LITERAPHOBIA: CAUSES & CURES
In this digital age of runaway technology, 3-D films, unlimited megabytes and cyber-living, learners too often feel afraid of or intimidated by old-school ‘analog’ literature. When compared to a daily diet of downloadable answers, text messages and tweets, authentic writing — challenging, crafted texts of multiple meanings— can seem just too difficult. Rather than looking beneath the surface, reading repeatedly, and spending time to process, most students opt for the spoon-fed comforts of consumerism to ‘borrow’ ideas, opinions, and emotions. With so much fun and ‘knowledge’ to be had at the touch of a keystroke, students become afraid of approaching literate, articulate, and problematic materials. They often hardly know where to begin, and they quit when it becomes confusing.
The third Liberlit conference will examine the causes of students’ fear of picking up a book, newspaper, or serious film, or even their electronic variants; but we will also search for constructive cures to this educational dilemma. Effective solutions for guiding students into better ways of learning are often some of teachers’ best-kept secrets. We want to know and share exactly how teachers negotiate with students via attitudes, commentary, and interactions above and beyond the classroom workout with texts and techniques. We want to know what ‘value-added’ elements of teaching turn thought-provoking materials into meaningful education. This year’s conference theme seeks to take a step back from the nitty-gritty particulars of daily instruction and look at the wider environment and mindset we try to foster and deploy in our teaching, in order to motivate students towards that elusive goal: truly higher education.
We believe literature to be an essential element of the English curriculum in Japan, and its vital future presence must be ensured and defended. By ‘literature’, we mean authentic texts that use language in creative and careful ways to tell stories, convey impressions, express original opinions, pose critical questions and demand more than simplistic, pragmatic responses. Those texts could include poetry, novels, plays, movies, songs, TV series, or thoughtful authentic writings on culture, society, or history. Teaching literature always means teaching much more than just language. Liberlit will address attitudes and approaches to ‘literary’ texts in English.
We lament the ongoing ‘dumbing down’ and ‘infantilisation’ of English education in Japan and the consequent marginalization of literature in the curriculum at all levels. Our conviction is that literature offers learners access to the kinds of creative, critical, and non-complacent views of the world that Japanese students sorely need and indeed, in many cases, crave. Literature has the power to engage and motivate second-language learners; its potential for multiple interpretations develops the minds of students who often believe that every question has but one answer, and the authenticity of literary texts respects them as intellectually maturing adults. Eye-opening materials and mind-widening methods should be an integral part of the education process at all levels, but are essential at university level before students go forth to live among the complexities of the ‘real’ world.
Liberlit will explore the idea that it is unkind and disingenuous to deprive students of the marvelously varied, meaningful, and challenging content that only great works of literature and thoughtful authentic writings on culture can offer. We will also investigate and expound techniques, methods, and ways that literary texts can foreground the roots of education, liberate English language into maturely creative uses and instigate a freer, bolder expression of original opinions. With your participation, we hope Liberlit will open up an active and collaborative community of thought, reflection, inquiry and discussion. We hope to make Liberlit an ongoing forum in which we can establish how, where, and why literature should rightly figure in Japan’s English curriculum.
Paul Hullah & Michael Pronko, February 2012
Room A = 1304 (Main Building, 3rd floor) Room B = 1305 (Main Building 3rd Floor)
On-site registration. Meet your fellow attendees.
Room A: Welcome Address and Introductory Remarks
(Paul Hullah & Michael Pronko)
Room A: Learning as Teaching, Teaching as Learning: Study Guides,
Collaborative Assignments, and the Pleasures of Teaching the Text
Room B: Reading and Writing Poems in English: a ‘Language through Literature’ Approach to Motivate Japanese EFL Students
Parallel Session 2
Room A: Attempt to Teach Literary Texts Utilizing Minai’s Parsing Method (Koji Morinaga)
Room B: The Big Picture: Making Literature Relevant for Today’s Students (Marcos Benevides)
LUNCH and a chance to mingle and chat.
