Category Archives: TEFL/TESL, Applied Linguistics

An update on using videos in the language classroom

Not distracting vs. Distracting classroom behavior
Not distracting vs. Distracting classroom behavior

I originally wrote about my use of videos in my language classroom teaching here. However, with a new semester came a new challenge. With last year’s first year students, I was sharing personal stories based on Tim Murphey’s split storytelling technique. As these are Pharmaceutical Science students, from this year I wanted to go from more general interest stories to projects that were more science-based, continuing to use the principles of dividing the stories into two parts, but basing those stories on published scientific research reports. Ultimately I’m hoping to have students select their own articles to turn into video projects, but as it’s only the third week of the semester, we’re still at the beginning stages of this process. The first project I had them do was based on a research article that I selected and explained in class, then asked them to adapt into a video. I quickly realized that much scientific research can be divided into a setup of the methods of the research and an explanation of possible outcomes as part 1, and that students can suggest their own hypotheses regarding what they think the results will be. Then in part 2 I can explain the actual results of the research and students can see whether their predictions came true or not.

Well, the groups I assigned finished their part 1 videos in class today, based on Sana, Weston, and Cepeda’s article titled ‘Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers’. I would explain the research, but I was astounded at the excellent job one of the groups of students did summarizing the gist of the research as I explained it to them, and so I’ll let them do the rest of the talking for me:

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the remainder of the semester turns out regarding this teaching experiment.

What’s your opinion of my students’ video? Do you have any suggestions for further improving the activity? Feel free to share your ideas and reactions in the comments.

English Scholars Beyond Borders upcoming conference in Izmir, Turkey

It’s been nice to see the English Scholars Beyond Borders group slowly taking off. After two successful conferences, they are going to have a Symposium in Izmir, Turkey, the site of their first inaugural conference, which I was honored to present a plenary at. The upcoming symposium is December 2015. I unfortunately can’t make it this time, but am looking forward to attending their May 2016 conference in Taiwan. Details of both conferences are here.


The following conference looks like it could be quite interesting, and an excellent excuse to get to Switzerland at the same time. It’s a bit outside of my subspecialty, but much writing for academic publication is submitted, reviewed, and revised digitally these days, and so could be potentially relevant to the conference theme.

AILA-Europe and VALS-ASLA welcome you to the 7th Junior Researchers Meeting in Applied Linguistics

10th–12th September 2015

Hosted by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland

The Junior Researchers Meeting allows early career applied linguists to present their research and network in an interactive and informal international environment. “Junior Researchers” include those working on their Master’s and PhD theses, as well as those who have graduated within the last three years.

At the conference, each paper session will have designated senior researchers as commentators to guarantee questions and discussion. The programme will also include workshops on various aspects of academic career, such as publishing and seeking for funding.

The conference focuses on language use in digital environments within and across educational, academic, professional and everyday settings. Besides this conference focus, papers on other areas of applied linguistics are welcome. A paper may present also work in progress.

Please submit your abstract of no more than 350 words (excluding the title) to:

Plenary speakers

Prof. Dr. Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University, USA
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chistina Gitsaki, Zayed University Dubai, UAE
Prof. Dr. Daniel Perrin, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Wibke Weber, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland

Important dates

Submission closes March 30, 2015
Notification of acceptance: May 30, 2015
Early bird registration: July 30, 2015
Final registration: August 30, 2015

Conference venue

ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
School of Applied Linguistics
Theaterstrasse 15c, P.O. Box
8401 Winterthur

The city and region of Winterthur is an independent and dynamic center in the Zurich economic area with a population of around 180,000. Over 75,000 people are employed in one of more than 7,500 firms and enterprises. Winterthur is also home to the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which is one of Switzerland’s largest multi-disciplinary universities of applied sciences and has turned Winterthur into a vibrant university town.

