REaChing for the stars
Empowering English Language Learners
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the fantastic Task-Based Learning & Teaching (TBLT) in Asia Conference at Kinki University in Osaka. The JALT special interest group (SIG) TBLT team lined up a fantastic group of plenary speakers and all around informative presentations. Kinki University’s Osaka campus was a gorgeous spot for the conference. On both Saturday and Sunday I caught a number of insightful presentations, and took away some practical tools to try in my classrooms as well as some theoretical concepts to mull over.
William Littlewood was the first plenary of the weekend. Littlewood, author of Communicative Language Teaching: An Introduction (1981) and Teaching Oral Communication: A Methodological Framework (1992), spoke on “Task-based or task-supported language teaching? - A View from the Bridge” (2014). He used this fitting title to describe the perspective language teachers take when examining all the various “methods” or approaches to language teaching. In this particular talk, he discussed task-based versus task-supported methodology and gave a clear and refreshing overview of this pertinent topic.
He began with some history. When Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) emerged, there were primarily two versions of the approach. There was the “strong” view supported by Krashen and Moskowitz that purported that language is learned naturally through authentic exposure to language and communication. In this view, language should emerge without any particular focus on form. In contrast, the “weak” view of communicative language teaching held that language is learned by “doing things with words.” Supported by Halliday’s theory of language learning, this highlights the communicative functions of language. Scott Thornbury has argued that this “weak form” of communicative language teaching is really nothing more than a renewed version of PPP (present, practice, production) with a focus on grammar where there should be a focus on meaning (1996). Littlewood noted that perhaps one reason why the “weak” form of CLT became so prevalent was because of its commercial viability. He went on to explain that tasks are a category of CLT with “special design theories.” Both strong forms of CLT and of task-based language teaching (TBLT) raise some challenges in Asian contexts, where teacher-centered classrooms and grammar-focused syllabus are the norm. In these environments, teachers may fear a loss of control in the classroom, lack confidence in using the target language, or be uncertain of the shifting role of the teacher. Both CLT and TBLT require the teacher to act as a facilitator and guide as students try to convey meaning and discover new language in the communicative tasks.
Littlewood outlined the “strong” and “weak” versions in TBLT as extensions of CLT. In the strong version of TBLT, students are given tasks where the goal is to “communicate by any means necessary,” and then from these events teachers could choose to focus on some specific form students needed or lacked during the exercise. However, the weak form of TBLT could be considered to be a task-based version of a traditional present, practice, produce (PPP) method. For example, the teacher may pre-teach a grammar point and then have students do an information gap or classmate interview that specifically asks students to practice that grammar. Indeed, this approach might call for more communication and interaction among students, but, it may limit students’ ability to focus on meaning or generative language opportunities.
In his “view from the bridge,” Littlewood made some solid points about this interplay between strong and weak versions of what he prefers to call “communicative tasks”. First, tasks fall not on a dichotomous scale of “strong” and “weak,” but perhaps more somewhere on a “communicative continuum” where at one end you have experiential tasks that mimic authentic communication in their focus on meaning, and at the other you have more analytic tasks that allow for a focus on form. It should be noted that a focus on form is not altogether dismissed, but rather balanced with tasks that are more meaning-focused. Along this continuum he placed “structured communication” closer to the “strong” side and “pre-communicative language practice” closer to the “weak” side, with “communicative language practice” in the middle. As I listened, I thought of my own classroom and reflected that even when we are working on the “weak” side of the spectrum, in a meaning-focused classroom, one where students’ understanding and engagement is central, there are opportunities for “strong,” authentic communication. I see this all the time. In this regard, I feel that one of the most prominent differences between TBLT and other approaches is in the nature of how we view teaching and learning, which includes both the role of the teacher as facilitator and the role of teaching materials as a tool to encourage students' authentic communication.
What was more salient for me then, was Littlewood’s “Communication Engagement Matrix.” On the horizontal axis at one end lies message-oriented instruction/tasks, and on the other “form-oriented” instruction/tasks. This intersects with the vertical axis where at the top we have “high engagement” and at the bottom we have “low engagement. The quadrants created by these intersecting axes could contain any number of classroom tasks. With TBLT and CLT there is a push to reach high-engagement in the top two quadrants.
What better presentation to follow this than Laura Markslag’s passionate presentation about an online international and cultural exchange she did with her students’ at Kinki University and a group of students in Dubai. She outlined simple steps to establishing such an exchange with the free and readily available tools of Ning (online private social networking site) and Skype/Google Chat. Over several weeks, she had her students create online profiles, write introductions, do live introductions with students in Dubai, and then plan for and do an online video cultural “show and tell.” The pictures she shared showed how engaged and focused her students were, and it looked like a lot of fun! I have been thinking about doing something like this for a long time, and I think this presentation was just what I needed to get the ball rolling. I feel these kind of activities are essential for helping our students see the value and purpose in learning English, especially in foreign language learning environments.
After Laura’s session, I had my own short presentation on “Gaming the Classroom: Task-Planning for Real Rewards.” Many people attended, and I am hopeful that I was able to convey my meaning clearly and share some valuable resources. The prsentat my efforts at using “gamification” in my second year high school classes and how follow-up reflection has helped me solidify aspects of my teaching philosophy. As James Paul Gee states, “Good video games incorporate good learning principles,” and it is good learning principles that I strive to incorporate in my classrooms (2005). At this conference, I felt strongly that I was with like-minded individuals all seeking to define good learning principles for themselves and for others in our profession.
“Engagement” was certainly one of the “buzz words” and Robert Stroud of Kwansei Gakuin University did well to try and define what this meant in his workshop “Improving learner engagement in tasks” (2014). Referencing Fredericks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, he touched on the multidimensional aspect of engagement as it involves behavioral, emotional, and cognitive processes (2004). Engaged students may display some outward behavioral signs, such as eye contact or alert posture, but internal signs of engagement, how the student is reacting emotionally to a learning situation and what cognitive effort they are investing, are more elusive and hard to define. Stroud shared three approaches to improving student engagement. First, he outlined some ways to empower students. For example, teachers may alter the physical learning environment by moving chairs to have students face on another (one of my favorite things to do), take time to clearly demonstrate roles, or even use their bodies to indicate the teacher’s role as equal or subordinate to students. My partner in discussion and I had both tried a similar technique of asking students to read out the greeting and daily plan at the beginning of class and found students’ reacted very well to this empowering position as student “teacher.” Second, Stroud summarize the ARCS model of task design (Keller. 1987, 1992, 2000). “A” stands for attention, and represents how the teacher grabs and holds the students’ attention. “R” stands for relevance and the teacher’s efforts to connect the task/content to the lives of the students. “S” stands for satisfaction, or the level of purpose and value the students see in the task. “C” stands for confidence, which every language learner needs to feel good about their progress and capabilities and fully participate in a learning event. The final approach Stroud suggested was the use of classroom technology. He mentioned student response systems (SRS) and oral recording devices. On Sunday, Peter Skehan, the third plenary, also made a strong case for the use of oral recording devices.
The second plenary of the weekend Yuko Goto-Butler, had my full attention as she described her research “with” children on electronic (computer) games and learning (2014). Her anecdotal infusions of students’ ideas as they designed storyboards for potential English vocabulary learning games complemented the data displayed in her charts. Students had discussed and listed various elements for both how they had learned new vocabulary items and what aspects of their favorite games made them come back for more. They were then tasked with applying these elements in their own game designs. One group of students, she told us, had created an avatar in their game whose hair would fall out if the game wasn’t played daily. Their rationale for such an extreme avatar punishment was that for learning to stick it must be practiced and reviewed regularly. Isn’t this the premise for successful spaced repetition learning software? Seems to me we should be researching “with” children and students a lot more!
On day two of the conference, we were lucky to receive another stellar talk on TBLT practices, this time by Peter Skehan. Skehan is a prominent voice in TBLT, and author or co-author of several books and numerous scholarly articles in the field of language learning. His talk, “Task-based Performance and Task-based Instruction: Research Contributions” began with a joke about the value of a talking frog vs. the value of an applied linguist. This was a good opening joke, and was unfortunately missed by William Littlewood, who had struggled to find a witty joke to kick off his talk the previous day. As Littlewood had hinted at in his talk, Skehan reiterated that CLT had in a sense morphed into TBLT. He credited this to the psycholinguistic aspects of TBLT that make it more suitable for research. He also noted some issues with the “strong” form of TBLT that were rightly raised by participants throughout the conference. With the highly authentic and meaning-focused version of TBLT, where does new language come from? There is the danger that in this quest for authenticity form may be forgotten, and yet, form undoubtedly plays a role in both meaning making and language acquisition. To address these issues, Skehan suggests we focus our attention on tasks as student-centered, putting the “power” of learning into the hands of the learners, but not necessarily stripping language classrooms of necessary grammatical analysis.
Despite the possible flaws, research in TBLT tends to focus on four main points of learner language indicators, which Skehan called “the golden standard of evaluation" (2014) These are structural complexity, lexis, accuracy, and fluency. In addition, researchess mainly look at the pre-task, during task, and post-task stages for possible overall task effects on student outcomes. The goal being to “engage learners as much as you can by balancing their abilities with challenge.” So, as Stroud aptly noted then, engagement seems to be the aim and a direction for further research.
Skehan has found through his own research on task performance that “good macro-structure [in tasks] releases some pressure and allows all areas of complexity, accuracy and fluency improvement” (Skehan & Foster, 1999). Some common practices with pre-task planning that lead to increased fluency, complexity, and sometimes accuracy are background building and modeling. He further proposed that some training of students on how to plan for tasks might be beneficial. Good planning should:
Finally, Skehan noted that perhaps a better way to view TBLT is to turn the “PPP” around. While the term “flipped classroom” is used to describe a completely different educational movement (doing homework in class and having students watch lecture at home), it springs to mind as I recall Skehan’s plea for “production, then practice and presentation”. With learners recording their on-task production, just think how teacher could use this to shape future lessons and activities. It encourages a pattern of concept (meaning) before language, creating clear purpose, rather than language before concept, which can be abstract and alienating for students.
I finished up my time at this conference with a couple of talks by some more international visitors. Muhammed Ali of Pontiaak State Polytechnic in Indonesia discussed a small scale, but worthwhile study on the effects of a TBLT approach on Indonesian non-English majors Willingness to Communicate (WTC). He found the experiment successful. Last was “Coming up with a New Framework to Characterize Planned Task-Performance” delivered by Shahabaddin Behtary of Iran. He and his colleagues propose an alternative model for describing task planning that contrasts with Ellis’ earlier model. In their model pre- and within-task planning stages are comprised of three interacting constraints: configurational (physical time or task length), linguistic (existing linguistic structures) and bridging (self-scaffolding, note-taking, etc).
Outside of these structured learning experiences, I also had some valuable informal discussions with other conference participants in all different teaching contexts that brought strength and value to the conversation about task-based language teaching, research and continued education. Thanks to all who made my weekend exciting and memorable!
This year is a busy one! With seven different classes and five textbook free curricula, it's bound to be exciting.
As always, I make getting to know my students my number one priority. Learning English is a great challenge, and it's important that all of my students know I value the effort they will make in my class and more importantly the goal of our time together, which is communication. I felt that this year got off to a particularly great start. This was in part due to the time I spent planning activities, but also to my fantastic students and a bit of help from a small rubber chicken. It's amazing what a little laughter can do!
These are some of my favorite beginning of the year activities:
This is by far my favorite time of year in Japan. My husband and I just returned from a ten day vacation in Thailand, and both of us were feeling a bit depressed about a return to colder temperatures and rainy weather. But, outside our apartment there are two large sakura trees, and both were showing signs of blooming cherry blossoms. Our mood was lightened when we remembered that cherry blossom season was just around the corner!
In Kanazawa, there are some particularly lovely places to see cherry blossoms along the Saigawa River and in Kenrokuen Park. In the distance, snow capped peaks can be seen in the background of the petite light pink blossoms of the sakura trees. While these places become crowded with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) participants, it's a lot quieter than in the bigger cities at this time. In Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, hanami parties abound, and blue picnic mats crowd all available space in the popular sakura parks. No matter where you find yourself, observing this fleeting gift of nature is a delightful experience.
For the school bulletin board, I created an article about hanami in Japan and the cherry blossom forecast this year. This article teaches students "bloom" and "predict". As I read through Input-Based Incremental Vocabulary Instruction by Joe Barcroft (TESOL), I'm reminded that "the number of times a target word appears in...input is critical." With that in mind, I repeated use of these vocabulary terms throughout the article.
Now that classes have finished, I have a little more time to work on materials development. As teachers, we often get so bogged down with the cycle of planning, classes, testing, grading, that we don't have time to realize all of our ideas. However, it is in curriculum creation where I thrive in expressing my imagination and personalizing resources to use in my classroom. This morning, I worked on writing up an article about the Sochi Winter Olympics to post on the English News Bulletin board. It may be of some use to other teachers, especially of Japanese students since there are some key word translations. Please note that I made this for educational purposes and have borrowed some photographs from new sources, which I've sited throughout.
