The Secret to Writing great Abstracts
by Lesley Ito
As you know, the deadline for submitting your vetted presentation for JALT Junior (to be held after Halloween, November 1 and 2, at the same place in Tokyo as last year) is April 25. If you have never presented before, I would encourage you to do so. Presenting at national conferences is important for your own personal growth as a teacher and it also helps put new ideas and energy into the field of EFL for young learners.
I made a presentation about the secrets of writing great abstracts at the last JALT Junior. This is the handout from my presentation. I have included actual reviewing comments by the reading committee as to why they gave an abstract a low score, along with actual examples of highly rated abstracts.
GOOD REVIEWER COMMENTS (from 2007)
The abstract could be strengthened by clearly describing what will be done in the workshop and how participants will play an active role.
A clearer purpose and description of the methodology behind the research would have strengthened this abstract.
The abstract needs to be much more concrete giving specifics about what is new or innovative that the audience will learn in this presentation.
The abstract needs to briefly and clearly state the background of the research, supported with examples. Then, detail how the workshop will be carried out. As it is, the message is lost in all the words. It is difficult to understand how the workshop time will be organized and managed effectively.
The abstract includes little information regarding what will happen during the workshop, leading me to evaluate it as below average. Including more information regarding the contents of the workshop and what the presenter intends participants to do could have led me to evaluate the abstract more positively.
The topic is not clear in the abstract and a more specific focus is needed. One useful way to start would be to clearly define the "course" that is being referred to. Careful editing for clarity is necessary as well.
This abstract is too general. I can't get a good idea of what the presenter will actually offer me if I were to go to his/her workshop.
Talks about what the speaker does in class but not what the speaker will do in the presentation.
ABSTRACTS OF MOST HIGHLY RATED TC PRESENTATIONS IN 2006
Elementary EFL teachers often find teaching basic grammar to students frustrating, especially when the students have usually forgotten what they have learned by the next lesson. The presenter will explain a classroom tested solution to this problem called "Grammar Triggers." Grammar Triggers are hand-drawn charts or pictures that plainly, simply, and clearly convey a grammar concept. They are effectively used to teach grammar to young students in an interactive way and then to trigger students' memories of learned grammar lessons the next week and in future classes, merely by using a white board and a marker. Teachers who use Grammar Triggers need not waste precious time in class re-teaching past lessons. The presenter will demonstrate how to use Grammar Triggers as a teaching aid when teaching grammar rules that appear in lessons of popular children's EFL textbooks. Grammar Triggers for singular/plural forms, possessives, and third person singular will be explained.
As Japan slowly moves towards adding regular English classes to the elementary school curriculum, more teachers are finding themselves facing classes of 5th and 6th graders. The possibilities available when teaching young people on the threshold of adulthood are enormous. They can concentrate for much longer periods than when they were younger, enjoy working in pairs and small groups, and have an awareness of their own language that they can apply to learning English. At the same time, this age group can present huge challenges to a teacher. Some children have been learning English privately for years while others are new to English, meaning one class can have many levels. Faster learners and advanced students can get bored while the others can get frustrated. Pre-teens' bodies, inside and out, are growing at a rapid pace, causing them to seem to lack energy. They're no longer small children and aren't thrilled by the TPR, songs, and chants they loved when they were younger. And some of them, especially the girls, are beginning to develop that painful shyness displayed by many junior high schoolers. The presenter will discuss these problems and possibilities of teaching upper elementary learners, based on an understanding of the characteristics of pre-adolescents. Then some ways to have successful classes with pre-teens, activities and the reasons for them, will be demonstrated. Participants will take part in activities that are based on some ingredients for success with this age group: Challenge, Chance, Content, Communication, and Community. A detailed handout and suggestions for adapting the activities will also be provided.
This presentation reports a process of developing a working word list as a basis for vocabulary tests for young learners of English in Japan. This project constitutes part of a larger scale research program on the relationship between the human brain and language development. Recent development in corpus linguistics has offered insights into the range and type of vocabulary required for learners at different levels, and research suggests that frequency lists can inform language teaching and testing practices (Nation 2001, Read 2000). However, the vast majority of research has focused on adolescent and adult learners, and very little research has been conducted for young learners. Some coursebooks and teaching materials for young learners claim that their selection of words is based on children's first language development, but no clear warrant for such a claim seems to be evident. This research aims to address such questions as: How best can we develop a word list for young learners of English? To what extent do adult frequency word lists reflect children's foreign language development? The research team has examined the words that appear in a number of widely-used international coursebooks and examination materials for young learners of English and have developed a working word list to be used for test development. Based on this analysis, a framework for vocabulary assessment has been developed and a series of pilot tests conducted. This presentation discusses preliminary findings and suggests future directions for young learner language assessment and research agenda.