Organising committee

Prof. Dr. Daniel Perrin
Dr. Aleksandra Gnach
Deborah Harzenmoser

Book chapter on student agency in medical ESP due out December

I have a chapter coming out in Theorizing and Analyzing Agency in Second Language Learning: Interdisciplinary Approaches, edited by Ping Deters, Xuesong Gao, Elizabeth R. Miller, and Gergana Vitanova titled ‘Critical Discourse Analysis in a Medical English Course: Examining Learner Agency through Student Written Reflections’. I’ve shared my abstract for the chapter on my page, but here I wanted to talk in a less formal way about what I was trying to accomplish with writing the chapter.

When I started as Associate Professor at the University of Toyama October 2011, one of the classes I was looking forward to teaching was the Medical English class for third year students majoring in medicine. While I enjoy teaching all levels of students and appreciate the opportunity to work across three different degree programs, the Medical English students are on track to become medical doctors, which means I can use more challenging material with them. After more than ten years of teaching in Japan, I felt I was relatively comfortable with how to go about teaching my other classes, and believed that this course in particular would have the potential to challenge me as a teacher.

And challenge me it did. The first semester was a total disaster, for a variety of reasons, but most of all because it was my first time teaching the class, and since I didn’t know what was in store for me going into it, I decided to follow the class plan my predecessor had used, which was a presentation syllabus, where the students’ work culminated at the end of the course in presenting some medical topic of interest to them. Unfortunately, by the end of our time together, no one appeared happy with how the class had went, including me. And I was faced with the dilemma that I was going to have some of the same students to teach again in the following spring semester.

So I knew I needed to come up with something that would wow these already unhappy students and which I would be able to apply successfully in my future classes. Going over what had gone wrong, and trying to think around the factors that had been out of my control, I decided that part of the problem was I had expected too much, too soon, from the students, and that given the freedom to excel many had decided to take that opportunity to underachieve. This isn’t a particularly uncommon problem in classrooms in general, and is certainly a phenomenon I’m used to encountering in Japanese English classrooms.

Thus what I needed was to narrow the scope of what I was teaching, and narrow the aim of the tasks I was asking my students to complete, so that there were clearer markers of success, and so my expectations regarding for their work were clearer. But more than that, I needed a lever with which to pry away their expectations based on their negative experience of our previous course and its failures so that I could get their attention early and make sure that our second course together didn’t fail before it had even started. I concluded that meant I needed to teach something I know better than them, so that I could act as the expert in that subject area in order to rebuild some of the respect lost in their experience of my first class. I also needed some external validation of my abilities as a teacher, someone to show them that I really am competent at what I do.

Thankfully, that particular year my father was visiting Japan. Since he’s an oral surgeon, he came with some of his models and slides (as in real slides from before the age of PowerPoint and digital projectors) and gave a presentation about the different kind of surgeries oral surgeons do, and the lifestyle benefits these have for patients. This earned me some points with the students by association, especially because they happened to be taking an oral surgery intensive course at the same time, and so what my father said reinforced what they were learning in another lesson. I also invited a former student from Nagano Chuo Hospital, where I had taught an English class for doctors once a week for a few years. He gave a presentation in English that he had presented as a poster at an international conference. Dr. Kojima started by telling the students what a good teacher I was, which gained me some more credibility in their eyes. I didn’t even ask him to say that, so it was a bit of a magical moment for me. He talked about Endoscopy, his speciality, and it was obvious that the students were impressed I understood the content of his presentation better than they did. It helped that I had given him feedback on his presentation and edited his slides several years before, but they didn’t need to know that part.

Nevertheless, while these two presentations won me some points with my students, I still had to teach the rest of the course, and so I needed something that  I could teach. I decided that since I’m trained in language and analysis of conversation and discourse, that I would play to my strengths, so I went to the literature on doctor patient discourse looking for papers that highlighted some issues in medical communication that I could take advantage of in my class. Thankfully I found three papers that I was particularly happy with, as they had actual extracts of conversations which I could use in the classroom, and so I got the students to go through the process of analyzing discourse from the bottom up, starting them with the text extracts from the papers, and asking them what was going on in the conversations. Then we could go to the published papers from which the extracts were pulled and consider what the authors had to say about them.