14:10-15:00 PLENARY TALK
Room A: Why Most EFL Teachers Don’t Teach ‘Literature’:
What Can Be Done About It? (Rob Waring)
Parallel Session 3
Room A: An Effective Way to Use Japanese Pop Culture in the Language Classroom (Fuyuhiko Sekido)
Room B: Developing the Critical Mind: Teaching English-Based Critical Theory to Japanese Tertiary Students (Barnaby Ralph & Ai Watanabe)
Parallel Session 4
Room A: Raising Students’ Awareness through Life Stories
Room B: From Text to Context: Encouraging Critical Perception of Content (Neil Addison & Richard Walker)
Room A: ‘Lightning’ Discussion, Any Other Business, Concluding Remarks (Michael Pronko & Paul Hullah)
CONFERENCE ENDS. PARTY TIME!
Details of post-conference party will be available on conference day.
PLENARY TALK FROM INVITED GUEST SPEAKER
Why Most EFL Teachers Don’t Teach ‘Literature’: What Can Be Done About It?
Dr Rob Waring, Notre Dame Seishin University
(Plenary Talk: Room A, 14.10-15.00)
This talk will examine the reasons why most EFL teachers don’t teach ‘literature’. We start by looking at many of the ways literature can contribute to the EFL environment. We go on to define literature in an EFL context and attempt to unravel the complex issues surrounding the issue of authenticity of literature in EFL environments. We then examine some of the major reasons why EFL teachers tend not to use ‘literature’ or ‘authentic’ texts with their students. These reasons include text difficulty; the types of texts chosen for students; the perceived difficulty of reading literature; levels of engagement with and depth of comprehension of these texts at given ability levels; whether the literature is processed in an ‘authentic’ way or not; the relative randomness of input; whether literature is an appropriate vehicle for meeting a variety of student needs both linguistic and intellectual; lack of training and knowledge of teachers in literary matters, among others. Data will be provided to support some of these claims. We will then look at ways we can develop the necessary threshold of knowledge needed before students are able to approach literature in an authentic way. The talk closes with a call-to-arms for literature teachers to make their work relevant, appropriate and provide easily accessible resources for the teachers who do not teach literature so they would be more willing to bring literature into their classes.
Dr. Rob Waring is Associate Professor at Notre Dame Seishin University in Okayama, Japan. He is an acknowledged expert in Extensive Reading and second language vocabulary acquisition. He holds a Ph.D. in vocabulary acquisition from the University of Wales in the UK. He has published over 40 articles, and has lectured in 15 countries on foreign and second language acquisition. He has published or edited three series of language learner literature. He is a founding board member of the Extensive Reading Foundation. His areas of interest are wide and varied with a primary academic interest in the relationship between vocabulary acquisition and reading and how teachers can develop meaningful and engaging reading texts.
1A. Learning as Teaching, Teaching as Learning: Study Guides,
Collaborative Assignments, and the Pleasures of Teaching the Text (Parallel Session 1: Room A, 10.45-11.35)
Myles Chilton, Associate Professor, Faculty of Letters, Chiba University
‘Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.’ Whether this saying comes to us from Benjamin Franklin, an ancient Chinese proverb, or Native Americans, the ideas behind these words cannot be stressed enough. Involving students, I believe, is key to solving the problem of getting students over the hurdle that literature often presents. Indeed, framing the question in terms of involvement allows for a subtle but crucial shift in emphasis when it comes to designing literature courses. Rather than casting around for an answer to the question of how to get students to like literature, it seems preferable to address a more fundamental matter: how to get students to like learning. This leads to a second element, one crucial yet too often neglected in discussions of literature: pleasure. As Catherine Belsey writes in her recent manifesto A Future for Criticism, we impoverish literary analysis ‘when we fail to reflect on the nature of the power that is exerted in the moment when we hear and see them by words and images combined as stories’ (6). My paper will discuss the theories, practicalities and observations concerning two pedagogical strategies I have employed that involve students in the reading, analysis, and finally, pleasure of studying literature. Involvement is structured around collaborative work, such as group presentations and study guides, but it is the pleasure of involvement – in reading and analysis – that remains the objective and, I hope, the lasting impression.
