The Fifth Annual MEES in Hachinohe

Here is a selection of photos from the fifth annual Michinoku English Education Summit in Hachinohe.  Thanks for coming out again everyone! We’ll see you all next year!

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All Photography ©2018 Jason Hill

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Upcoming – Getting Ready for 2020 – Alison Nemoto

Event Speaker: Alison Nemoto
Fee for JALT members: free
Fee for non-JALT members: 1000 yen (500 yen for students)
Contact or Queries:

Date and TIme: Sunday, April 22, 2018 – 1:30pm to 4:30pm
Location: AIINA in Morioka Rm 813 – View Map


This is a period of enormous change in Japanese primary education, as English advances to become a subject for the upper grades and a compulsory activity for the middle grades from 2020. After working on the MEXT committee which developed the materials; “We Can!” and ”Let’s Try!” in this presentation I will share my ideas about how they should be ideally used in the classroom this year and next.  I will also provide feedback on the new curriculum from student teachers who are trying it out in university classes and from children at pilot schools already using the materials.


B.Ed (Hons), M.A. in TEYL, (Teaching English to Young Learners).

Alison is from the UK and trained as a primary school teacher, before coming to Japan on the JET programme in 1989. She has over 20 years of experience teaching in kindergartens, primary schools and junior high schools in the coastal area of Fukushima and worked for a year as the only native teacher in the 16 primary schools in Minamisoma City, Fukushima, directly after the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011.

Since 2012, she has been as a Specially Appointed Associate Professor at Miyagi University of Education. She teaches English communication, writing and practical teaching skills to undergraduates who will become primary and secondary school teachers of English. Her areas of research are children’s opinions on reflective learning activities, active learning methods for Japanese primary English classrooms and the effect of storytelling as a gateway to English learning. She is involved in in-service teacher training at the university and works as an adviser in primary English education to numerous public schools the Tohoku area.

Alison has worked for over ten years with various publishing companies, including Kairyudo and Kumon, on the development of materials for young learners in both public primary and junior high schools, and private language schools. She was appointed as an English curriculum and materials development adviser to the Myanmar Government, helped develop two texbooks and visited Myanmar three times from 2016-2017. She was also appointed as an English curriculum and materials development advisor for MEXT from Dec. 2016 – Dec. 2017, working on the syllabus reform and development of the materials; “Let’s Try!” and “We Can!” to be used from April 2018 until the new English primary school curriculum officially begins in 2020.

She is programs chair for Sendai JALT and enjoys travelling, art, watching movies and yoga in her spare time.

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Plenary Speaker Announcement – MEES 2018


We are excited to announce Gregory Sholdt of Kobe University as our 2018 MEES plenary speaker!

Plenary Title:

Exploring Avenues of Insight into Our Classrooms: Let’s Take a Look at the Numbers


Making adjustments based on informal observations of teaching and learning is second nature for most experienced, reflective language teachers. Yet, engaging in more systematic cycles of observation and change through action research can guide teachers to more refined and deeper understandings of their craft and significant improvements in their classrooms. Action research also provides an entry to academic discourse on language teaching and learning when teachers share their findings through conference presentations and published manuscripts. The goal of this talk is to explore these professional benefits for language teachers and to introduce an approach to doing action research that fosters knowledge and skills necessary for more traditional research studies, particularly those involving quantitative methods. The presenter will review standard action research methods and describe how to adjust them to emphasize the collection and analysis of quantitative classroom data. He will introduce some fundamental topics in quantitative methods including basic measurement theory and interpretation of descriptive statistics in order to demonstrate the benefits and limitations of working with numbers in action research. Resources outlining specific types of quantitative data readily available in classrooms and techniques for basic data analysis will be provided. During this relaxed, fun, and interactive talk, participants will have opportunities to share about their own research endeavors, get first hand experience with the fascinating world of statistical analysis, and consider ways to incorporate quantitative data in their own action research projects.

