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

Dr. Averil Coxhead (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Measuring Productive Lexical Proficiency in Learner Corpora

The focus of lecture series is firstly on identifying and discussing issues in quantitative and qualitative research into vocabulary in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and secondly on connecting this research to practice. The session begins with an overview of vocabulary research in ESP and why vocabulary is important in this field. The focus then moves to research on the development of word lists and the evaluating them in ESP, because they are a key contribution to teaching, learning and research. The next session looks into research which uses word lists and what issues arise when we consider vocabulary in written and spoken language in ESP. Next, we will look at research that focuses on teachers and learners in vocabulary for ESP, and consider what this research adds to our understandings of the field and what issues arise from it. Finally, we will look for opportunities and challenges for connecting this research to classrooms and to future possible research. There will be plenty of time for questions.

Dr. Takumi Uchihara (Waseda University, Japan)

L2 Spoken Vocabulary Acquisition, Instruction, and Assessment

The past few decades have witnessed an upsurge in the number of second language (L2) vocabulary studies and provided several important implications for vocabulary teaching and learning. The vast majority of earlier studies however have largely focused on written input as a main source of learning (e.g., reading graded readers), engaging learners with word-focused activities in written format (e.g., writing sentences, gap-filling), and measuring the written forms of L2 words (e.g., Vocabulary Size Test). Not as much research attention has been directed towards the spoken forms of L2 words.

The goal of this seminar is to highlight existing L2 vocabulary studies focusing on spoken vocabulary acquisition, instruction, and assessment, and discuss how we as researchers and practitioners can undertake future studies in these areas. In this seminar, we will address a number of questions revolving around L2 spoken vocabulary, including “How is vocabulary learned through exposure to spoken input?” “How can we optimize the effect of spoken input on vocabulary learning?” “To what extent does spoken output promote vocabulary learning?” “To what extent is vocabulary knowledge associated with L2 oral proficiency?” and “How should we measure receptive and productive knowledge of spoken forms of L2 words?”

Dr. Michael Rost (Author, Editor, Teacher Trainer, Researcher, U.S.A.)

Teaching Listening

An understanding of listening processes and best practices to develop listening ability is essential in language teaching, inclusive of all types and ages of students, learning purposes, proficiency levels, and media of instruction. In this seminar we will explore the principles of listening, the differences between first language and second language listening, and the best practices for assisting learners in becoming better listeners.

The seminar will be divided into eight sessions, beginning with a listener-centered model of participation in communication and an outline of the range of methods that can be used to develop listening attitudes, skills, and strategies. We will then explore the psycholinguistic processes of listening, particularly bottom-up (language-based) processes and top-down (concept-based) processes, highlighting similarities and differences between first and second language listening. The focus of the seminar will be on articulating the principles of effective instructional practices for both, face-to-face and online teaching. In addition, we will be investigating ways of assessing listening and evaluating new technologies for teaching listening.

The course project will involve reading a number of recommended sources (provided in the course reading package, available for registered students), and designing a principled approach and a sequence of tasks for teaching your current or future students.

Dr. Janire Zalbidea (Temple University, U.S.A.)

Optimizing Task-based Language Teaching and Learning: Theory, Research, and Pedagogy

Over the past three decades, task-based language teaching (TBLT) has become an increasingly influential and widespread educational framework for the theory and pedagogy of second language teaching across the globe. TBLT seeks to prepare students to perform meaningful real-world tasks using their target language skills. Thus, in TBLT, tasks comprise the fundamental unit for planning language lessons, developing curricular programs, and assessing student performance. In contrast to traditional syllabuses that synthesize the target language into discrete linguistic units, task-based syllabuses are built around tasks that capitalize on authentic communication and individual learner needs.

After introducing the origins and theoretical basis of TBLT, this seminar will address key principles and issues in TBLT, including needs analysis, task-based curriculum development, and task selection, design, sequencing, and implementation. We will also review strategies to align task-based language assessment with task-based language pedagogy. Lastly, we will discuss how educators can address some of the challenges they may encounter in implementing TBLT in their own classrooms across different contexts, including technology-mediated environments. Throughout the seminar, we will draw on empirical findings from seminal and recent studies that have informed TBLT principles and practice.

