Sessions / Zoom E

Utilizing AI smart speakers to improve the English skills of Japanese university students #49

Sat, Jun 6, 10:40-11:10 JST | Zoom E

Participating in digital environments via artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to facilitate English learning and enhance student motivation. Recently, AI technologies can be experienced efficiently and enhance the construction of broader learning environments and viewpoints (Kepuska & Bohouta, 2018), as well as promote the personalization and contextualization of the second language (L2) learning experience, resulting in a more integrated approach to language learning. The main goal of this presentation is to introduce two case studies carried out to ascertain the effectiveness of using AI smart speakers to improve the English proficiency of native Japanese studying at a private university in Tokyo. The participants were required to study English with the assistance of AI speakers. At the conclusion of the training, students delivered presentations of their impressions of the training with the results indicating it had an overall positive effect on improving their English language skills. Both pretest and post-test evaluations were conducted to examine the overall effectiveness using the AI smart speakers, indicating the training helped the students in improving their English communication skills. Post-training surveys revealed a majority of the students were impressed by the use of the AI speakers in improving their English skills, although some students expressed apprehension about using the technology and reported negative outcomes. The presentation concludes with some practical suggestions about how AI smart speakers can be used to improve English education at the tertiary level in Japan.

Visualization in test item writing #44

Sat, Jun 6, 11:20-11:50 JST | Zoom E

When writing grammar test items, the item writer is often reliant on intuition and professional judgement in selecting distractors and structuring samples. However, one criticism of this is that it is open to bias and misjudgments that can reduce the reliability and validity of a test. The English Language Program at International University of Japan was recently tasked with improving the grammar portion of a placement test. The purpose of the placement test is to determine which incoming students need further language support for their English-only Masters degrees. To improve the test, we took a visual approach that helped us to make decisions about test constructs, specific items and distractors. Through analysis of a learner corpus and an academic corpus, we created visual plots, including mosaic plots, residual plots, word clouds and bar charts which work alongside standard concordancing software in helping us to improve the placement test. This poster focuses on how we put visualization into practice in order to construct test items by explaining how we interpreted the various plots. The poster will also outline how the plots were generated and offer further suggestions for automating this process in the future.

Using a lexical database for semantic analysis of word lists for language learning #39

Sat, Jun 6, 15:00-15:30 JST | Zoom E

Corpus-derived word lists are increasingly being used in the production of language learning materials. This is in an effort to focus vocabulary study on high-frequency items in the belief that these will be the most helpful for learners. However, these lists are generally compiled without considering word sense or part-of-speech, as many large corpora consist mainly of raw text without labels to provide semantic information. Additionally, these word lists have generally not been subjected to detailed semantic analysis even after being compiled. Absent this semantic information, researchers often assume that words can be represented by a single canonical sense and that learners who know the canonical sense can be assumed to know all other senses of a word. How many word senses does this assumption really entail knowing? This talk will provide an introduction to WordNet, a freely available and machine-readable lexical database of English, and show how it can be used with a small amount of programming to provide a preliminary analysis of the semantic ambiguity present in a commonly used word list for language learners. This talk will be of interest to anyone concerned with vocabulary acquisition or computational approaches to language learning materials development.

SMART presentations: How tech helps #75

Sat, Jun 6, 16:00-16:30 JST | Zoom E

Self-expression and performance evaluation support the integration of technology and education. The smartphone and Learning Management System (LMS) are examples of digital tools that I incorporate into the classroom to support a multimodal learning approach. Multimodal learning is the basis of one course design that features the development of presentation skills and demonstrates how students benefit from the portability and accessibility of these technologies. Students can easily make video and audio recordings of their presentation practice sessions which help them monitor and assess their achievement level. Students strengthen their commitment to learning by selecting the speaking skills they wish to develop. A student may select "pausing effectively" to help her be more expressive with her voice. This skill becomes her SMART Goal. The acronym SMART means (1) specific, (2) measurable, (3) attainable, (4) relevant, and (5) time-bound. It provides structure to goal setting which can cultivate “I can do this!” attitude for speaking English. The goal is specific and can be measured using self- and peer-assessment (in class as well as online). The goal is attainable as long as the student practices her strategies and is time-bound because of the impending presentation deadline. Lastly, the goal is relevant because it helps the student become a more proficient English speaker. SMART Goals together with technology build effective learners because they provide a platform for documenting and archiving not only the development but the accomplishment of presentation skills.

