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Teachers Helping Teachers : Laos and Japan - Creating Meaningful Cross-Cultural Discourses

Osaka Chapter

Date and Time: 
Saturday, 24 January 2015 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Chris Ruddenklau (Kinki University)

The Lao People`s Democratic Republic, one of the worlds poorest countries in terms of GDP per capita, is rich in terms of natural resources and in the hearts and the culture of its people. Since 2010, Chris Ruddenklau has coordinated a program of short-term visits to Laos by English language teachers from Japan and other countries. By March 2015 over 100 teachers will have visited Laos. The program aims to create dialogues between Lao teachers and teachers from abroad so that they can work together within a framework of valuing each others’ strengths and so they can mutually reflect on each others teaching practice. The heart of this program rests in being able to establish meaningful cross-cultural discourses between the teachers. The program has created a great deal of interest both here in Japan and in Laos.

The first part of this workshop will examine general trends in Lao society and education before looking at the current Lao program. In the second half we will explore some of the actual difficulties both visiting teachers and Lao teachers have faced in order to create discourses which are meaningful and of value to both parties. The workshop will explore these difficulties by looking at a variety of interpersonal challenges that participants have had. What we may perceive as common sense thoughts and actions may not be common sense to others. Questions about how the program can effectively develop in the future will be asked and by addressing these, participants will be directly contributing to the development of this worthwhile and exciting program.

Chris Ruddenklau teaches at Kinki University and is a long-time member of Osaka JALT. He established the Lao program in 2010 through JALT's Teachers Helping Teachers (THT) SIG , and as the Lao Program Coordinator he has worked with various Lao universities and secondary schools to allow teachers from Japan to get involved with teacher training as well as working directly in classrooms. He is a Committee member of Lao TESOL, and is the Program Chair of the Pragmatics SIG of JALT.

This event is co-sponsored by Kansai Sietar.

Nishinomiya Daigaku Koryu Center (ACTA East Tower 6F, Seminar Room) , 2 min walk from NishinomiyaKitaguchi, Hankyu railway
Fee for JALT members: 
Free for JALT & Sietar members and students
Fee for one-day members: 
500 yen
Contact or Queries: 
Email contact form

Content-based second language instruction and the effects of instructional interventions

Date: December 16, 2014


Place: Kansai University, Senriyama Campus, Shobunkan 502


Speaker: Dr. Roy Lyster (McGill University)



Content-based approaches involve the teaching of non-linguistic curricular content such as geography or science to students through the medium of a language that they are learning as an additional language. Content-based approaches are known as effective and motivating ways to develop higher levels of communicative ability than more traditional grammar-based approaches. Whereas traditional methods focus on the mechanical workings of the languge itself, content-based instruction enriches classroom discourse in a way that provides both a cognitive basis for language learning and a motivational basis for purposeful communication. Content-based instruction, however, does not preclude language instruction and instead needs to promote its integration through a counterbalanced approach that encourages shifts in learners' attentional focus between language and content.

This talk will explore counterbalanced instruction as a dynamic interplay between form-oriented and meaning-oriented approaches to foreign language teaching. At one end of the spectrum -- in classrooms that are predominantly content-driven, counterbalanced instruction serves to shift students' attention toward language, because learners in contexts such as immersion are known to bypass much of the target language grammar as they process discourse through schematic and contextual rather than linguistic knowledge. At the other end of the spectrum -- in classrooms that are predominantly language-driven, counterbalanced instruction is designed to reorient learner's attention toward content in order to enhanve their communicative abilities while averting an overemphasis on form. This talk will draw on classroom-based research to illustrate the feasibility and effectiveness of counterbalanced instruction at both ends of the spectrum.



Roy Lyster is Professor of Second Language Education in the Department of Integrated Studies Education at McGill University in Canada. He has a PhD as well as a B.Ed. and M.Ed. from the University of Toronto and an MA from the Université de Paris VII. His research examines content-based second/foreign language instruction and the effects of instructional interventions designed to counterbalance form-focused and content-based approaches. He serves on the Advisory Committees of Studies in Second Language Acquisition and The Canadian Modern Language Review and on the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education and Language Teaching Research. He is author of Learning and Teaching Languages Through Content: A Counterbalanced Approach, published by Benjamins in 2007.