JASAL Forum at JALT2021

JASAL held a 90-minute forum at JALT2021 on November 13 2021 (Saturday), 6:00 pm~7:30 pm. JALT (the Japan Association for Language Teaching) is one of JASAL’s partner organizations.

The forum was called Serendipities in Self-Access Learning: Positives from the Pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been problematic for self-access and social language learning spaces, where community, interaction, and proximity are central to our mission. Moves to remote or hybrid learning, and the need for social distancing have forced us to rethink our practices. This forum explored how these initiatives have led to greater choice for learners and even some surprising benefits. There were two mini-presentations, followed by discussion time.

The two mini-presentations were:

  1. Stacey Vye (Saitama University): “Students’ On-Campus and Online Self-Access Learning Preferences”

This presentation reveals student preferences for attending an English resource center (ERC) on-campus and then online at a national university in Japan between 2019 and 2021 before and during the pandemic. The ERC facilitators participated in semi-structured interviews about their reflections on student preferences about both venue formats for triangulation. Although both modalities indicate the most significant reason for participating was to practice speaking English, individual variations occurred after the ERC went online.

2. Clair Taylor (Gifu Shotoku Gakuen University) “Lounge MELT Got Even More Melty: Unanticipated Beneficial Outcomes from Our COVID-Safe Measures”  

This presentation shares how measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation led to some unanticipated beneficial outcomes at a social language learning space at a university in Japan called Lounge MELT (Maximum English Learning Together). “MELT” suggests warmth, and also the idea of a melting pot, where students, staff, and faculty from different departments mix together. Both warmth and inclusivity were unexpectedly enhanced as a result of changes we made to keep our space running safely during the pandemic.    

Katherine Thornton (Otemon Gakuin University) lead the forum. There was a small, friendly crowd with some new faces and some good discussion. Thank you for coming!