[LD-SIG Discussion List] Topics for discussion
barfield.andy at gmail.com
Mon Oct 25 10:31:57 CDT 2010
To encourage further discussion, I thought it would be helpful to post again
the message from just about four weeks ago with the responses from people
who replied to the ld-discuss list (some a little bit abridged).
I hope people will continue to post and share different views.
PS For reasons of space/focus, I have left out the responses to do with the
Tokyo Area get-togethers because they can always be discussed further by SIG
members in the Tokyo area.
1. Tokyo Area Get-togethers
-- 3 hours is too long. 2 hours would be better.
-- More opportunities for presentations at meetings. Trial presentations
before conferences on research/teaching ideas.
-- Break the meeting into different interest sections.
-- Seek a balance between exploring practices and research.
2. LD SIG Profile
* Is LD SIG having an identity crisis? The last couple of years has seen the
emergence of new SIGs (e.g. Extensive Reading, FLP) and other non-JALT
initiatives (e.g., MASH, Kanda-based Self-Access Journal) which share common
ground with Learner Development. It is maybe time for LD SIG to redefine and
reposition itself within JALT so that it has a clearer more specialized
profile that reflects the rapidly growing interest in autonomy in language
* Name change. If Learner Development is too broad, perhaps we should focus
on an identifiable research domain, i.e., Learner Autonomy. Two new names
were suggested for a revamped SIG: Autonomy in Language Education (ALE) and
Autonomy in Language Learning (ALL).
*Colin Skeates: *If a name change is in the cards, I vote for ALL. It
screams "inclusiveness", which is what the LD sig is all about.
*Mike Nix: *I agree that having a focus on autonomy in the SIG name is good,
both to distinguish us from other new SIGs, and because autonomy has been
the main focus and source of energy in the group for at least as long as I
have been a member. And although autonomy means many things to many people,
I think it does signal to potential members more clearly what they might
expect from the group than "learner development" does now.
I would favour the name Autonomy in Language Education, as I think it is
good to focus on both teaching AND learning as integral parts of the process
and look at the relations between those, and because it brings questions of
teacher autonomy and our learning as teachers (including the relation
between research and practice) into the picture. It maybe also suggests more
clearly than the name "autonomy in language learning" does an interest in
autonomy in classroom-based teaching and learning (in addition to
self-study, self-access, etc), and in issues of autonomy at the curriculum
level, which are both important for our group. Ka naaa?
Going back to the question of the different meanings of autonomy, I think
one way to see it is less as a distinct approach, methodology, or even a set
of common goals, than as a kind of discursive space for looking in creative,
critical and reflexive ways at changing and developing language teaching and
learning. Questioning and investigating our own teaching (and, to a lesser
extent, learning) practices through research and collaboration (and writing
and publishing) has been a big part of that. From this perspective, autonomy
is really a way of continuing to problematize practices in language
education, and if we are thinking about our raison d'etre as a group, that
would be a key part of it for me.
*Phil Brown: *For me, Autonomy in Language Education seems to incorporate
more relevant issues.
*Stacey Vye:* Been thinking about re-branding and I feel Autonomy in
Language Education incorporates a broader base of teachers, some of whom
work with learners on content and not just language, which seems more
inclusive. On the other hand, Autonomy in Language Learning keeps the
'learning word' carried on from our history. I tend now to prefer Autonomy
in Language Education, and realize that ALE = Autonomy in Learning Education
probably sounds too "out there," but combines three key words I
like including learning. But it sounds like we would then be novice group,
but we're all over the spectrum in experience and maybe the wrong concept to
*Phil Brown: *When I write a bio, for example, under my interests, I always
end up writing something like: "Learner and teacher autonomy & development"
Mind you, I still think 'LD SIG' has an established reputation already so I
wouldn't want to lose any of the brand capital that has been built up over
the years. Perhaps we could poll and get some feedback from both members and
non-SIG members at/before JALT 2010 in Nagoya.
*Steve Nishida: *If we return for a moment to what this group is, in fact,
we'll remember that it is a gathering of individuals around a particular
interest. This leaves room for, and perhaps even implies, that we all have
other and/or more general interests in the field. While I agree that
reconsideration of branding is always a healthy exercise, I would simply
caution that a group that tries to be too many things to too many people
risks losing its place and focus within the JALT SIG ecosystem. We are the
Learner Development SIG, which has focused largely on learner autonomy in
recent years. Many of us are members of other SIGs as well. From my
perspective, if I am interested in teacher autonomy, it makes more sense for
me to raise the issue in the Teacher Development SIG than to create
unnecessary overlap with an existing SIG in the JALT community.
* Hold a one-day conference in May 2011 to launch the revamped SIG.
* Invite a leading figure associated with Learner Autonomy to headline a
mini-conference to take place in May next year. Possible names included Phil
Benson from Hong Kong, Leni Dam from Denmark, Kawai-san from Hokkaido, Group
Sakura from Obirin.
* Use the conference as an occasion to celebrate and promote the forthcoming
publication of *Realizing Autonomy* (the Palgrave Macmillan book project
that members of the SIG have been working on).
* Have authors showcase their chapters with poster presentations, or a pecha
* Have different presentation formats to encourage high interactivity.
* Use a central location in downtown Tokyo for the conference such as Obirin
Daigaku Yotsuya Campus, a good central location and good venue for a party
afterwards (Kay to look into this possibility).
*Colin Skeates: *As president of the Yokohama chapter I know we would
welcome discussion on co-hosting such an event.
*Phil Brown: *Good idea to have a one day conference, find a nice venue and
place for dinner: Pink Cow food it always good, but depending on where we
are, Cardenas Chinois is awesome, too: http://www.bento.com/rev/0295.html
* Re-design and create a new SIG website as a (mainly Japan-based) shared
resource for autonomy in language education (e.g., learning materials,
annotated bibliography, ….).
* Transform the existing SIG website into one dedicated to *Learning
Learning* and publish LL in both html and pdfs.
* Make this new *Learning Learning* website searchable for individual
articles going back to the first issue of LL.
Colin Skeates: *Great idea to make the LL website searchable for individual
5. Bilingual Policy
* There no longer seems any requirement or demand for bilingual policy in
the LD SIG. Maintaining bilingualism is too much of a burden for bilingual
* If bilingualism is abandoned, we have more options for website re-design,
development and flexibility (see above).
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