Myles Chilton (B.A. Toronto, M.A. and Ph.D. Chicago) is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Letters at Chiba University. His academic interests are in exploring relationships between contemporary world literature, globalized cultures, and pedagogy. He has published articles on modern Canadian, British and Japanese literary representations of global cities, and on intersections between Anglophone literary interpretation and education in non-Anglophone sites. He is presently at work on two book manuscripts, one on the uses of Toronto in Canadian literature, the other on issues surrounding literature and language pedagogy.
1B. Reading and Writing Poems in English: a ‘Language through Literature’ Approach to Motivate Japanese EFL Students (Parallel Session 1: Room B, 10.45-11.35)
Kiyo Sakamoto, Lecturer, Doshisha University and Ryukoku University
For many Japanese students, reading an English poem may seem, at first, a rather intimidating project; language is often used creatively in poems, making students unsure and uneasy about their readings. However, as Widdowson argues in his Practical Stylistics, once the students acquire some stylistic understanding about the language in poetry and are given the freedom to explore the poems by themselves, students can enjoy not only reading but also writing poems in English. In my presentation, I would like to share some experiments I made to introduce English poems in the EFL class for Japanese students. Specifically, I want to discuss a comparative approach that uses a haiku as well as an English poem for classroom activity. I would like to show how differently metaphor works in an English poem and a Japanese haiku, and how this difference can be utilized for Japanese learners to acknowledge an English stylistic device and adopt it to express themselves in English writing. Furthermore, I hope to demonstrate that the comparative analysis of metaphor may help Japanese students better understand the nature of the two languages involved, and motivate them to convey their individual thoughts in English.
Kiyo Sakamoto is a part-time lecturer, teaching English at Doshisha University and Doshisha Women’s College, and literature classes at Ryukoku University. She earned a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature and Culture from University of Tokyo. She also graduated from the graduate school of University of Wisconsin-Madison and received her Master of Arts in East Asian Languages and Literature. She is a co-author of The Outsider Within: Essays on Modern Japanese Women Writers, published by University Press of America. She has been actively involved in JACET Kansai Chapter’s Study Group for Literature in Language Education and has published articles in its Journal of Literature in Language Education. Her present interests include the use of poems for English writing activities, ways to incorporate extensive reading into the EFL classroom, and the significance of cultural differences in language learning.
2A. Attempt to Teach Literary Texts Utilizing Minai’s Parsing Method (Parallel Session 2: Room A, 11.45-12.35)
Koji Morinaga, Part-Time Lecturer, Doshisha University, Ritsumeikan University
This research presentation reports the results of an experiment conducted to examine the effectiveness of the parsing method devised by Minai (2000) as a tool for literary texts correctly. First I explained to the students Minai’s axiom: ‘a structure of English is formed by combining verb forms, and in combining them we must use a verbal, a clause or a coordinate conjunction.’ Minai’s parsing method consists of 50 grammatical items. To have my students learn how to utilize them, I gave the following lessons; 1. predicate verb and verbal, 2. conjugation of verb 3. five sentence patterns, 4. subordinate clauses, 6. the function of relative pronoun, 7. bare past participle (Minai calls the adjectival use of the past participle and a participial construction bare past participle). After the lessons I examined the effectiveness of his parsing method to have the students answer the questions in the text book Cultivating the ability to read English correctly by parsing choice passages from modern classics. I will show you the detailed data at the day of my presentation.
Koji Morinaga teaches English as a part-time lecturer at Doshisha, Doshisha Women’s College and Ritsumeikan Universities. He obtained Master of Arts for his master thesis, ‘Wordsworth’s Imagination and Nature’ from Doshisha University. He also obtained Master of Language Education and Information Science for his master thesis, ‘A Method of Teaching Present Perfect Tense Utilizing a Visual Image’ from Ritsumeikan University. His present interest is in methods of teaching grammar and close reading, learning strategies, vocabulary learning and teaching English through movies. His recent oral presentations are ‘An Attempt to have students familiar with English modern classics’ and ‘Practice to improve students’ English presentation skills utilizing an English film’. His recent papers are ‘The Necessity of Establishing Intensive Reading Classes in University English Curricula: an Attempt to Teach Intensive Reading at compulsory and elective classes’ and ‘An Examination of Relationship between Use of Learning Strategies, and Reading or Listening Comprehension Abilities Based on the Research Data of Strategy Inventory for Language Learning By Oxford’. Contact: < email@example.com>
2B. The Big Picture: Making Literature Relevant for Today’s Students (Parallel Session 2: Room B, 11.45-12.35)
Marcos Benevides, Marcos Benevides, Assistant Professor at J.F. Oberlin University
EFL students, particularly in Asian contexts, are disadvantaged in the study of world literature for many reasons. First, as perhaps the majority of their peers worldwide in the 21st Century do, they may approach both ‘serious’ reading and reading for ‘pleasure’ with some suspicion; to many of them, reading is a practical, often short chore that they may avoid even in L1. Second, novels, plays, and poems as major modes of storytelling have faced increased competition from film, TV, comics, and even video games, drawing many of the most engaging and vibrant creators and critics to these new products. As a result, today’s educated ‘reader’ is as likely to be conversant about the characters and themes in TV programmes such Dexter or The Sopranos, as with Macbeth or The Brothers Karamazov. Third, there are clear and significant deficiencies in both language ability and contextual comprehension in the Asian ELT sphere. Never mind expecting our students to appreciate the beauty of Hamlet’s soliloquies—how about appreciating the shock of Ophelia’s suicide in a Christian context? In this talk, a follow-up his 2010 presentation, Benevides will outline his approach to presenting literature despite such disadvantages.
Marcos Benevides teaches at J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo. He holds a double major B.A. Honours in Literature and Creative Writing (Concordia University) and a Masters in Education (University of Calgary). He is a well-known writer of ELT materials, having co-authored several critically acclaimed coursebooks. His recent title, Fiction in Action: Whodunit (ABAX, 2010; co-author Adam Gray) is a genre-based reading course which attempts to bridge the divide between intensive and extensive reading through an approach known as narrow reading. Whodunit was awarded both the top international prizes for ELT in 2010 and 2011–the ESU Duke of Edinburgh English Book Award, and the British Council ‘ELTon’ Cambridge Award for Innovation. It was the first time that a book from Japan has won either award, and the second time in history that any book has won both. Marcos is currently series editor of the Choose Your Own Adventure graded reader series from McGraw-Hill Education. A video of his 2010 presentation at Liberlit, ‘Scaffolding Literature for the Japanese EFL Classroom’ can be viewed at: http://www.liberlit.com/2010-conference-videos. Contact: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
3A. An Effective Way to Use Japanese Pop Culture in the Language Classroom (Parallel Session 1: Room A, 15.10-16.00)
Fuyuhiko Sekido, Lecturer, Rikkyo University, Dokkyo University, Aoyama Gakuin University
The presenter will explain an effective way to use Japanese pop culture in the language classroom. In this presentation, pop culture includes Japanese lyrics and contemporary novels. Through some materials and activities, students can fully use four skills: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. The presenter prepares Japanese lyrics, which has its English version. First, he gives students the English version to guess who the writer is and what their nationality is. And then, he gives them a Japanese one and has them compare the differences between the two. After several minutes he has them make pairs and start a pair activity for discussion. Students find some interesting points about the languages and gender through this activity. The presenter also prepares a Japanese contemporary novel translated into English, especially by the presenter. Students read it as extensive reading, and then make a summary and questions about it and do a pair activity to check each other. These activities will be done either inside or outside the class, depending on the students’ level. Based on the above, the presenter will reveal the exact procedure, and show what materials and activities will be successful for the class. In addition, he will tell how to manage the time for each activity.
Fuyuhiko Sekido has been teaching English in Japan for more than 10 years, the last 5 years at universities. He completed his M.A. in American literature at Meiji Gakuin University in March 2000. Mr. Sekido has been a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University since April 2006, Dokkyo University since April 2008, and Aoyama Gakuin University since April 2009. His recent research interests include the effective use of literature in English education and practical methods for the language classroom. Contact: email@example.com.
3B. Developing the Critical Mind: Teaching English-Based Critical Theory to Japanese Tertiary Students (Parallel Session 3: Room B, 15.10-16.00)
Dr. Barnaby Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Literature and Culture in English, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University (co-presented with Ai Watanabe)
For students at an advanced level within a Department of Literature or Cultural Studies in Japan, there is a frequent need to gain an overview of the principles of Western critical thought. Whilst this can be done in Japanese, there are a number of problems, including the fact that (re)translations are often unwieldy and serve to add further obscurity, and also that a majority of accessible secondary literature is already written in English. This paper will discuss why teaching critical theory is useful at the tertiary level, explore the appropriacy of doing so in English, and examine how such a course might be approached. The author is involved in developing new curriculums and materials designed to engage and challenge fourth-year and postgraduate students. A selection of these materials will be made available as handouts, with links to web pages and other online resources for those interested in further exploring the area.
Barnaby Ralph is an Associate Professor in the Department of Literature and Culture in English at Tokyo Joshi Daigaku. A somewhat eclectic scholar, he has published and presented internationally on a broad range of topics, including critical theory, pedagogy, musicology, cultural studies and post-Romantic textuality. He holds degrees in English literature, law, music, applied linguistics and rhetoric/aesthetics, with the last of these being a Ph.D.. He also studied music in Vienna and has been active as a performing musician for many years, playing numerous concerts and appearing on CD, TV and radio. At present, Dr. Ralph teaches a number of courses which require students to have knowledge of both primary literary texts and relevant theories. Much of his research in the last couple of years has considered the role, teaching, and function of critical theory in both an institutional and broader social context. Some of these ideas are outlined in his recent article ‘New [medieval]ism: irreducibility, synecdoche and cultural studies’ (Hikaku Bunka 2011).
Co-Presenter Ai Watanabe is a Graduate Student at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University. In early 2011, she was the recipient of the University Award for best undergraduate Thesis in American Literature. Her current graduate studies include an extensive examination of critical theory and its application to literary texts.
4A. Raising Students’ Awareness through Life Stories (Parallel Session 4: Room B, 16.10-17.00)
Sae Matsuda, Associate Professor, Setsunan University
This presentation will look at life stories as a valuable resource to learn about little-known or rarely-discussed parts of the world. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Ishmael Beah, 2007) was used as reading material in a seminar class. The protagonist is a 12 year-old boy from a happy family in Sierra Leone. Civil war, however, changed his life completely after rebels burned down his village and he was forced to flee for his life. The book was divided into 15 sections and each student (7 in total) was assigned 2 sections. One person was in charge each week and was expected to prepare a worksheet and, playing the role of teacher, go over the questions with other students. Did they manage to grasp the horrible but true story and make good questions to facilitate other students’ understanding? How did they react to the theme at the end of the term? The presentation concludes by providing a list of other life stories, which could be introduced to discover hidden parts of the world as well as the essence of life.
Sae Matsuda is an associate professor at the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Setsunan University. Although she first got a job at a travel agency, she soon realized that she would prefer a more challenging job: teaching. After she obtained her M.Ed. degree from an American university, she started teaching at various institutions in Tokyo. She returned to her hometown, Kyoto, in 1996 and worked part-time at Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, and Doshisha University before she started working at Setsunan University. Her research interests include extensive reading, learners’ individual differences, and diary study. She is also interested in employing literature and films in the classroom. Her publications include: ‘Creating Opportunities to Read Extensively’ (Journal of Literature in Education, Vol. 3, 2011) and ‘The Impact of Literature Study on Reading Strategy and Reading Anxiety’ in Tanaka, Shishido, & Uematsu (Eds.), 22 Essays in English Studies―Language, Literature, and Education (Shohakusha, 2007). She has also co-authored film-related books such as Ondokushitai Eigano Eigo (Screen Play, 2005) and Anshoshitai Eigano Eigo (Kinseido, 2007).
