At the SILC: Public Lecture by Dr. Rod Ellis, University of Auckland

29 09 2011

Dr. Rod Ellis, University of Auckland, will speak at the Sojo International Learning Center (SILC) on Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 18:00-19:15. Please note that this event will be held at Sojo University Kumamoto, Japan and not on the Chiba campus of Kanda University. The SILC is a project of the ELI’s External Language Consultancy Center (ELCC).

Public Lecture by Dr. Rod Ellis, University of Auckland

Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 18:00-19:15

Focusing on Form in the Communicative Classroom

Sojo International Learning Center (SILC)
Sojo University
Kumamoto, Japan
〒860-0082 熊本県熊本市池田4丁目22−1
Free to the public

Current theories of second language acquisition emphasise the importance of learners’ attending consciously to form.  Similarly, current discussions of communicative language pedagogy stress the need for classroom language learners to focus on form as well as meaning.  The study reported in this talk is intended to contribute to both theory and practice.  It examines the different ways in which teachers and students achieve a ‘focus-on-form’ (i.e. attend to linguistic form in the context of activity that is primarily message-oriented).  Based on an analysis of 12 hours of teaching English in a private language school, a coding system is developed to account for the general characteristics of ‘focus-on-form episodes’ (FFEs).  The system is then used to provide an account of focus-on-form in the classrooms studied, revealing that nearly half of the total FFEs were proactive rather than reactive and that more than half involved negotiating form rather than negotiating meaning (i.e. they were not triggered by any communicative problem).  The paper concludes with some ideas for future research.

Professor Rod Ellis is the deputy head of the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In addition, he is a Cheung Kong Scholar Chair Professor at Shanghai International Studies University, and also a TESOL Professor and Chair of the Graduate School of Education at Anaheim University, where he teaches various online courses in the Master of Arts in TESOL. He has also taught in positions in Zambia, the UK, and at Temple University in Japan and the US. He is currently editor of the journal Language Teaching Research, and is also a senior advisor to the Asian EFL Journal.

Ellis received a Master of Arts from the University of Leeds, a Master of Education from the University of Bristol, and a doctorate from the University of London. He is a leading theorist of task-based language learning, and has published two books and more than a dozen articles on the subject. Since 1980, he has authored more than 30 books and 100 articles on second language acquisition.

His research interests include: Second language acquisition, individual learner differences, form-focussed instruction, teacher education, course design and methodology of language teaching.

For additional information about the talk, or if you would like to be included in the reservation for a post-lecture dinner, contact Chris Stillwell:

Contact number (October 12 only): 096 326-3850

Sojo International Learning Center

24 09 2010

Sojo University is a private university in Kumamoto city with a focus on Engineering, Computer Science, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Sojo International Learning Center (SILC) is a holistic language learning environment which was established in 2010 in order to promote the use of English across the university and to help students improve their communication skills.

The center was developed through a collaborative project between The External Language Consultancy Center (ELCC) based at Kanda University of International Studies and Sojo University. All first year English classes are now delivered via the SILC and second year courses will  be offered from 2011-12. The SILC also houses a  Self Access Learning Center which is open to the entire university community, including postgraduate students and teaching staff.

The SILC enables students to pursue a personalized curriculum via classroom teaching interactive activities, self-access learning, and computer mediated communication. Based on their individual needs, learners determine their own goals and methods in collaboration with peers, learning advisors, and teachers.


There are currently nine full-time teachers, two learning advisors, a full-time SALC manager, part-time staff SALC assistants, and a SILC general manager.  The 11 teachers and learning advisors come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Japan. They each have extensive teaching experience and at least Masters level qualifications in the field of EFL. Seven of them were previously based at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba.

The Building

The SILC building has been completely refurbished with a focus on comfort and usability to make it as user-friendly as possible. In order to ensure that SILC users have an opportunity to actively develop their language skills through communication, the second and third floors of the SILC operate an ‘English-only’ policy. However, it is understood that it takes a lot of time and effort to develop language skills and plenty of support is provided to help students especially in the early stages.

1st floor: SILC Cafe

The first floor of the building is home to the teachers’ offices as well as the SILC café. It is a welcoming environment where students can come to eat lunch, relax with friends between classes, use the computers to complete assignments, or chat informally with teachers.

2nd Floor: Self Access Learning Center (SALC)

The second floor houses the Self Access Learning Center, a state-of-the-art facility with a huge variety of resources including custom-made worksheets, movies, music CDs, speaking booths, computer software, graded readers, and a wide range of books, magazines and newspapers. At the heart of the SALC is the Conversation Lounge, where students can talk informally to teachers and to each other, play computer or traditional  games in English, watch television and access the Internet. The lounge also hosts a number of regular events including a monthly film night and weekly discussions on sport and music.

A learning advisory service is available in the SALC in which learning advisors give students individualized advice about their language learning in order to help them set goals, select resources, reflect on their progress, and move onto the next level.

3rd Floor: Blended Learning Spaces

On the third floor there are five dedicated classrooms, referred to as ‘Blended Learning Spaces’ in which desks and chairs can be moved freely around the room to accommodate a variety of groupings and activities. Each BLS is equipped with a full set of student computers running on English operating systems and headphones to facilitate listening activities. The computers allow the students to undertake research and compile documents and presentations in English as well as to communicate electronically via ‘Sojo-moodle’, the SILC’s online interactive learning community.


