Turning Speaking Tasks into Assessment Activities with Jerry Talandis Jr

Shinshu JALT is proud to present our next event.

Shinshu JALT April Event Japanese

Speakers: Jerry Talandis Jr.
Date: April 21st, Saturday
Time: 15:00 – 16:50
After the event, there will be a dinner with Jerry – all are welcome to attend.
Venue: University of Nagano C12, 長野県立大学(旧長野県短期大学のキャンパス)(Google Map)
Admission: Free for members, 1000¥ for non-members
Sign-up for the event on Facebook here

For transport assistance from Nagano station, please contact Cheryl Kirchoff: cheryl@nagano-kentan.ac.jp

One effective way to assess your students’ speaking skills is to turn regular language practice tasks into tests. To do that, all you really need is some sort of feedback loop that provides insight into performance. With such a loop, common practice activities can be turned into assessment activities (Brown, 2013). Such an approach to oral testing can potentially open up new ideas for assessment that help your students improve their speaking ability.  In this theory-light presentation, we’ll cover various strategies for creating such loops by looking at the pros and cons of typical holistic and analytic marking schemes. Guidance for creating effective feedback/marking rubrics will also be provided. Finally, practical issues regarding administration of in-class speaking tests will also be addressed.  No previous experience with conducting speaking tests is required; any teacher in learning how to implement oral testing in the classroom is encourage to attend.

The presentation will be followed by an informal discussion on the speaking textbook, “Conversations in Class, 3rd Edition” which the presenter co-authored. Anyone interested in learning more about this text is encouraged to take part.


Active Learning with Nobue Inoue and Brian Southwick

Shinshu JALT is proud to present our next event.


Speakers: Nobue Inoue and Brian R. Southwick
Date: March 3rd, Saturday
Time: 13:00-15:00
Venue: Level 3, Room 5, TOIGO CENTER, Nagano City, 長野市生涯学習センター3階第5教室 (map)
Admission: Free for members, 1000¥ for non-members

Sign up for the event via the Facebook event page here


The Japanese government has in recent years placed increasing emphasis on an active
model of learning, as distinct from the conventional passive paradigm, at the primary,
secondary, and tertiary level. In classrooms informed by active design, teachers are
facilitators rather than dispensers of knowledge, while students are discoverers or creators
of meaning as opposed to empty vessels. The active classroom incorporates presentations,
role-plays, discussions and debates and minimizes lectures. The rationale for the shift is
simple: students in the active classroom acquire a sense of ownership over their learning
and thus heightened levels of academic motivation. Our presentation will describe active
learning projects undertaken in English language classes in the Faculty of Tourism
Management at Niigata University of Management and discuss the feedback we have
received from students.



Both Nobue Inoue and Brian R. Southwick teach at Niigata University of Management (NUM) and help students majoring in tourism improve their English language skills.

Nobue Inoue is a Senior Lecturer at NUM. After working as a marketing communication
specialist and a Japanese-English/English-Japanese translator/interpreter for about four years, she decided to study abroad in Canada to broaden her horizons and acquire technical knowledge. Her study abroad experiences encouraged her to pursue an academic career; and she has been responsible for developing study abroad programs intended mainly for Japanese students for the past several years. She is interested in study abroad, student motivation and second language acquisition in general, and has presented at several JALT-related conferences for the past few years. She has a postgraduate certificate in Environmental Management and Assessment from Niagara College, and is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program (TESOL) at University of Portsmouth.

Brian R. Southwick is an Associate Professor at NUM. Upon being graduated from Louisiana State University in 1999 with an MA in pedagogy, emphasis secondary English Language Arts, he moved to Niigata and, from 2000-16, served as an Assistant Language Teacher with the Niigata City Board of Education. Currently in his second year at NUM, his interests include, in addition to active learning, English-language kamishibai, or Japanese picture-card storytelling, in the dual contexts of community revitalization and early English education.

2018 JALT National Conference

JALT2018 Logo

All the officers from Shinshu JALT would like to wish our readers and followers a happy new year and hope you’re enjoying the holidays. Have you made any new year’s resolutions? If one of your resolutions happens to be to further your professional development, why not consider presenting at the 44th JALT National Conference held in Shizuoka from November 23rd-26th?

JALT National is calling for presentation proposals. If you’re interested applications close on February 12th. Find more information about submitting a proposal here

Or maybe you’d just like to see what other professionals are currently doing in the field of education (or just find an excuse to visit beautiful Shizuoka). If so check here for preliminary information and save the date.


