Understanding Japanese University Students

13 06 2010

ELI Lecturer Dwayne Cover discusses various aspects of Japanese student and university life that teachers should consider in their day to day practice. Mr. Cover is a fourth year lecturer,  co-coordinator of the International Communication Department’s Basic English Proficiency Project, and active member of the ELI’s Professional Development Committee. In April, he offered a workshop titled, “The Japanese University Context: A long way from home.” Cover says, “The most dangerous thing for people to do is to just come in and say…this is a university and this is how universities work.” Watch this video for practical advice to enhance your teaching approach in a Japanese University context. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this topic.

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An abstract of Mr. Cover’s workshop follows:

The Japanese University Context: A long way from home
When new teachers arrive at KUIS, they are often entering the university teaching context for the first time. Naturally, they have assumptions and expectations for post-secondary institutions based upon their personal experiences; however, there are critical differences between Japanese universities and Western-based universities that present a significantly different teaching environment than what is often expected.

This workshop will offer an overview of the Japanese university context, e.g. Where do our students come from? What are their expectations when they arrive? What is daily university life like for Japanese students? What is expected of students when they graduate and join the workforce? The information presented in the workshop will be drawn from a number of sources: research projects conducted at KUIS, relevant literature, individual experiences, etc.

This workshop should be beneficial to instructors with differing levels of teaching experience in Japan: those who have taught in Japan will be invited to share their experiences with their colleagues; those who are new to this teaching context will have the opportunity to ask questions and gain a stronger understanding of the Japanese system, hopefully allowing them to acclimatize more easily.

ELI raises funds for Makuchari charity event

31 05 2010

The ELI raised over Y70,000 for the student-run Makuchari charity event at Kanda University of International Studies on May 16, 2010.  The “ELI Cakes and Cookies” food stall was a hit –  everything was sold and had, “…many people coming back for more and telling us how good they tasted,” according to lecturer Ashley Moore. Since 2005 Kanda students organize the yearly Makuhari Charity Flea Market, or Makuchari for short, to raise money for charity. This year Moore led the elevated ELI participation in Makuchari, with over 30 ELI members baking treats such as cookies, breads, and cakes for the stall. Please watch the video report for more!

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Research on lexis and grammar to be published in TESOL Quarterly

17 05 2010

ELI lecturers Erik Fritz and Rachael Ruegg, and former ELI lecturer Jenn Holland will have their article, “Rater Sensitivity to Qualities of Lexis in Writing” published in the distinguished journal, TESOL Quarterly. The following video explains the story behind the article, from the origins of the research, to writing, and finally to possible implications. Dennis Koyama, ELI lecturer and co-coordinator of the Kanda English Proficiency Test (KEPT), also shares his thoughts on the trio’s project.

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In addition, here is the abstract of their article:

Distinguishing lexis from grammar is a particularly thorny issue. Because the distinction is so difficult to make, many scholars suggest that we should not try to distinguish the two but rather should accept the inextricable interwovenness which exists. However, many assessment criteria involve assessment of lexis and grammar. Assessing both lexis and grammar presupposes that the two can be evaluated independently of each other. Therefore, if such criteria are to be used, it is necessary to investigate just how raters are to distinguish lexis from grammar. On the other hand, if we are to accept that the two are inextricably interwoven then the assessment criteria must reflect this by assessing lexicogrammar as a single criterion.

Various researchers have discussed lexis in relation to speaking but there has been very little research relating directly to the distinction of lexis and grammar in writing. Research by Batty in 2006 found no correlation between examinees’ vocabulary knowledge as measured by the Depth of Vocabulary Knowledge (DVK) Test and their vocabulary scores in speaking section of the Kanda English Proficiency Test (KEPT). It was concluded that it is too difficult to assess vocabulary knowledge in a group discussion format. As a result of Batty’s research the vocabulary scale and grammar scale were collapsed into a single lexicogrammar scale for the speaking section of the KEPT.

The present collaborative study was conducted in relation to the writing section of the KEPT. This study was carried out to ascertain what raters are sensitive to when rating writing using the ‘lexis’ scale, one of four analytic rating scales. The lexis scale is intended to evaluate lexical usage in terms of both accuracy and range. It has been considered by some of the administrators of the KEPT that the addition of low frequency words may be sufficient to artificially inflate an examinee’s score on the lexis scale even when, overall, the lexis is insufficient in terms of accuracy and range. The lexical content of 140 essays was analysed. Particular attention was paid to accuracy and range of lexical usage, average frequency of the words used and overall lexical sophistication. In addition, the correlation between scores on the lexis scale and those on the grammar scale was considered. The collaborative research project will be explained in detail, results and implications of the study, as well as directions for much-needed future research will be discussed.

The 2010 ELI Intro Classroom video for students

5 05 2010

Every April brings a fresh crop of teachers, learning advisors, and students to the ELI. While it’s impractical for all the students to meet each and every one of our lecturers, the ELI prioritizes creating a friendly atmosphere in our learning environment. In an effort to personalize our lecturers, the ELI has a tradition of creating a video introduction every year, which is then used in a classroom lesson.
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ELI lecturers Joachim Castellano, Simon Cooke, Ashley Moore, Eric Setoguchi, and Paul Stone led this year’s ELI Introduction Video effort. The team met several times in April to plan both a video and an accompanying lesson plan.

The ELI emphasizes an interactive approach to media, and Moore, Setoguchi, and Stone created a lesson which both checks comprehension and generates discussion. In addition, the lesson is intended to be tailored to a teacher’s specific class environment. Setoguchi explains, “As teachers will typically use the video in different ways based on their teaching approach and class level, the handouts are as simple as possible and designed for teachers to combine and alter them as they wish.”

The video features various ELI’ers responding to random questions from a bag. Ashley Moore, who masterminded this year’s video concept, reasons, “We wanted to create a bit more variety,” than videos in years past, adding that the team, “wanted to move [the video] past standard self-introductions.”

The video was recorded and edited at Kanda University’s media production facilities.

Joachim Castellano edited the video, adding additional visual and aural effects to enhance comprehensibility. The video also features original music from Simon Cooke,

who spiced up the introduction and preview versions with a track called “JunkFunk.”

The ELI legacy of Dr. Ben Fenton-Smith

7 04 2010

The ELI provides numerous research and professional development opportunities to its lecturers and learning advisors. Dr. Ben Fenton-Smith, former Assistant Director of Research and Development, advanced many of these programs and projects. Before leaving Kanda University for Griffith University in Australia, Ben Fenton-Smith talks about the ELI’s growth, dispenses advice to those working at the English Language Institute, and shares some of his favorite memories while working here.

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