Whose Cared A Lesson In? excitELT Tokyo 2018 hangout summary

Well, hello. This is a summary of my hangout at excitELT 2018 at Rikkyo University’s Ikebukuro Campus. It was really good fun and the best thing was just nattering to people I know from Twitter and meeting new people!Boom-Box@High

My slides are here, but because it was a ‘hangout’, there was audience participation, and this is what I am going to put in this post.

What’s missing from materials for listening?

Michael Griffin

  • A range of speakers: kids, seniors, non-native speakers.
  • A variety of subjects, especially interesting/useful subjects.

Matt Shannon

  • Natural language, especially at a low enough level for junior high and high school students.
  • Clear intonation patterns.

What are some activities we could use to teach/practice bottom-up listening?

Matt Shannon

  • Spelling bee.

There was also the discussion that listening can be taught with a reactive focus on something students have found difficult rather than “something pulled out of your arse” (Jones, 2018)¹.

Also, it was discussed, especially with Matt Shannon and Ruthie Iida, that some teachers in Japan are teaching English using kana, thus making it ‘easier’ for students to pronounce words, though this might render them less intelligible than if they were taught standard pronunciation of, especially vowels such as /ɜː/, /ɔː/ and /ʌ/ which can be important for contrasts, which might make the differences between Japanese and English phonological categories clearer. I said also my dream would be having enough time on the curriculum for children to be taught pronunciation using the IPA without stressing parents, teachers and kids that they can’t pick it up. However, I’ve changed my mind about this, and teaching absolute beginners without orthography might be a good idea based upon Mathieu (2016), until there is a critical mass of vocabulary or evidence of contrastive phonemes having been learned.

Comments, are more than welcome.

References

Jones, M. (2018) Whose Cared A Lesson In. (‘Hangout’ Presentation) excitELT Tokyo, May 6th 2018.

Mathieu, L. (2016) The influence of foreign scripts on the acquisition of a second language phonological contrast. Second Language Research, 32(2) 145–170. DOI: 10.1177/0267658315601882 (Open access)

Footnotes

1. I said, “I could mince my words, but I don’t think I will.” Listening and pronunciation can make you angry, I tell you.

Here be (Dungeons and) Dragons 8

We’re almost near the end of the first term of my RPG classes and I’m already looking forward to the summative assessment. This is because the students at Ladies’ College of Suburban Tokyo are amazingly motivated for the most part and because the students at University of Outside Tokyo are repeaters who had to retake English Communication, and have shown a great deal of motivation, too, or at least the students who come regularly. My supervising professor at UOT has told me that if one third of the students pass, then that ought to be seen as a success. As it stands, we should be on for 4 definites, 5 probables and 3 unlikelies. At LCST, all the students should pass because everyone does the work, even if it is not always amazing it is always done.
I managed to ask some of the students at UOT the other day if they actually like the course as a game and they said yes. (Of course, they did. They won’t tell you it’s crap because you grade them, Marc.)

What negatives I did get were that one student said he didn’t like recording himself because it was a pain in the arse; however, this student also finds attendance a pain in the arse, too. My most regular attendee said recordings were difficult to manage. This is why I told him to make sure he kept a copy and also sent a copy to me.

Anyway, long story short: still loving it, waiting to see portfolios, deal with the recordings.

I am also giving a workshop on this at JALT Saitama’s Nakasendo conference on Sunday. I have presented before but never run a workshop for more than six teachers at once before. If you read this say hello!

Read Here be (Dungeons and) Dragons previous ‘chapters’: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Japanese New Year – free lesson ‘plan’

This is entirely user-generated content. You don’t even need to print out the sheet or give out the prompt cards. It’s basically a Task-Based lesson stewed in a Dogme-heavy sauce.

You have the learners explain and give mini presentations on different aspects of New Year. If you have international students, this will really help the others in their group as they will probably have tons of questions. They could also give differences and similarities between New Year in their countries and in Japan. Feel free to change it up, pass it on, etc. It is Creative Commons licensed.

There is a load of repetition so good chances for Task rehearsal and the tasks should be more fluent by the end. Find the sheet as a PPT and PDF in my Google Drive folder.

Status Update/MEES Michinohe.

OK, so in the last week, this blog has massively increased it’s readership (great thanks to all who shared the post on Coursebooks).

Aomori

I gave my presentation at MEES Michinoku at Hachinohe Gakuin University and found it wasn’t as contentious as I thought it might have been. I have no scars from things being thrown at me. I also got the chance to meet a lot of cool people and I saw some interesting presentations with practical application to my classroom practice. Of particular note was John Campbell-Larsen’s plenary about discourse/conversation analysis and corpus findings about common speech and conversation. There was two particularly fascinating sections on backchannelling and evaluating in conversations that have helped my students in the last few days.

The slides from my presentation are here if you want to have a look at them, and there may be even a YouTube later so you can see just how nervous I felt!

In the meantime, I’ve had loads of back and forth on Twitter/blog comments with Rose Bard and Glenys Hanson, both of whom I wholeheartedly recommend!