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

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.