Toru's TESOL Life

My Reflective Thought on TESOL-related Lecture,Books,and Articles. Also, Useful Information Links. This blog stops posting new articles now. My current blog is as follows. This blog is mainly on thought about my teaching days and private life.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Came back to Tokyo

I went back to Hokkaido in this weekend, and i came back to Tokyo today. This picture is where i stayed. There was nothing special i did there, but i really enjoyed the stay, and felt relaxed so much.

Hokkaido is now preparing for the severe winter. i felt it from the changing color of woods. The green of woods became much deeper than it was in summer.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Grammar textbook

I stopped by a big bookshop at Shinjuku i often go to, and browsed ESL/EFL textbooks for grammar evaluation project of the class i take.

I want to compare three Grammar-based syllabus textbooks and other three Integrated syllabus ones. I picked up popluar textbooks in terms of high possibility for me to use them in my class at high school in Japan.

Compared with textbooks always used in high school, ESL/EFL textbook was really intriguing, and i felt like studying English using those kinds of textbooks! It is well designed for learners to improve their overall English skills comprehensively. I would like to use them to my class when i restart teaching at high school.

For grammar evaluaiton procjet, i compare those textbooks in light of grammatical items, type of tasks, face validity, and so on.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

How many people with the same name as you?

i tired the cite below. There is no "Toru" in the database, that is not surprisingly.
but i surprised to see that there are 810 people named "Otsuka" in U.S. is it possible?
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?
By the way, i saw the news that popluation is U.S. got over 300,000,000!
population is the potential to show the power of a country. How will japan be in the future?


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Day Off

I relaxed a lot today. There has been something i had to for a long time, so i could enjoy today. it was a completely day off. After strong rainy days, sunny days have lasted for three days. this picture is the senery before my apartment. it was just a picture, nothing special, but a sunny day in fall is what i like the most all over the year.

I watched a movie today, World Trade Center by Oliver Stone. It focused much more on personal story around two family, than i had expected, i mean i though it was more political one. I cried a lot actually than i expected, not to let others know. It was a great movie, and i swore that i had to think more seriously about what i should do to stop war. After i came back home, i heard news that North Korea have done nuclear power experimentation. That country seems to walk the same way as Japan did from WW1 two WW2. I'm really worried that country got more and more isolated from international society as Japan did by leaving the League of Nations in 1920's.

i have concentrated on writing a paper about project on Applied Linguistics recently. Though i was messy about what i should do about that at first, i zoomed my theme into reading assessment using my data i got from my colleague on scores of reading tests of students. I've read several books and articles about reading and validity, and put what i got from them into the paper. but i have to stop writing it and doing research 'cause i have to prepare for the test of this class next monday. I have not yet prepared for it at all!! Oh well, i know what i can do is taking my time to study for it not to wing it.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Easy-Going English Learner

I had a really good night today with TUJ friends. We went to Izakaya near TUJ and enjoyed beer and conversation. We talked a lot about Japanese and American culture, politics, tradition, subculture like music, cooking TV shows... I could not even imagin i could enjoy that way in my L2 English, when i was a child. Even one year ago, i did not like so much to go for drinking becaue English everyone speaks was fast and slippery for my ear, but i have gradually been used to it.

I hardly get lost during conversation in that situation, but i still got in trouble to speak what i wanna say. Everytime after i joined casual conversation, i thought i need to polish my English.
Especially conversation with several people, native speaker do not do "teacher talk", so it become more challenging for me.

However, on my way home, i noticed the fact that i felt i need to polish my English is just the way many japanese think. I mean apprehention, anxiety, or some kinda inferiority is the strong driving forse to push Japanese learners of English toward learning English more and more.

I read some articles and attended lectures at TUJ that told me that strong factors for leanrers to study or learn English is different from culture to culture. One doctor said the extent to which they are laid-back and relaxed is the stimulating factor to learn English for Brazilian, while the degree to which they are anxious is in Japan.

If someone from some country who is at the level of proficiency as me are in the situation above like at Izakaya for beer and conversation, he/she may be feel different. I feel that there is much room i should give it a try to reach to higher proficiency.. But i realized that the way i felt is just that typical Japanese learners feel.

Oh, well, i am now at the point of graduating from studying English for just English. It is good time to study something through English. My learning style is kinda test-driven one. I used to be learning English for TOEIC, TOEFL, and Eiken. But i got bored with it. Fortunately, i found the content i get intereted in. One of them is TESOL. TESOL study is practical for me as a teacher and as a learner. I wanna be more reflective learner/teacher.

Anyway, thank you so much for you guys for wonderful time tonight!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

L2 reading

I've got better than I was several days ago. I did not see a doctor, but it seems my chicke pox have been cured, i don't know how though.

I am now collecting and begin to read articles and books to write my course project based on the research. But my research is really small and simple, so i want to add kinda literature review like part before the research itself. So i begin to read books about reading. But, it turns out that L2 reading has lots of controversies and topics, like text type, conncetion between reading and listening, learner's motivation, contrastive rhetoric, learner's reading ability and L2 language proficiency. These complex factors make assessment of reading be much more complicated. It is intersting to know such topics itself, but for writing a paper, i am now in trouble around how i should narrow those topics down on my research paper...