Myshare + AGM

JALT November

Speakers: Cheryl Kirchhoff, Mark Brierley, Heather Fukase, Miguel Mision
Date: November 5th, Sunday
Time: 10:00 am – 12:15 pm
Venue: Agata no Mori Bunka Kaikan, あがたの森文化会館 (Google Map / 地図)
Admission: Free
Our November event will include the following presentations from our local members:

Online Communication Exchange Activities, Cheryl Kirchhoff
The Internet offers the potential for Japanese students to communicate with people of other cultures, yet often yields only problems and disappointment. I will explain factors that draw my college students into meaningful onlineintercultural communication.

Online support for Extensive Reading, Mark Brierley
Over the past ten years, language teachers at Shinshu University have collaborated with the IT department of the Engineering Faculty to create an online system for keeping track of students’ reading, and the Extensive Reading Foundation’s online placement test, which has been used by the students of almost 100 teachers in over 15 countries. Our latest project is investigating the creation of an ER cloud to support Extensive Reading.
Exposure to World Englishes through online recordings, Heather Fukase & Miguel Mission
English is now widely accepted as the Lingua franca because of its widespread application in business, science and politics. Students have much to benefit from listening to not just the spoken English of their teachers but also the various World Englishes now emerging. Farrell, Martin (2009) and Matsuda (2003) have all published research on the benefits of exposing learners to a mixture of English speakers.

In this current age of smartphones, it is easier than ever to gather spoken recordings from people from all over the world for the purposes of English learning through listening tasks. This presentation will demonstrate how simple the process can be and hopes to encourage others to share their recordings to create a growing pool of resources for all teachers to use.

Upcoming Annual General Meeting

Right after our November 5th event, we will hold our Annual General Meeting, where we will report on the state of our chapter and hold an election for next year’s officers. We are pleased to announce that the following members have volunteered for the positions listed below. However, please do not let this deter you from putting your name forward. All the officers would welcome your contribution, either as an assistant or replacement. If it is the former, it is a great way to learn more about the inner workings of Shinshu JALT, and if the latter, the current officers would be more than willing to serve as your mentor when you assume one of these roles. Like any volunteer position, it is time-consuming, but I can guarantee that you will find the experience rewarding.

Important notice:
We are sad to announce that Greg Birch, our beloved program chair who has been the backbone of our chapter for the past four years, is stepping down. As stated above, he is happy to serve as a mentor for anyone who is willing to serve as our new program chair. Please do consider this fantastic chance for professional development!

Volunteers as of October 13th:

President: Mary Aruga
Treasurer: Cheryl Kirchhoff
Publicity: Damian Gowland
Membership: Heather Fukase

*The program chair finds speakers, communicates with them and supervises arrangements for our events. They also draw up announcements to be used for publicity as well as send in reports to the JALT program database. If you have any interest in becoming the Programme Chair, or any other positions, please contact us at:

  • Mary Aruga (president) maryaruga@rs.tus.ac.jp
  • Gregory Birch (current programme chair) gregorycbirch@gmail.com

Event report: MOOCs and Professional Development

On the 24th of September, Shinshu JALT was fortunate to have Nathaniel Reed as a guest speaker for an event on MOOCs and professional development.

The day started with Gregory Birch sharing the results of his published research on the role of JTEs and ALTs throughout various schools within Nagano and Toyama prefecture. Greg’s work highlighted the differences in workplace roles within different prefectures and also levels of education. While English education policies may be trying to align role structures, the reality in the workplace is very different.

Nathaniel’s one hour presentation spent a majority of the time going through the current state of the ALT program in Japan. This included the history of the ALT program, the original intention and how the nature of the job has changed over time. His presentation also gave context to the issues currently facing the position of an ALT, from the teachers themselves as well as from the teachers, schools and administrations they work with. These include things such as culture shock, language barriers, JTEs failing to utilise their ALTs and the high turnover rate which sees many ALTs leaving only once they become experienced and proficient at their jobs.

This context served to highlight the increasing need for ALTs to pursue their own professional development, which is why he founded the Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) – ALTTraining online. Nathaniel has called upon the help from various language teachers with years of experience to help contribute in creating content available for anybody to access online for free. The MOOC is already live (alttrainingonline.com) with some content available, although he is predicting all the courses and services to be ready by April next year.

Nathaniel Reed is still looking for people who may be interested to help with the MOOC in contributing content, proofreading or any other ideas that may assist the site. If you are interested please visit his website and contact him directly.


MOOCs and Professional Development: An afternoon with ALT Training Online founder, Nathaniel Reed.

