LD SIG Forums

Updated 30 May 2021

Learner Development SIG Forums 2021


Learner Development SIG Forums in 2021

The Learner Development (LD) SIG’s programming team is holding forums at three JALT conferences in 2021. We hope that you will enjoy the chance to learn, discuss, and reflect on the themes with us. We will also be following up with reflections on the forum for the SIG newsletter, Learning Learning.


(1) JALTCALL 2021 (June 4-6, 2021)

Online Conference

Reimagining Learning Communities Online

Saturday, June 5th, 16:15-17:30 JST


Connecting with the theme of the last year of emergency remote teaching, presenters explore the development of language learning communities during online classes. In the spring of 2020, we were all suddenly faced with the obstacle of bringing our institutions of learning to a fully online environment. This undoubtedly challenged the way we interacted, worked, and learned. How did learners and teachers first respond to the emergency? What problems and questions were encountered? How did learning evolve into a “new normal”? What aspects of this new normal will affect the ways the community will return to classroom learning? In this Learner Development SIG Forum at JALTCALL 2021, we will hear both teacher and student narratives into the social constructs that developed with online learning. Digital presentations will explore the evolution of communities in synchronous online learning platforms. In addition, the attitudes of learners and teachers to both their devices, learning management systems, and even particular game-based learning applications will be discussed. Presenters and participants will have time to share both the rewards and barriers that they encountered in this period of online teaching. We will also explore how these experiences could challenge future directions to learning and learner development.


Session 1: 4:20 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.

Satoko Watkins, Dominique Vola Ambinintsoa Razafindratsimba, Yuta Sato, and Saki Tanabe, Kanda University of International Studies

Experiences in student-led communities — from face-to-face to online

With increasing recognition of values of social perspectives in second language acquisition, many Self-Access Centers (SACs) have evolved from providing learning resources for individual learners to instead, a social learning space where students can learn with and from each other (Murray 2014; Mynard, 2021). In our SAC, we offer various opportunities for students to be active members of communities, take a leadership role, and exercise learner autonomy for lifelong learner development. In this presentation, a core member of one of our student-led learning communities and one of the SAC student staffs, who was highly engaged in organizing student-led SAC events last year, will share their experiences of shifting from face-to-face to online environment, the benefits they perceived from utilizing the technology, and the challenges they faced. Based on their experiences, the students will share their reflections on how they would like to run the communities this year.


Sakae Onoda, Juntendo University

Challenges and possibilities in online teaching and learning

This presentation will report how teachers and learners transitioned from face-to-face teaching to online language learning communities based on my own teaching experience as well as the results of interviews conducted with university teachers and students. The use of unfamiliar online tools such as Google Classroom undoubtedly increased the non-pedagogical aspect of teachers’ workloads, generating unprecedented anxiety, stress, and lack of self-efficacy in teaching. Additionally, online teaching poses other numerous challenges (psychological, ethical, and academic), and teachers need to explore new teaching and interacting approaches to overcome such difficulties. The findings reveal not only disadvantages but also implied advantages in online teaching and learning approaches, thus generating benefits for teachers and learners. One of these is the formation of communities of learners in which teachers and learners cooperate and teach one another.

Session 2: 4:40 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Lee Arnold, University of Electro-Communications

Learning Communities in the Virtual Moment: Reactions, Impressions, Equalization

The impact of COVID-19 has profoundly challenged the assumptions and expectations that both L2 learners and teachers have. This presentation first looks at two phenomena: The reactions of my learners to their new online learning environments, and the understanding that the presenter as their teacher came to about their reactions. From this, a third phenomenon emerges: The equalization between instructor and learners in their engagement with the virtual moment, with teachers, in a sense, becoming as much learners in the adjustment to the new conditions. Here I explore how I have, like my students, faced multiple challenges to do with synchronous online teaching, as well as with the role and use of different learning management systems. I also consider the process of developing a greater sense of cooperation that my learners and I needed in dealing with the pitfalls and benefits of online learning.


Gareth Barnes, Ochanomizu University, Tokai University

Creating Learning Ecologies Online

An important challenge for online language development classes focusing on developing communication and research skills is to provide collaborative learning spaces for students that are not a substitute for classroom collaborative projects but exist because of the opportunities available for online learning. The objective of this project was to address this issue and provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with their classmates and engage in a secure online learning community where they could develop their research communication skills through critically examining research and arguments together. The classes were managed through Moodle and Microsoft Teams, which allowed for the distribution of material, links to internet research resources, chat between students, Zoom meetings and collaborative video streaming platforms like VoiceThread and Microsoft Stream. Four main points became evident from using the presentation structure coupled with Socratic Questioning: non-expert questioning expert, clarifying meaning together, neutrality, research and referencing


Session 3: 5:00 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.

