I was very happy to speak to Richard Smith at the recent Learner Development SIG 20th anniversary conference in Tokyo. Richard was one of the founder members of the special interest group when he was based in Japan, and we discuss the motivation behind the formation of the group. We also talk a little about his subsequent and current work with the Warwick ELT Archive and as coordinator of the IATEFL Research SIG.
Many thanks to Judith Hanks for coming to give a plenary speech at the JALT PanSIG conference at Nanzan University in May. I was very honoured to be involved in the organisation of the conference, and having read ‘The Developing Language Learner’, the book that Judith co-wrote with Dick Allwright, I was very keen to invite her over. Judith’s work is connected mainly to Exploratory Practice – a research methodology in which teachers and learners collaborate to understand the puzzles they encounter during the learning process. Dr. Hanks explains it far more eloquently than I can, so please watch and enjoy…..
At the JALT National conference in Hamamatsu last month, I had a great time talking to Diane Hawley Nagatomo. Diane is a teacher, researcher and materials writer working in Japan. Some of her most recent research has been published by Multilingual Matters in the book “Exploring Japanese University English Teachers’ Professional Identity”, which we discussed in detail. We also talked about materials writing, gender in language education (Diane is currently co-coordinator for the JALT GALE SIG) and plenty more. If you want to read more several of Diane’s articles are available online and definitely worth looking at. Thanks for watching!
I recently met Dr. Alan Firth at the JALT National Conference in Hamamatsu, Japan. If you are not familiar with his work you should probably start with his articles on reconceptualizing SLA, written with Johannes Wagner and published (and critiqued) in the Modern Language Journal. Dr. Firth has a background in conversation analysis, which he still employs as a tool to research communication between English as Lingua Franca users in non-classroom based settings. Amongst other things, we also discussed the development of SLA as a field and the relationships between research and teaching. Please watch and enjoy!
UPDATE: (6th November, 2014) This is a developing presentation / workshop which I first gave at the JALT National Conference on October 14th, 2012. I will add further information from time to time, but for a selection of useful links and readings you can check this list at diigo.
I very much enjoyed presenting a workshop at the JALT National conference in Hamamatsu at the weekend. Over the last couple of years I have been working more and more on video projects with students, and in this presentation I reported on what I have developed so far. We started by talking about the various options available to teachers – pocket video cameras, traditional camcorders, mobile devices, webcams and so on. You can see a short video with examples here.
This checklist covers some of the factors to consider when choosing a camera and planning a project, and a few questions to ask yourself.
We then looked at some samples my students have created. Unfortunately, I can’t share them publicly online. But I can outline the project cycles we have undertaken.
This is the simplest activity. Student conversations, debates or presentations can be recorded for later analysis. This video transcription worksheet shows the kind of thing you can do. I usually change the questions each time depending on what we have been studying in class (and because familiarity breeds contempt!). One important point is to emphasise that students are not only looking for mistakes, but alternatives and improvements. Yes, I want them to use the third person -s accurately if possible, but I also want them to develop their communicative strategies.
Taking the website videojug as our model, students create instructional videos. They start by watching videojug’s own video on how to make a video, and to .check the advice offered, then choose a video of their own for homework analysis.
Students then plan and shoot their own video. Some language input is obviously helpful.
As with the ‘How-to’ video’s, it is important to plan carefully. Using a Storyboard enables both you and the students to focus on your task clearly (and makes editing easier later). With drama activities, it is helpful for students to express their emotions. Method acting is interesting, but any activities about self expression, body language or emotion can be effective.
In the Michel Gondry film ‘Be Kind, Rewind‘, Jack Black and Mos Def have to remake every video in their video store after the tapes are accidentally wiped. This worked very well with my class using their iPhones and the free editing app Splice.
If you have a windows machine, you can use windows media software, and Macs have QuickTime. There are many other applications available. Jing works with both Macs and PCs, and is free to download and use.
One man who has done a lot of great work with screen capture software is Russell Stannard. His Teacher Training Videos website teaches teachers how to use technology for education.
Two ways in which I have used screencasts – to give feedback on student writing, and to have students teach each other how to use web based tools like prezi, google drive and so on.
Allow me the indulgence. You could do the same with your classes with lexical sets, of course.
Vimeo, for uploading video to share (password protected) with students.
wevideo online editing application
My previous blog posts about making student video.
I was fortunate to meet Junko Yamanaka at the 5th Annual Extensive Reading Seminar in Nagoya, Japan. She is a well known figure in extensive reading circles, especially in Nagoya, and I have used several of her textbooks very successfully. We talked about her experience as a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer, about education in Japan, and many other things. It was great to finally meet her!
Thanks also to the JALT ER SIG for putting on such a great event and doing such great work all year round promoting Extensive Reading in Japan.
I was very pleased to spend some time with Dr. Stephen Krashen at the 5th Annual Extensive Reading Seminar in Nagoya, Japan. Dr. Krashen is a man so well known that even my wife was impressed when I set this one up. We talked about some of his hundreds of publications, about his groundbreaking hypotheses, and about learning to read in first and second languages.
If you would like to know more, Dr. Krashen makes plenty of his work available online. Scott Thornbury’s blog post ‘K is for Krashen’ is interesting as ever, but the comments (including those from Stephen Krashen himself) add value. Finally, thanks to the JALT ER SIG for putting on such a great event and doing such great work all year round promoting Extensive Reading in Japan.
I was fortunate to meet Dr. Stephen Bax at the JALTCALL conference in Nishinomiya, Japan recently. This is the third conference I have attended and, as usual, it was well worth the trip. Dr. Bax gave a keynote talk about ‘normalisation’ in educational technology, which was informative, engaging and relevant. We talked about his keynote as well as other work he has been involved in throughout his career. If you can, seek out his articles on ‘normalisation’ if you are at all interested in educational technology.
For anyone who is still watching, I’m back from my blogging break just in time for classes to start tomorrow. The bigger picture is that teacher development passes through different stages, and in a pragmatic assessment of my blogging and tweeting I realised that neither was the most efficient way for me (personally) to become the best teacher I can – at least, not at the moment. So I took a trip back to England to take care of some family business, I spent some time thinking about photography, and enjoyed time with my boys before the youngest starts kindergarten next week.
The Lives of Teachers blog is not dead, but I will be posting more sporadically and focusing mainly on the interviews I intended to focus on originally. I have a backlog of podcasts to post, and a few future interviews in the pipeline, so please don’t unsubscribe! And apologies to any commenters in the meantime who have gone unanswered.
I am also working on a couple more sites which should be live fairly soon. The first is a website for teaching resources, mainly to direct my own students towards but also (hopefully) of interest to other teachers looking for class materials. The second is a blog about things I read – the other thing I have been doing a lot of in my blogging break. In order to concentrate on my own original research I am finding it useful to turn off the computer and measure my reading in pages rather than characters. Details of both these projects will follow.
To anyone starting the new academic year this week, students and teachers alike, best of luck and enjoy yourselves. Spending most of your days in a classroom is a privilege, and not an opportunity to be wasted.
I met with Phil Benson at the JALT national conference in Tokyo, Japan at the end of November 2011. He had just given an excellent plenary entitled Autonomy in Language Teaching and Learning: How to Do it “Here”, ‘Here’ being wherever you are….acknowledging the commonly heard complaint levelled at promoters of Learner Autonomy – “Yes that sounds lovely, but it wouldn’t work here”
If you want to know more, I am currently working of a review of Phil’s second edition of Teaching and Researching: Autonomy, and it tells you pretty much everything you need to know.