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Speakeasy Volume 29: December 2017

Speakeasy 29Education is not a discipline normally associated with rapid change. In essence, schools have changed little from what they were a thousand years ago. And for good reason; standardized education has long been the backbone of our civilization, providing modern society with stability and uniformity.

In our lifetimes however, globalization and the rapid proliferation of digital technology have forced change upon every corner of civilization, including education. In Speakeasy Volume 29 several Gunma JALT members and friends tell their stories of boldly pushing English education in Japan forward into the future.

Saitama JALT Program Chair Fuad Olajuwon introduces some of the digital language learning tools available to teachers and students. He shows how these tools make efficient use of students’ and teachers’ time in today’s fast-paced world.

Gunma JALT Facilities Chair Hideto D. Harashima goes through some of the details of the oft-ignored area of English phonetics. Current pedagogy unfortunately neglects these fundamental and important pronunciation skills. This article gives concrete points on how to correct this.

Up-and-coming member Steve Ferrier reveals the results of his survey of elementary school teachers in Takasaki. He found that their new English curriculum was generally praised for being flexible while at the same time facilitating communication and continuity between schools. With English becoming an increasingly important part of elementary education, studies such as this are essential insights into the decisions made in the boardroom and their effects in the classroom.

Ikaho Summer Workshop presenter Antonija Cavcic shines light on the roots, and continued use of, Katakana-English in Japanese English education. Her examination of Meiji-era texts and modern-day self-study books shows how precious little things have changed in the past hundred years. She shows how the lack of systematic pronunciation education in English education, students’ desire for quick and easy mastery, and the self-study publishing industry’s propensity to place profits over pedagogy perpetuate katakana use in English education in Japan.

This year’s Correspondence writer is frequent Gunma JALT attendee Aya Horigome; one of the rising stars of Gunma English education. She tells us of her life as a MA candidate at San Diego State University in sunny California.

Finally, Gunma JALT Program Chair Michele Steele shares snippets of her recent battle with cancer. Her story is both personal and powerful, and Speakeasy is overjoyed to be able to share it.

Speakeasy wouldn’t be possible without the community we have here at Gunma JALT. Thanks for being a part of it.

Enjoy Speakeasy 29.