That course wowed the students, and so when I had the new fall group that same year, I refined what I had done a bit, but was happy with the template I had established. I wrote about the evolution of the course to this point in more academic language for the IATEFL ESP SIG Journal, Professional and Academic English. If you’re interested, you can download the PDF from

The course assignments included in-class work and reflective reports students were expected to write for homework, and it was those reflective reports I turned to in order to examine how successful my students thought the classes were. While the majority of the reports showed that the students ‘got it’ in the sense that they were thinking critically about the language used between the doctors and patients in the examples I was sharing in class, there were a small minority of students who appeared to have trouble with the course contents as I looked at their reports. They seemed to be missing the point of the course, or bringing their own expectations of what the class should be with them, and so their expectations appeared to cloud what we were actually covering and discussing.

I wanted to unpack those outlier reflections a bit more and examine what was going on with those students, and I thought a chapter in Theorizing and Analyzing Agency in Second Language Learning would be an excellent space in which to do that. So my chapter uses ‘critical incidents’ as theoretical lens through which to examine how those students reacted and adapted to the course as it unfolded. Looking in more detail at what some selected students had written was very encouraging—it appeared that even with students who struggled at first, there was some learning going on, although perhaps not as much as with the more successful students, but I’ll take some evidence for learning over no evidence any day.

Looking forward, I can see a bigger project would be to examine all of the students’ writing, using some coding schema, but that will have to wait until I’ve finished my PhD, so for now I’ll have to be content with what I’ve found from this smaller scale investigation of students who appeared to have problems in the course.

JALT LD SIG Conference Tokyo, December 14

The JALT LD SIG is planning a small conference in Tokyo for December 14. Details follow:

We hope you’ve been having a great summer wherever you are. We’d like to share with you news about the small informal conference that the SIG is holding on Sunday December 14 – Building Community: Learning Together

The conference is open for students and teachers to take part in, and the main presentation format for the afternoon involves poster presentations and/or digital displays, within the very broad theme of Building Community: Learning Together. There will be spaces for extended discussions too. You can find further details about this special event here. We very much hope you’ll be interested in taking part and can also encourage your students to participate. 

To that end, we warmly invite proposals from students and teachers interested in sharing their collaborative work on the theme of “Creating Community: Learning Together”. To register as a presenter and to submit a proposal, please complete the Call for Proposals form here. The online registration and the Call for Proposals deadline period runs from October 12 to October 19 2014. 

「コミュニティの創造:共に学ぶ」: 一日間のインフォーマルな学習者ディベロプメントSIGの 学会, 12月14日(日), 大妻女子大学, 東京,市ヶ谷) 「コミュニティの創造:共に学ぶ」は12月14日(日)に大妻女子大学(東京,市ヶ谷)で開催され ます、一日間のインフォーマルな学習者ディベロプメントSIGの 学会です。私たちは「コミュニティの創造:共に学ぶ」というこのテーマで、ご自身の研究を共有することに関心のある学生や教員の方々からの申し込みを募集 しております。申し込みの受付は2014年10月19日までになります。参加者間での双方向の活動や議論を促進するため、当学会における多くのプレゼン テーションはデジタル・ディスプレイ、もしくはポスター・プレゼンテーションで行う予定です。数に限りはありますが、フォーマルな形でのプレゼンテーショ ンを行う場所もございます。申し込みを行うには以下のURLをクリックし、フォームへの記入を行ってください。参加者の皆様にお会いできるのを楽しみにしております。

Best wishes

Andy Barfield, Fumiko Murase, Ken Ikeda, & Stacey Vye
LD SIG December mini-conference organizing team

PS  For more information and get-together reports, please visit

CamTESOL 2015 Call for Proposals

CamTESOL is a conference I’ve wanted to attend for a while. It will have to wait until after 2015 for me, but here’s their call for papers in case someone else is interested:

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Friday 22 August, 2014
Call for Papers: Main Conference
Deadline in Three Weeks’ Time

The CamTESOL Secretariat invites all those working in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT), or those who have an interest in this field to submit an abstract for the 11th Annual CamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching, English: Building Skills for Regional Cooperation and Mobility, 28 February – 01 March, 2015.