4B. From Text to Context: Encouraging Critical Perception of Content: Notes on introducing a content-based instruction (CBI) approach in a Media English course for 3rd/4th year elective students in a Japanese university (Parallel Session 4: Room B, 16.10-17.00)
Neil Addison, M.A., Lecturer at Meiji Gakuin, Bunkyo Gakuin, Reitaku University
Richard Walker, M.Sc., Lecturer at Meiji Gakuin, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Reitaku University
This paper details research carried out by the authors in the field of Content Based Instruction (CBI). More specifically, this paper examines Japanese University English students` attitudes towards studying a content-based media course that incorporates a blended approach towards analysis and discussion of both textual and visual critical subject matter. Following a selected examination of previous academic work pursued in this field, and a diagnostic analysis of students’ schematic problems in approaching critical thinking in English, a description of the pedagogic ambitions and rationale of the authors` course is outlined. Moreover, the paper then proceeds with an overview of the construction and employment of course materials that the authors feel best compliment the teaching of a critical content-based pedagogy. The effectiveness of the course methodology is then assessed with reference to statistics taken from student response questionnaire data at two Japanese universities. Recommendations made in light of this data suggest that future research could continue to focus upon a further consideration of ways to scaffold and build upon existing learner methods.
Neil Addison teaches at Meiji Gakuin, Bunkyo and Reitaku universities. He was born in Bournemouth, England, and graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury with a degree in English Literature, his final graduation thesis focusing on contrasting Victorian and modernist representations of the individual versus the city. He also graduated with a first class Masters degree in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching from the University of Southampton. His Masters thesis focused on a diachronic and synchronic study of the relationship between the English language, ideology and hegemony. After periods working as a CELTA teacher in the U.K, and as a high school teacher on the JET program in Japan, he now teaches at 3 universities in the Kanto region. Since this time his teaching interests have chiefly centred on the development of content based instruction materials, encompassing the creation of a media studies student resource blog-site to facilitate a blended learning approach. His past research interests include papers on content based learning, and intercultural communicative competence in ELT. His latest paper `Investigating Literary Representation in EFL Reading Texts` examines the challenges and possibilities facing practitioners when teaching the cultural background of Western literature, and recommends the adoption of a multicultural and critically comparative literary approach.
Richard Walker teaches at Meiji Gakuin, Reitaku and Shibaura Universities. Born in Lincoln, England, he graduated from The University of Hull with a degree in South-East Asian Studies, his graduation paper based on fieldwork on the issue of a developing Malaysian national identity. After taking the Royal Trinity TESOL course, he taught at institutions in Ayutthaya, Thailand before returning home to work in the book trade. Deciding to ply his teaching skills in Japan, he taught at private institutions and Meiji University High School while pursuing an M.Sc. in TESOL at Aston University in which he excelled in research on discourse analysis, specifically on the analysis of ‘laughter’ in second language interaction, which saw him claim transference of Japanese language-specific laughter patterns into English speech. In addition to teaching conventional courses at universities, he increasingly develops material for content and language integrated learning courses, as manifested in the ongoing creation of student resource sites. Concomitant to this, he has written about bringing up bilingual and biliterate children in a monocultural environment, and recently returned to his interest in South-East Asia to write a critical discourse analysis on news reports in a Malaysian national newspaper, uncovering patterns of discriminatory discourse. Contact: < firstname.lastname@example.org>
HAVE YOUR LIBERLIT PAPER PUBLISHED!
We are planning to publish LIBERLIT conference proceedings and, if possible, other related items, online in the form of an electronic journal. We can make no firm promises regarding time scheme at this juncture, but will announce developments as they occur (so keep the Liberlit website bookmarked!)
You are invited to submit the manuscript of your Liberlit presentation, by e-mail attachment and formatted in MLA Style to <email@example.com> by 30 June 2012. Having manuscripts to hand will increase our chances of securing appropriate financial backing for the journal project which we hope will become a significant part of the LIBERLIT movement as a whole.
…AND DON’T FORGET TO SIGN UP FOR NEXT YEAR’S CONFERENCE!
Details online soon @ www.liberlit.com
THANKS! SEE YOU ALL NEXT YEAR!