Sunday, 14 June 2009

Shinshu JALT presents...

Our very own local JALT had a day-long event in Matsumoto this weekend. For some reason, the adoption of Eigo Noto for elementary schools appears to have been accepted extremely casually; it's a crap concept and a woeful effort at producing a 'textbook'. No meaningful language learning accrues from its adoption, the use of which expressly forbids the teaching of phonics/reading…and even if there were any redeeming characteristics about it, very few teachers across the country who will have to use the book from next year have been given any useful direction in how to implement it.

The so-called expert delivery I saw at the conference was using technology unlikely to be available or easily mastered by your everyday class teacher; nor attract much lasting attention from students. It is gimmicky at best, peurile in truth. Another striking thing I noticed was how pathetic the teacher-ALT relationship usually is, as the lesson lost structure and the teacher turning to the ALT as the apparent source of all knowledge. I forget the actual question, but it arose from dumb artwork in the book/in the presentation and expecting the ALT to know what a particularly weird shape was called. Both looked under-prepared, which would loose them credibility in front of a class. In my 5 years at Fuzoku JHS as a part-time ALT and in other classrooms since, I have lost count of the number of times I have been put on the spot like that. It simply isn’t smart.

Good news out of the event was that Nagano ETJ and Shinshu JALT will both be involved in the event Jim is organizing at Luna for August 29th, when Emily Percival is coming to the school to give a workshop on Early Learning and Language Acquisition. Emily teaches at the British School in Tokyo, where she is also responsible for assessing children’s language skills. Recently she successfully trained to become a Cambridge ESOL Oral Examiner for KET & PET. This will be a very interesting half-day workshop, it is free, and all teachers/parents are invited to attend.

I was also delighted to have the chance to talk to my very good friend Young Mi, for the first time in ages :)