Event Review: Nara JALT June Event: Debate and Discussion for Secondary School Education

Reviewed by Masayuki Takano

The June event hosted by the Nara Chapter on June 17th, 2018 featured five speakers presenting overviews of their work introducing debate and discussion English learning activities to secondary school students.

In the first presentation, Rachel Stuart explained how she had been developing her teaching debate curriculum for second-year high school students such as developing strategies for debate. She also talked about positive and negative aspects of different forms of debate among students (e.g., a debate between one on one, students in pairs, or in groups etc). In the second half of the presentation, Angela Wren then shared about how the curriculum had evolved to suit small-group classes. The goal of the lessons is to encourage students to express their opinions using commonly used expressions.

As a second presentation, Kazuhiro Iguchi and Ritsuko Rita shared their teaching practice of implementing debate and discussion skills in their academic writing course. Although the aim of the course was students acquire the ability to write a five paragraph essay, they placed importance on integrating the four skills based on principals and the four strands by Nation (2009). That is, a well-balanced language class should consist of learning through meaning-focused input and output, deliberate attention to language items, and developing fluency. For instance, while Kazuhiro and Ritsuko had students work on grammar focused drills in the classroom, their students also had to write a lot in order to develop their fluency in writing. They also shared a debate worksheet to improve their speaking and writing skills.

As the last presentation, M. Ohdai shared her classroom experience in the junior high school context. The curriculum is built around choosing a location for the annual school trip, and students were split into groups to research on locations that they would like to visit for the annual school trip. Students were split into teams and were tasked to prepare poster presentations on their proposals for the school trip. The posters provided an anchor for students to prepare talking points for the subsequent debate session.

Finally, lively discussion session between the speakers and participants was held. We discussed how much we should have focused on specific language features, how to effectively implement “rebuttal” in actual debate, which could be quite challenging for secondary level students.


JALT奈良支部6月開催イベント 中等教育におけるディスカッション及びディベート活動

日 時: 6月17日(日) 10:00~12:30

場 所: やまと会議室

会 費: JALT会員‐無料/一般‐1,000円















講演者:アンジェラ レン





講演者:レイチェル スチュアート











講演者:井口 和弘






講演者: マリー オオダイ(東大寺学園中学校)

Discussion and Debate for Secondary School Education

Speakers:   1. Angela Wren (I WILL English School) & Rachel Stuart (Nara Prefectural                                                             Horyuji Kokusai High School)

  1. Kazuhiro Iguchi (Kansai Soka High School)
  2. M. Ohdai (Todaiji Gakuen Junior High School)

Date:       Sunday June 17, 2018 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Venue:      Yamato Conference Hall (やまと会議室)

Fee:        Free for JALT Members; 1,000 yen for non-JALT Members


Debate and discussion activities are said to be effective activities that allow students to practice English speaking skills. Debate and discussion activities are also considered to be an important part of English classes in Japanese secondary schools; this is especially since MEXT has been placing emphasis on both activities in order to encourage students to increase their language output. However, practicing these communicative activities can be challenging for teachers for various reasons, such as a large class size, time constraints, lack of student motivation, and pressure to prepare for high school / university entrance exams.

During this event, four language educators from different teaching backgrounds will be sharing about their teaching practice in debate and discussion activities. These speakers will talk about both the benefits and challenges of putting into practice debate and discussion activities in their own teaching context in junior and senior high schools.


Presentation1: Debate for Beginners

We all know debate and self-expression are important skills for fluent English speaking, but these skills aren’t always easy to teach in a typical Japanese EFL class, and especially to younger learners. This presentation will give a glimpse into how teaching debate can be approached at the SHS, JHS, and even ES level. We will discuss why debate should be taught and how teachers in all contexts can teach debate with materials they already have and resources readily available to them. Ideas for interactive games and critical thinking tasks will also be shared.


Angela Wren has lived, worked and taught in Japanese, German, and English-speaking environments. With a Master of Teaching from the University of Melbourne, Australia, experience teaching German Language and English Literature as a high school teacher, and business experience with Lufthansa German Airlines, she hopes to share and expand her professional knowledge throughout her career.


Rachel Stuart, having more than a decade of experience in intercultural relations with Japan, is very passionate about language teaching in the Japanese EFL context. As an undergraduate, she majored in Applied Linguistics and is currently pursuing a Masters in TESOL. She has been working at Nara Prefectural Horyuji Kokusai Senior High School as a full-time JET ALT for four years, where she has continued to challenge herself, taking any opportunity she can to test and develop her skills as an English teacher and exchange ideas with others.


