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Winter Potpourri: Practical tips, Pronunciation training, Collaborative Research, and Exchange with Dubai

Sunday, January 29, 1:00-5:00pm  
(Doors open at 1:00, dinner afterwards at a nearby restaurant. All proceeds from the event will go to support Tohoku relief efforts.)

Winter Potpourri:

Practical Tips,

Pronunciation Training,

Collaborative Research,

and Exchange with Dubai

Four presentations by

Stuart McLean, Gábor Pintér,

Greg Sholdt, and Laura Markslag


1:20 - 2:05 Stuart McLean - From TESOL program to the classroom: Practical tips for teachers
Mclean will explain the developments in flash-card vocabulary learning sites and the advantages and disadvantages of using them with students. He'll then demonstrate the use of student assessment cards to motivate and efficiently monitor in-class activities, will discuss the benefits of monitoring students’ Extensive Reading progress, and will introduce a range of recommended teaching materials. Finally, participants will share their own practical teaching ideas, time permitting.
Stuart McLean teaches at Momoyama University and is one of this year's JALT Research Grant recipients.

2:10 - 2:50 Gábor Pintér - Limitations of Computer Assisted Pronunciation Training Systems
While intelligible speech is a cornerstone of foreign language proficiency, pronunciation exercises are somewhat peripheral activities in both traditional and computer mediated teaching environments. Pinter will enumerate some of the most important technological, human and business factors that have hindered wider use of Computer Assisted Pronunciation Training systems in language education, and will point out that an application framework that approximates the modular structure of general learning management systems, such as Moodle, could lead to great advancements in pronunciation training. An ongoing project will be introduced that puts this idea into action by offering a simple but extendable speech exchange and evaluation service over the web.

Gábor Pintér hales from Hungary and is an associate professor in the School of Languages and Communication at Kobe University. After obtaining his PhD in linguistics he worked for a speech recognition company conducting research and development mostly in projects related to English language education. Since returning to academics he has been researching innovative methods and developing software applications in order to bring achievements of speech sciences and linguistic research to language education.

3:00 - 4:10  Greg Sholdt - Collaborative Research as an Approach to Professional Development for Language Teachers

Making the transition from teacher to teacher-researcher can result in a range of classroom and career benefits; however, getting started in classroom-based research can be a bewildering endeavor when undertaken alone. In this presentation, Sholdt will introduce a unique project that aims to provide an opportunity for language teachers to independently replicate a quantitative research study on writing fluency in their own classrooms and do so concurrently with a team of other teacher-researchers connected through an online discussion forum and resource center built with the popular Moodle platform. Teachers who join the project will discuss issues, raise questions, and share ideas about the research process while making use of online resources and receiving guidance throughout the process. The goals for the teachers include developing skills and knowledge in fundamentals of quantitative research, connecting with a community of EFL teacher researchers, producing a manuscript with potential for publication, and gaining experience with Moodle. Sholdt will provide an overview of the project, describe and show the structure and function of the Moodle site, and explain potential benefits and applications for this approach to professional development. The project will begin in January 2012 with data collection taking place in the Spring 2012 semester. Interested teachers will have the opportunity to ask questions and sign up after the presentation.
Gregory Sholdt
teaches in the School of Languages and Communication at Kobe University. Based on his graduate studies and teaching of introductory statistics courses at the University of Hawaii, he has been exploring innovative approaches to professional development through classroom-based research. He has developed and offered a number of professional development activities for language teachers including workshops and presentations, an online research methods course, and a Moodle-based collaborative research project. Sholdt was a Featured Speaker at JALT 2011 (co-sponsored by Osaka JALT, Nara JALT, and MASH) and currently serves as the Consulting Editor for the JALT Journal.

4:20 - 4:45  Laura Markslag - Online Exchange with Dubai: Motivating EFL learners through culture and authentic English

Engaging students in the use of authentic English can be a difficult task within the constraints of an EFL classroom. In this presentation, Markslag will describe a successful online cultural exchange program designed to promote cultural awareness and understanding in a global environment - while using authentic English - that took place between mixed level Japanese students from Osaka Gakuin University and first year students from Dubai Women’s College from October to December 2011. Markslag will discuss the rationale behind the program, the technical requirements, the steps required to set up and run the program, student reactions, and the overall outcome.

Laura Markslag holds an M.S.Ed from Temple University and is an EFL lecturer at Osaka Gakuin University. She is interested in vocabulary acquisition and assessment, multilingualism, and the development of motivating classroom materials. She has served on Osaka JALT's Executive Board since 2009.

Osaka City Municipal Lifelong Learning Center, multi-media lab, 5F, Umeda's Eki-mae Dai-2 Building, across the street from the Hilton and the Maru building. Tel: 06-6345-5000.
JALT members: Free
Non-members: 1000 yen (500 yen for students)

Reader Comments (2)

Many thanks to everyone and especially the presenters for coming out and making our first event of 2012 such a resounding success! It was a great day!

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Sanderson

Posting this on behalf of Greg Sholdt, one of our presenters for the Winter Potpourri event and a Featured Speaker at JALT 2011 who can be contacted at gsholdt AT :

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.

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Sanderson

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