Events

This is a list of all ALT Agorà events since February 2021.

ALT Agorà ⑥ – July 2021


SPOTLIGHT: Getting the most out of games.
Miguel Mision (University of Nagano)
“Didn’t we play karuta last week? Do I really want to play bingo again?”. No matter what level of learner – from children to adults there’s one thing in common. They all enjoy playing games, either to warm themselves up or to shake up the rhythm in a classroom. As part of my post graduate studies I studied research on game design theory and will share how these principles have transitioned to the ESL/EFL classroom.

Room 1: So, what exactly is GIGA school?
Erin Noxon (Sagano High School)
We’ll talk about what is the GIGA school concept, what is a GIGA school, what you can do at your school if your school has gone BYOD and generally have a conversation about what everyone is doing at their schools so far.

Room 2: Are ALT roles in a shifting stage?
Akiko Kano (Sophia University)
Team-teaching has been an important element of ALTs’ contribution to English education, especially in elementary schools. However, with more specialized English teachers  (専科) coming into elementary schools these days, there seems to be a shift in what is expected of ALTs and TT. Please share your experience and ideas in this breakout room.

Room 3: Games in the Classroom
Miguel Mision (University of Nagano)
What games have worked or haven’t worked for you? 
This discussion will continue from the spotlight talk and look at examples of games that fit certain criteria of game design theory. Participants are encouraged to share any activities they do that also satisfy specific criteria and to also discuss the efficacy or lack thereof with certain games.

Room 4: Defusing Misunderstandings between ALTs and JTEs
Jackson Koon Yat Lee (Toyo University)
Conflicts between colleagues often come from inaccurate assumptions about each other. A good number of misunderstandings and disagreements between ALTs and JTEs/HRTs can be avoided with a better understanding about their teaching partner, including the teacher’s background, motivation, and vision for the students. This session focuses on common examples of differences that can cause such conflicts, why it is important to recognize and accept them, and how the two teachers can resolve or utilize their dissimilarities by sharing a positive approach to team-teaching.

SPECIAL GUEST: English Kamishibai
Kuniaki Sakai (英語紙芝居師 – English Kamishibai Artist)
Sakai-sensei’s special presentation to close this month’s event with a smile! He is going to show you his “Kamishibai”, a traditional Japanese artwork. Definitely something you don’t get to see every day! Don’t miss it!

ALT Agorà ⑤ – June 2021


SPOTLIGHT: Native-speakerism and English as a Lingua Franca (Part 1)
Robert J. Lowe (Tokyo Kasei University)

Native-speakerism is an ideology that impacts all language teachers, and is strongly connected to the models of English we teach, and the skills we focus on in class. In this session, the speaker will first give some background on native-speakerism, before sketching an alternative way of doing things through teaching English as a Lingua Franca. Teachers will then be invited to share their experiences of the former, and discuss ideas of how they could introduce the latter in their classrooms.

Room 1: Native-speakerism and English as a Lingua Franca (Part 2)
Speaker: Robert J. Lowe (Tokyo Kasei University) 

Native-speakerism is an ideology that impacts all language teachers, and is strongly connected to the models of English we teach, and the skills we focus on in class. In this session, the speaker will first give some background on native-speakerism, before sketching an alternative way of doing things through teaching English as a Lingua Franca. Teachers will then be invited to share their experiences of the former, and discuss ideas of how they could introduce the latter in their classrooms.

Room 2: Fluency in the Classroom
Speaker: José Domingo Cruz (Kitakyushu University)
All teachers want their students to achieve higher levels of fluency, but how to teach it, and which classroom methods actually work? Cruz will provide some food for thought on this topic, and then will be happy to discuss any ideas and questions in the Breakout Room.

Room 3: Part 2: Textbook + Creativity = Happy Students!
Speaker: Gretchen Clark (Kyoto Notre Dame University)
In this follow-up session, the presenter will draw on the four principles outlined in Part 1 (timing, groupings, movement, and teacher role), add a fifth, personalization, to facilitate a workshop about how to re-envision textbook topics and lessons for maximum student engagement. Attendees are encouraged to bring the textbooks they are currently using and presenter and attendees will discuss options for fun supplementary activities.

