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Glimpses of Unfamiliar Iran: History, Education, Language, and More

Sunday, January 31, 2016, 2:00 - 5:00pm

Presenters: Parisa Mehran and Mehrasa Alizadeh

This event is co-sponsored by Kansai SIETAR, and aims to shed light on several facets of Iran in a similar way that Lafcadio Hearn's classic Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, first published in 1894, did for Japan to Westerners. Our time will be divided as follows:

A Brief History of Iran: Language, Culture, and Education
This talk will give a brief overview of the history of Iran (also known as Persia), including various aspects of Iranian culture such as the Persian language and literature, cuisine, and religions. In addition, the history of foreign language education in Iran will be discussed within its greater educational context.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Iran: Challenges and Solutions
TEFL programs in Iran have been offered for over two decades. However, the quality of these programs has rarely been addressed. Considering PhD programs, service quality is of enormous significance since candidates get prepared for their future careers as prospective faculty members. Based on the findings of a recent study (Mehran & Alizadeh, 2015), there exists a set of challenges which can be categorized as the following: educational (e.g., inaccessibility to scientific databases, inadequate facilities, unprofessionalism, excessive workload), bureaucratic (e.g., entropy, red tape), economic (e.g., insufficient funding), and socio-cultural (e.g., irreverence, authoritarianism, power abuse, favoritism, unethical conducts). In this presentation, the obstacles standing in the way of Iranian academics will be discussed, and some solutions will be suggested.

Let’s Learn Persian: Remembering what it feels like to be a foreign language learner
The presenters will explain the history and writing system of the Persian language along with an overview of Persian calligraphy. Participants will learn some survival phrases and how to write their names. This section will end with a hands-on activity to further expose the audience to the language.

Presentations will be followed by a Persian dinner party at Hafez, an Iranian restaurant located near Yotsubashi Station. Please email us at to reserve your place at the party.

Mehrasa Alizadeh is a research student at Takemura Lab, Informedia Education Division, Cybermedia Center, Osaka University. Born in Babol, a city in the north of Iran, Mehrasa moved to Tehran to pursue higher education. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran. She taught English at Iran Language Institute (ILI) for eight years. In 2013, she was offered the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship and moved to Japan the following year. Her main research interests concern computer assisted language learning (CALL) and online course development/quality assessment. Her future research will be focused on developing online Academic English courseware targeting Japanese learners at Osaka University.


Parisa Mehran is a research student at Takemura Lab, Informedia Education Division, Cybermedia Center, Osaka University. Born and raised in Tehran, Parisa holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), both from Alzahra University, Tehran. Before moving to Japan, she taught English for academic purposes (EAP) at Alzahra University. In 2014, she obtained the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship and is now pursuing further education in Japan. Parisa’s research interests include computer assisted language learning (CALL), teacher education in CALL, and online course design. Her doctoral dissertation will concern the design and implementation of an online course for teaching academic English to Japanese students at Osaka University.

Fee for JALT and SIETAR members: Free
Fee for one-day members: 1,000 yen (500 yen for students)
Contact or Queries: Email contact form

The Global Hospitality Business: Are University Hotel Management Programs in Japan Just the Latest Trend?

Date and Time: Saturday, 23 January 2016 - 2:00pm - 5:00pm
Satomi Nishihara (Osaka Gakuin University)
Nozomi Iwakiri (Osaka Gakuin University)

With the Olympics on the horizon, the challenge of providing hospitality to visitors is gaining in importance. Hospitality, however, is not simply putting on a welcoming attitude. What many people do not know is that hospitality is a serious and respected field of study with a long history in Europe. European universities and colleges specialize in this multi-faceted area. Hospitality studies include business, language studies, communications, technology, finance, tourism, leadership development, sustainable development, history, nutrition, sports, and cooking. While some Japanese universities have recently moved to offering hospitality studies, the breadth and depth are clearly insufficient. This presentation will explain the basis of the hospitality business, the lessons that the European model offers, and the practicalities of how students can pursue a career in this important business. The presenters will provide their firsthand experience in this field, both as students in Europe and later as professionals in several countries, but specifically in the United Arab Emirates.

Satomi Nishihara is a Lecturer of Hospitality Management in the Business Administration Department of Osaka Gakuin University. She is currently working on research which links sustainable tourism with hospitality. Nishihara credits her current interest to her high school studies in College Alpin International Beau Soleil in Switzerland, an international boarding school. She attended Middlesex University in London, and École Hotelier de Glion (Glion University). After graduation she gained experience in both small family-owned hotels as well as 5-star international hotels in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Before returning to Japan a few years ago, she was Sales Manager at the Grand Hyatt Dubai holding responsibility for the local Japanese market and for East Asian corporate accounts connected to the leisure business.

Nozomi Iwakiri is the Executive Assistant for the Language Education Institute of Osaka Gakuin University. She graduated from Institut Hôtelier César Ritz in Switzerland and trained at Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, a high-end Swiss hotel. Her professional experience includes work in international hotels in the United States and the Middle East. She was part of the VIP team at the Grand Hyatt Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and a member of the cabin crew of Etihad Airways, the national airline of UAE.

There will be a dinner party after the session at a restaurant. Reservations required by Wednesday, Jan. 20, by contacting .

This event is co-sponsored by Osaka JALT and SIETAR Kansai.

Takatsuki Shiritsu Shogai Gakushu Center, 3rd floor, Room 1 (10 minutes walk from JR Takatsuki station or Hankyu Takatsukishi station)
Fee for JALT members: 
Free for JALT and SIETAR members and students
Fee for one-day members: 
500 yen
Contact or Queries: Email contact form