How to use online collaborative strategic reading in your reading and writing classes #13

Sat, Jun 6, 16:40-17:10 JST | Zoom E

This presentation distills ongoing research on Online Collaborative Strategic Reading (OCSR), which is when students interact with a written text together asynchronously through a given online platform or tool to co-construct meaning within a text. The researcher has piloted and tested many online tools with both international and Japanese university students to best support the core principles of OCSR. He has found three that are the most accessible and easy to implement for instructors who may not have time to learn an entirely new system: Google Docs, Scrible, and Perusall. In the presentation, the researcher will give an overview of the theory of OCSR and how that takes shape in a typical reading course. From there, the researcher will go over three online tools that can be used to implement OCSR, how to use those tools specifically with OCSR, and the pros and cons of each tool in regards to OCSR activities. Teachers can expect to take away a clear understanding of what OCSR is, how it is beneficial for students' reading development, and information on and how to set up three tools that help support their learning aims with OCSR.

Language learning as agency for a social purpose: examples from the pandemic #82

Sat, Jun 6, 17:20-17:50 JST | Zoom E

Developments in technology—such as mobile devices that afford connection and social interaction anytime and anywhere, social networking offline and online, horizontal patterns of connectivity that allow users to create natural bonds based on shared interests—all offer possibilities for user-driven, self- and group- initiated practices that redraw models of production, distribution, and reuse of knowledge. This evolution is perceptible, for instance in recent sociotechnical developments such as crowdsourcing, digital activism and citizenship science and the creative practices of online user communities (including fan communities), all of which invite us to redefine the nature of out-of-class language learning. The term digital wilds (Thorne, Sauro, & Smith, 2015, Sauro & Zourou, 2019) has been adopted to refer to “non-instructionally oriented contexts” (Thorne & al., 2015, p. 225) that support social activity, are less controllable or organized than a classroom, “but which present interesting, and perhaps even compelling, opportunities for intercultural exchange, agentive action, and meaning making” (Thorne, 2010, p. 144). Key in understanding this concept is the desire to include student experience and agency and supporting and amplifying opportunities for language learners. Research on this type of environments and their potential for Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is growing, although still in its infancy. This paper contributes by means of a critical appraisal of the potential for L2 use occurring in online communities formed around the fight against COVID-19. Due to the disruption to education that has occurred worldwide, possibilities for social action have multiplied. In this contribution we examine the potential of several possibilities for digital activism in the framework of the pandemic and its connection to L2 use. Sociocultural theory is used to frame the current study, for its emphasis on social interaction as a catalyst for learning (Bonk & Cunningham, 1998, Lantolf & Thorne, 2006, van Lier, 2004). The agentive and participatory dimensions of digital activism will be explored for their potential in SLA. Beyond enthusiasm for social action driven by spontaneous, user-driven, bottom-up practices, the study will also offer a critical appraisal of advantages and pitfalls of such an approach for language education.

Evaluating online vocabulary systems #63

Sun, Jun 7, 10:00-10:30 JST | Zoom E

This paper reports the results of an evaluation of online applications for vocabulary learning. The investigation followed an argument-based approach (Gruba, Cardenas-Claros, Suvarov, and Rick, 2016). Various online vocabulary systems were investigated. Following a system of evidence gathering and member checks, themes emerged with arguments for how each system best supports the vocabulary learning of Japanese university EFL learners. Methods included interviews with CALL experts, reading extant research, and a micro-level quasi-experimental comparison between two Pre-Intermediate English classes. One group used Tool A and the other used Tool B for the semester. Additionally, individual students were videotaped and interviewed while using both systems. The two groups were tested using the Pearson Progress test at the beginning and end of the semester and matched t-tests were performed to determine whether either system had an effect on Progress test vocabulary sub-scores. The results will include our reflections on the argument-based evaluation system.