Greg’s Bio:

Gregory Sholdt teaches in the School of Languages and Communication at Kobe University. His interests include professional development, classroom-based research methods, English for academic purposes, and fluency instruction. Based on his graduate studies in Educational Psychology and experience teaching introductory statistics courses at the University of Hawaii, he has been exploring innovative approaches to professional development for teachers through classroom-based research. He has been encouraging, guiding, and supporting language teachers in Japan as they work towards building knowledge and gaining skills fundamental to conducting classroom-based quantitative research. Along with presentations, workshops, and online instruction, he has planned and executed large-scale, yearlong projects that center on collaborative professional development through shared research experience and have involved nearly one hundred language teachers across the country. He currently serves as a Consulting Editor for the JALT Journal and the Chair of the JALT Research Grants Committee.

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REMINDER: Call for Presenters – MEES 2018


CALL FOR PRESENTERS for the main conference (Sunday 3rd)



“Observations on Teaching and Learning; Whatcha doin’?”

We are approaching this year’s topic broadly and informally. For example, have you noticed any changes in your classes recently? Are you doing something new that seems to make a difference in your students’ motivation or grades? Have you learned something that other teachers might find useful?

These questions as well as more formal types of observation are just a few of the requested presentation topics. Presentations related to active research, classroom feedback, anecdotal evidence of learning or teaching, or even just insights about your teaching and learning are welcome!

Presentation proposals should address changes related to language pedagogy, perceptions of language education, and/or other relevant topics. All proposals should be 100-200 words in Word or PDF format.

Session Presentation: 30 minutes (20 minute presentation, 10 minute Q & A). Please advise about your presentation style: Hands-on Workshop, Lecture, PowerPoint Presentation, etc.

Send presentation proposals by April 16, 2018 to:

Greg Anthony:


Full details of Conference.

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Upcoming: Double Presentation: Global English Seminar and What can be done with Corpora – Barry Grossman

Event Speaker: Barry GrossmanFee for JALT 


members: freeFee for non-JALT members: 1000 yen (500 yen for students)
Contact or Queries:

Date and TIme: Sunday, January 28, 2018 – 1:30pm to 4:30pm

Location: AIINA in Morioka Rm 605 – View Map

Presentation #1: (45 minutes)

Title: “Global English Seminar Project: A navigation app for foreign tourists and residents”

The need for English information in a local community is being met by a university’s ‘Global English Seminar’ class. In order to make visiting the area more convenient for foreign tourists and residents, the seminar class has made a free iPhone app that provides information in English on local tourist spots, businesses and services. The educational and societal goals, methods, results, and challenges of this three-year project will be presented.

Hands-on Workshop: (90 minutes)

Title: “What can you do with a corpus?”

Online corpora have become very user-friendly in the past few years. In this hands-on workshop, we will learn to use the corpus engine at Brigham Young University. The corpus can be beneficial as a language resource for teachers and students, but we will also discuss its use for classroom activities. By the end of the workshop, participants will have the confidence to use a corpus on their own and be able to explore the various functions an online corpus can offer.


Born 1965: Brooklyn, NY


1988: University of Colorado, BA in English Literature

1991: University of Colorado, MA in Linguistics / TEFL

2017: University of Birmingham (UK), PhD. in English & Applied Linguistics

(Thesis in Cognitive Corpus Linguistics)



1991: Tokyo, English Language School

1992: Hirosaki, English Language School

1993: Hachinohe National Institute of Technology

1996: Hachinohe University, Lecturer

2013: Hachinohe Gakuin University, Professor


Besides having published numerous articles on EFL and Linguistics, he has given research presentations in Japan, Canada, Korea, Italy, & The Netherlands.

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Upcoming – Creativity and Playfulness in the Language Classroom – Malu Sciamarelli

Date and Time: Tuesday, 21 November 2017,  19:00 – 20:00
Speaker: Malu Sciamarelli
Location: Hirosaki Gakuin University (13-1 Minorichō, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori-ken 036-8231 0172-34-5211

Fee for JALT members: Free

Non-JALT members: 500 yen

Creativity and Playfulness in the Language Classroom

Children are driven by curiosity and playfulness. An approach based on children’s Four Corners Poster - Malu in Hirosakinatural way of interacting with their world, a playfulness approach, would go a long way to creating a more inclusive learning environment and more effective schools in general. However, a playfulness approach should not just be limited to school, but should be encouraged throughout a learner’s lifetime. This approach contributes to the development of problem solving, creativity, perspective taking, and the development of language.