Room 4: Design Thinking in the Classroom – Part 2
Speaker: Rishma Hansil (Tokyo JET Prefectural Advisor)
If you missed part 1, don’t worry. Design thinking focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to lesson planning and activity design. We’ll continue our discussion on designing lessons around empathy and intercultural communication.

ALT Agorà ④ – May 2021


SPOTLIGHT: Making the Most of One-shot ALT Visits
Peter J. Collins (Tokai University)

“So what game are you playing with my students today?” This seemingly simple question is underpinned by assumptions about the limited nature of ALT contributions to student learning. It’s true that there are a number of obstacles to fully integrating one-shot ALT visits into a textbook-based curriculum, but it IS possible! A flexible universal lesson plan model will be shared for team-taught junior high classes that provides JTEs, ALTs, and students with meaningful classroom roles and involves relatively little preparation – promise!

Room 1: Extending Textbook Units with Communication Activities
Peter J. Collins (Tokai University)

This discussion is itself an extension of Peter J. Collin’s April breakout room; he’ll share activities that were designed and implemented by junior and senior high teams. These activities help meet teacher goals of deepening students’ understanding of the reading content and giving them chances to recycle target language. They also provide students with chances to interact with and get responses from non-Japanese communities outside the classroom. Participants will be invited to share and/or brainstorm activities for their own textbook units.

Room 2: Being the best ALT you can be: what makes an ALT successful?
Chelanna White (Kyoto JET PA)
In my four years as an ALT and year as a prefectural advisor, I have noticed several key traits that successful ALTs have. In this short talk, I will talk about these traits as well as things ALTs can do to cultivate them. In the discussion following the talk, I hope to provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss what they think makes them successful ALTs, or the areas they would like to improve in. Attendees will share their experiences and advice with each other.

Room 3: Exploring culture with students
Daniel Pearce (Kyoto Notre Dame University)
Learning about culture is an integral part of foreign language learning. As ALTs, we are often expected to share ‘foreign’ culture with our students, but as time goes on, talking about ourselves and our home countries can become wearing. In this session, I will discuss the broad concept of culture, and how we can explore learning about culture with our students, as well as introduce a useful repository of resources for culture-centered lessons. I also hope that we can share opinions and ideas about what we would like our students to learn about culture, and how we can better contribute to learning.

Room 4: Teaching Pronunciation and Phonics
Cheyenne Weaver (Yamagata Prefecture ALT)
What sounds do your students struggle to hear and say? How can we get our students to connect sounds to print? If you’ve ever had questions like these (or if you just like talking about speech sounds), then this is the breakout room for you. In this session, we’ll exchange advice and effective activities so that we can build better phonological awareness in our students.

SPECIAL GUEST: English Kamishibai
Kuniaki Sakai (英語紙芝居師 – English Kamishibai Artist)
Sakai-sensei’s special presentation to close this month’s event with a smile! He is going to show you his “Kamishibai”, a traditional Japanese artwork. Definitely something you don’t get to see every day! Don’t miss it!

ALT Agorà ③ – Apr. 2021


SPOTLIGHT: Easy (extensive) reading, and its role in developing stronger English (vocabulary) skills in junior and senior high school students.
David Coulson (Ritsumeikan University)
I will outline a model of vocabulary knowledge, and how lexical skill can be expected to develop either with or without extensive reading. I will then briefly present data taken from 608 junior and senior high school students in Niigata showing their ability to process the most common essential English words through a test of word recognition. Finally, I will introduce a free website for extensive reading which could help plug the gap.

Room 1: Teaching vocabulary and flashcard practices
David Coulson (Ritsumeikan University)

Words are basic for learning a foreign language. But which words, and how should teachers guide the use of flash cards, for example? The speaker will mention these issues and invite discussion by asking teachers to share their experiences.

Room 2: Textbook + Creativity = Happy students!
Gretchen Clark (Kyoto Notre Dame University)
According to educator John Hattie, classroom decisions should be made to engage, complete tasks, have fun and ‘reinvest in the game of schooling’ (2012). How can we reinvent standard textbook activities to ensure students are motivated and learning? The presenter will share her go-to activities and invite attendees to brainstorm other ways of keeping lessons interesting for students.

