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Slideshow of Back to School presentations

Thanks to everyone who helped to make Back to School 2013 a success. We had around 80 people in attendance. And thanks to everyone who came out we were able to raise 60,000 yen at the door for Minna no Te ( plus another 20,000 from the sale of Fresh Currents, books that were donated by Kyoto Journal.

 In case you missed it, our Back to School website has a slide-show of what happened.

Thanks to our webmaster (and future paparazzi) Bill for getting pics of EVERY single presentation! Great job, Bill!
Here's the report for the July 2013 issue of The Language Teacher, for the record:

OSAKA: April -- Back to School 2013 was our fourth annual spring mini-conference aimed at helping everyone start the new school year on a positive note. Held on Sunday, April 14, at Osaka Gakuin University, it was by all accounts a big success, with 38 presentations to over 80 attendees, and ¥80,000 raised that was donated to the Minna no Te NGO to support Fukushima disaster victims.

The day started with a plenary session by Minna no Te founder and Fukushima native Yuko Nishiyama and OGU Associate Professor Stephen Dalton, entitled Two years since 3/11: Where are we now in the healing process? Subsequent concurrent sessions ranged in topics from hands-on EFL classroom activities to the more research-oriented and esoteric, with computer skills presentations, social issues awareness raising sessions, and even an energizing line-dancing session following our lunch break.

Presenters included recent university graduates, teachers of kindergarten through university level, and several graduate students as well. OGU’s International Chat Lounge <> was open for much of the day for participants to freely sample a variety of language learning games and activities that have been popular and effective with many OGU students. Poster presentations by the volunteer organizations Free the Children Japan, and Hato, as well as by the General Union and teachers and researchers alike added another lively dimension to the day’s variety of activities.

In addition to the many Kansai based participants, attendees came from as far as Kyushu, Shikoku, and even Gunma. Special thanks are due to officer Stella Maxwell for coordinating and to webmaster Bill Hogue for photography.

For a complete listing of presenters and presentations and a slide show of the day as well as archived info about our past years’ Back to School events, please see And for more about Yuko Nishiyama and the Minna no Te organization, please see  

Reported by Ray Franklin and Bob Sanderson


Back to School 2013 Schedule


Back to School 2013 poster

Here's the poster for Back-to-School 2013... please download, print out, and post up at your schools!


Back to School 2013 presentations

Back to School is our annual spring one-day mini-conference which aims to share ideas on a wide range of topics to help everyone start the new school year on a positive note. It's one of our favorite events of the year.

This year's plenary session is by Yuko Nishiyama & Stephen Dalton:

"Two years since 3/11: Where are we now in the healing process?"

Although over two years have passed since 3/11, the disaster continues for many. Both those struggling to remain in Tohoku and others who have evacuated have done their best to carry on, but challenges abound. Yuko Nishiyama will describe her path from housewife and mother in Fukushima to community activist in Kansai. Through her Minna no Te project she is reaching out to the local community to lend support to those most directly affected. Stephen Dalton, will describe how his Service Learning class of foreign and Japanese students have assisted "Minna no Te" while also learning language and culture.

Yuko Nishiyama is a native of Fukushima who lived for seven years in North America, earning a BA in linguistics from Iowa State University. Upon returning to Japan she worked in Sendai and Tokyo as a translator and Eikaiwa manager. She and her husband settled in the city of Fukushima to start a family, but 3/11 shattered their plans. Out of health concerns, she and her three-year-old daughter evacuated to Kansai while her husband has continued working in Kanto and Fukushima. In Kansai she founded the community action project "Minna no Te", devoted to meeting the information and social needs of the 700+ evacuees now living in Kyoto and many of those left behind in Fukushima.

Stephen Dalton, an Associate Professor at Osaka Gakuin University, teaches Economic History and Intercultural Communication to foreign exchange students, English to Japanese students, and Service Learning to both. A native of the USA, he previously held posts at the English Studies Institute and the English Language Program at the University of California - Berkeley.

This year's regular and poster presentations:


Ryoko Aino - Hato: onigiri for the homeless (poster)

Jason Bartashius -
3/11: The Latest Chapter of the Filipina Migrant Experience in Japan

Sylvain Bergeron - Lesson Design Strategy within a Team Teaching Approach

Harry Carley - Blogging: The Write Tool?

Harry Carley -ALT Opinion: Hi Friends, Eigo Friendly?

