Upcoming: Sept 25- David Gann – Sustainable Language-based Critical Thinking Instruction


Date and Time: Sunday, 25 September – 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Speaker: David Gann
Location: AIINA Rm 817 (map https://goo.gl/maps/kEQo5UV2jPr)
Fee for JALT members: Free
Fee for one-day members: 1,000 yen (500 yen for students)



I hope everyone had a great summer. I’m back from a short sojourn to  Canada and the U.S. Now that I’ve returned, we can get down to business for the fall season. Here is our September event. I’m looking forward to this one.


Sustainable Language-based Critical Thinking Instruction

The presenter will report on the first in his multi-step course design for aiding students in the development of critical thinking competence and dialectical discourse. These steps include (1) intake of explicit instruction in argument analysis delivered via podcast; (2) completion of two types of online text reconstruction exercises specially designed to facilitate noticing of (a) salient textual features associated with various premise-conclusion constructions; and (b) dialectical discourse items used in professional, academic and civil discourse; (3) online discussion threads concerning either (a) issues raised in the textbook during Freshman English; or (b) problem solving, hypothesis testing and data interpretation during subsequent Integrated Skills courses; and collaborative writing via online documents; (4) speaking tests, during which students draw upon their recent discussion thread communications; (5) assessment based on the use of the aforementioned language items, followed by meaningful feedback; and (6) how a technological solution helped the course design and approach reach sustainability. The presenter will explain the rationale behind the various steps; pedagogical considerations that informed various technological aspects of production and delivery; how the podcast material was connected to in-class activity; and how well the course design was received by our students.



Originally from the U.S., David Gann moved to Japan and began teaching in 1996, after earning an M.A. in English literature. In 2010, he began co-producing Critically Minded Podcast. That same year he also co-founded JALT Critical Thinking SIG. Since 2012, he has taught as Assistant Professor at Tokyo University of Science, where he has continued to develop materials for critical thinking instruction. In 2013, he completed a second M.A. in Educational Technologies and TESOL at the University of Manchester. His main interests include critical thinking instruction, CALL and learner autonomy.

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MEES 2016 – A Look Back in Photos

MEES 2016 was a smashing success. Here is a look back at the event thought some of the photos I took during the day. I hope we’ll see you all next year.



Photography ©2016 Jason Hill – All Right Reserved

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MEES  2016 live blog

9:21am – We are here at Hachinohe Gakuin University and almost ready to start. 

10:15am – Pleanery speaker Lesley Ito.

11:30am – Colin Mitchell  Motivation and Progression. 

12:00pm – Rob Peacock. Six skills for confident communication with Stretch. 

1:30pm – Riaz Donaldson  Bringing Academic English to a broader Audience with Unlock.

2:15pm – Paul Goldberg  – The benefits of doing extensive reading online with xReading.

3:30pm – Greg Anthony –  All Fun and Games? Affecting Appropriate EFL Motivation in Young Learners. 

A big thanks to all the presenters and organizers. 

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MEES Conference Shuttle Information Here

(reserve your spot!)

We have a shuttle van arrangement with Kosan Taxi for free transport between the conference venue (Hachinohe Gakuin University) and points downtown and the two major train stations in Hachinohe. The times are convenient (within 30 minutes) for north and southbound shinkansens both before and after the conference. The schedule and pickup / drop-off schedule is posted below.

As passenger space in each van is limited, we need an estimate of how many plan on riding the shuttle vans in advance (both to and / or from the conference). Those who have reserved a place will have priority, and if we run out of space ,those without advanced reservations will have to find their own transportation.

Please be aware that the conference venue is roughly a 30-minute (direct) ride from Hachinohe station, and access is very limited via public bus and that there are no local train stations nearby. If you are not coming to the venue by car, our shuttle van service or hiring a taxi on your own will be the only convenient ways to get here.

So, please let us know (as a comment to this post or direct mail to Greg) if you intend on riding the shuttle van (and if you will ride coming and / or going back).

Thanks !!

Here is the shuttle schedule we have arranged:
Sunday, May 29th
(heading to conference venue)
8:45am – Hachinohe Station (shinkansen) – shuttle bus DEPARTS from outside of the EAST (Main, front) EXIT (東口)
~9:05am – Hon-Hachinohe Station (local train / bus transfer) – bus pick up outside of the WEST EXIT (西口)
~9:15am – Mikka-machi (downtown main shopping street, in front of Sakurano Dept. Store)
~9:40am – Bus arrives at Hachinohe Gakuin University (conference sessions start from 10am)
(returning to downtown / stations after conference)
16:45 – Bus leaves Hachinohe Gakuin University
~17:05 – Bus arrives Mikka-machi (downtown main shopping street, in front of Sakurano Dept. Store)
~17.20 – Bus arrives at Hon-Hachinohe Station (local train/ bus transfer)
~17:45 – Bus arrives at Hachinohe Station (shinkansen)

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MEES – 2016 Pre-Conference Dinner and Bento Information


We would like to start taking orders for prepared Bento lunch boxes for the conference. They will be 500 yen and prepared by our university’s own cafe staff. I have attached a photo of last years bento. Unfortunately, vegetarian bentos are not available.
Please request your bento order with us by WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th.

Be advised that there are no convenience stores / restaurants within walking distance of our campus, so please remember to bring something with you to eat if you don’t plan on purchasing a bento lunch. In this case, we recommend that you bring lunch with you on your way here in the morning so you don’t have to drive around during the hour lunch break.

There are drink vending machines on campus.

Also, complimentary coffee, tea, and snack food will be made available throughout the day.



