Report from the Japan Association for Language Education Technology conference, Tokyo, Japan.
By Patrick Colabucci, Director, Global Studies and International Pathways at California State University, Northridge.
Japan’s LET – The Japan Association for Language Education Technology – is one of the oldest and largest national organizations dedicated to the effective use of technology in language teaching. LET hosted its 53rd conference August 7 – 9 in Tokyo. Tokyo’s humidity is infamous in the summer and, maybe, at its worst in August. Fortunately, the LET conference had some great sessions and some cool topics to take one’s mind off the suffocating heat.
The theme of this year’s LET Conference was ‘Exploring Strategies for Enhancing L2 Learners’ Motivation’ and there were plenty of presentations dedicated to the theme as well as other areas, including technology tools assisting pronunciation, mobile learning/teaching tools, and vocabulary acquisition. Overall, this year’s LET conference covered a lot of territory and had something for everyone.
The first day of the conference was all workshops. A couple that stood out included one dedicated to using short video clips, specifically taken from popular movies, and helping students create their own skits derived from the videos. The use of technological tools, like phone cameras, listening tools, editing tools, and rewriting tools all came into play.
Another workshop involved using LAMS (Learning Activity Management System). LAMS are open source learning design systems used for managing and delivering online collaborative activities. LAMS provide tools for teachers to create original activities and share them not just with their class, but with other classes. These activities also represent collaborative learning opportunities for students who contribute to the development of the final product in significant ways.
The conference presentations began on Thursday. Jill Hadfield, publisher of a number of textbooks and activity books gave the first plenary speech. She spoke heartily about Motivation, Imagination and L2 Identity. For those of us who have spent substantial time abroad, and/or have spent many years working with and teaching students from around the world, and/or studied or learned foreign languages, much of what she discussed hit home. The entire issue of L2 identity has become a mainstream topic in a range of research areas. How motivation and imagination intertwine and influence L2 identity is rich for discussion. Ms. Hadfield’s talk was well received. In a sense, it was rather refreshing to listen to an interesting discussion not tied to technology at a technology-themed conference.