Adapting to change is one the defining characteristics of our species, yet at the same time change is a source of great strife in our lives. The challenges caused by our constantly changing lives, and the ways in which we overcome them, make us who we are. This 28th edition of Speakeasy contains a number of works that are, at heart, stories of challenge and change.
Stephen Howes writes about his previous school in Australia and the successes students and teachers have seen with the introduction of state-of-the-art digital teaching aids. He then compares that situation with his current school in Japan, which is generations behind technologically. His experience suggests that, in order to keep up with the pace of technology, Japanese schools will have to change, and change quickly.
John Larson offers up a piece of creative non-fiction about a teacher and a bird called The Wagtail. This light story with dark undertones takes place in a setting that most Speakeasy readers will find familiar.
Daniel Hooper reports the results of his study into the effectiveness of near peer role models: fellow learners whose relative proficiency demonstrates that language learning success is not out of reach. His results show that the current fetishization of native speakers as the most effective motivators for language learners needs to be rethought.
Johan Saputra Muljadi shares his experience as a non-native English speaker (NNS) teaching in Japan. Even though there are signs of hope, the challenges faced by NNS continue, often unnoticed by those lucky enough to be born in the “right” country.
Ming Qu and Margit Krause-Ono explore the attitudes of students toward peer assessment. In recent years, many classrooms have changed to this alternative method of assessment. By focusing on both quantitive and qualitative data, they gauge Japanese students’ reactions to peer-based assessment as well as the reasons behind the students’ opinions. This in-depth study is a must-read for anyone thinking of implementing peer assessment.
Speakeasy itself is not immune to change. This year Speakeasy has a new section: Correspondence. In this new section, we publish letters from Gunma JALT members who have moved on. This year, Terry Dassow starts our new journey off on the right foot. Terry is the person most responsible for Speakeasy’s recent rejuvenation. In her letter, she lets us know what she has been up to meantime, and how her experiences with Gunma JALT and Speakeasy led her, in part, to where she is today. She reminisces of times past, and tells us of her new life in her old home and the hardship and happiness that have borne her thus far.
Please enjoy Speakeasy 28.