Correspondence from Aya

Dear Members of Gunma JALT,

High is 86, low is 57, sunrise at 6:19, and sunset at 4:46. This is what my second hometown is like this time of the year—San Diego, California. Being born and raised in Gunma, Japan, I never expected that I would call this place my second hometown. Although I truly love and enjoy living here, I always miss my true hometown.

My first JALT meeting was back in 2015, after coming back from the exchange program at San Diego State University. At the time, I vaguely started thinking about applying for Master’s programs in the U.S. I’d always wanted to become an English teacher at the secondary level in Japan, but the experience at State and the time at the JALT meetings have had a major impact on my life. During the exchange program, I learned the value of teachers who understand the relationship between linguistics and language teaching. JALT meetings and the knowledgeable members also gave me opportunities to think about practical issues in EFL teaching which could relate to theoretical aspects in linguistics. After attending some of the meetings, I became interested in teaching at the higher education level as many of the Gunma JALT members.

In 2016, after graduating from Gunma University with a BA in education, I got back in San Diego and started the MA program in linguistics at San Diego State. As I had known some professors and graduate students since the exchange program, that was a simple choice to come back here and continue my education. Now, while working on my third semester as a graduate student, I’m teaching Japanese to undergraduate students. Although my major interests are language acquisition and teaching in EFL settings, I have learned so much from the teaching experience at State.

In next spring semester, I’m finishing all of the requirements. I originally wanted to stay in the States after the program, but I decided to go back and get working experience in EFL teaching. In summer, I will take the teacher’s license exam in my hometown. Although I will leave here for a while, if I keep dreaming, I can always come back to the States and resume studying, I believe.

I’d like to express my special thanks to Mr. John Larson and Mr. Raymond Hoogenboom for giving me this great opportunity to contribute to the Speakeasy. I’m also grateful to Gunma JALT for having a major impact on my life. I wish the Speakeasy another successful year ahead and hopefully I will be back to Gunma JALT soon in the near future!


Aya Horigome
Graduate Student at San Diego State University


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