple of weeks to get your ideas to us. If you can’t present, then we would still love to have you. You can see plenary speakers Tim Murphey from Kanda University of International Studis, and  Richard Pemberton from the University of Nottingham. You can see poster presentations from the book chapter authors, and get a first look at the book itself. We are also planning a party for the evening which should be a lot of fun, so if you can’t make it to the conference, then join us all for drinks and nibbles. Visit the conference website to submit an abstract, to print off flyers and publicity posters, to register, and to find out more. We will have some exclusive content on the site in the coming months, too, so keep your eyes peeled to see how it evolves.