Nara JALT in collaboration with the JALT CEFR and Language Portfolio SIG present:

Getting to know the CEFR: An introduction to the Common European Framework of Reference

The next Nara JALT event is co-hosted by the JALT CEFR and Language Portfolio SIG and features two speakers: Jack Bower, a local chapter member now working at Tezukayama University, and Gary Cook from the Hiroshima Bukyo University.

Speakers:

Presentation 1: Jack Bower (Tezukayama University)

Suggestions and Resources for Using the CEFR in Language Education

Presentation 2: Gary Cook (Hiroshima Bunkyo University)

The CEFR Shuffle: Getting Familiar with Can-do Statements

Date: Saturday, December 7th, 2019

Time: 14:00-17:30

Venue: Nara Women’s University (S-Building, Room 228)

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/
Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

Presentation 1 (14:15~15:30): Jack Bower (Tezukayama University)

Suggestions and Resources for Using the CEFR in Language Education

The Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR) has become increasingly influential in foreign language education around the world. However, many language teachers remain unfamiliar with the CEFR and unsure of how it can be used to improve foreign language curricula and classroom practice. This presentation will give a brief overview of the CEFR followed by succinct explanations of four major uses the CEFR for language teachers. These uses are:

1. for setting language proficiency goals for programs, courses and lessons

2. for fostering learner autonomy

3. for designing classroom assessments

4. for language teacher professional development

For each of these areas practical suggestions will be made, and participants will be directed to further resources.

Biography: Jack Bower is an associate professor at the Tezukayama University general education centre. He has taught English at Japanese Universities for over ten years and he recently graduated with a PhD from Macquarie University. His research interests include curriculum development and language assessment. 

Presentation 2 (16:00~17:15): Gary Cook (Hiroshima Bunkyo University)

The CEFR Shuffle: Getting Familiar with Can-do Statements

Since 2012, staff at Hiroshima Bunkyo University have been involved in creating curricula with the CEFR as a guide for its language learning center; the Bunkyo English Communication Center (BECC). One aspect of the CEFR, Can Do statements, form the basis of goals incorporated into many of the 18 courses offered at the BECC. While staff had participated in CEFR-focused professional development, little had been done for students to raise their awareness of the CEFR. From 2017, 31 first-year students were introduced to an activity dubbed the ‘CEFR-shuffle’: a sorting exercise utilizing self-assessment descriptors. Those students were then asked to repeat the CEFR-shuffle once each year. This workshop will introduce the results of students’ performance from the ‘CEFR-shuffle’ over 3 years, and ask participants to take part in a descriptor-sorting exercise in which they can experience how useful this activity could be for themselves and their students to become familiarized with the CEFR.

Biography: Gary Cook has been a lecturer and coordinator at Hiroshima Bunkyo University since 2011. He has previous teaching experience in Spain, France, England, Georgia, and his native New Zealand. His research interests are in the areas of curriculum development and the CEFR. 

September Event Review: Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency

With the 2019 JALT International Conference approaching, Nara Chapter continued its exploration of the conference theme, Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency, at a local level from the perspective of both established and early-career educators.

In the first presentation, Robert Maran, Professor Emeritus at Osaka Shoin Women’s University, discussed an EFL program he had coordinated, focusing on his observation and interpretation of “learner agency” in program planning and “collective teacher efficacy” among the team of teachers. He first talked about the general outline of the coordinated EFL program and the subjects and students, and then briefly mentioned what “learner agency” and “teacher efficacy” are. In terms of the concept of teacher efficacy, Maran focused on “evidence of impact”, or the actual confirmation of how teachers have influenced students’ learning outcomes. Well, how can “evidence of impact” be measured? Can only test results show it? Is the creation of learning portfolios a better indication? Does students’ participation in communicative activities only during class hours verify it? Let’s face it, given the general characteristics of the students his team taught – non-English majors with no clear need for learning English – he concluded that if the students at least adopted a positive attitude towards learning English, it could be interpreted as “evidence of impact.” Maran also introduced a function of collective teacher efficacy: experiences = four sources of collective teacher efficacy (mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and affective statuses); and environment = six enabling conditions of collective teacher efficacy (advanced teacher influence, good consensus, cohesive staff, knowledge of one another’s work, responsiveness of leadership, and effective systems of intervention). He then analyzed the coordinated EFL program based on all the ten components. The employment situations of team teachers – whether they teach full-time or part-time – would affect the process of promoting collective teacher efficacy in EFL programs, since team teachers need to pursue shared educational goals and work together as one interdependent unit. Under prominent team leaders, well-coordinated EFL programs would have considerable potential for developing learner agency. Teacher efficacy and learner agency intertwine closely and cannot be separated.

