Teaching Foreign Languages: Diversity and Inclusion

With the 2018 JALT International Conference approaching, this Nara Chapter event explored the conference theme, Diversity and Inclusion, at a local level. There were two talks presented by three speakers.

In the first presentation, Akiko Mokhtari, a Japanese teacher of Chinese and English languages discussed her students’ diverse or different perspectives on both languages. To most of her students, Chinese is a new language and they have no fear of losing face by making mistakes or comparing their language performance with that of others. Simply put, it is fun to learn a new language, and a basic command of around 20 sentences of a new language takes learners into an adventure of the language, making them feel proud of their achievements and improvements. Therefore, the majority of Mokhtari’s students demonstrate their positive attitudes towards learning Chinese unlike those learning English, who exhibit their unwillingness or hesitation to communicate in English. Mokhtari interpreted the attribution of such differences as “Chinese = freshness” and “English = familiarity” because her students learned English for at least six years in secondary education. However, this “familiarity” can be diversified into other states such as “boredom,” “plateau,” and “convention.” As a Japanese teacher of English myself, this was a good opportunity to reflect on my own teaching. Mokhtari also discussed “native teachers” and “non-native teachers,” referring to advantages and disadvantages of both parties. Probably this dichotomy can alreday be antiquated in language teaching where the first speaker of a language is not necessarily the best teacher. Students’ learning needs, objectives, styles, and teachers’ teaching backgrounds, methodologies, practices – these are all diverse. Language teachers may need to adopt “diversity” in all respects and devote themselves to their services.

In the second presentation, Hiroko Shikata and Aki Matsunobu talked about their newly established NPO branch, SUPER OSAKA (教育支援協会大阪; Supporting Union for Practical-use of Educational Resources, Osaka). It was founded in November, 2017 as an NPO branch of Tokyo-based SUPER (教育支援協会). One of the main services that SUPER OSAKA provides is Hokago English. Hokago English is after-school English classes, where maximum 20 children from various backgrounds – including children from low income families, with learning difficulties, and with physical or mental disabilities – come and learn English in a supportive and inclusive environment in their local communities. Hokago English accepts any child except those who become physically violent towards other children. A video clip taken at one of their six teaching venues was shown. In the clip a pupil was lying on the floor away from the other pupils who were sitting on the floor and listening to the teacher. Matsunobu said, “We wait until children are ready to study with others. I don’t think those children apparently unfitted for learning in a group are troublesome. In a way, we all have something troublesome in ourselves.” Hokago English charges 2,200 yen for three 40-60 minute lessons a month. Most of the fee covers venue rental fees, study materials, and minimal pay to teachers with almost nothing left for SUPER OSAKA. Shikata said, “It would be impossible to run the class for free even though I understand some parents struggle to allocate the money for their children.” Shikata and Matsunobu strongly believe that any child should be given opportunity to learn and a place in their communities where they feel included. Lastly Shikata said, “We used to have old busybody-like adults in our neighborhood, but they always hoped for sound growth of children in their neighborhood. This is what we want to be.”

The event ended in a friendly and pleasant atmosphere. A photo of all the speakers and participants was taken as a usual ritual before leave-taking. This reunion with my chapter members and friends made me realize how fortunate I am in being a member of Nara Chapter.

Reviewed by Motoko Teraoka


「外国語を教える~ダイバーシティ&インクルージョン~」/ 年次総会(AGM)


日 時: 10月7日(日)

講演  13:00 ~ 15:15

AGM  15:30 ~ 16:20


場 所: やまと会館


会 費: JALT会員 無料 / 一般 1,000円



1/ モクタリ明子(大阪薬科大学・大阪外語専門学校)





2/ 志方浩子(教育支援協会大阪/SUPER OSAKA 代表理事)

松延亜紀(教育支援協会大阪/SUPER OSAKA 専務理事)



特定非営利法人 教育支援協会の認証を受け、2017年に設立された教育支援協会大阪は、





Teaching Foreign Languages: Diversity & Inclusion

Date:       October 7 (Sun)

