Following are the lecturers and topics of past seminars of the Distinguished Lecturer Series.

Dr. Nicole Ziegler (University of Hawaii at Manoa, U.S.A.)

Task-based Language Teaching: Applying Research to Practice

Research investigating task-based language teaching (TBLT) has grown during the past few decades, with findings demonstrating the efficacy of this pedagogical framework for second language (L2) learning and development (e.g. see Chong & Reinders, 2020; Keck et al., 2006; Mackey & Goo, 2007 for reviews). Grounded in the interaction approach to SLA (Mackey, 2020), which posits that language learning occurs during conversational interaction through negotiation for meaning, corrective feedback, and opportunities for noticing and modified output production, TBLT can provide learners with an ideal psycholinguistic environment facilitative of L2 learning.    

Beginning with an overview of the theoretical foundations of TBLT, this seminar will introduce participants to various practical and empirical issues in task-based learning and teaching, including key components of task-based program design. Research findings on task features, including complexity and sequencing, and how these might be applied to the L2 classroom, will also be discussed. This seminar will then explore the role of technology in task-based contexts, including the affordances offered by different modalities, and the practical classroom considerations associated with the implementation of technology-mediated tasks. Next, participants will be guided through a hands-on workshop to adapt and create task-based materials for teaching or assessing student development and performance. Directions for future research will also be addressed.


Dr. Yo Hamada (Akita University, Japan)

Shadowing: What is it? How to Use and Research it in Class?

It has been more than two decades since shadowing practice has been “imported” into Japanese English education. Especially, the past decade has seen a surge in shadowing in classrooms, on YouTube, and on the Internet. Most English teachers and learners in Japan seem to have heard of shadowing. However, it is also true that shadowing has been often misunderstood; is shadowing a listening practice or is it a speaking practice? Additionally, while shadowing use in classrooms or in independent learning has increased, the number of shadowing studies have not increased, so teachers and learners may know about shadowing, but they are probably not confident about how and why it works.

There are four goals of this seminar: to understand the basic theory of shadowing; to review shadowing variations; to consider how one can use shadowing in the classroom, and to consider how to research shadowing. With these goals in mind, the seminar will be divided into four sessions. In the first session, the theory of shadowing will be briefly presented, and shadowing variations will be demonstrated. Also, the participants will occasionally try the variations and discuss them using Zoom break-out sessions. In the second session, the theory of shadowing will be further discussed, reviewing case studies and related papers. In the third session, how shadowing can be implemented will be discussed. The participants will present ideas of shadowing use in their teaching or learning context. Lastly, in the fourth session, the participants will discuss how to conduct a case study or action research in the classroom.

The course project will involve the participants in reading several related papers and making mini-presentations of their ideas for shadowing use and shadowing research in the classroom (Sessions 3 and 4). Based on these ideas, the final project will ask participants to write a shadowing research proposal.


Dr. Daniel Isbell (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, U.S.A.)

Diagnostic Language Assessment: Theory and Practice

Diagnostic Language Assessment (DLA) seeks to identify individual learners’ strengths and weaknesses to inform subsequent learning activity, with the ultimate goal of language development. With its focus on specific learner needs and orientation to learning, DLA holds considerable potential for individualizing instruction and improving language learning outcomes. Despite its promise, DLA also appears to be conceptually muddled in practice, with diagnostic procedures that connect directly to follow-up instruction exceedingly rare (or at least rarely documented and shared). What does it take to design useful DLA procedures and implement them in classrooms or other learning contexts?

Answering this question is the focus of this seminar. In the first lecture, the instructor will provide a review of DLA theory, focusing in particular on the work of Alderson and colleagues (Alderson et al., 2015; Harding et al., 2015), and a survey of current practices ranging from low-stakes pronunciation diagnostics to diagnostic information extracted from high-stakes proficiency tests. Through lecture and hands-on activities in subsequent sessions, we will further examine the design and construction of diagnostic tools, nature and delivery of diagnostic feedback, and connections to follow-up learning activity. Throughout the seminar, important connections to models of language ability and (instructed) second language acquisition will be highlighted. As a culminating assignment, students will design a DLA procedure that could be implemented in a familiar instructional setting.

The course project will involve the participants in reading several related papers and making mini-presentations of their ideas for shadowing use and shadowing research in the classroom (Sessions 3 and 4). Based on these ideas, the final project will ask participants to write a shadowing research proposal.


Dr. Peter Gu (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Classroom-Based Formative Assessment for EFL Teachers

Formative assessment has been a buzzword for quite some time in the educational assessment literature. However, many teachers still find it hard to implement formative assessment in their classrooms. Likewise, it has been difficult for many researchers to operationalise formative assessment in an empirical study. 

In this weekend seminar, the instructor will delineate the boundaries of classroom-based formative assessment, and show how exactly formative assessment can be done in the EFL classroom. In addition to the What, Why, and How of formative assessment, the instructor will outline a validation framework for the evaluation of assessment qualities. The instructor will also use concrete examples to illustrate how contingent formative assessment can be studied. Both teachers and researchers will find the seminar useful.


Dr. Yasuyo Sawaki (Waseda University, Japan)

Utilizing an Argument-Based Test Validation Framework for Developing and Using Assessments in the L2 Classroom

In the field of language assessment, various frameworks have been in use for investigations into the validity of language assessments. While many applications of such frameworks have dealt with large-scale high-stakes assessment contexts, conscious attempts have been made by language assessment researchers over the last few decades to make them also applicable to classroom-based language assessment. Using such frameworks would allow practitioners to systematically evaluate the extent to which the use of language assessments is functioning as an aid to promote learning in the L2 classroom.

The aim of this seminar is to familiarize participants with a major framework of language assessment validation currently in use, the Assessment Use Argument (AUA) proposed by Bachman and Palmer (2010) and Bachman and Damböck (2018). In the first part of this seminar, participants will learn about the historical development of assessment validation frameworks and classroom-based assessment principles, with a particular focus on important developments in this area of L2 assessment research over the last two decades. In the second part, they will be introduced to key principles of AUA. An application of AUA to formative assessment of summary writing skills in a university-level academic writing course in Japan will be used as a running example. Finally, in the third part, participants will apply the AUA framework to developing assessment specifications and sample assessment tasks for classroom use as the final project.


Dr. Alfred Rue Burch (Nanzan University, Japan)

Activity Orientation in Interaction

This seminar will ask participants to set aside what they know (both from research and our received notions) about concepts such as motivation (Dörnyei, Henry, & Muir, 2016; Dörnyei, MacIntyre, & Henry, 2015), engagement (Hiver, Al-Hoorie, & Mercer, 2021; Philp & Duchesne, 2016) and task planning and performance (Ellis, 2005; Long, 2015), and consider the ways in which these may be less “inside the skull” (Kasper, 2009) and more (or at least as consequentially) a matter of socio-interactional factors and distributed cognition (cf. Goodwin, 2018; Hutchins, 1995). The seminar will focus on Multimodal Conversation Analysis (Goodwin, 2018; Mondada, 2016) as the primary framework and methodology through which to consider what learners and users of additional languages attend to in interactions and activities, how they do so, and what the practical consequences are for the interactants themselves and for the understanding, teaching, and assessment of additional languages.

The seminar will examine a range of multilingual contexts, including language course task interaction, language partner interaction, paired speaking assessments, and other pedagogical and non-pedagogical interactions, with an aim to center on what the learners/users treat as consequentially relevant in the context of the ongoing activity, and how this may (and often does) differ from the goals and interests of researchers and educators alike. Each day will include at least one data session in which participants will work with interactional data. For the credits students, the culminating assignment will give participants a choice between 1) a research proposal with relevant literature, or 2) developing a classroom or assessment task with rationales based upon the content of the course.


Dr. Ron Thomson (Brock University, Canada)

The Role of Speech Perception in Second Language Pronunciation Learning

When we think about teaching adult learners a new language, it is second nature to focus on speaking. What if this focus circumvents a more natural approach to learning – one that uses the same cognitive mechanisms that typically developing children use to learn their first language (L1)? In naturalistic learning contexts, accessing these childhood learning mechanisms is difficult.  Fortunately, instructed second language (L2) acquisition provides an opportunity for teachers to help learners reorient their attention towards perceptual cues to promote lasting change in pronunciation.

This seminar has several goals.  First, the instructor will provide an overview of how L1 speech develops and ways in which L2 speech learning follows a similar path.  The instructor hopes to convince participants of the need to spend more time on the process of L2 pronunciation learning, and less time on the final product.  Second, the instructor will provide an overview of a research-based technique that provides explicit, efficient, and effective perceptual instruction.  Third, the instructor will give opportunity for participants to brainstorm ways of integrating insights from research into traditional language classrooms.

The summative project will require participants to read several relevant papers and devise new research questions concerning the role of speech perception in L2 pronunciation. They will then conduct a single-learner pilot study of L2 speech perception, using the instructor's perceptual training platform. This may be a self-study, or it may involve having a friend complete a short training experiment. Participants will write a short reflection on what they learned from completing the pilot.