The book i am now reading is above. This book is more difficult for me than the previous book i introduced at my diary several days ago. But it includes various topics that make me think more and more.

But What i got to know through that kinda struggle is the fact that i am interested in assessing, or testing, because this field is practical for me after i go back to my workplace to restart my teaching.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

From Tokyo To Neanderthal

I went to Tokyo Station today, to pay for social insurance. I go to Tokyo once a month to do that. The snecery i saw on the train from Shinjuku to Tokyo is totally different from that i usually see around here in Hachioji. Lots of buildings, narrow road, and old fashoned Tokyo station really freshed me up!

Left is the photo of my closest station i usually use. It is of course comfortable station, but around this station has nothing but nature...

The article i read for the next week class said every tribe and kind of human living on the earth can say [a] [i] and [u], the basic vowels, but Neanderthal could not say [a] [i] or [u] due to their short distance from addams' apple to mouth chamber. They of course could communicate with each other much more satisfactory than ape do, but they could not so sufficiently communicative as moderm human do now. It is interesting. But i just did they talk with each other?


These days

These days, My brain has been too activated to keeping in good shape!! When i got up, i feel my self exausted. Moreover, i got sort of chiken pox, like shingles. Once i saw the movies "Super Size Me" i decided to keep in good shape, and began to drink vinegar for my health, but i ended up to get chiken pox. That's miserable.. Oh well, i have to see a doctor, tomorrow.

These days, i have been too focusing on TESOL-related learning and studying. It is perhaps the reason to make me sick. But i cannot stop! because it is intersting! Well, I'm already in the situation of "runners high".

I'm now taking two courses with lots of assignment. And hopefully, i would like to write some paper about topic i am now interested in by i graduate this grad school. I know after i go back to workplace to restart my teaching, i cannot spend lots of time for studying as now, so i would like to read what i got interested in, and write a paper about it. I cannot get a clear picture about what kind of paper would be emerged, but it would include students' reading proficiency, and how to assess it.

i'm now reading this book above. It is really systematically written, but it is also one of reasons to make my brain activated.



I presented my research plan today at the class of applied linguistics. My reserch topic are how each test to assess students English performance at Reading class correlated with each other. I actually am fed up with Literature review, so i decided to do research, though there will be some literature review- like parts on my paper as previous research or something like that.

The field i am now interested in is testing and curiculum development. So i would like to persue those field a litte bit more through writing this paper. At the Research course i took this summer, i wrote a research paper about motivation. At first, i had planned to write paper on that topic, but, i actually am demotivated with that topic now, so i changed this topic into test scores themselves.

I mean, at the reserch paper of the class of Research, test scores were used as dependent variables, but at the paper of this class, test scores themselves are the main topics. So i want to analyze the relationships with each other. Hopefully i want to back up the paper with literature review- like stuff about readability (because it is about the class of Reading), program evaluation, and curiculum development.


Fall Semester

Fall semester started. I take New Grammar and Applied Linguistics. This semester will be most tough one than others i have gone through. I joined the first class of Applied Linguistics. It had three tests and two presentation, lots of stuffs i have to read to before class, and course paper. Clearly it is hardest course among TUJ TESOL courses. Dr. C's vocaburaly saids lots of terminology modified by difficult adjectives, many of which i could not understand. He also mambuls something important, many of which i could not grasp. Anyway "Applied Linguistics" is the name of department which has various items and stuffs, not just the name of one course i think. but i will have to absorb what he will teach.. within only one course..huu... The only thing i am looking forward to is the pizza party at the last class of grammar corse. Until then, i will keep on learning TESOL.

The closer the day i come back to Hokkaido, the more realistic i become. The days i can have a dream about my teaching and my career development have gone, and the days i endure with high pressure from constrains on my life and teaching began. But the very condition itself help me ponder what i should teach, and what i could develop my career. The best way i guess about my life is keep on teaching at high school and working for BOE in several years. It meets my academical, financial and professional needs. But through my days at TUJ, i found myself enjoying studying TESOL. If i have a chance i would like to have a position at colleges. Also as a learner, i would like to go abroad for myself being exposed with English. As a domestic learner, i have maximize the chane of llearning English only in here in Japan. Without experience of living outside Japan, i could be considered one of miracles as a proficient learner. But i am about to hitting the ceiling. To gain condidence and speaking ability, i would like to go outside Japan. Oh, well i got lost in woods. i tottaly forgot what i would like to note down here.At least my days at TUJ will last for 6 months, so i will do my best. I would like be cooperative as much as possible with classmates, and also i want to be more strict for myself phisically and mentally. Phisically means i gradually gain weight, so i will jog around my neighborhood a few times a week. Mentally means i tend to indulge in some unproductive activity like internet surfing lately, so i want to be more stoic. Oh i got lost depper in the huge forest. Where am i ? Okay i go back to real world. Today is the first class of New Grammer.New Semester began!


What on earth is Master degree?