Come and join us for a fun and relaxing dinner the Saturday evening before the MEES conference ! Make new friends and share ideas over some drinks & eats! Details are listed below, but we do ask that those planning to join us PLEASE LET US KNOW BY WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th so that we can confirm numbers with the restaurant (please also let us know if you prefer vegetarian dishes). Its the same spot for those who joined us last year.

Thanks & hope to see you all there !!

Date: Saturday, May 28.
Time: 6:00pm~
Place: La Plaza-tei, Hachinohe (らぷらざ亭 八戸) (Izakaya-style restaurant that specializes in local dishes !)
Address: 13 Muika-machi, Hachinohe
Fee: ¥2,500 (drinks not included) Vegetarian dishes are available for those that request in advance.
Here is a link to restaurant home page with a google map:


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Hello everyone !
Just a little over a month to go before the 2016 MEES conference ! We want to thank everyone who submitted presentation proposals this year. We are proud to announce our full day’s lineup of seven presentations for Sunday, May 29th!

Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Xreading.comwill also be at the conference to assist you with their great teaching resources and materials!

Please check out the full conference schedule below. The lineup and full presentation descriptions are available at the MEES 2016 page.

Conference Schedule

09:00 – 10:00 Registration

10:00 – 10:10 Opening Comments

10:10 – 11:05 Plenary Session – Lesley Ito (Big Bow English Lab, Nagoya) ‘Implementing Developmentally Appropriate Strategies for Young Learners in EFL’

11:15 – 11:55 Session 1 – Colin Mitchell (James English School, Hirosaki) ‘Motivation and Progression’

12:05 – 12:30 Session 2 – Rob Peacock (Teacher Trainer, Oxford University Press) ‘Six Skills Study for Confident Communication with Stretch’

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch Break (bento available on site)

13:30 – 13:55 Session 3 – Riaz Donaldson (Cambridge University Press) ‘Bringing Academic English to a Broader Audience with Unlock’

14:05 -14:30 Session 4 – Paul Goldberg (Xreading.com) ‘The Benefits of Doing Extensive Reading Online with Xreading’

14:40 – 15:20 Session 5 – Jason Hill (Hachimantai City BOE, Iwate) and Kathryn Akasaka (English Instructor in Iwate Prefecture) ‘Using Popular Culture to Create Interesting English Classes’

15:30 – 16:10 Session 6 – Greg Anthony (Hachinohe Gakuin University) ‘All Fun and Games? Affecting Appropriate EFL Motivation in Young Learners’

16:10 – 16:20 Closing Comments


I hope to see you all there!



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Upcoming: April 24 – Patrick Dougherty (Akita International University)


Date and Time: Sunday, 24 April – 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Speaker: Patrick Dougherty
Location: AIINA Rm 602 (map https://goo.gl/maps/kEQo5UV2jPr)
Fee for JALT members: Free
Fee for one-day members: 1,000 yen (500 yen for students)


Imbuing Student Heritage into the English as a Foreign Language Classroom: Projects from Japan and the United Arab Emirates

The idea of using students’ native culture in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) or English as a second language (ESL) classroom is not new. The topic has been researched and the benefits identified. One of the primary reasons the use of native culture is beneficial in the EFL/ESL classroom comes from schema theory research. Studies have shown that students’ comprehension and retention of target language material is improved when familiar cultural contexts are used in the classroom (Post and Rathet, 1996). If a goal of learning a language is improved cultural understanding, than the question may be asked, why should this not extend to a cultural understanding of one’s native culture and heritage? As Rebecca Chism (2005) stated, the “goal in a language classroom is intercultural understanding, not only the understanding of another culture but of one’s own culture as well (p. 2).” Chism’s study of the inclusion of Chinese culture in English language classrooms in Taiwan pointed out that the vast majority of textbooks being utilized in the local classrooms were focused on American or world culture and cultural constructs. This resulted in a situation where Taiwanese students were comfortable and able to discuss American and world culture but had not learned the vocabulary or enough background to dialogue on their own culture (Chism, 2005, p. 2). The same situation can apply to students from a variety of cultural and heritage backgrounds (Dougherty and Dougherty, 2006). What this presentation will do is introduce three projects that have been undertaken to encourage EFL students to explore their own heritage. They are applicable to any teaching environment from primary to adult, and have been used in both EFL and ESL settings.


Prof. Patrick Dougherty, Ed.D.
Patrick Dougherty holds a Doctorate in Education from Northern Arizona University. He is currently a professor of International Liberal Arts and Director of the English for Academic Purposes Program and Foreign Language Education at Akita International University in Japan. He is also the Chair of Publications for Teachers Helping Teachers and the President of the Akita Chapter of JALT.

Prior to that he lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where his last post was as Chair of Graduate Programs in Education for the Higher Colleges of Technology. While serving in that capacity, he worked with colleagues to create a tele-presence supported distributed course delivery (TSDCD) system to allow students in remote locations to participate in degree programs. Additionally, he served as the editor for two volumes of a book series he began entitled, Perspectives from Experience: Education in the United Arab Emirates. These volumes were an effort to bring research from Emirati and UAE-based education professionals to the attention of the world-wide academic community.

His own research interests are in teacher training and development, the uses of creative writing and student heritage in the language classroom, and the impact of distance learning modalities on pedagogy. Lastly, Prof. Dougherty has worked in education for twenty-eight years. He spent fourteen of them as a high school supervisor and teacher in the United States and Japan prior to moving into higher education. He has taught and served as an administrator at universities in the United States, Japan, Bangladesh, and the United Arab Emirates.

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