ELI organizes first KUIS presentation contest

5 01 2012

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The ELI hosted its first presentation contest at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan last month on December 17, 2011. Students at the university competed for two top prizes of ¥ 300,000, applicable to a study or volunteer abroad program of their choice.

The competition asked students what aspects of Japanese culture they were proud of and how they could best represent Japan abroad. Over 30 first and second year students created presentations on this theme.

In the morning, students competed in individual and group categories, and were scored by ELI teachers. The top four scores in each category battled each other in a final afternoon round.

The afternoon round included presentations on Japanese festivals, culture, food, and personal experiences abroad. A panel of three judges scored each and asked follow-up questions specific to their talks. Adam Chapin, one of the judges, commented, “I was impressed with the students’ English abilities, presentation skills, and enthusiasm. Every student who participated is a winner in my eyes and I encourage them all to keep up the good work.”

Yohei Koyama’s presentation on the influence of Japanese education won top marks in the individual category. “I plan on using the prize money on volunteering abroad as a part of the Habitat for Humanity organization and will be going to Nepal to build a house this March,” said the winner. Group category winners Eriko Adachi, Haruka Matsuzaki, and Kaori Tsubaki shared personal stories to discuss what it meant to be Japanese for them, and how these positive aspects of their culture can be shared abroad. They plan on using their winnings to travel in Asia.

Executives from the Daily Yomiuri newspaper, Kanda board members, ELI lecturers and many student supporters attended the afternoon session located in the Crystal Hall of the Multilingual communication center (MULC).  Jaclyn Pitts, ELI lecturer and main organizer of the event, said, “Everyone was impressed with the presentations and it was nice to see all of the students so excited. Even though it was only our first time doing the contest, we had many students participate and the quality of their presentations was great.”

In addition to the top prize, second place students won tickets to Disneyland, while third place winners earned iTunes gift cards. ELI Director Dr. Michael Torpey explained, “Chairman Sano was interested in enhancing Kanda’s reputation as a university known for producing students who can use the language confidently. The presentation contest emerged as one way to showcase this aspect not only to the KUIS community but additionally to the outside public – such as the Daily Yomiuri visitors.”

Published: Transitioning from Teaching to Advising

12 12 2011

KUIS learning advisor Elizabeth Lammons has published a column in the IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG newsletter. Details as follows:

Lammons, E. (2011). Finding my way: Transitioning from teaching to advising. Independence, 53, 27-31.

Elizabeth Lammons, a new Learning Advisor,  wrote a column reflecting on her experiences transitioning from teaching to becoming a learning advisior. In this first column, Liz discusses her previous teaching and how it influenced her decision to become a learning advisor. Also, Liz discusses the challenge she faced in not having a class of my own. Liz comments, “I hope that by sharing these experiences I am able to shed some light on some of the challenges that moving from a classroom to a role that supports learners outside the classroom can have on an educator’s professional development.”

Keywords: advising, professional development


Published: Autonomy in Language Learning: Opening a Can of Worms

12 12 2011

SALC Director Dr. Jo Mynard has co-edited a book with Carol J. Everhard and Richard Smith published by IATEFL. Details are as follows:

Everhard, C.J., & Mynard, J. with Smith, R. (2011) (Eds). Autonomy in language learning: Opening a can of worms. Canterbury: IATEFL.

This volume contains a collection of articles which were originally published between 2006 and 2010 in the Learner Autonomy SIGʼs newsletter Independence. All of the articles were written in connection with a project which likened exploring the multifaceted concept of learner autonomy to opening a metaphorical “can of worms”. Ten “worms” were released into the academic community, resulting in a series of short articles. The following areas are explored in this collection: Assessment, Classroom research, Counselling/advising, Culture, Learner training, Motivation, Self-access, Teacher autonomy, Teacher education, Technology.


Published: Second Language Development through Technology Mediated Strategic Interaction

12 12 2011

ELI Assistant Director Dr. Neil Johnson has published an article in the Asian EFL Journal co-authored with ex-ELI teacher Dr. Jonathan deHaan. Details as follows:

Johnson, N.H., & deHaan, J. (2011). Second language development through technology mediated strategic interaction. Asian EFL Journal, 14 (3), 69 – 101.

Teaching language proficiency can be particularly problematic in a Japanese university context because of issues with low motivation (Yashima, 2002; Oda, 1993), anxiety and shyness (Kitano, 2001), and practical difficulties associated with monitoring performance and providing effective feedback to large numbers of students. Strategic interaction (SI), as proposed by Di Pietro (1987), uses the scenario as an organizing principle for classroom practice. This involves learners being given different parts or roles in a situation to be resolved through language in unfolding interaction. In this paper, we explore and detail the design of an approach to SI that is mediated by use of an online wiki space and digital video technologies. Participants at a Japanese university engaged in an SI routine within the context of learning politeness strategies for a Business English course. Analysis of performance transcripts using a functional language framework, data from a post-performance discourse completion task, and learner reflections, confirm the potential that technology mediated SI holds for increasing language proficiency in this context. We argue that the data shows evidence of a shift from object-regulation towards increased self-regulation, in the genesis of language development.