Deadline for Abstract Submission: 13 September, 2014

Notification re. Abstraction Selection: 18 October, 2014

All abstracts submitted should relate to the following conference streams:

•   Curriculum and Materials Development •   Publishers’ Stream
•   EAP & ESP •   Research-based Stream
•   ELT in the Mekong •   Teaching Speaking
•   Grammar •   Teaching Listening
•   Independent Learning •   Teaching Reading
•   Language Policy •   Teaching Writing
•   Methodology •   Teaching Young Learners
•   Motivation •   Testing
•   Professional Development •   Using Technology
•   Program Management •   Vocabulary

To submit your abstract, please click here.


  • In conjunction with the Main Conference, we also invite all researchers, including those preparing doctoral theses, those working in the field of language-related areas, and those who have an interest in this field, to submit an abstract for the Regional Research Symposium (27 February, 2015) with the focus on promoting language research in the region. To submit your abstract to the Regional Research Symposium, please click here.
  • In order to present at the Regional Research Symposium, presenters will need to register for both the Main Conference and the Regional Research Symposium itself.
  • If presenters wish to present at both events, two separate Call for Papers submissions will need to be completed; one for the Main Conference and one for the Regional Research Symposium.
  • The deadlines for full paper submissions to be considered for the peer-reviewed LEiA publication are08 March 2015 for Volume 6, Issue 1 and 07 June, 2015 for Volume 6, Issue 2. For more information, please click here.
For any enquiries, please email

Mr. CHEA Theara
CamTESOL Conference Program Coordinator
Join us at the 11th CamTESOL Conference on 28 February – 01 March 2015.
For more information, go to

The CamTESOL Conference Series is an initiative of IDP Education

Copyright © 2014 C/o IDP Education (Cambodia),
All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:

C/o IDP Education (Cambodia)

#657, Kampuchea Krom Blvd
Khan Toul Kork

Phnom Penh PO BOX 860


Add us to your address book

Symposium on Second Language Writing, November 13-15, 2014 USA, deadline June 1 2014

I’ve been to the Symposium on Second Language Writing twice, and am considering going again this year. Their call for presentation proposals is below.

Call for Proposals

The 13th Symposium on Second Language Writing
“Professionalizing Second Language Writing”
November 13-15, 2014
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

The 2013 Symposium Organizing Committee seeks proposals for 20-minute presentations that address various topics within the field of L2 writing—broadly defined.

Any topic related to second language writing theory, research, or teaching is welcome; we especially encourage proposals that seek to challenge the status quo in the field by introducing new topics as well as new theoretical and methodological approaches.

As with all previous Symposium iterations, we are interested in L2 writing issues in any second or foreign language for any age groups in personal, academic, professional and civic contexts. Given the theme of the Symposium, we particularly encourage proposals that address issues of second language writing as a profession.

Proposals must include both a 50-word summary and a 500-word abstract (including references). To submit your proposal, please use the online proposal submission form available at:

Proposals must be received by 23:59:59 on June 1, 2014 (Arizona Time; Mountain Standard Time; UTC-0700). Proposals will be peer reviewed by a panel of experts. Notification of acceptance will be sent out by July 30, 2014.

Multiple submissions are allowed, but the same person cannot be listed as the first author for more than one proposal. Once the proposal has been accepted, no additional presenters can be added.

For more information about SSLW 2014, please visit our website at:

We look forward to receiving your proposal!

Job Opportunity: English; Applied Linguistics; ESL: Fellow, US Department of State English Language Fellow Program, Worldwide

This looks like a really interesting opportunity to work abroad if you’re a US citizen and have some experience of teaching in the US. I just may apply myself someday:

Subject: English; Applied Linguistics; ESL: Fellow, US Department of State English Language Fellow Program, Worldwide
University or Organization: US Department of State English Language Fellow Program 
Job Location: Worldwide
Web Address:
Job Rank: Fellow

Specialty Areas: Applied Linguistics; ESL

Required Language(s): English (eng)


Interested in improving your skill set, developing professionally, and promoting mutual understanding all while teaching abroad for 10 months? 