Logo original
Speaker: Nathaniel Reed
: Sept 24th (Sun), 2017.
Time: 13:30~15:30 pm
Venue:  Nagano City Lifelong Learning Center (TOIGO 3F – Room 4)   長野市生涯学習センター (トイーゴ 3階 第4学習室) (Google map)
Sponsors: Japan Association for Language Teaching: Shinshu Chapter 全国語学教育学会  信州支部

CALL for Presenters: At Shinshu JALT’s September meeting, Nathaniel Reed will guide us through a MOOC he is developing – ALTtrainingonline. However, there are time slots available for other educators to share their expertise about team teaching, MOOCs or professional development in general. One role of Shinshu JALT is to provide local teachers with opportunities to share their ideas. Just get in touch.

Our young learners deserve quality teachers. Language education in Japan has been called, amongst other things: rigid, immobilized and outdated. As Courses of Study consistently ramp up goals, there is almost no evidence of them being met. One aspect of language policy that has huge potential for change and meeting MEXT targets that has been unrecognized 3 decades is ALTs.

There are around 14,000 ALTs working in elementary, junior and high schools and by 2020 there will be 20,000. Their job descriptions, roles and duties however have never been specified, and the level of training they receive ranges from none, to 5 day pre-position workshops with periodic on the job workshops. Almost no existing training is done with both team teaching partners – as the work context dictates. We are seeing the complexity of the working relationship develop, teachers’ voices getting louder, MEXT targets increasing, contract issues getting more obscured and the number of agencies hiring ALTs going up – and something needs to give.

Presented here is an initiative to support language teachers and ultimately support the futures of our learners’. Since 2015 the presenter has been steadily putting together an open access teacher training MOOC for ALTs. He will talk about the reasons why the MOOC exists, its goals and how it is being put together. Following this informative talk the floor will be open for questions about the MOOC, so please take a little time to explore the site www.alttrainingonline.com – your ideas, thoughts and queries are actively encouraged.


Nathaniel Reed has been working in education, in various contexts, for 17 years. He came to Japan in 2009 and has worked as a school manager, curriculum developer and a teacher in eikaiwas, university and currently as an ALT. He completed a distance MA with Birmingham University in 2014 writing his dissertation on the contemporary roles of ALTs. He has presented the ALT training MOOC at the 2015 and 2016 JALT international conferences and will also present in 2017 conference in Tsukuba. His paper on this can be found in the post conference proceedings 2016, and interview in The Language Teacher March 2017 issue 41.2.

Admission: JALT members free. Non-members: 1000 yen. JALT会員は無料、非会
Inquiries: Gregory Birch (gregorycbirch@gmail.com)
See JALT.org events calendar for latest details.
場所は、JALTのホームページのイベントカレンダーから検索できます (JALT.org)

Event Report: Get going with Google


On July the 30th, Shinshu JALT was very privileged to host an esteemed educator and certified Google innovator and trainer – Rab Paterson.

The first 2 hour portion of Rab’s workshop focused on setting up a workflow using the vast array of apps and tools available from Google. From setting up and personalising your own Gmail account, the workshop instinctively moved on to creating a platform for learners to share and exchange ideas under constant teacher supervision. Rab had much to speak about in regards to the strengths of using a Google platform compared to others. In particular the security, cross referencing capabilities and the free compatibility regardless of device – all readily available for any user teacher or student. The workshop also covered many of the tools available to teachers and students via an online system such as – various methods to proofread and improve your writing fluency and ways for a teacher to monitor how a student’s writing piece develops.


The second part of Rab’s workshop dealt with his Google accreditations and current work. Rab explained the process involved in the various Google certificates available and how it improves your skills as a digital educator. Those at the workshop were also fortunate to see how Rab’s work platform creates a network for his students to create media and content that is readily shared online via blogs. Some of the work involved videos made by the students – digital videos as well as recorded performances – and well written thought pieces by students expressing their ideas and desires.

Shinshu JALT would like to once again thank Rab in taking the time to share his online teaching experiences with those of us in Nagano, who for the most part conduct a majority if not all of our teaching offline.


Get Going with Google

JALT July Event - Rab Paterson edit

Speaker: Rab Paterson
Date: July 30th (Sun)
Time: 10:00-15:00
Venue: M-Wing Central Community Center / 松本市公民館M-ウィング・中央公民館 (Google Map / 地図)
Admission: JALT members: Free.  Non-members: 1000 yen.

ShinshuJALT is proud to announce the guest speaker for our July event will be Rab Paterson – a certified Google educator – who will be giving a workshop on using technology in teaching.