One year and four months have passed since i entered the grad school. I studied a lot from this program. My major at undergraduate program was sociology and educational sociology. What i learned then and what i'm learning is not the same and also not totally different. What i learned at undergraduate,and was impressed is philosophical paradigm shift, especially modernism and postmodernism. Thanks to them,i tend to perceive and think what i see from this two perspectives. it is broader fundemental divice to think anything while i live in this world. On the other hand, what i am studying is more practical stuff. Even in theoretical one, i can find their orientation on how teachers apply the theories into practical phases. That is what i expected before entering this grad school. So i am satisfied with it.But at the same time, i cannot be satisfied with lack of common background we think we should have. I felt that at the class of Applied Linguistics. Most of learnerw attending the class was close to their graduation. From the handout the professor passed us out about what students would like to get from the class, i could not find any common perspective we have. it is not the knowlege about TESOL. We already can share varioius knowlege about TESOL, like CPH, SLA, TBL, and so on. But i felt at that time, we are not sharing perspectives about language, teaching and learning. it does not mean i think we should teach or teach in the same way. but i felt the lack we cannot share. how can i say? it is hard to express what i am thinking. If the other professor asks us to note down about what we would like to get from this master course, say, at the class of Intro to TESOL, by Dr,E, what do you think we would jot down? i guees we would write simillar stuff we write at the class of applied linguistics. Maybe the term we write is different, but i doubt it is not different, rather simillar. i think what is important is to get perspective with which we clearly and deeply see and think about the world than knowledge itself. I felt i got it at undergraduate program. but i still can not get it at this grad school. i guess it is not the matter of language(English) through which instruction is done, but the matter of characteriscics of this field. Ironically i got the perspective most is from classes from Dr.B. it is ironic because i feel the "philosphy" about how we should think about language and language learning from statistics which is the most "scientific" one. From many classes, i could not the get that philosophy which back up the various knowlege that are taught. i think it even unfair to hide such perspectives that sustain each knowlege. if we learn such perspecives and paradigm shift to support each knowledge, we can learn it more enthusiastically.But it is the fact that master's program is just a threshold. i know a lot about that. perhaps it will took at least several years to get the perspectives after i graduate this grad school. i would like to say myself now iam at the stage where i have to learn a lot of stuffs by which i can deepen my thought.


Grammar Edtting

Thanks for invitation from chief edittor (He is really brilliant student teaching English) i have joined editting committee which edit works of tasks students in class named "New Grammar" came up with or adapted for target students to do. It is not easy to keep on involving myself in negotiate what to do at meetings, making quriteria, editting, post messages to each candidate, while attending regular courses basically twice a week.However, it is really meaningful to do that. Practically our name would be put at the top pages of editted book, but moreover, we may be able to more touchy and sensitive to issues about how we make and arrange tasks that help students to get aware of the characteristics of grammartical rule, and at the same time, encourge students to communicate sufficiently and enjoyably.

Dr.Schaefer taught me about location of grammar, especially Consiousness-raising tasks in Task-based learning citing Dr.Ellis. CR tasks like we edditting members would like to find out to put them into annual working paper, seems to familiar with classes with rich exposure. Dr. Ellis explais that students need intellictual effort to go through CR tasks to figure out rules. It is tottaly different skills students would need at exposure-oriented phase like report-phase, or pre-task phase in TBL. So i guess rational for CR-tasks will guaranteed by rich exposure.Considering japanese publich high school situations, i don't think it easy to implement CR tasks 'cause students cannot receive exposure from structure-oriented syllabus.

Dr.Schafer, he is knowledgeable for constrains of teaching English in Japan, arugues that CR-tasks added in daily-based classroom run by structure-oriented syllabus is effective, 'cause students do communication in English during the task itself. He said Dr.Photos who have tauth English in Japan for a long time support that task from the same reason.Anway through this edditing process, reading and listening about issues around grammar activities, natural order, SLA, i gradually have got felt like coming up with the CR-tasks on my own.


Lecture Series

This weekend, I attended Lecture Series of Temple Univ Japan. The topic is about immersion program, and the lecturer is Dr.Boswick, the most famous derector of immersion school in Japan and world context.

He argues about various topic around issues on immersion program. One of intriguing one is the "commonsense" among many japanese who assume that eary immersion from elementary level or kindegarden level will have negative effects on their L1 proficiency. He said that many researches got the opposite results, which revealed equal or a little bit high proficiency of both of their L1 and L2 of students in immeresion programs. I think it strong rationale to support immersion program.

Nevertheless, I still might not be confident to put my children into that kind of immersion program if i had a baby. Why? That reason is perhaps shared by many Japanese parents. One of the reason i guess is that there is actually not strong need to get that high proficiency of L2 in Japan. So i cannot get a picutre of the actual figure of parents who are eager to push their children in that sort of schools in Japan.

I'll ask the professor tomorrow.I do never mean to offend the immersion program and school he have derected for more than decades. He is so stylish and enthusiastic to teach me how he develp that curriculm. As one of English teacher in high school who has a vote to decide direction of the school, his lecture suitably fit my teaching situation. I look forward to tomorrow's lecture.