In the second presentation, Sayaka Ishimizu, Associate Professor at the National Institute of Technology (Kosen), Nara College, talked about a teaching approach using a study tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method (BuJo). BuJo is a journaling method of tasks, events, and notes on a daily basis, which is an analog system for the digital age. After knowing how little time her students had spent on self-study outside class hours and how poorly they had organized their everyday class requirements and tasks, Ishimizu introduced in April, 2019 the study tracker system that encourages approximately 200 students in a one-year English course to keep a log of their everyday self-study hours on monthly study track sheets. The monthly study track sheet has four self-study areas that the students need to be engaged in and keep time records of: vocabulary build-up, assignments, class-content review, and class-content preparation. There is also space for “tasks” on the sheet where the students need to fill in the title of tasks when assigned specific tasks to carry out. Their daily records were added up and converted into weekly records. A preliminary survey highlighted that there was an increase in self-study hours compared with a year earlier among 150 out of 200 of the students who had reported their self-study hours at the end of this spring semester. By keeping records and revisiting their study trackers, the students were also able to observe their time allocation for each self-study area and amend it to improve their grades. It could be controversial whether those records self-reported by students are accurate and trustworthy, however, her focus appeared on the process of students’ self-engagement in keeping study records and forming a good study habit, rather than on an increase in their study hours. Ishimizu is herself a practitioner of BuJo and a witness to its effectiveness in empowering her time and energy. It would be interesting to know the complete results and observation of her study tracker project and how “evidence of impact” can be interpreted in her study.

I was honored to invite as presenters to this September event two active members of Nara Chapter: Robert Maran, my respected mentor, and Sayaka Ishimizu, a former colleague and close friend. Both presentations were well received and obtained positive feedback. It was a good opportunity to explore the conference theme, Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency, just before the 4CT event in October and the JALT international conference in November. I hope this September event served as a booster for JALT 2019 from our local chapter.

Reviewed by Motoko Teraoka

Nara JALT presents: Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency

Nara JALT continues its exploration of the 2019 JALT International Conference theme with this September event focusing on “Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency” at the local level and from the perspective of both established and early-career educators.

Speakers:

Presentation 1: Robert Maran (Osaka Shoin Women’s University)

Promoting Collective Teacher Efficacy and Learner Agency in an EFL program

Presentation 2: Sayaka Ishimizu (National Institute of Technology, Nara College)

Forming a Study Habit through a Study Tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method

Date: Sunday, September 8, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue: Nara Women’s University

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

https://goo.gl/maps/g7xPwDM4sa3BorGVA

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

Presentation 1

Promoting Collective Teacher Efficacy and Learner Agency in an EFL program

Robert Maran: Osaka Shoin Women’s University

This presentation, while citing key background events that affected the required EFL program at the former Osaka Shoin Women’s Junior College and at the current Osaka Shoin Women’s University, will introduce some of the key changes, tweaks and innovations that were made to the required EFL program in successive attempts to promote collective teacher efficacyand learner agency. These include such elements as curriculum design rationale, classroom management, teacher management, teaching methodology, common syllabi/ teaching materials, proficiency testing, and e-learning. The presentation will introduce and discuss these chronologically as they appeared in the program, citing the pluses and minuses, successes and failures. It is hoped that participants will get a sense of the challenges an institution faces when attempting to implement and maintain collective teacher efficacyand learner agency, as well as perhaps taking away some ideas that they may incorporate or adapt to their own EFL programs.

Robert Maran’s Bio:

Robert Maran retired in 2019 and was made Professor Emeritus and a Study Abroad Advisor at Osaka Shoin Women’s University. He has been teaching in the Japanese university system for more than 35 years. His main research interests while focusing on Study Abroad and e-learning have also included curriculum development.

Presentation 2

Forming a Study Habit through a Study Tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method

Sayaka Ishimizu: National Institute of Technology (Kosen), Nara College

This presentation will introduce a teaching approach using a study tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method (BJM) developed by Ryder Carroll. The BJM provides a way of mental inventory that leads to “intentionality.” Simply put, keeping a journal of everyday life gives you opportunity to visit “your belief = why” behind “your action = what” by tracking the past, ordering the present and designing the future. The presenter, a practitioner of the BJM, modified this method as a study tracker for approximately 200 students of hers in a one-year English course and implemented this study tracker system this academic year. The aim of the study trackeris to help students form a study habit in a more organized, observable, and autonomous way in hope of encouraging learner agency. The students have kept a log of the number of hours they studied on monthly study track sheets, and by doing this they have tracked their own study habits. At the beginning and in the middle of the course, listening and reading tests were administered to the students to monitor their comprehension abilities. At the same time, questionnaires were distributed to have the students self-evaluate their four English skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). The preliminary results of the tests and surveys, and the possibility of further modification of the study tracker for the latter half of the course will be discussed in this presentation.