English classes in the SILC are designed to help students increase confidence and motivation for using English by activating what they may have already learnt in school. They work in small groups on a variety of fun and engaging language-based tasks and learn to communicate effectively, research and present information in English and find out about other cultures. Students are assessed continuously through regular quizzes, homework activities, lesson participation and presentations as well as through a speaking test at the end of each semester.


The English Communication curriculum is constantly evolving on the basis of action research being conducted in the SILC. Institutional research within the center focuses primarily on the implementation and evaluation of SALC resources and practices, the use of moodle and other electronic tools to support students’ learning and the effectiveness of the curriculum itself in meeting the needs of the students and supporting the five faculties.

The Bunkyo English Communication Center

24 09 2010


In 2008, the English Language Consultancy Center (ELCC) at Kanda University of International Studies and Hiroshima Bunkyo Women’s University established The Bunkyo English Communication Center (BECC). The university sought to establish a ‘Bunkyo Standard’ of ‘Graduate Abilities’ in response to initiatives from the Ministry of Education in Japan regarding ‘Gakushiryoko’. The addition of the Bunkyo English Communication Center to the university’s other departments of Early Childhood Education, Nutrition, Psychology, Welfare and Linguistic represents a major financial and intellectual investment in developing general English proficiency campus wide.

The BECC was designed with the goal of establishing a center of excellence in a university without a strong tradition of communication focused language teaching and learning.  While the BECC initially provided general language learning support for Bunkyo students across all disciplines, in 2009 the University gained approval for the establishment of a new Global Communication Department, which opened in 2010. As a result the BECC now pursues two missions: to support the general English proficiency development of all Bunkyo students, and to support the communication and content courses of the Global Communication Department through providing English skill, communication, and content instruction.


Task–Based Communicative Language Learning

In general English lessons at the BECC, the focus is on using language. All students study English for 6 years before University, but many don’t feel comfortable speaking or using English for communication. BECC’s mission is to help learners become basic proficient English users – which means speaking, listening, reading, and writing for communication. In BECC’s task-based curriculum, process is as important as product, i.e., not just learning English, but learning English in English. This combination of content and methodology has been a key aspect of the approach to language teaching since the inception of the Basic English Proficiency Project (BEPP) at Kanda University of International Studies’ English Language Institute in 1989, and remains a core concept of the educational philosophy of the BECC. In accord with another guiding principle – to encourage learners to become more autonomous – the curriculum is structured in such a way that students can extend their learning well beyond the classroom by utilizing the SALC materials and Learning Advisor services available to personalize their learning, and develop important learning skills they can apply in the future.

Global Communication Department Courses

BECC is also responsible for the planning, materials design, and teaching of English communication and skills focused classes for the Global Communication Department. These classes include self-access learning courses, media, reading skills, and writing skills courses. BECC also provides materials design and teaching support to English language content courses related to hospitality, tourism, business communication, and popular culture courses.

Self Access and Personalized Language Learning (SALC)

During their four years at Hiroshima Bunkyo Women’s University, students have extensive opportunities to carry out their language learning well beyond the confines of the classroom through the use of the BECC Self Access Learning Center (SALC).  The SALC is an English only learning space whose underlying rationale is to provide language practice and learning opportunities to students that are not afforded through classroom interactions alone.  The SALC therefore, offers a wide range of learning environments, materials and professional language learning support.  These provide chances to students who wish to supplement their classroom language learning, seek help with their language learning, or pursue language learning goals independent of their mainstream studies.

In order to facilitate these types of learning the SALC offers bright, modern spaces specifically designed to cater to the wide-ranging needs of groups and individuals. To help facilitate learning, the SALC houses a rich selection of resources including books, games, CDs, DVDs and software. Assistant managers and SALC student staff provide help with photocopying, borrowing and returning SALC materials, making reservations to use SALC facilities and making appointments with learning advisors. For language learning and more specific education related matters learning advisors are available to students and can answer questions and provide advice on many aspects of language learning such as: improving basic English skills, homework tasks and activities, how to study English more effectively, the best materials to use in the SALC, and getting higher test scores.

Language Learning through Social Interaction (BECC Café / Events / BECC Circle)

BECC recognizes that among non-English majors not all students are willing to get involved in study based activities and some may even genuinely fear entering an English only environment.  In order to reduce stress levels and provide extrinsic motivation for students we run activities designed to provide a fun and non-threatening introduction to the BECC, BECC SALC, its staff, materials and infrastructure.

Research Activities

The BECC and BECC SALC assume responsibility for the design, maintenance, and research-based renewal of all SALC and curriculum materials for courses from the General English program, and a number of Global Communication and Language Department courses.  All teachers and learning advisors are assigned to one of the BECC’s “Curriculum Renewal projects”.  These are collaborative projects led by a Team Leader and typically consist of 3-4 people. These projects are concerned with the systematic development and trialing of instructional materials to be used within and/or outside of the classroom, and research into practices surrounding the use of these materials, assessment, technology, or self-access.

The current institutional curriculum renewal projects are:

1) The General English Project

2) The Global Communication Project

3) The Self-Access Learning Project

The External Language Consultancy Center (ELCC)

19 03 2010

In 2008 the ELCC was established to formalize KUIS’s contributions to the development of English language teaching and learning at other institutions throughout Japan. The ELCC is staffed primarily by former ELI lecturers who have enjoyed the opportunity to continue working with the Kanda family. To date some of the KUIS inspired initiatives have included: curriculum development, course delivery, e-learning and self-access related projects at a number of institutions across Japan and internationally.