Martin Mullen, University of Limerick

Learner readiness for smartphone-mediated language learning

Smartphones represent an opportunity for ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning, which is particularly relevant during forced online learning. Educators are keen to exploit the learning affordances of smartphones and there is a wealth of research into formal MALL. However, the extent to which learners have the technical or attitudinal readiness to embrace their smartphones as language-learning devices, and for self-directed learning in particular, is a less-explored theme in MALL research. This presentation will report on data collected as part of a recently completed PhD study at the University of Limerick in Ireland which discovered that participant attitudes to and use of smartphones for language learning were less positive than teachers might hope. The presentation will first describe the learners’ perceptions of what language learning is, and secondly, the factors which affect learners’ willingness to use their smartphone for language-learning purposes, and finally, make suggestions as to how these behaviours and attitudes can be changed.


Leticia Vicente Rasoamalala, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Gamifying a Spanish Courseware during the pandemics

The objective of the project has been building on courseware for introductory Spanish courses in order to revamp Spanish materials and complementing learning tools for Spanish beginner Hong Kong university students during the pandemics. The current version of our LMS did not allow the incorporation of more attractive learning interactive multimedia tasks and items found in present-day language learning apps and online language learning platforms. For instance, flashcards with audio, rearranging jumbled sentences, and game-based learning mechanics involving problem-solving and sequential-learning tasks. The present project endeavours to integrate more gamified components in order to assist learners in acquiring and consolidating target language knowledge and reviewing the course contents by progressing through different levels. These micro modules may improve the language teaching and learning and amplify target-language exposure. In particular, for improving learner target language vocabulary, listening, reading, writing, and pronunciation skills, as well as for enlarging the variety of language didactic tasks.



(2) JALT 2021 (November 12-15)

online conference due to ongoing concerns re: COVID-19

Learner Development SIG Identities

Connecting with the theme of the JALT 2021 conference, Reflections and New Perspectives, we would like to use the forum as an opportunity to look at who we are as a special interest group. What learner development means to us, and what brought us to be a part of the group? Why did we join? What experiences have we valued? What research have we embarked on as individuals or as members of a group? In addition, where are we going as a SIG? How is our interpretation of learner development evolving? What will the future of learner development mean to you or the larger community? A wide range of presentations on learner development will be discussed. Individual narratives highlighting current research and other themes are considering for the future. The forum will feature timed rounds of interactive presentations followed by reflective writing and discussion. Presenters and participants will also be invited to contribute writing and related multimedia resources to the LD SIG’s newsletter, Learning Learning.



(3) PanSIG 2021 (May 15-16, 2021)

Online Conference

Challenges in Multilingual Learner Development

Saturday, May 15, 18:00-19:30 JST | Zoom 6


Connecting with the conference theme of Local and Global Perspectives: Plurilingualism and Multilingualism, this forum will feature presentations that explore the development of linguistic diversity in learners’ lives and environments, whether within formal education or in the wider world. What affordances and constraints do learners face in developing their linguistic repertoires beyond a simple binary of first and second language? What challenges do they face as multilingual learners and users in participating in different communities and in becoming more autonomous? What peculiar trajectories do learners’ language biographies take, and what dilemmas, questions, or puzzles do they have? Why? In this Learner Development SIG Forum at PanSIG 2021, we would like to explore the challenges and benefits of learning and using multiple languages from diverse perspectives. The forum will feature timed rounds of interactive presentations followed by reflective writing and discussion. Presenters and participants will also be invited to contribute writing and related multimedia resources to the LD SIG’s newsletter, Learning Learning.


Session 1: 6:05 p.m. – 6:35 p.m.


Kevin Mark and Kizuna Fuse, Meiji University

Self-Teaching French in the Context of an English Seminar: A Learner’s Story

This presentation will be made jointly by a recent graduate and his undergraduate seminar supervisor. It describes how, in the process of studying in an English-medium seminar on British media in a politics and economics department, he set himself the goal of entering graduate school as a student of French language and literature. The presentation describes the process by which the learner gradually became increasingly committed to learning a second foreign language and to postgraduate study in a new major, relating it to prior life experiences, the study of English, motivation and a variety of self-study techniques. Deep and sustained focus on a single film is highlighted. Problems and insights related to self-study and the need for teacher support are discussed. Each aspect of the presentation is looked at from both the learner’s and the teacher’s perspectives.


Isra Wongsarnpigoon and Yuri Imamura, Kanda University of International Studies

Developing a Space for Multilingual Social Learning: A Duoethnographic Account

This presentation draws from ongoing research on the use of a multilingual learning space in a self-access center (SAC) and learners’ multilingual practices in the center. The presenters have been conducting a duoethnographic inquiry into their own beliefs and practices and how these affect their role as SAC practitioners in supporting learners’ multilingual use. Through duoethnography, the researchers used interview data from student users of the space to stimulate reflective dialogues, in which they juxtaposed their life experiences as a means of reflective practice, thereby allowing for new insights.
Some major themes which arose from the dialogues will be shared, including how multilingualism is defined in the presenters’ SAC context, how SAC policy can foster users’ development as multilingual learners, and how to create a space for autonomous multilingual learning. It is hoped that this presentation inspires discussion on educators’ roles in inspiring and nurturing autonomous, linguistically diverse learners.