This playfulness approach, with an emphasis on experimentation and risk-taking, inventing and failing as well as succeeding, develops our ability to learn with the skills that will allow us to build the sustainable cities, environments and societies of the future. Such an approach also encourages, accepts, and acknowledges not only the skills of the individual, but also how people share these skills with each other through the exchanging and joining of ideas and experiences.

In this workshop, we will explore how teachers can offer activities that:  provide role modelling of playfulness; support and value creative thinking; lead to active engagement; and help develop the critical skills for children to learn a language through play.

Playfulness can help foster a desire for lifelong learning in our students as well as an ability to adapt throughout their lives. It provides the base for our students to be able to explore better opportunities to create and develop their own future in a global age.

(This workshop is based on my chapter “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation” in the new British Council’s publication Integrating global issues in the creative English language classroom: With reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, London, 2017)


Malu Sciamarelli has been an active member of the ELT community for 24 years, working as a teacher and freelance teacher trainer in Brazil.  She has also been an active member of C Group, a group of teachers dedicated to increasing the amount of creativity found in language classrooms throughout the world.  She has been a committee member of the C Group for 2 years, and has published book chapters on ‘Teaching Children with Mascot-Inspired Projects’ (British Council 2015) and the importance of creativity and play in language learning (British Council 2017). Her articles on creative writing and using literature in the language classroom in several journals have helped generate a higher level of discourse around creativity in the language classroom within the ELT community. In addition, her work guest editing an issue of the ETAS Journal on ‘Creative Writing and ELT: Intersecting borders in creative writing and English language teaching’ (2014), offered a chance for new authors around the world to engage and broaden the conversation on the role creativity plays in the language classroom.

Malu Sciamarelli is also a part of a new movement in ELT, one which uses blogs and other media to quickly disseminate new ideas to the ELT community.  Her posts on creativity and literature on Teaching VillageiTDi, the IATEFL Teacher Development Interest Group (TD SIG) Blog, and her own blog show her dedication to constantly engage with the community in real time and help shape the flow of ideas around the use of literature and creativity within the language classroom.


Personal Website:
Twitter: @malusciamarelli
The C Group:

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Upcoming – Gerome Rothman – Understanding Labour Contracts and the Five Year Rule


Date and Time: Sunday, 29 October 2017– 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Speaker: Gerome Rothman
Location: AIINA Rm 602 (map
Fee for JALT members: Free
Fee for one-day members: 1,000 yen (500 yen for students)


The talk will  begin by giving a brief background about temporary labor contracts to set up an examination about a unique problem facing language educators in the corporate and university sector – the so called five-year rule/ten-year rule.  This rule purports to provide a method for temporary labor contracts to become converted to permanent contracts.  This presentation will discuss the ins and outs of this new policy, the myths associated with it, the implications of the policy.  It will close by explaining why cooperation, rather than competition with ones colleagues is the only way to build solidarity and improve working conditions in the academic workplace.

Bio:  Gerome Rothman is a Field Director and Organizer at Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (Tozen Union for short).  As an organizer at Tozen he is a case officer for 10 of its locals, responsible for leading collective bargaining, drafting demands and legal documents, and representing the union to third parties such as the Labor Relations Commission 労働委員会.  He is also Tozen’s representative to the executive of Rengo Tokyo, Rengo being the national federation with which Tozen became affiliated in 2016.  He is also English language instructor at the  Foreign Service Training Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

About Tozen Union:  Tozen a Japanese labor union based in Tokyo with members who hail from over 35 countries. Members work in a diverse range of sectors including language education, financial services, warehousing, and translation/interpretation.  Tozen aims to be the most democratic and transparent union in the world.  Our website is at

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