The English Language (EL) Fellow Program promotes English language learning around the world and fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. The Program places highly qualified teachers in paid professional positions at projects initiated by U.S. embassies in all regions of the world. It is an opportunity for ESL teachers to enhance their professional career as they contribute to cross-cultural awareness throughout the world. Assignments are for a 10-month period typically beginning in September 2014. 

The EL Fellow Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. As a program administrator, Georgetown University's Center for International Education and Development is recruiting applicants for approximately 100 positions for the 2014-2015 academic year. 

Please review the eligibility requirements before applying. More detailed information regarding eligibility is available at the application URL below. 

- U.S. Citizenship 
- Master’s in TESOL OR in a field related to English language teaching 
- Classroom ESL/EFL teaching experience 
- Personal qualities of patience, determination, flexibility, teamwork initiative and a love of adventure 

- Two years’ experience teaching ESL/EFL 
- One year experience training English language teachers and/or teacher trainers 
- A minimum of one year teaching in the U.S. education system (K-16 or adult education) 
- Demonstrated commitment to the field of English language teaching (e.g., membership in a TEFL/TESL professional organization; presentations at an EFL/ESL conference) 

Program benefits: 
- Stipend: $30,000 
- Living allowance (rent, utilities, local transportation) 
- Textbook and pre-departure allowances 
- Supplementary health benefit plan 
- Round trip airfare from the United States to the host country 

Complete on-line application dossier must contain the following: 
- Application 
- Résumé 
- Two 1-page lesson plans/teacher training modules 
- Statement of purpose (not to exceed 500 words) 
- Statement of personal qualities you will bring to the EL Fellow Program (250 words) 
- Two current reference letters 
- Graduate transcript

Application Deadline:  (Open until filled)
Web Address for Applications: 
Contact Information:
	Benjamin Perdue 

Courtesy of The Linguist List

New Association: The Learner Corpus Association (LCA)

There’s a new association for learner corpus research that may be of interest. Details follow.

The Learner Corpus Association (LCA) aims to provide a forum for exchanging ideas on learner corpus research from an interdisciplinary perspective: 
- Second language acquisition
- Foreign language teaching (including CALL)
- Language testing
- NLP applications (automated scoring, L1 identification, error detection and correction, etc.)
- Other language-related fields

The association was officially launched at the second Learner Corpus Research conference which took place in Bergen (Norway) on 27-29 September, 2013. 
The LCA maintains a dedicated website and initiates a bi-yearly conference. You can access the LCA website at the following URL:

Registered members will have access to the members-only sections of the website which will contain a range of resources, including shared corpora, publications and corpus tools and a regularly updated searchable learner corpus bibliography. They will also be able to take part in forums focused on a range of topics (learner corpus design, annotation, methodology, applications, etc.) and benefit from discounts, notably from publishers, negotiated by the LCA. 

Registration is now open at Registered members will be able to take part in the election of the Executive Board due to take place in early December. 
If you want to help us shape the association and contribute to its success, don't hesitate to join us! 

Gaëtanelle Gilquin, Sylviane Granger, Fanny Meunier & Magali Paquot 
Founding Members of the Association

New Academic Writing App

Some of my students have expressed interest in improving their academic writing skills. This new app from the University College London looks like an interesting way to practice your academic English. If you give it a try, let me know what you think.

Academic Writing in English (AWE)

Now available: a brand new app for smartphones and tablets: Academic Writing in English (AWE), available for free from the Apple App Store and from Google Play.

AWE is a complete course designed to help you improve your academic writing assignments, such as:
– class essays;
– exam essays;
– experimental reports;
– scientific essays;
– dissertations;
– academic articles.

AWE includes:
– an in-depth self-learning course covering the entire creative process of academic writing;
– interactive exercises that help you learn;
– checklists for reviewing your critical thinking, your arguments and your essay as a whole;
– an extensive glossary of important terms.

AWE also provides easy tips for avoiding plagiarism, conducting research, thinking critically, making strong arguments and presenting your work well.

Coming soon (also free): English Spelling and Punctuation (ESP).

Already available (in a free and paid version): the interactive Grammar of English (iGE).

For more information, see: