Event Report: JALT National Pre-Conference + My Share + AGM

The pre-conference started with Miguel Mision presenting his Master’s research project on “Mobile Assisted Language Learning for Young Learners” (MALL). While there has been a lot of work on using smartphones for language learning with adults or university students, very little research has been done for young learners. To determine the key learning design features for young learners, Miguel researched a variety of fields outside of language learning: game design, children’s behaviour with technology and multi-modality. He prepared six points of criteria:

  1.   Graphics
  2.   Sound/Audio/Music
  3.   Use of Mobile Technology
  4.   Learning Style
  5.   Target Language
  6.   Narrative

From these six points, Miguel constructed a system using a Likert scale to assess popular applications made for young learners, and to examine how the applications address key design points. What he found was a majority of applications were mostly designed with audio-lingual task based methodologies – simple drill exercises that focus on memorization and recall skills. While excellent aids in study, they are still far from realizing the full potential of smartphone based learning. It appears that most applications are created by programmers with little understanding of current language learning approaches and methodologies.

The second presenter was Gregory Birch, who shared the results of his research into the state of team taching in Japanese junior and senior highschools. The study was conducted via surveys completed by 120 ALTs and 80 JTEs and follow-up interviews.

Gregory’s research focused on lesson preparation and teacher’s reasons for using their own teaching materials (as opposed to the textbook). Some of Gregory’s key findings were:

  • More than half of JHS ALTs reported that team-taught lessons were prepared primarily by the JTE. In SHS on the other hand, 66% of all ALTs reported preparing their lessons.
  • ALTs were shown to use a wider variety of sources for their materials (the internet, resource books, materials from the predecessor). Interestingly, only 28% of SHS JTEs reported providing their own materials for team teaching.
  • JTEs and ALTs reported a variety of reasons for specifically using  materials that they had designed,  the most common being that they felt these materials were more engaging and interesting than those found in the textbook.

Third was a My Share presentation by Damian Gowland who just recently returned from a CELTA intensive course in the Galapagos Islands. Damian shared some of his experiences from the 4-week course, including the steps needed to apply, the that need to be taken while preparing and taching a lesson.

Damian begun his presentation by having an open discussion on what attendees felt about overseas professional development courses. The ideal place people would like to go and the pros and cons of undertaking such a course. After this, he moved on to discuss the input sessions he received while on course , which involved preparing materials, assessing student needs and considering the styles or theories the teacher will draw upon. He then shared some of the CELTA teaching principles – Concept, Checking, Question – a process of steps to confirm student understanding before they use the target language themselves. To cap things off Damian played an animal bingo game with all the attendees and showcased the plethora of wildlife he encountered during his stay.

Shinshu JALT would like to thank all the presenters and attendees for coming and sharing in the day.

 

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