Correspondence from Terry

Dear Members of Gunma JALT,

As I write this letter from Wisconsin, America, the maple trees are turning yellow and red. Whenever October arrives, I think back to the time I somehow, impossibly, got sunburned at Tsukasawa Chugakko’s sports festival in Takasaki. This carries me to thoughts of Gunma and my life as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).

I joined JALT in 2012, eager to develop a broader understanding of foreign language education systems in Japan. Sessions on cooperative learning strategies and peace education in language teaching kept drawing me back to our monthly JALT sessions. Despite holding an Adolescent English Language Arts teaching certification from the state of Wisconsin, it was truly my time exploring ELL teaching with JALT that developed my confidence. Before I knew it, I was moving beyond the typical role of an ALT.

In 2013, I joined Barry and Harry in managing the Speakeasy. As the Web & Design Editor, I flung the Journal into cyberspace where archived editions can now be found. I also drafted proofs and spearheaded negotiation to establish style norms, resulting in the succinct, modern format you now see. We exchanged many emails to determine sequencing, copy placement, formatting, column usage, and color integration, among other details. Writing author bios was the easy part of editing the Speakeasy!

After the release of Volume 26 of the Speakeasy in 2014, I returned to the States and began working as a high school College Writing teacher at a school for Hmong students. I might have retained, even built my writing skills while editing the Speakeasy and participating in Nanowrimo, but my ability to communicate at a quick pace in a culture where the speaker bears the burden of creating clarity had definitely waned. Struggling to explain classical rhetoric to kids, I realized I needed to retire from editing. I’m glad to see the Speakeasy continuing on strong.

Recently, I have moved into the field of copy editing. It is a bit of a surprise to me that my one-year stint as Web & Design Editor turned into something much larger. As it turns out, learning Japanese was much more fun and considerably tougher than memorizing the style and formatting rules I now use in my new position. Hyphens still trip me up, though.

I’m grateful to Gunma JALT for supporting my growth. I’d like to send a warm osewa ni narimashita to John Larson, Barry Keith, and Harry Meyer. May the Speakeasy continue on, creating connection and bringing vibrancy to the English Language Educator community in and around Gunma.


Terry Dassow
Copy Editing Consultant