Classes have finished for the year and that means that all the final units and projects are complete! In the Advanced English II class, it also means we say good-bye and congratulations to the graduating students. In the Comics class, to graduating students made their own comic, a culminating activity after a year of reading, narrating and analyzing the comics of others. In this final challenge, as a follow-up to reading the fantastic graphic novel, American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang, students are asked to think about their favorite Japanese folk tales and examine them for the lesson, or moral, of the story. They then choose one such folktale to update in comic form.
This year, students chose the story of Warashibe Choja, "The Straw Millionaire." In this story, a poor peasant who is a devote worshiper of the god Kanon finds great fortune through simple acts of kindness. Everyday, he goes to the temple and prays to Kanon with a meager wish for shelter and work the following day. Impressed by his modest wishes, Kanon tells the man that the next day, the first thing he touches will bring him great fortune. The next thing he touches is a piece of straw. What follows is a series of generous trades, in which the man gives of his gifts and receives something even more valuable in return, until eventually he is married to a beautiful wife and has a farm of his own. I love the story. It has been compared to the One Red Paperclip project, but the stories are actually quite different. In the One Red Paperclip reality, a man traded one red paper clip for various other objects of ever increasing value and had adventures in the process, making Japanese television news, a blog, and a book. But, the goal was to trade up and to have this adventure. However, Warashibe Choja was just a man with humble wishes and a generous heart, who was willing to give up the things he had to help others.
Now, my students shifted the focus a bit, their title revealing that in their story "fortune comes to an honest person." They tried to keep the trade aspect, with strict limits on story length. Over about 8 hours of class time, students first brainstormed their story outline and page plots, then I transcribed the script as they dictated to me, telling me when the text would be in a caption, thought bubble or speech balloon, and generally what would be in each panel. Next, one student focused on fine tuning the script with me while the other, chiming in when needed, worked on sketching out the design. They both worked on the final touches, adding text in pencil and then going over all their work with black markers and color. The results can be seen below. A great accomplishment for a first comic!
In my second year classes, we finished the year off with a unit entitled "International Agent Training." In this unit, students learn the names, geography, nationalities, languages, capital cities and landmarks of various countries around the world through partner activities and information gaps. At the beginning of each class, students go through customs to a new country, where they fill out a visa form in their passports outlining country facts and then practice greetings in that country's most common language. We also review the present perfect vs. simple past when talking about experiences. The final assessment is a peer "job" interview where classmates interview and score one another on their ability to be international agents. First, students must write out a "resume" of their experiences in training. They are encouraged to think about the countries we visited, the languages we'd learned and spoken, but also to be creative, to imagine what sort of difficult and exciting experience real agents have had. Then, after a few practice runs, they start their interviews. I love to listen to these as students are asked "What's your international experience?" and respond with "I have spied on the Pentagon" or "I have swum the Pacific Ocean." I think probably the aspect they like most is playing the senior agent doing the interview. They get very into their roles as interviewers. One student this year, unimpressed by the lack of adventurous experience of his interviewee, said he did not recommend him for an international agent position because "playing tennis" was not good experience. Of course, I check all of their scores after the fact via recorded replays to make sure they scored fairly.
As part of this unit, I had been searching for a good book to do a choral read aloud to review the grammar point of present perfect. Last year, I had found a children's book titled, "Have you ever...?" that was set to rhyme but, I couldn't find again this year. I decided to make my own read aloud story in PowerPoint. I thought it would also be fun for students to see some of my travel pictures and hear about my experiences. Travel is a passion of mine, and it's a good to share this. Maybe I'll inspire some of my students to travel too. Below is the PowerPoint I put together.
It is the end of the school year here in Japan, and the final question posed to students in Advanced English class is "What does it mean to be a global engineer?" In class, we discussed this with concept webs, and then we did some reading and watched some videos to help us think about the idea. Now, students are tasked with creating their own definitions for what it means. This is rather timely this year, as the school administration looks to a new era of curriculum reform, with a greater focus on global understandings, relationships, and English development.
As students finish their definitions, they will post them here as comments. Do you agree with their definitions? Feel free to post comments as well. Who are global engineers? What do they do? Why are they important? I urge you to help students explore these questions.
We've sure been busy around here at KTC. In the past two months, we had two fantastic rounds of student presentations before the holidays, and lots of fun with holiday parties for Christmas. Then, was off on my trip to Taiwan for the winter holiday, where I had a great time exploring the cities, culture and foods of Taiwan. Now, we're back to work, getting ready to finish up the school year.
Before the new year, my fourth year students in two different classes: Presentation and Advanced English I, both made noteworthy presentations that I wanted to write about, but didn't have the chance until now.
At the beginning of this year, I also finished making the second year skills class school video diary, pulling together videos from all of the students. I used these for a class listening activity.
Read on for more about these projects.
4th Annual Gaming Conference
First, for the fourth year in a row, Presentation class students created posters on their favorite video/computer/cell phone games. Proving once again that focusing on topics that interest students is a fantastic motivational tool. This year, students did a fabulous job creating poster designs inspired by color schemes and imagery from their chosen games. At the conference, two sections of the class took turns presenting their posters in English, and teachers were also welcome to come and hear the students poster presentations. Students were encouraged to treat the presentation as a professional poster presentation, where they needed to grab audience members' attention, hold it, and think on their feet to answer questions and respond to comments. Visitors to the conference could vote on their favorite poster designs in each section and the best English presentation. In addition, this presentation is graded with a peer component, where each student is assessed via checklist by a few of their classmates. Scores are averaged and are a percentage of their final grade. The following week, in class, winners were announced and received a 500 yen gift certificate to Baskin Robbins, simply "31" here in Japan.
Junior High School Presentations
In Advanced English I: Collaborative Learning in English and Engineering, students train for much of the year to become English engineering teachers. Their goal is to learn how to teach a hands-on engineering project in English to local junior high school students. They work in teams, each on a different project. They learn important skills for teamwork, communication, presentation and teaching. It's not easy! This year we had the same three projects as last year: a rubber band car, to teach about energy and prototypes, a marshmallow tower, to teach about shapes and forces, and a computer animation project, to teach about the concept of frames in animation. Each group of KTC students worked incredibly hard to plan these projects in English, typing several drafts of their plans, presenting portions to each other, and doing a trial run with first year students at school. In December, they took all their planning and practice with them as we presented to three eager groups of junior high school students at Takamatsu Junior High School. Advanced English students had on their biggest smiles, despite their nerves, and drew junior high school students into their topics with ease, creating a fun atmosphere for learning and English practice. Afterwards, they all reflected on the experience, noting how difficult it was to be a teacher, but, how rewarding it was to see students smiling and having a good time. They wrote about their learning, teamwork, project concepts, and gave advice to students next year. Here are some excerpts from their writing:
Below, please find some pictures of students at the junior high school presentation.
KTC Video Diary Project
In the second years skills classes, we have a several week project where students get into small groups, of two or three students, and are responsible for planning and implementing video interviews about topics of interest to the students for a KTC video diary. Students have to borrow a video camera from my office, plan time outside of class to create their videos, and interview students from different grades and classes. I then pull all of these together, editing them, adding background music and titles in Windows Movie Maker. The result this year was a 12 minute video, on six different topics, with interviews from all of my second year students. To make viewing this video more interactive, this year I added a listening component. I created a set of questions for students to answer about the interviews, and the results were great! While at first students were a bit shy to see themselves on the TV screen, they were all engaged in listening and trying to answer the questions, which was also a great review of language we'd studied in class. My goal for next year is to spend a bit more time on planning and training for recording the videos, and to also gives students more choice in topics.
This is always an invigorating point in the school year for me. I am able to see students' cumulative progress, reflect on what worked and what didn't, and start brainstorming how I can improve curriculum for next year.
"It’ll actually be easier to learn a foreign language than to compete domestically." Says Dai Yoshida of Japanese youth ("Between Dreams and Discrimination, Japanese Build New Lives in the City by the Bay", Nicolas Gattig, The Japan Times, December 3, 2013.)
My colleague Robert shared this article with me and some graduates of KTC that now study abroad in the U.S. The article follows the stories of three different Japanese people living in San Francisco, and how they view and experience life in the U.S., and their native land of Japan. This quote particularly caught my eye, because it is an important thing for my students to hear, but, also, because I believe this could be said of American youth.
At the JALT conference I attended in November, one of the plenary speakers, Carline Linse, discussed the various ways in which multilingualism is an asset to our lives. Both in offering us different views of the world and ourselves, and by offering us numerous new job opportunities. There is tremendous capital in learning another language, and it doesn't apply only to the youth of Japan. However, for many, learning another language can seem an unimportant or impossible task.
If we are not lucky enough to be born into bilingual households or communities, live abroad, or to live in Europe (hee hee), than, we must take the initiative to learn another language ourselves. Our school systems don't do it successfully, but, it's not necessarily the fault of the schools, is it? For, learning another language means exploring the unknown and embracing alternate identities as we embrace different ways of communicating and viewing the world, and this is best done when we are immersed in that language. This article ultimately tells the tale of those who are willing to embark into the unknown by doing just that.
The question is, how can we encourage that exploration as teachers? How can we inspire self-motivation and self-discovery through language learning? How can we help students be open to
This is the second year of Comic class and despite a very small number of enrollment, only two students, we are accomplishing amazing things. At first I was rather nervous about only having two students, especially since one student did the New Zealand study abroad program and one did not. However, I was lucky because both of these students are friends, and they are in a band together, so, they have a certain camaraderie that is an asset to our class environment. They are always willing to push one another and help each other out. This was very apparent through our most recent project, narrating the first chapter of the wordless comic of Sshhhh! by Jason. Last year, when we did this narration, I split up the story pages between different groups of students, and, did the introduction and conclusion myself. This year, I decided to do some shorter, alternate wordless comic practice with students prior to narrating Sshhhh! so that they could narrate the whole story themselves. For this purpose, I used some Bubbaworld Comix extras, short wordless comic strips, to model narration and have students practice some on their own. As we narrated, I took notes on their narration and had them read what I'd written, self-correcting grammar, adding details and descriptive language, and using context to teach key vocabulary.
Before we began our big narration project, I had the students "read" the first chapter of Sshhhh!, which is a dramatic love story about a crow and an evil nemesis. I put "read" in quotation marks here because there are no words to read, but pictures to view and interpret. We discussed the general theme of the story, and I encouraged them to remember the whole story as they narrated each part of the story. While I had only planned to spend a few weeks, two hours a week, working on this project, students became so enthusiastic about their task and dedicated to creating an accurate and exciting account of the pictures, that I decided not to worry about time. We ended up going over our deadline by two weeks, but, the results were worth it. Both students used an impressive amount of English both to narrate and to discuss narration. Each week, I continued to record what students said, and encouraged them to do the same. Writing out new words or sentence patterns helped students remember them. When we met the following week, I would have them reread what they'd previously said, and they would again self-correct grammar and work to make their words more clear and vivid. They never got bored or shut down, but continued to work diligently on this project. I sat with them as a guide, helping them when they got stuck or showing them how to reword things so they made sense, but, my input was purely supportive, they did the hard work themselves. I also provided some translations and pictures to explain vocabulary I thought might be useful and otherwise unknown to them.
In the last two weeks, we began working on pronunciation and intonation, with a focus on consonant endings (Japanese alphabet doesn't have consonant endings so this a continual problem for Japanese students studying English,) and the importance of stressing meaning words. We also worked on adding emotion and drama to our voices, to tell the story through our tone of voice. We did this by listen and repeat and also through students independent practice.
Finally, I recorded the audio of students narrating the story, and converted this audio to WAV files to then embed in a PowerPoint. I uploaded this to AuthorStream again, as I'd done last year. Here are the results: Sshhhh! Narration by Kanazawa Technical College Students 2013.
We also watched last year's narration and the animated version of Sshhhh! so students could see and hear different interpretations of the story.
This past weekend, I went to Kobe to present at and attend the 39th annual JALT conference. This was a great international conference hosted by the Japan Association of Language Teaching, and, as always, was a valuable learning and networking experience. For my presentation, I held a workshop on "tapping in to students' interests with comics," where I discussed the Advanced English II course I teach at KTC and shared activities from the course, in hopes that other teachers would find some useful and fun things to bring back with them to their own classrooms. I was lucky to have time slot right after the plenary speaker, Penny Ur, and more people attended my workshop than I expected. I had a knowledgable and enthusiastic crowd of participants and I hope everyone enjoyed it. Through the comic activity jigsaw participants completed in the workshop, lots of great ideas and resources were shared for using comics in various teaching contexts, and we didn't have time to fully discuss all the possibilities. This blog post will hopefully allow us to continue our discussion. Please feel free to post questions and ideas here for others to respond to. The PowerPoint and hand-out from the workshop are posted below.
I'm Sarah Forbes. I'm the