Key words: Mediation; Strategic interaction; Technology; Sociocultural; Wiki

SILC event: Public Lecture by Greg Sholdt

30 11 2011

The following event is at an ELI partner institution, the SILC in Kumamoto, Japan:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 18:00-19:30

Professional Development through Collaborative Research- A Writing Fluency Project

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

Making the transition from teacher to teacher researcher can result in a range of classroom and career benefits; however, getting started in classroom-based research can be a bewildering endeavor when undertaken alone. In this presentation, I will introduce a unique project that aims to provide an opportunity for language teachers to independently replicate a quantitative research study on writing fluency in their own classrooms and do so concurrently with a team of other teacher researchers connected through an online discussion forum and resource center built with the popular Moodle platform. Teachers who join the project will discuss issues, raise questions, and share ideas about the research process while making use of online resources and receiving guidance through each step of the research process. The goals for the teachers include developing skills and knowledge in fundamentals of quantitative research, connecting with a community of EFL teacher researchers, producing a manuscript with potential for publication, and gaining experience with Moodle. I will provide an overview of the project, describe the structure and function of the Moodle site, and explain potential benefits and applications for this approach to professional development. The project will begin next January with data collection taking place in the Spring 2012 semester. Interested teachers will have the opportunity to ask questions and sign up after the presentation.


Gregory Sholdt teaches in the School of Languages and Communication at Kobe University. His interests include teacher development, classroom-based research methods, English for academic purposes, and fluency instruction. Based on his graduate studies and teaching of introductory statistics courses at the University of Hawaii, he has been exploring innovative approaches to professional development through classroom-based research. He has developed and given a number of professional development workshops and presentations throughout Japan, and created an online research methods course in 2009 for language teachers through MASH Collaboration. He currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the JALT Journal.


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:


SILC Contact number (December 7 only): 096 326-3850

Advising for language learner autonomy conference held at KUIS

14 11 2011

Kanda University of International Studies hosted the Advising for language learner autonomy: A Learner Autonomy SIG event last Saturday, November 12th. The conference focused on language advising. Conference convener Dr. Jo Mynard added, “As far as I know, there has not been an event dedicated to advising in eleven years, so the time was definitely right for this conference.”

Plenary speakers included University of Birmingham’s Lucy Cooker and Macquarie University’s Dr. Chris Candlin. Aside from the main speakers, there were eighteen presentations, one workshop, ten posters and ten virtual presenters, who beamed their talks in from remote locations around the world. Talks focused on the field of advising for language learner autonomy. Although most delegates were from Japan, others hailed from over ten countries. “Advising for language learner autonomy is quite a specialist and emerging strand of applied linguistics, so I was really happy that we managed to attract over one hundred delegates,” reflected Dr. Mynard. For those who could not attend, some information, including presentation slides are still available on the conference website. More photos from the event can be seen here.

Video: The SALC at 10 years

7 11 2011

The Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) at Kanda University of International Studies celebrates its 10th year of facilitating autonomous language learning in 2011. Watch interviews with SALC founder Lucy Cooker and current director Dr. Jo Mynard. More at: http://www.kandagaigo.ac.jp/kuis/salc/

Published: Blended learning spaces: synchronous blending

7 11 2011

ELI lecturers Lara Promnitz-Hayashi, Daniel Jenks, Joe Geluso, Joachim Castellano and former lecturers Dirk MacKenzie and Roman Delgado, have published an article in the April 2011 issue of JALTCALL Journal. Publication details are as follows:

MacKenzie, D., Promnitz-Hayashi, L., Jenks, D., Geluso, J., Delgado, R., & Castellano, J., & Hinkleman, D. (2011). Blended learning spaces: Synchronous Blending. JALTCALL Journal 7(1), 43-60.

Discussions of blended learning (BL) have generally failed to account for the synchronous combination of computer-mediated and face-to-face interactions that can occur within a blended learning space (BLS). This paper provides an overview of BLS use by a department of 51 teachers at a Japanese university specializing in foreign language learning. Data was collected via a teacher questionnaire (n=38, response rate=75%) and follow-up interviews. Compared to non-BLS lessons, BLS lessons had different lesson goals, different patterns of interaction, different types of homework, more variety of media, and more variety of input and output. BLS lessons also showed signs of increased learner autonomy and motivation.

IATEFL Conference at KUIS: Advising for Language Learner Autonomy

7 11 2011

Saturday November 12th (self-access tours available on Friday November 11th)

We look forward to welcoming visitors to KUIS this weekend for the IATEFL conference being hosted here. For more details, please see the event website http://advising2011.wordpress.com/








Published: Student Technology Use in a Self-Access Center

21 10 2011

ELI Lecturers Joachim Castellano and Troy Rubesch and ELI Assistant Director Jo Mynard have published an article in the October 2011 issue of Language Learning & Technology Journal. Publication details are as follows:

Castellano, J., Mynard, J., & Rubesch, T. (2011). Student technology use in a self-access center. Language Learning & Technology Journal, 15(3), 12-27.

Technology has played an increasingly vital role in self-access learning over the past twenty years or so, yet little research has been conducted into learners’ actual use of the technology both for self-directed learning and as part of everyday life. This paper describes an ongoing action research project at a self-access learning center (SALC) at a university in Japan. Previous research has mainly looked at resource availability in a self- access setting (see for example Lázaro & Reinders, 2007) or has evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of various technology tools (for example Ruiz-Madrid, 2006; Mynard, 2009). This paper presents an expansive view of technology-based language learning tools that includes materials design, support, and purchasing decisions. The paper shares findings of a qualitative research study involving a questionnaire and interviews with self- access center users. Concrete, corrective actions to remedy issues and improve language- learning opportunities for SALC users are reported. These include: raising awareness of the materials, improving formal and informal support, developing materials based on students’ patterns of use, and making more strategic purchasing decisions. Broader implications of the research are that technology deployment and support can be improved by focusing careful attention on the students served by a particular self-access center.