Gretchen Clark - Braining up vocabulary study (poster)

Stephen Dalton - Service Learning: Improving English and Helping the Community

Jeanette Dekker - Fun with Reading

Sean Gay & Michael Iwane-Salovaara - Excel 101: Starting and Expert MS Excel Tips for Teachers

Craig Hagerman - Developing Moodle modules

James Jenson - Phoneme Acquisition Studies and the EFL Classroom

Sayuri Kang - Do you know about Koreans living in Japan?

Julia Kimura, Aaron Bucky, & Mary Kawai - Introduction to the General Union (poster)

Alison Kitzman - What Students Prefer: Topics for Optimal Motivation

Wes Lang - Fun activities for practicing follow-up questions

Amy Larson - Basic Characteristics of English Writing

Amy Larson - Unlocking the Limits of Children's Songs

Arthur Lauritsen - Using the True Stories series in a lesson

Matt Lucas & Myles Grogan - Topic selection and writing fluency

Stella Maxwell, et al. - The I-Chat Experience: Authentic learning using energizing, targeted and interactive games

Steve McCarty - Bilingualism for Language Teachers and Parents in Japan

Stuart McLean - Improving ER research: time on task, and accurately measuring reading and comprehension

Stuart McLean - Preliminary results from JALT sponsored research investigating Japanese university students' vocabulary size (poster)

Stuart McLean, Nicholas Hogg, & Brandon Kramer - The effectiveness of Word Engine over an academic year

Matthew Michaud - Recipe creation and output: Getting more out of the typical food unit (poster)

Misuzu Okada - What does "competence" mean?

James Rogers - On how to create a paperless class with computer technology

Cameron Romney - Comparing Business English and General English textbooks

Tony Silva - First Impressions, Final Evaluations

Lisa Theisen - Simple Speeches for the Start of the Semester

Josh Wilson - Build Engagement with Peer Interviews

Brian Wojtowicz - Lesson Activity Ideas and Assessment Procedures: A Reflection

Andrew Woollock - Postmodern epistemology and notions of truth in the content classroom


What 3/11 means for the future of volunteering -- Mar. 30 in Takatsuki

What 3/11 means for the future of volunteering
Saturday, March 30, 4:00 - 6:00 pm

Speaker: Yuko Nishiyama

Much like in the aftermath of the Hanshin Earthquake, official response to the 3/11 disasters was inadequate and slow in coming. And much like in 1995, local businesses, community groups and NPOs are filling the breach. One of these is Minna no Te, a community action group of Tohoku evacuees living in Kyoto. Its founder, Yuko Nishiyama, will detail her personal story, her efforts to partner with local aid groups, and explain how you can help those affected by the 3/11 disaster.

Many of us have looked on in sympathy with those undergoing such tremendous misfortune but are at a loss for how we can help without the expense and time commitment of a trip to Tohoku. Yuko will expand our knowledge of the 3/11 crises' local dimension, and offer opportunities for us to “think globally and act locally.” Finally, she will explain how the community is spreading the word of the ongoing challenges besetting those affected. Among those projects is a website featuring blogs by victims and a speaking tour at the University of Hawaii-Manoa during the week of March 11, 2013, commemorating the two-year anniversary of the earthquake.

The television news may have moved on to other topics, but the continuing events and consequences of 3/11 continue to inspire a collective response from all of us. Formerly loosely-associated groups around the globe are using the internet and social media to raise awareness and answer the challenges. Learn how you and your students can become more involved!

A native of Fukushima city, Yuko Nishiyama earned a BA in linguistics from Iowa State University, where she lived for five years. Following an eighteen-month French immersion in Canada, she returned to Fukushima and worked as an English teacher and interpreter. She left her career with the birth of her daughter Mariko and was living with her in Fukushima when the 3/11 disasters struck. She evacuated with her two-year-old later that month, eventually settling in Kyoto in June. Surrounded by other evacuees, she founded *Minna no Te*, a community organization dedicated to providing information and assistance to those displaced. Current initiatives include the Dream Summer Project, which reunites evacuees with their friends and family both in Kyoto and Fukushima. This January, the organization started a cafe to provide local evacuees a network and a source of employment.

This event is co-sponsored by SIETAR Kansai and will be conducted mostly in English with some Japanese.

Location: Takatsuki Shiritsu Sogo Shimin Koryu Center, 3rd floor, Room 1

Fee for JALT members, Sietar members, and students: 500 yen

Fee for one-day members: 1,000 yen