Reading and writing are key elements in a balanced elementary school curriculum. These skills can be taught so that young learners are better motivated and equipped to continue making progress in English. Students who learn to read and write can then personalize these skills, and use them to share about themselves, learn about others, and explore their world-they can become active learners and communicators. The presenters describe the steps their students have taken: 1. Training ears through listening and developing speaking skills through enjoyable reproduction of songs and chants. 2. Learning the ABCs through confidence building, fun puzzles. 3. Learning to read simply patterned storybooks. 4. Using these familiar patterns to write, read, and share about themselves, their likes, and their lives through personalized mini-books. 5. Using the skills and confidence gained in this process to interview and talk with others. Teaching materials are introduced, the results of evaluations and surveys presented, and actual student work and video clips shown. How the English class can be a community that welcomes, supports, and challenges all the students is also discussed.
This discussion will explore aspects of the roles of the native-speaker within a primary English programme at Morimura Gakuen Elementary School. From April, 2005, a team of teachers from British Council, Tokyo have been involved in the design and implementation of a new English curriculum at Morimura Gakuen. The presenter will first introduce the task-based curriculum with structural and lexical components incorporated into the syllabus. Later, she will draw on the grounded interpretive data gained in October 2005 from pupils aged 7 to 11, about their own perceptions of a native speaker teacher and what they wished to do in the future with their English. The latter part of the session will focus on the following discussion questions: 1. How do we define our roles as teachers in a community of change? 2. How can our social, cultural and professional identity be manifested positively in the primary language curriculum? In this session, the audience will be asked to participate in the discussion, drawing on their own context of teaching. If there are examples of illustrations or descriptions of approaches or activities that may be useful for discussing your context and your own role as a teacher, it would be appreciated if you could bring the materials in for the discussion. We would like to encourage both native speaker as well as nonnative speaker teachers to attend the session. Teachers of other languages are also welcome.
ABSTRACTS OF MOST HIGHLY RATED TC PRESENTATIONS IN 2007
Parents are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of exposing their children to English at a very young age. However, few teachers of EFL are trained and know how to set up the classroom for the 0-3 age group and what activities you can do that are effective to language learning in a class for this age group. The session will examine the fundamentals of setting up and running a class for this age group. The presenter will begin by examining at the factors that come with teaching 0-3 year olds: the environment, the child and the parent, and the practical ramifications of each that are encountered when teaching a class of this age group. After determining the type of environment the class should be for optimum learning for the 0-3 yr old child, and how these children learn, the presenter will share practical ideas and activities that can be done, even in a mixed age and ability class. Participants will not only have the opportunity to participate in activities that can be done in the classroom, but the presenter will also explain how the activity benefits the child as a whole. Participants will also be able to see a video clip of a class in action and ask questions at the end. By the end of the presentation the participants will know what is needed to set up a class for the 0-3 year old age group, and what to expect when actually teaching them.
The time children spend learning in school is very precious. Therefore, it is our responsibility as teachers to provide students with a well-balanced and structured program that effectively and efficiently utilizes students' valuable learning time. This is particularly important when introducing English Activities to elementary school students. The implementation of a well-planned program with clear, concise goals is one of the keys to enhancing the entire learning process. In this presentation, a general overview of a program that has been designed specifically for the Period of Integrated Studies according to the aims and policies of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will be introduced. This program has been successfully implemented in fifth and sixth grade classes, over a five year period, and has generated positive feedback and results from both students as well as homeroom teachers. One essential component of the program is a series of activities included in each lesson. The activities involve a variety of tasks and challenges which motivate, stimulate and maintain the interest of the students. Follow-up activities help to reinforce what has been taught, and enable teachers to determine whether students have fully comprehended and met the specific objectives of the lessons. Several of these activities and practical lesson ideas that require active student participation will be demonstrated. Points to consider when implementing a program in public elementary school settings will also be provided. This workshop will be conducted in both English and Japanese.
Since the introduction of English education at the preschool and elementary levels in Japan, the demand for communicative teaching has steadily grown. Despite this popularity, the area of child English education has no official teaching credential at any of these levels. As a result, the qualifications required for child English teachers vary greatly in hiring practices from one employer to another, many of whom confidently state that only native speakers of English need apply. Using this as a point of departure, this on-going study investigates, from the perspective of the parents, the assumption that native speakers are qualified for teaching children English. This paper utilizes emails, questionnaires, and several follow up interviews of randomly selected parents living in Fukuoka prefecture to further explore the parents as a potential source of the long-standing belief and tendency to prefer hiring native speakers. The results show that both native English speaking teachers and Japanese teachers of English are equally preferred provided they satisfy certain desirable qualifications. That notwithstanding, the data also suggest inconsistencies in parents' expectations of child English teachers and the hiring practices of the schools that provide English education to their children.