Dr. David Olsher (San Francisco State University, U.S.A.)

Enhancing the Authenticity of Oral Skills Instruction with Pragmatics

Teaching authentic oral communication skills can be greatly enhanced through the application of pragmatics research on language use as well as research on the teaching and learning of pragmatics in variety of language learning contexts. This course will introduce two key areas of pragmatics with special relevance to teaching oral communication, speech acts and conversation analysis, along with pedagogical principles and practices for integrating research findings into oral communication skills lessons.  Drawing on primary research, teacher resource materials, and samples of teaching materials developed by language teachers, this course will equip participants to apply research findings and pedagogical theory to the evaluation of published textbooks, adaptation of existing materials, and design original lessons.     

The course will begin with samples of authentic interaction in order to introduce the fields of speech act research and conversation analysis, look at selected samples of commercial teaching materials to introduce the kinds of questions language educators may want to ask about the authenticity and usefulness of such materials.  Questions of when and how the goal of discourse authenticity fits with pedagogical purposes and cultural contexts of education will round out the introduction, including issues of lingual franca English and whose social and cultural norms apply.

The second phase of this course will provide more background on insights from research on speech acts analysis, hands on engagement with data samples, and an introduction to reading published research for pedagogical purposes.  The third phase will provide more background on insights from research on conversation analysis, hands on engagement with data samples, and with an introduction to ways to approach published research for pedagogical purposes.

The fourth phase will explore pedagogical principles and practices supported by research and introduce samples of pedagogical tasks that engage learners in reflection on L1 cultural norms, noticing pragmatic features of video and transcripts, reordering conversations, making pragmatic judgements, and role-playing scenarios. The final phase will introduce a flexible model for pragmatics-based oral skills lessons, applied via a hands-on lesson planning activity.  The course will wrap up with a look at applying pragmatics to the evaluation of a textbook lesson and identifying opportunities to enhance the teaching of oral communication.  A final project will ask participants to draw on several course readings and draw from them in writing an evaluation and proposal for enhancing a lesson in a textbook of their choice.

Dr. Willy A. Renandya(National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

The Theory and Practice of ELT Today

The seminar seeks to address some of the most important reasons why many of our second/foreign language learners continue to have low confidence in using English for authentic communication. The first session of the seminar will provide a synthesis of recent scholarship in ELT and its related disciplines, highlighting some of the most important research insights that can help us understand why a small number of L2 students achieve success in acquiring the target language, while many continue to struggle. The second session will explore evidence-based instructional strategies for teaching vocabulary and grammar and how to integrate these in the existing L2 curriculum. The third and fourth sessions will explore new ways of teaching language skills (i.e., reading, listening, speaking and writing) to diverse groups of students in Japan and other similar contexts.       

Throughout the sessions, participants will be encouraged to reflect on their knowledge and beliefs about the nature of language learning and how they can best support their struggling students in acquiring the target language in the most pleasant and efficient manner.

At the end of the seminar, participants are expected to demonstrate a deeper understanding of current thinking in ELT, key factors that impede the process of language acquisition and practical strategies that can be productively employed to support student learning. They will also be well-equipped to explore potential research topics that could be further developed into a full research proposal for their masters’ thesis.

Dr. George Jacobs (Universiti Malaya, Malaysia)

Cooperative Learning: Theory, Practice and Research

This seminar will focus on the why, how, and what next of cooperative learning (CL), a.k.a. collaborative learning. Many L2 teaching materials include group activities, including pair activities. CL can be thought of as Group Activities 2.0, as CL offers a wide range of principles, techniques, and tactics which promise to improve the cognitive and affective impact of group activities. CL links with many theories in Second Language Acquisition and General Education, as well as fitting with the Communicative Language Teaching paradigm in L2 and the Student Centered paradigm in General Education. The opening lecture will provide an overview of the reasons for using CL, as well as practical ideas and principles for implementing CL in second language education. During the opening lecture, as well as throughout the seminar, participants will be encouraged to take part in many CL activities. The seminar will provide participants with opportunities to look more closely at how their areas of interest relate to CL. The seminar will also provide opportunities to discuss potential research ideas and to consider how to design relevant studies. A variety of research methods will be encouraged.