Room 3: Recognizing and Realizing JTE-ALT Relationships
Peter J. Collins (Tokai University)

Why team-teach? More specifically, what can a JTE-ALT team do that couldn’t be done by a JTE-JTE team, an ALT-ALT team, or a bilingual solo teacher? In this session, we’ll talk about ways to move beyond simple turn-taking and consider four kinds of JTE-ALT relationships that can make the in-class experience more meaningful for both teachers and students.

Room 4: Design Thinking in the ALT Classroom
Rishma Hansil (Tokyo JET Prefectural Advisor)

Design Thinking is a solution-based approach to solving problems, used across a range of disciplines from engineering to education. In the language learning classroom it can be a new way of thinking and working. This workshop looks at the 5 stages of Design Thinking, discussing ways in which we can generate ideas with our students, design lesson materials and engage students in hands-on learning activities.

ALT Agorà ② – Mar. 2021


SPOTLIGHT: CLIL and the future of English education for ALTs
Nate Olson (Sophia University)

Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) is a dual-focused educational approach in which students learn content through language and language through content. Nate Olson will give an overview of the approach, highlight how CLIL is ahead of the curve in MEXT’s Course of Study, and discuss the unique opportunities it offers ALTs for professional development.

Room 1: Understanding your students
Miguel Mision (University of Nagano) 

Part of improving your skills as a teacher involves getting a deeper understanding of how your students think. As teachers from western countries, the education ideas and methods we grew up with can be very different to those of students in eastern countries. In this workshop I will explain some concepts of the origins of these differences and participants will be asked if they can share their experiences and think of methods for western teachers to connect with eastern students.

Room 2: Bridging gaps between Conversation and Communication classes
Peter J. Collins (Tokai University)

Team-taught conversation and solo-JTE-taught Communication I-III classes seem to present two separate (but not equal) versions of English. Are there ways teachers can begin integrating the two? Breakout room members will be invited to share their experiences and discuss ways to help students see these components as part of a unified curriculum.

Room 3: CLIL in the classroom
Nate Olson (Sophia University)

This room will explore how content and language integrated learning (CLIL) can be implemented in the classroom. We will discuss and share ideas related to CLIL principles and practices such as materials design, scaffolding, translanguaging, feedback and assessment.

Room 4: Teaching vocabulary and flashcard practices
David Coulson (Ritsumeikan University)

Words are basic for learning a foreign language. But which words, and how should teachers guide the use of flash cards, for example? The speaker will mention these issues and invite discussion by asking teachers to share their experiences.

ALT Agorà ① – Feb. 2021


SPOTLIGHT: The importance of prof. development for ALTs
Daniel Pearce (Kyoto Notre Dame University)
In the Spotlight 10-minute session, I will focus on the professional development I underwent as an ALT, but also discuss some of the things I learned through teacher training at a Japanese university, what I wish I had known, and how I might have been able to make a bigger difference as an ALT in the classroom if I had.

Room 1: Teaching culture to students
Daniel Pearce (Kyoto Notre Dame University)
‘Culture’ is an extremely broad, and equally nebulous term. As ALTs, we are often expected to share ‘foreign’ culture with our students. In this session, I hope to share (and hear) opinions and ideas about what we expected students to learn through culturally-centered lessons, and how we can better contribute to learning.

Room 2: Connecting with your JTE/HRTs
Linfeng Wang (University of Fukui)
Professional learning community with your HRT and JTEs. This room explores various ways to get more involved in your school. We discuss and share ideas about how ALTs can participate and contribute to weekly subject meetings, monthly research meetings, and open lesson study meetings.

Room 3: Using CLIL in the classroom
Nate Olson (Sophia University)
Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) has recently been gaining attention in Japan. What is CLIL and how can teachers use it for professional development? Breakout room members will share experiences and discuss the potentials and pitfalls of this new approach.

Room 4: Teaching vocabulary and flashcard practices
David Coulson (Ritsumeikan University)
Words are basic for learning a foreign language. But which words, and how should teachers guide the use of flash cards, for example? The speaker will mention these issues and invite discussion by asking teachers to share their experiences.