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Vocabulary Research Help Request (40 min. vocab. test --online or paper-- for your university classes in April):

Vocabulary Research Help Request

(40 min. vocab. test --online or paper-- for your university classes in April):

Dear teachers,
We are writing to ask for your help with our one off vocabulary research project this spring.  We have received a JALT research grant for this project, and we are confident that it will be of use to teachers in the future.
Vocabulary size is one of the strongest contributing factors to reading and listening comprehension. However, studies examining our students’ vocabulary sizes are sorely lacking. Thus, the primary goal of our research is to make informed general statements about different groups of Japanese University students' vocabulary size.  The secondary purpose of our research is to determine which factors may be useful in predicting vocabulary sizes for this population.
In order to conduct this research we need a very large number of participants, so we are using a snowball sampling method. If you know of any other instructors who may be able to participate, please forward this e-mail to them.
If you are willing to use half of a class period (40 minutes) to have your students take a vocabulary test, we would really appreciate it.  This is NOT a longitudinal study so the test only needs to be given once in April 2012 if possible.  The test is available through a simple online interface or in paper form.  If you choose the online version we will email you the link and login information required; if you choose the paper version we will mail you the tests and a postage-paid return envelope.  In addition to our gratitude, teachers will also receive their students’ test results by e-mail as such knowledge may be beneficial even though the semester will have already begun.
If you are going to participate please reply to this mail ( ) with the following information:
Teacher’s name
University name and campus
Department name
The department (faculty) of your students
The number of students
The academic year of the students
The approximate date you intend to administer the test
The hensachi of your department (if available, if not we can check it)
Please indicate which form of the test you will use: online or paper
The postal address where you would like to receive the tests (for paper versions only)
Thank you for your time.
Best wishes for 2012!
Stuart McLean
Tom Rush
Nicholas Hogg
Med TESOL Candidate
Temple University Japan


Collaborative Research as an Approach to Professional Development for Language Teachers: Greg Sholdt

The following is a summary of Greg Sholdt's presentation at the Winter Potpourri event, held January 29, 2012, entitled Collaborative Research as an Approach to Professional Development for Language Teachers. Greg can be contacted at gsholdt AT

By Greg Sholdt

First, let me thank Osaka JALT members for giving me the opportunity to present at the Winter Potpourri last Sunday. That was my third time with you all, and as usual, it was a treat. I was very impressed with the great turnout and the fantastic lineup of interesting presentations.

My presentation, Collaborative Research as an Approach to Professional Development for Language Teachers, covered two main topics-- the rationale for professional development activities for language teachers based on collaborative research projects and a description of a new project investigating writing fluency that has just started with a group of over 40 teachers. I first presented an argument for the benefits of teachers getting involved with classroom research including improved classroom practices, enhanced engagement with professional life, increased connections to the community of teachers, and strengthened employment opportunities. After describing two worthy approaches to doing research, action research and qualitative research, I made a case for some unique benefits for getting into quantitative research. I felt my point about being able to better comprehend quantitative research articles was well-received, but the room of language teachers seemed less convinced with my proclamation that numbers are exciting and fun to study!

I then identified three key aspects of my approach to professional development through quantitative research that included: 1) the critical and accessible nature of the fundamental concepts of quantitative methods, 2) the sensibility of starting with simple easy-to-complete research designs that can be used as practical learning experiences, and 3) the importance of collaborating and getting support during the learning process. I moved on to describe the execution of this approach with the Writing Fluency Project, which I have been developing for over a year. For this project, a group of over 40 teachers spread out around Japan have access to a Moodle site that serves as a project coordination center. The teachers meet online and are guided through all steps of a simple research study focused on the effects of the method of topic selection on students’ output in free writing exercises. Each teacher will separately conduct the study in their own classrooms but discuss the planning, procedures, execution, and data analysis throughout the entire process. Additionally, there is self-access learning center set up on the Moodle site with a guide to lead teachers through an online quantitative methods textbook so that they can all study and understand each step they take in the study. Key goals for the project include helping teachers get a better understanding of quantitative methods, building community and collaboration among teacher researchers in Japan, and developing a system of professional collaboration on research projects.

I am really excited about this project and the amazing team of teachers who are taking a lot of time out of their busy schedules to participate. Although it is still in the early stages, I feel we are well on our way to a valuable and enjoyable experience.


Matt Walsh, 1966 -- 2011


It is our sad duty to announce the passing of Matt Walsh our program chair.

Matt had been struggling with liver cancer this summer and passed away peacefully on October 6, 2011. He was 45.

At Matt's request there was not a funeral or wake in Osaka, instead friends and family met in Kyoto for a hike.

UPDATE: The plans for the memorial hike have been announced. Participants will meet at Hishiyama Sancho Koen Car Park 東山山頂公園駐車所 at 1 p.m tomorrow Saturday the 8th.

From there they hiked up to Shogunzaka and then came back down through Hishiyama Sancho Koen Car Park one more time before winding down the mountain through the forest.

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