Law undergraduates’ understanding and appropriation of arguments in online essay writing tutorials #12

Sun, Jun 7, 10:40-11:10 JST | Zoom E

The art of constructing an assertive argument is a crucial lifelong skill for law students to master. The English language teachers at Bennett University Law School introduce the topic of argumentative essay writing to its first-year law undergraduates and teach the basic structure of an argument in a standard five paragraph argumentative essay and then gradually elaborate on with the content. The pedagogy makes use of the online platforms of ‘ilearn’ LMS and ‘Clarity English’ programs (customised English Language teaching softwares) to engage students in essay writing tutorials. The study analyses how the students develop the understanding of framing a strong argument and move towards attaining appropriation in it. This has been done by comparing pre-test and post-test results of the control and experimental groups and by relational content analysis of the transcripts. The target group in the study includes 120 students of BALLB (hons) who are randomly divided into control and experimental groups. The study also tries to figure out the comparative advantage of classroom teaching in physical settings, online group discussions on ‘ilearn’ LMS forums and individual practice sessions involving only one student at a time on ‘Practical Writing’ program offered by Clarity English. This has been done through student survey analysis. The overall data involves pre-test and post-test essay writing transcripts, online discussion forum transcripts on ‘ilearn’, practice result sheets on ‘Practical writing’ and students’ survey. This educational intervention is an attempt to assess and design best teaching practice for teaching argumentative essay writing to law undergraduates.

Online self-reflection to enhance students' learning with Socrative #67

Sun, Jun 7, 11:20-11:50 JST | Zoom E

The importance of self-reflection has been advocated in the fields of second language teaching and learning. Through taking five minutes for self-reflection at the end of each lesson, students can look back at what they have just learned and at the same time what they have not completely mastered; meanwhile, teachers can benefit from them because they can learn what students have achieved and what should be reviewed so as to maximize their learning in the following lessons. But how can we do this in today’s new online teaching environment? This presentation introduces an online tool called “Socrative” ( and its use for reflection activities in EAP classes at an English-medium university in northern Japan. The application Socrative has been utilized to provide self-reflection opportunities to students at the end of each class in addition to the in-class reflection activity using Zoom’s Breakout Rooms. The researchers will share how they have been using Socrative to receive end-of-class feedback and the examples of questions that can be used for online reflection activities in order to ensure our teaching objectives being met in each class as well as to enhance students’ learning in this challenging online ecosystem we face today.

Survey of recent research in MALL in Japanese EFL Contexts #60

Sun, Jun 7, 13:00-13:30 JST | Zoom E

Today’s technology has brought a revolution in access to world cultures and languages for language learners. Consequently, language teachers are experimenting constantly to make the best use of such technology in the language classroom to teach both language and content classes. This presentation will provide a survey of the CALL-related research literature in Japanese EFL contexts from the previous seven years. The presenter will provide examples of how various technologies from computers to smartphones to video cameras to virtual reality devices are being employed in English classrooms in Japan. Topics to be covered include how mobile devices such as iPods, iPads, tablets, and smartphones are being used in language learning in Japanese universities. The presentation will also explore how social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Line are being incorporated into language lessons. Finally, a review of websites that have been reported on in the literature will be provided. Attendees will have a chance to share their own experiences with using technology in their classes. Attendees will come away with specific examples of how various technologies are being used in English education in Japan, as well as an annotated bibliography of recent CALL and MALL research for their future professional development. This presentation will be done primarily in English, but Japanese explanations are possible.

Going paperless is easier than you think: a comparison of two LMSs #15

Sun, Jun 7, 14:20-14:50 JST | Zoom E

Going paperless can help improve class efficiency and increase the amount of feedback between teachers and students. With proper execution, it can make for a better class for everyone involved. However, going paperless can seem like a daunting task, especially for teachers with lots of printed worksheets already prepared. However, with the tools provided in readily accessible learning management systems, even technologically inexperienced teachers can make the move to a paperless classroom. In this presentation, I will share the reasons why going paperless is beneficial for both instructors and students, despite some potential drawbacks. I will also show how to overcome those drawbacks. While going paperless can be a hassle at times, the overall increase in efficiency and teacher-student communication makes the payoff well worth the efforts. Additionally, I will share my personal experiences with both the Google Classroom and Schoology LMSs, and share ideas and tips on how to create everything from homework assignments, to in-class activities, to assessments using features built into the LMSs. Both LMSs offer instructors the ability to create assignments using various Google applications such as Docs and Sheets. By making the most of the free technology available, virtually any assignment can be made paperless. Both platforms also offer powerful assessment tools, meaning testing can also be done more efficiently, which, in turn, means that students can receive feedback in a more timely manner. Finally, I will also share how I make use of free website building applications to enhance my paperless classroom.