Late in 2017, Ray Hoogenboom approached me about the possibility of taking over the editing of Speakeasy. To my surprise, I acquiesced (although I have a habit of doing so for Ray!). Upon hearing the glad tidings, John Larson, the previous editor, eagerly gave me a (somewhat terrifying) run down of the run up to publication. And then a couple of months passed. When I got back to thinking about Speakeasy again in June, I decided to send out a call for articles with a more narrative focus on our experiences as language teachers and learners in Japan. Over the next few weeks, I started to hear from members and friends of JALT Gunma who had received the call enthusiastically. And by late August, we had a full complement of papers. Apparently, others also feel the worth of sharing experiences, and we have “stories” from a diverse range of educational contexts in Speakeasy 30.
Christopher Baumunk commences proceedings. His article is an intriguing exposition of developing understandings about the relationships between culture and language learning through experiences in three different countries. Continuing this theme, Tomoko Yoshida and her associates contribute an introduction to integrating intercultural communication to the language classroom. Packed with useful ideas and go-to references, I anticipate the paper will be invaluable for readers who have wanted to incorporate culture more in their teaching, but just did not know where to begin.
Following, Phillip Bennet interrogates his experiences over his time in Japan. In a thought-provoking manner, his narrative focuses on identity changes and conflicts as a “permanent guest” and ALT in this society. Steve Ferrier next provides an outline of his perceptions as he transitioned from an ALT role to that of a part-time university instructor. He describes how his fundamental teaching values were formed over his time as an ALT, and their fluctuations in response to the different challenges and affordances of working in higher education. The focus on teaching experiences is rounded out by Daniel Hooper. He draws on examples from popular culture and research that exemplify the negative labeling of eikaiwa, before problematizing this stigmatization.
The final two contributions take up learner perspectives. Akiko Fujii shares part of her reflections on her language learning history. Her article is interesting in that, while we often hear stories of becoming a more proficient L2 user, these rarely focus on reading experiences. Antonija Cavcic, brings Speakeasy to a close with a review of a book urging L2 learners to study abroad to “start over”.
And so, to conclude this introduction, I would just like to thank everyone who does what they can to make JALT Gunma what it is. I hope you enjoy this new direction for Speakeasy 30.