Sayaka Ishimizu’s Bio:

Sayaka Ishimizu is an associate professor at National Institute of Technology (Kosen), Nara College, and has a master’s degree in education from Nara University of Education. Her research interests include listening pedagogy and teacher training.

Teaching Young Learners: English for Elementary School Education

Sunday, June 23, 2019

This event will provide participants with practical teaching ideas for Foreign Language Activities for 3rdand 4thgraders, and English as an Official Subject for 5thand 6thgraders, officially starting from 2020 academic year. With the speakers who are teaching English at elementary schools, we would like to discuss and better ways to teach English effectively in elementary school education. We hope this event will help to gain a deeper insight into professional development for teachers teaching English in elementary schools.

Speakers:

Presentation 1. Julie Rhodes (Kawai Town Board of Education) & Masayuki Takano (Nara Prefectural Tomigaoka High School) 

Presentation 2: Wakana Chihara (Kori Nevers Elementary School, Osaka)

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue: Nara Women’s University

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

https://goo.gl/maps/g7xPwDM4sa3BorGVA

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

Presentation1: 

English has become the lingua franca of many aspects of modern life. From the macro—international diplomacy, scientific literature, technology, business—to the micro—international friendships, and personal travel. Children now live in a more internationally connected world, and English is an increasingly important subject in Japanese schools at all levels.  However, since the introduction of English as a main subject for elementary schools, there have been many questions about how to approach teaching it. Many home room teachers (HRT) are English language learners themselves, with little to no English teaching training. Understandably, many HRTs have anxieties about how to teach a challenging subject they are generally inexperienced with.  Through this presentation, we will address some of these concerns and give teachers of all levels practical strategies for teaching English actively and communicatively, as well as ways to give students more learning autonomy. Ultimately, we hope to illustrate how giving students more agency can lead to increased engagement, and a more effective English classroom that meets the needs of a globalized generation.

Presentation2: 

Phonics has been taught to children who are learning how to read and write in English. Learning phonics helps children to connect a letter or letters to a specific sound which leads to individual reading and writing. In phonics, there is a synthetic approach that teaches the isolated phonemes (sounds) first, and the phonemes are blended together (synthesized) allowing children to read on their own.

Jolly Phonics is a synthetic phonics approach which has a multi-sensory method which is fun for the children and for the teachers themselves. In this presentation, participants will be able to experience the Jolly Phonics method.

Biography:

During her years as an English teacher to both America immigrants and Japanese primary and secondary school students, Julie Rhodes has developed a passion for student-centered teaching methods.  She is perusing study in communicative language teaching for ESL and EFL learners, as well as literacy intervention for native English speakers. She currently lives in Nara prefecture, where she teaches at the preschool, elementary school, and junior high school levels. 

After finishing his Master’s in TESOL, Masayuki Takano is currently teaching English to high school students in Nara Prefecture. His academic interests includes  teaching pedagogical grammar for communicative competence and professional development of language educators.  He also taught Japanese for a year in University of Guanajuato in central Mexico. 

Biography:

Having grown up in Puerto Rico and the US, Wakana Chihara has always had an interest in bilingualism. After working in public elementary schools in Hirakata City as a JTE, she is currently teaching English to elementary school students in a private school in Neyagawa City.

Teaching Young Learners: English for Elementary School Education

Sunday, June 23, 2019

This event will provide participants with practical teaching ideas for Foreign Language Activities for 3rdand 4thgraders, and English as an Official Subject for 5thand 6thgraders, officially starting from 2020 academic year. With the speakers who are teaching English at elementary schools, we would like to discuss and better ways to teach English effectively in elementary school education. We hope this event will help to gain a deeper insight into professional development for teachers teaching English in elementary schools.

The abstracts of the presentations and biographies of the speakers will be updated soon. 

Speakers:

1. Wakana Chihara (Seiwa Gakuen, Kyoto)

2: Julie Rhodes (Kawai Town Board of Education) & Masayuki Takano (Nara Prefectural Tomigaoka High School) 

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue: Nara Women’s University

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

https://goo.gl/maps/g7xPwDM4sa3BorGVA

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.