Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Reflections on the monthly meeting: Dec. 13, 2014

First of all, I'd like to congratulate Ms. Fukushima (right) on her role leading the meeting at KGU on December 13th, 2014. For a teacher in training, it took a lot of courage to do so in English, an additional language for her. I have no doubt that as she gains public speaking experience of that sort she will need to rely less and less upon prepared scripts.

Three other main speakers rounded out the schedule.

Ms. Nishioka (left) took over for a classroom teaching practices presentation (CPS). She stood in for Ms. Nagai, who had other responsibilities on Saturday the 13th, and introduced a number of activities including guided speaking practice. Though those speaking activities seemed well worth the time that they would take to prepare for and carry out in schools, I gave the handout to another teacher. So what I remember is a bit thin. I hope others reflecting on the meeting will add details either in in comments on this post or in new posts.

For the grammar awareness series (GAS), Mr. Sugawara (left) shared with us various context-specific examples of English expressions. Many of those used or contrasted with the present tense. For example, he invited us to try explaining how to prepare familiar dishes. That seemed like a great way to connect English language knowledge and skill development to another part of the curriculum, namely home economics. However, that activity was challenging without background knowledge of (or time to look up) what to call various foods or how to explain various food preparation techniques. It could be all the more challenging for young people today (perhaps young men in particular) who may lack both background knowledge and home-cooking role models. 

On the English through English (ETE) front, Ms. Takata (left) brought to our attention a working paper on teaching English through English (Hayase, 2009). Findings of her brief survey of teachers at the meeting seemed to match data in the paper from English teachers in secondary schools several years ago (pp. 111-112). It was interesting to note Hayase's suggestion of need for "drastic change" before 2013 (p. 113). Yet that sort of change sounded unlikely in light of notes and opinions about both a lack of English-speaking Japanese role models at universities, and greater concerns about efficient content transmission or instruction than about basic language skill development (pp. 114-116). 

A practical approach seems to be to concentrate on slow, steady and sustainable changes in teaching at all stages of English education–including universities. This sort of approach seems to resonate in the on-going practices of this wonderful teacher development group founded and guided by Prof. Takaki (right), the next meeting of which will be January 10th, 2015.


Hayase, Mitsuaki. (2009). Teaching English through English (TETE). Philologia, 40, 111-126. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10076/10596

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Ms. Nishioka and Prof. Tomei for their advice on draft versions of this post!


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