Working with me

Hello. Thank you for visiting my website.

I am a teacher in the Tokyo and Kanagawa area. I am interested in how we teach English, especially how we teach listening and pronunciation. If you are interested in working with me, contact me.

Zotero resources

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I finished my MRes, and got a Pass with Merit (to be confirmed, but the numbers in Moodle say so), and I am looking in great detail at doing a PhD.

Regarding the PhD, I’ll need something to support my reading and referencing a bit more. I’ve been learning R and R Markdown, though my knowledge is still a bit basic. Knowing that Zotero references can be plugged straight into R Markdown (apparently) comforts me a lot. Another thing that eases my mind is that you can create ‘Smart Playlists’ like when iTunes wasn’t bloated enough to crash constantly. (FOSS Academic) and that led me into a bit of a Zotero rabbit hole. There I was just happy to import BibTeX or DOIs, and I find, hiding in plain sight, this wonderful manual.

Appearance on the TEFLology Podcast

The TEFLology podcast (one of the hosts is my supervisor at my main job, just to get that out in the open) recently had a couple of episodes recorded live and I was on there for a bit of time in the second part (episode 104). It was really fun, and I am definitely keen on appearing on other people’s podcasts.

New Preprint: English Language Teachers’ Stated Beliefs and Practices Regarding Task-Based Language Teaching and Listening

I put up the preprint of a recent project about teachers’ beliefs about listening and task-based language teaching.

Regular readers of my other blog will know these are particular interests of mine.

I’d like to thank all the participants and please, if you have any feedback, please comment here or on the SocArxiv page below.

https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/2ba6w/

Reflection on my MRes Studies

There have been a lot of challenges since beginning my MRes course at University of Portsmouth, even bearing in mind the advice given to me that I should make as many contingency plans as possible. However, what has been most difficult has been planning to overcome myself in the research process. In this blog post I shall outline the natures of challenges faced and overcome. It is not the case that this is some kind of quest, merely that, given the circumstances I vastly overestimated my own abilities to carry out the kind of study that I wished to undertake. What has finally coalesced is, I believe, worthwhile research but not quite the project that I had planned. Below, I outline my learning during the MRes course so far with reference to the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) (Careers Research and Advisory Centre Ltd., 2011) in bold parentheses.

The pond at Shinjuku Imperial Gardens, Tokyo in Spring 2019. Cherry blossoms are reflected in the pond.

My original proposal was for a quantitative study that relied upon an overly optimistic sample size of volunteer participants. This sample was drawn from a population at my new place of work. Because I was a new instructor in an intensive English programme, I had few free teaching periods available when my students did. Furthermore, I had not Continue reading →

Slides on a Zoom session on Feedback with educators in Japan

The slides for this morning’s Zoom session on feedback are here.

Notes

  • We need a balance between general and detailed feedback.
  • Rubrics alone are not seen as useful. Notes on performance outside/beyond the rubric and more detailed feedback is required (NB, maybe not written).
  • Ongoing dialogic feedback, with perhaps a reflective plan of action (say a few bullet points) from students, could be more useful overall in facilitating student engagement with feedback.

Update

A podcast episode with related methodologies by Sascha Stollhans was put out by Dustin Hosseini.

Reflections by a hermit on collaborative writing

I am fairly asocial. Not antisocial, but I tended, even before the current pandemic, not to go out very much. I geek out about SLA and teaching alone for the most part, but I do have chats with colleagues at work from time to time, and on Twitter.

I decided to work on a duoethnography with my colleague and former housemate Jon Steven last year as a way to try something a bit different to all of the quantitative work that I was reading about and basically immersing myself in as part of my MRes. I also noticed that part of the Vitae criteria that researchers are supposed to work toward (and as somebody looking toward getting a doctorate in the future, this is me), and Jon wanted to work on more publications. This seemed like a really good opportunity.

It really was, but it was also tough. Jon and I both worked as full-time part-time/freelance teachers, me in universities and at an orthodontic clinic teaching ESP, him at high schools, companies and an international supplementary school. I changed jobs in the middle of our big bulk of writing it, so finding time to write was difficult. We are both parents, so after work and being present with our families, finding time to check citations and page numbers was dependent upon how tired we were and how long we could procrastinate them.

A key quote from Jon: “Are we still doing that? I thought it had been abandoned!”

Oh yes, it took me best part of nine months to get down to checking two citations and making changes to a paragraph I highlighted “Drastically rewrite or cut”. When I was ‘in the zone’ it felt frustrating that Jon wasn’t, though I am also sure the same is true of how Jon felt when I should have been redrafting, filling out or pruning text.

In the end, though, we ended up with a duoethnography that is, according to our review, “rooted in the literature” and that we are both proud of, despite it being quite tiring to write at times. Despite being a bit of a challenge, it was quite fun to share our opinions and beliefs and explore them further in writing, boiling them down and distilling them, then egging each other on to explain ourselves further.

As with autoethnography being a bit ‘mesearch’, duoethnography can be a bit ‘wesearch’; it’s pretty much the whole point. It could have got fairly navel-gazing if it was only about us, but I think we did a decent job within our word count of situating us within a context and talking about how others might have similar feelings, anxieties and experiences as us. That, to me, is the value of autoethnographic research methods to the literature. While I am quite keen on quantitative studies, having qualitative studies to explain the human, emotional side of what happens to us in language teaching is also important, and also appears to be becoming a bigger part of my projects outside my MRes.

Given the right opportunity and circumstances, I would definitely write a duoethnography again. It was immensely rewarding to write it, and once I got myself sat down and prepared, even fun to revise it. I just wouldn’t ever consider writing one when in the midst of learning the ropes in a new job.