Note: Please ensure that you have an active Google account, and to bring a laptop/tablet/device with Wi-Fi access for this interactive workshop. Shinshu JALT will be providing wi-fi routers for attendees.

RSVP: If would be helpful if you register with Gregory Birch (gregorycbirch@gmail.com) by July 15 to ensure we order enough WiFi routers for the event.

Session 1 – This session will cover digital pedagogy with practical examples drawn from the Just in Time Teaching, Flipped Learning, and Blog Journaling pedagogical approaches. These will be demonstrated by showing how Google Apps (Blogger, Docs, Forms, Google+ Communities, Google Groups, Google Sites, and YouTube) together with an RSS Reader (Feedly) can accomplish these ideas in an easy to manage way, even for teachers new to educational technology. After the overview and demonstration of this theory, the session will become more hands on and the instructor will go on to work directly with attendees on how to set up and use all these apps in this way and teachers will make their own Sites and accounts for these various apps. This section will be followed by a presentation and discussion on TPACK and how this approach can help teachers utilise the Google Apps above in varying subjects and types of classes. The entire morning session will end with a more formal Q and A session, although attendees are free to ask questions throughout the session.

Session – 2 This session will cover the many different teacher credentials and qualifications that Google offer. These will be explained in turn with the pros and cons of each along with advice, suggestions, and tips on how to gain these certificates and what to expect once attendees have them. Some time will be spent looking at the exams and where to find resources to prepare for them along with guidance on how to keep current with Google’s products. The session will conclude with reasons why teachers should consider going Google. The entire afternoon session will end with a more formal Q and A session, although attendees are free to ask questions throughout the session.

About Rab Paterson

Rab Paterson currently teaches at the Toyo University-UCLA Extension Center for Global Education, and is the Director of the Asia Association for Global Studies, a Fellow of the British Royal Asiatic Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Additionally he is a Google Certified Educator, Google Educators Group Leader, Google Certified Trainer, and winner of the Google Innovator and Apple Distinguished Educator awards.
He has a BA(Hons.) in Pacific Asian History and an MA in Pacific Asian Studies from London University’s SOAS, a Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy and an MS in Multidisciplinary Studies from SUNY(Buffalo). Currently, he’s a doctoral candidate at University College London’s Institute of Education, conducting research on digital literacy and teacher professional development via online and face to face workshops.

Inquiries: Gregory Birch (gbirch@seisen-jc.ac.jp)
See JALT.org events calendar for latest details.
Signup for the event via facebook here.

Event Report:Designing tasks informed by CEFR and CLIL to develop cognitive and intercultural skills

Shinshu JALT would like to thank Dr Naoyuki Naganuma, professor of the International Education Center at Tokai University, for his very informative presentation at the 47th Annual Conference of Chubu English Language Education Society (CELES) held at the Education Faculty of Shinshu University on June 25.

Dr Naganuma began his presentation, entitled “Designing tasks informed by CEFR and CLIL to develop cognitive and intercultural skills,” by highlighting both recent shifts in educational policy and planning which will be implemented by MEXT across content areas by 2020 and also the specific challenges for English education. Two key concepts that were guideposts for me throughout the rest of the presentation were deep learning and dialogical learning which may also be expressed as “sophistication” and “diversification.”

When discussed in the context of language education, the emphases on deep learning and dialogical learning correspond to cognitive and intercultural skills respectively. To respond to increasing attention on these points in language education, Dr Naganuma expressed the need for integrating higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) into lessons at both lower and higher language levels, using scales informed by CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference), and the corresponding need for thinking-scaffolding as well as language-scaffolding. Content-focused lessons like those associated with CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) might more naturally provide opportunities for HOTS and for the second concept of diversification/intercultural skills. Although Dr Naganuma’s presentation focused on primary and secondary education, I found his insights on the importance of deep active involvement tied in well with the earlier university-focused presentations from Shinshu JALT’s Gregory Birch and Sue Fraser on topics related to learner autonomy and motivation.

In his conclusion, Dr Naganuma presented concrete examples from CEFR-scaled textbooks with a focus on critical thinking and suggested we explore the Intercultural Competence Assessment (INCA) framework, a European framework focused on global social skills, for additional ideas. Placing more emphasis on HOTS and on awareness and respect for diversity is no easy task, but this presentation provided us with useful resources for our classrooms and models for our own materials development.

Once again Shinshu JALT would like to thank Dr Naganuma for making the trip out to Nagano and helping to prepare us for the new directions in English education in Japan.

Reported by Colleen Dalton