Time:       13:00-15:15 (Teaching Foreign Languages: Diversity & Inclusion) 15:30-16:20 (AGM)

Venue:     Yamato Conference Hall


Akiko Mokhtari (Osaka University of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Osaka                      College of Foreign Languages)

Hiroko Shikata (SUPER OSAKA)

Aki Matsunobu (SUPER OSAKA)

Fee:             Free for JALT members, 1.000 yen for non-JALT members


With the 2018 JALT International Conference approaching, Nara JALT proudly announces this October event that will address the issues relating to the conference theme, Diversity and Inclusion. Akiko Mokhtari will discuss her students’ diversified learning attitudes that she recognized by teaching two foreign languages. Hiroko Shikata and Aki Matsunobu will talk about a newly established branch NPO where children feel included through learning English in their community. The presentations will be followed by the Annual General Meeting (AGM).




13:00                                Doors Open

13:10-14:00                     Akiko Mokhtari

14:10-15:00                     Hiroko Shikata and Aki Matsunobu

15:00-15:15                     Chapter Announcements

15:30-16:20                     AGM

(Each presentation includes a 10-munite Q & A session.)


Abstracts and Bios


Perspectives on Teaching English based on Teaching Two Different Languages

Akiko Mokhtari


Teaching English and Chinese, I encounter diversity in terms of students’ attitudes and effective teaching methods on a daily basis. Here, I focus on two main factors: “freshness vs familiarity” and “native teachers vs non-native teachers,” and talk about personal experiences of teaching two languages in order to seek a better and more effective way to conduct English classes as a Japanese teacher.


After finishing her Master in Linguistics, Akiko Mokhtari started her career as a researcher and a Chinese instructor. She earned her Ph.D in Linguistics at the Graduate School of Kobe University in 2008. Currently, she is teaching English at Osaka College of Foreign Languages and Chinese at Osaka University of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She also teaches English and American Literature as that was the main focus of her undergraduate major.


A Journey through starting a branch NPO for Local Children

Hiroko Shikata and Aki Matsunobu


SUPER OSAKA, Supporting Union for Practical-use of Educational Resources Osaka, (教育支援協会大阪) is a branch of Tokyo-based SUPER (教育支援協会) that is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of public education in Japan. The aim of the NPO is to develop educational resources and conduct educational research in order to encourage self-help efforts of homes and communities toward acquiring education and help to recover home-and-community educational powers that they used to have. SUPER OSAKA was established last year and has juridical personality that allows it to locally implement its own educational activities including Hokago English, after-school English class, where pupils from various backgrounds such as low-income families and with learning difficulties come and learn English for different reasons. These activities are not able to be carried out without the aid of local residents and supporters of the branch NPO. The goal of SUPER OSAKA is to provide opportunities to help to develop children’s own abilities and improve their self-esteem. In the presentation, the speakers will be talking about: the reasons why they started the branch NPO as well as their current activities and future plans; the roles and benefits of supporters of the branch NPO; and some related issues regarding the new course of the study of English in Japanese primary education.


Hiroko Shikata is the representative director of Supporting Union for Practical-use of Educational Resources Osaka, 教育支援協会大阪 (https://www.kyoikushien-o.com/). She has been teaching English to young learners for 17 years and is currently teaching at a public elementary school and at home. Before pursuing her career as a teacher of English she lived in Indonesia for three and half years where she realized English is a practical and useful communication tool and does not have to be perfect. She conveys this message to young learners of English.


Aki Matsunobu is a director of Supporting Union for Practical-use of Educational Resources Osaka, 教育支援協会大阪. She has been teaching English to young learners for over 20 years and has more than 10-year teaching experience at elementary schools. She completed her MA in English Education at Kyoto Kyoiku University in 2017. She is a member of a kaken project group under Professor Shien Sakai at Chiba University of Commerce and this group has recently published a book, 先生のための小学校英語の知恵袋, literally translated as Teachers’ Recipes for Teaching English at Primary School. She believes that small steps from local communities can create something big enough to support the national education itself.



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)