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Sunday
Jun192011

Event Summary: 2011 Tech Day Plus

2011 Tech Day Plus

By Laura Markslag

Our seventh annual Tech Day Plus event, held at Hannan University on Sunday, June 19 featured 30 presentations and raised nearly ¥50,000 for Tohoku orphans via the Ashinaga charity group.

Technophiles, technophobes, and everyone in between picked up a plethora of language teaching and learning ideas at Osaka JALT’s most anticipated annual event: Tech Day Plus. Under the theme of simplicity and practicality, a variety of high tech and not-so-tech ideas for both EFL teachers and learners were presented in the three Tech Rooms and the Plus Room. Steve McCarty, opened the event with his plenary speech about online education and virtual organizations.

Over the course of the day, presentations covered a wide variety of topics, with everything from implementing Google docs, designing podcasts, creating a video corpus, using online video clips and making digital movies, comparing PCs and cellphones, learning vocabulary with computerized flash card sites, working with Wikis, utilizing additional resources such as CALL, English Central, electronic textbooks, and Dropbox, reading online, using simple text animation, protecting sensitive data, and making Global English accessible and meaningful, to teaching paperless, speaking naturally, motivating classes with name cards, implementing listening activities, and thinking like a video game designer to build better courses.

This year’s event even welcomed an overseas presenter, Michael Paradowski (all the way from Poland), for his presentation on InfoVis Interfaces. As summarized in the words one participant, "This was the most informative and useful JALT event I have attended. All the presentations were top quality and I walked away with a handful of useful language learning tools."

The high speed Tech Day was followed with a good old-fashioned conversation over dinner and drinks at a nearby izakaya, giving the participants a chance to discuss the presentations they participated in. This conference provided its attendees with countless ways to effectively meld technology with teaching. As technology continues to impact the classroom, our Tech-Day events are sure to grow, so please join us for #8 next year!

Sunday
May292011

Event Summary: An evening with John Read

John Read: Beyond Knowing Words: Assessing the Quality of Vocabulary Knowledge

by Laura Markslag

On his way to give a plenary speech at the 2011 PAN SIG conference in Matsumoto, Nagano, Dr. Read spent an evening with Osaka JALT assessing the quality of second language vocabulary knowledge.

Dr. Read examined the differences between evaluating vocabulary breadth (size) and depth (quality). He briefly reviewed various well-known vocabulary tests available, including Paul Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test, the New Vocabulary Size Test, and the computer based Yes/No Test. Dr. Read then discussed other measures of L2 vocabulary knowledge that go beyond knowing individual words, such as the use of word association tests. This led to a lively discussion about the role of words as single lexical items and as part of academic formulae (i.e., multi-word lexical units, collocations, lexical phrases, chunks, phrasal expressions, etc.).

Dr. Read closed the presentation by discussing different potential test formats that address the quality of vocabulary knowledge. Dr. Read is the author of Assessing Vocabulary, published by Cambridge University Press. Osaka JALT would like to thank Cambridge University Press for the promotional notebooks given to all attendees.

Monday
May232011

Overheard at Back to School...

By Ray Franklin

Sometimes the most important "learning moments" come during the chats between presentations, such as this randomly overheard comment:  

“Interviews show that often there is one key person or turning point in a student's trajectory, where one particular comment or recommendation by a teacher or other respected person will change that student's life path.”

Ever since hearing this comment, I have been reflecting on the teachers and turning points that have led me to 20 years of teaching English in Osaka, as well as how some seemingly random comment by a teacher like us "Your English is good." or "You should consider studying abroad." could change a student's life and send them on adventures across the world!

So let's try to do more of that.