Community Voices: What fresh insight did you take from your classroom experience in the 2013-2014 school year?

This volume, we asked our readers and Gunma JALT members to respond to our first ever poll. Responses ranged from the importance of encouragement to uses of formative assessment. Add your voice to our next poll! Join the Gunma JALT Facebook group or get on the mailing list to get linked to next volume’s question. If there is a topic you’d like to see in the next Speakeasy, send us an email Keep up the good work everyone!

“It is obvious that the amount of exposure to English matters a lot for students’ acquisition of English. And Course of Study says English should be taught in English in principle at high school level. JTEs are concerned too much about their ability of English, and as a result, their focus seems to become using English instead of teaching English.”

“This year I updated my tri-annual student survey with some new questions. One of the new questions was “I am a ___ student.” The results were shocking. In April, first- year students identified themselves as Good (50%), Fun (25%), or Interesting (10%) students. In July the same students identified themselves as Horrible (40%), Okay (25%) and Bad (10%). From their behavior in class, I never could have guessed that there was such a huge drop in self-esteem.”

“Even if they are typically quiet during class, I learned that all my students want to do is talk to each other. The act of communication is more important than the language or their skill level. With enthusiastic encouragement or suggested topics, all students can gain confidence in their ability to use English. They also begin to relate to one another as learners because we openly reflect on how no one speaks perfectly, not students with high grades, those who have lived abroad, not even me.”

“I learned that routines are not things to let go. If they are important enough to start, students should see the teacher do everything they can to keep them. The more the teacher makes an effort, the more the students will make an effort to keep these routines.”