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.
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.
Although I earn my money up at the university, my main job these days seems to be teaching of young learners. Two of them, boys, aged two and four. I’ve started sitting down with Ibuki everyday for ten or twenty minutes to do our ‘letters’, and both boys love being read to, but I wanted to try something a bit different for fun. So here is the first part of our family alphabet…. twenty one more letters to follow.
Step by Step
Find words for each letter of the alphabet. The boys need help with this, but older children should be able to do it. I asked them what they liked, what they play with, what they could see around the house and so on to prompt them.
It is preferable, I think, if you can keep some consistency with phonics…especially in the early stages of trying to read. But on the other hand I wanted to use words which they know and which have some meaning for them. With this in mind I was able to substitute giraffe (Satsuki’s favourite animal) for Gorillaz (Satsuki’s favourite band), but I stuck with ‘Ice Cream’ over ‘Ink’ or ‘Igloo’ just because it has more relevance for them.
I used an Edirol R-09HR digital voice recorder for the sounds, and a lo-fi video camera called a Digital Harinezumi (get one now if you can, because they will go out of production soon) for the visuals, but that’s just because I like the effects and I like playing with video. Once I had enough audio, I clipped together the parts I needed in Garageband, then trimmed the video to fit the length and edited them together in iMovie. I added the text at that stage too. I did one letter at a time, then stitched them all together and added a drum loop from Garageband to top it off. However, you could do something similar in far less time if you use a video camera with a built-in audio channel.
- A class alphabet. You should check, but here in Japan I think just about every family has access to rudimentary video equipment, be it a mobile phone, smartphone, a feature of a point-and-shoot digital camera, or a full-on camcorder. If you are confident that your young learners have access to the technology, get the parents involved too. Give each student a letter or two for homework, and have them record a segment and email it in to you. You can quickly stitch them together for everyone to enjoy.
- If you have flip video cameras or the equivalent, and your young learners are old enough, you could do the same thing in class time. Send each team out with a camera and have them look for a complete alphabet around the school. (You might want to plant a few items in preparation). If they do it sequentially, there is no editing required.
- Other learners might benefit from recording lexical sets. Concrete nouns are obviously easier, but cataloguing abstract nouns, adjectives and verbs will force students to be creative.
- Check out Barbara Sakamoto’s great use of voicethread to make class alphabet book online.
An Interview with Kaz Hagiwara from darren elliott on Vimeo.
Kaz Hagiwara is a teacher of Japanese working in Australia, and a leading exponent of (de) suggestopedia. It’s a method you have probably heard of, but in seeing Kaz’s presentations and spending some time talking to him I realised that there was more to it than I had imagined….
We may be living in a ‘post methods era’ but it is still worth looking at teaching theories developed in the past. I recommend a look at these links if you are interested in exploring further. Thanks to Kaz for giving up his time at the JALT conference 2010.
An Interview with Nicky Hockly from darren elliott on Vimeo.
I was very happy to talk to Nicky Hockly at the JALT National Conference in Nagoya, Japan in November 2010. She gave a fantastic plenary – well-paced, useful and pertinent – and if you get a chance, see her talk! If not, then this fifteen minute interview will have to do ; D
We talked about the online teacher training company Consulants-E, the obstacles teachers face in implementing technology, mobile learning and all manner of other geeky stuff.
You can follow Nicky on twitter at @TheConsultantsE , and I also recommend How to Teach English with Technology and Teaching Online
An Interview with Michael Swan from darren elliott on Vimeo.
I was very happy to speak to Michael Swan at the JALT conference in Nagoya last month, and now you can listen to what he had to say too! We discussed grammar and how it should be approached by teachers, ELF and errors, and changes in methodology over the years he has been involved in teaching.
I recommend Michael’s excellent website, which is well stocked with articles on these topics and many more. A particular favourite of mine is ‘The use of sensory deprivation in foreign language teaching’ from ELTJ in 1982… read it with an open mind.
Audio podcast to follow.
An Interview with Jeannette Littlemore from darren elliott on Vimeo.
the lives of teachers
It was great to see Jeanette’s workshop, and to talk to her afterwards about the research she has been engaged in regarding metaphor and gesture. As teachers, we need to be aware of the ways in which our gestures may be interpreted… whether they support or contradict the words coming out of our mouths (which are quite likely to be metaphorical themselves). We also need to understand the messages our students are sending through gesture. It’s a fascinating topic. Some things you might like to comment on.
Teachers who gesture more are perceived to be better teachers.
The idea that gesture can betray an ‘accent’ in L2 users, or conversely, that adoption of an L2 physicality can give a more positive impression.
Incorporating gesture into teaching may enable learners to connect more powerfully to the target language.
You can find a list of Dr. Littlemore’s work here.
UPDATE Dr. Littlemore kindly sent me a copy of the article she published in the pre-conference edition of The Language Teacher, which includes further readings. The original can be found at…
Littlemore, J. (2010). Metaphor, gesture and second language acquisition. The Language Teacher, 34.4, 35 – 37
This is the first of four interviews from the JALT conference in Nagoya, Japan…. more to follow!