Presentation 2: Activating Four Skills to Foster One Ability

The dimensions of learning a language cannot simply be divided into the mastery of four skills. Language ability requires a complex process in which a multitude of skills need to be interconnected and simultaneously active. As I child, I was taught how to play the piano by learning how to play with my left and right hand separately. Although I acquired the ability to play with each hand separately, I could not play with both hands together. Although language and music are of different context, the approach to learn a language by separating each skill of reading, listening, speaking and writing has resulted in a similar outcome in which L2 learners struggle to demonstrate their ability to use the language. Through this presentation a high school L2 writing class will be shared to demonstrate how the four skills helped learners acquire the ability of writing a 5 paragraph essay.


After finishing his Master’s in TESOL, Kazuhiro Iguchi teaches at a private high school in Osaka. His academic interests are comparative education and educational philosophy. Previous to his current job, he has also worked as an interpreter and translator.


Presentation3: “Beginning Debate in Junior High School”

  1. Ohdai (Todaiji Gakuen Junior High School)

JALT PanSIG 2018—A Conference Review

Review by Angela Wren

The diversity of the presentations (25 mins), poster presentations (55 mins), SIG forums (85 mins), and plenary conversations (55 mins) at this year’s conference was refreshing.

 “PanSIG is not just for university educators; it is also for eikaiwa teachers, ALTs, and public school teachers” – Conference Chair Jennie Roloff Rothmon

For educators of younger learners

Everyone is interested in what the future of English education looks like in Japan. The audience for Alison Nemoto’s popular Getting Ready for 2020 presentation included a games developer, a parent, university lecturers, elementary teachers and teacher trainers. Highlights of the new MEXT ES textbooks are that they are child-centered and focus on communicative language. It is hoped that the extra hours for English learning will provide more chances for student interaction,presentations, and more English input beyond the expected student output.

For teachers in any context

In The Role of Working and Short-Term Memory in L2 LearningPeter Wanner discussed how to keep students’ working memory free to focus wholly on language by breaking tasks into small steps, avoiding redundancy in excessive teacher talk and using memory aids such as checklists. In Steve Paton’s engaging talk Eliciting Student Answers: Finding what it takeshe shared practical ways to make teacher and student interaction “normal, friendly human communication.”

Using humour and cartoons to disarm reluctant speakers, he showed how he has students think about, “why are they here?” and learn to speak English by doing it!

For textbook or course designers

Two research presentations that took an analytical look at textbooks were Cameron Romney’s The Purpose of Images in ELT Textbooks Revisited and Chie Kawashima’s Speech Acts Presented in Japanese EFL Textbooks. The identification of the role of images in textbooks, and the evaluation of grammatical forms used in common speech acts were useful for those interested in choosing or creating course materials, rather than being directly related to teaching skills.

For task designers

Task and curriculum design is my pet interest, so I may be biased when I nominate this presentation as having the most original ideas and fresh content of the weekend. Stephen Case’s Incorporating the Best Practices of Game Design into Task Design went into depth on how the ideas from video and board games can be put into analogue format for classroom use. He broke down the concepts behind successful game design, and gave examples as well as some extensions to familiar tasks. We left inspired by new ideas and ways to use the concepts in our own “engaging, motivating and educational” task design.

Alec Lapidus’s Multiliteracies: Comics and Sociocultural Theory was another presentation which focused on practical teaching ideas and the theory behind why it works. His use of comics to fill in the gaps of knowledge, both culturalandlinguistic, of newly-arrived refugee students in an ESL context, could also be adapted to the Japanese EFL context. He demonstrated how to use comics in diverse ways such as visually expressing new grammar points or exploring social issues with lower language level students.

For educators exploring alternative career pathways and language school owners

The Lifelong Language Learning SIG’s Career Design in the Lives of Teachers forum from Gregory Strong, Charles Browne, Joseph Dias and Blair Thomson covered topics as wide reaching as building a portfolio career, wealth accumulation, achievements through volunteering and long term financial planning.

Grant Osterman’s School Ownership: The Unbiased Reality and John Gayed’s Driving Traffic to Your School via Google were both helpfulpresentationsfor anyone considering whether starting a private language school is feasible and desirable in their situation.

For educators with an abundance of energy

The Speech, Drama and Debate SIG Forumfeaturing speakers Gordon Rees, Jason White, Vivian Bussinguer-Khavari, Chris Parham, Cynthia Gonzales, Rachel Stuart and Angela Wren, included drama activities which got us all moving, a different take on drama using radio plays, a debate curriculum, and debate skills for SHS, JHS and even ES students. Despite it being the last time slot of the day, it was a popular forum with a decidedly Kansai presence, full of ideas, energy, enthusiasm and creativity.

The onsite JALT and student volunteers, and of course the behind-the-scenes planning volunteers, did a great job putting on an event packed with ideas for all educators. The presenters and participants of this year’s JALT PanSIG Conference were knowledgeable and welcoming, and made the event worthwhile. With thanks to all involved for another successful conference.

Sexual Harassment: From Two Vantage Points cosponsored by SIETAR Kansai, Nara JALT, Osaka JALT, Kyoto JALT, and GALE SIG

Robert O’Mochain explained the currently observed sensitivity toward sexual harassment by introducing phrases such as, “Political correctness gone mad!,” “How dare he mansplain to a woman about gender issues!” However, the reality is that sexual harassment exists everywhere, particularly in the workplace. O’Mochain introduced a survey on the workplace sexual harassment carried out by the Japanese Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry in 2016. According to the survey, 30% of respondents in full and part-time employment reported that they had been sexually harassed at work. I assume that the figure would have risen further if unreported and marginalized cases had been included. A photograph of a “Watch out for gropers! ちかんにご注意!” sign that O’Mochain took pathetically shows “masculinity culture” is spreading wide even on public transport in Japan. Fiona Creaser talked about the Springboard Women’s Work and Personal Development Program, which was developed in Durham University in the UK. The aim of the program is to empower women to create their own networks of power and safety, and it has been running for over 28 years in 45 countries. Creaser took the initiative in introducing the program into Japan with the funding from the University of Kitakyushu and translated the workbook that has been used in the program. She revealed that how difficult it was to translate the English version into Japanese with consideration for linguistic and cultural difficulties and also revealed that how difficult it is for women to actually participate in the Springboard program, four one-day workshops over three months. A Japanese participant in it had a hard time procuring child care due to a lack of her husband’s understanding about the program. The empowerment of women cannot be achieved without men’s active engagement.

Reviewed by Motoko Teraoka

Nara JALT June Event Call for Presenters

Nara JALT is planning to hold a chapter event in June under the theme of “Debate and Discussion in Second Language Education”, and is seeking a presenter who can talk on this topic from a university context. Here are the details of the event:

Date: Sunday, June 17th, 10:00-12:30

Location: Yamato Conference Hall

Venue Address: 大和ビル 〒630-8213 Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Noboriōjichō
Nara-shiNara, 6318213 Japan 
Anyone who is interested in presenting at the event, please contact Masayuki Takano, a Nara JALT officer in charge of the event (takanomasayuki8@gmail.com), by April 22nd.


April 2018 Joint meeting SIETAR Kansai and JALT Osaka, Kyoto and Nara GALE SIG (Gender Awareness in Language Education)

Nara JALT is pleased to announce a joint April event of SIETAR.

 Sexual Harassment: From Two Vantage Points

Speakers:             Dr. Robert O’Mochain, Ritsumeikan University

Dr. Fiona Creaser, Kitakyushu University

Date:                   Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time:                   15:00-18:00

Venue:                 Takatsuki Shiritsu Sogo Shimin Koryu Center

(one minute from JR Takatsuki Station) Tel. 0726-85-3721


Fee:                     Free for members and students; 500 yen for non-members

Language:           English

Social event:   We will have a meal after the session at a nearby restaurant.

Reservations are required by Thurs., April 19.

Contact fujimotodonna@gmail.com

JALT 奈良支部 「円卓会議”マイシェア”」





日 時: 4月8日(日) 10:00~12:00

場 所: やまと会議室

参加料: 会員無料 ゲスト歓迎







My Share Roundtable Discussion Event

Date: April 8th (Sunday)

Time: 10:00 – 12:00

Venue: Yamato Conference Hall (やまと会議室), Nara City

Cost: Free for all members. Guests welcome.

Spring is a time for fresh ideas and inspiration. Join the Nara JALT team at
this year’s Myshare Roundtable Event. This is a chance for you to share
your favorite activities, introduce your current/past research project, or
walk us through the ups and/or downs of the last academic year.

This event will be followed by Picnic in Nara Park. Meet up with old
friends and make some new ones (deers!).
Nara Jalt looks forward to seeing you.

Please get in contact with Nara Jalt (narajalt@gmail.com) if you are interested in sharing some of your experiences at this event.


Are you listening? Responding to the challenges of diversity

Mehran, who, along with another Iranian speaker, had mesmerized the Nara Chapter audience with their talk about the beauty of Iran a year before, shared with the audience this year her realities of harassment around gender and nationality. Her personal accounts of the “microaggression” she experienced since she left her country revealed how people, in general, are ignorant of others and stuck into stereotyped ways of judging others. This would lead to irrational fear, anger, insult or even pity toward others. The painful path she had to go through has made her an activist and change-agent, serving as a wake-up call to all of us in the fight against macro and microaggressions. Yokota warned us that we could easily become both victims and offenders of any sort of harassment and misconduct. She emphasized how dangerously a snowball effect can happen and how important it is to deal with the initial stage of a potential incident. The audience also had a chance to look at and discuss the recently implemented JALT Code of Conduct <https://jalt.org/main/jalt-code-conduct&gt;. We all agreed that the JALT Code of Conduct should be a prototype of our professional behavior toward any human rights issues and thus permeate us. The following end-of-year dinner party further strengthened our bonds of friendship and made us look forward to another exciting year for the chapter.