Alexandra Shaitan, Birkbeck College, University of London

Global Citizen of the World: Beyond “Language Proficiency”

Whilst language proficiency plays a crucial role in enabling learners of second/foreign languages to communicate effectively, exploring factors beyond linguistic competence is paramount. In particular, when Japanese university students aim to study abroad in a variety of countries stretching across continents, they are faced with cultural differences in both verbal and non-verbal communication. Also, whilst they are able to communicate in a target language, they might experience culture shock in how people of other cultures express themselves. Therefore, coupled with linguistic skills and pragmatic competence, sufficient knowledge of a country a student plans to visit is essential. My contribution to the LD PanSIG Forum aims to show how Japanese university students explore this issue. The presentation is based on one semester of teaching at a university in Tokyo and what I, as an educator, have learned from teaching a course in Global Communication to first/second-year university students.


Andy Barfield, Chuo University

Exploring the Dynamic Richness in Learners’ Languaged Lives

Our learners use diverse language resources in a complex variety of ways, from chatting with friends and writing text messages, to producing reflections and reports for their studies, to moving between non-standard and standard varieties, not to mention using distinct languages in combination. As teachers we may be unaware of the dynamic richness in our students’ languaged lives; here, language portraits – a visual representation of an individual’s linguistic repertoire – may offer a handy way to start exploring with our learners their languaged lives. In this presentation I would like to share with you insights from interviews with two international students, one from China, the other from South Korea, about their language portraits. In particular I focus on their multilingual histories and some of their striking language experiences and practices. I also highlight significant issues in society that the two students identify from reflecting on their own dynamic languaged lives.


Session 2: 6:40 p.m. – 7:10 p.m.


Alison Stewart, Gakushuin University

Conducting and Writing a Practice-Related Review

During the academic year 2020-2021, my Language and Education seminar students and I read two books with similar titles, The Multilingual Turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL, and Bilingual Education, edited by Stephen May (2014), and The Multilingual Turn in Languages Education: Opportunities and Challenges, edited by Jean Conteh and Gabriela Meier (2014). In the classes, I presented chapters of the May volume, while the students paired up to present chapters from the Conteh and Meier anthology, and each week we posted comments and questions on a Moodle forum. Drawing on the Moodle posts and on comments made in an end-of-course focus group discussion, I wrote a practice-related review for the Learner Development Journal. In this presentation, I show the changes in the students’ writing and talking about multilingualism, and discuss the practical and ethical dilemmas of using an accredited class as the basis for academic writing and publication.


Ellen Head, Miyazaki International College, and Chie Tsurii, Momoyama Gakuin University

Negotiating Learner Autonomy in a Native-Speakerized Nation

Starting from the idea that Japan is a “native-speakerized nation”, we draw on Lowe’s analysis of the “native speaker frame” to explore ways in which we can challenge aspects of the native speaker mindset (Lowe 2020, p. 32-3) which we encounter in Japanese universities. In particular, we will share stories and reflections on our interventions which aim to challenge the sense of “non-western methodological and educational inferiority” or “cultural deficiency among students”, mentioned by Lowe. We suggest that the idea of “small cultures” (Holliday 2021) may offer a way in to more equitable and nuanced understanding of language choice and power in the classroom.

We will engage with questions such as when to intervene in students’ language choice? How aware are students of global Englishes? Should we try to influence students’ ideas about language and learning languages? What can help us to do those things in a less triggered, more autonomy-friendly way?

Lowe, R. (2020). Exploring “native speaker” framing in eikaiwa. In D. Hooper, & N .Hashimoto (Eds), Teacher Narratives from the Eikaiwa Classroom: Moving Beyond “McEnglish”, Hong Kong: Candlin & Mynard (pp. 32-40).

Holliday, A. (2021). Putting Aside Essentialist Grand Narratives to Find Decentred Intercultural Threads. Open lectures from the Global Education Center, Tokyo Kasei University,  Online presentation January 15 2021


Riitta Kelly and Jussi Jussila, University of Jyväskylä

Co-teaching Multilingual University-Level Language and Communication Courses

Based on a narrative inquiry, two English teachers at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland explore their first impressions of co-teaching multilingual university-level language and communication courses. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland. In addition, most students learn English as their first foreign language. All three languages are taught in the university’s language programme. However, in comparison with traditional language-specific courses, the two major differences in the course system developed at the University of Jyväskylä Centre for Multilingual Academic Communication (Movi) are that “Discipline-specific communication and language studies are planned and implemented collaboratively by Movi’s teacher team and the staff and students of each department and faculty” and that the new “communication and language studies consist of phenomenon-based courses (academic literacy, multilingual interaction, research communication) where several languages (Finnish, English, Swedish, etc.) are used based on the objectives of the degree” (https://movi.jyu.fi/en/development/uvk).


Akiko Nakayama, Hiroshima University

The Processes We Got out From Our Native Cultural Norms

In this presentation, I would like to share two stories of multilingual users. One is mine. I am a native speaker of Japanese and a L2 user of English and Korean. The other is Jina. She is a native speaker of Korean and a L2 user of English and Japanese. Jina’s story is based on life story interviews I did with her. My story was written after I wrote Jina’s story. One of the key findings was that although Jina and I had very different attitudes toward learning English and the settings in which we learned languages were different, we both had an experience of being released from the norms of our native cultures. I believe that this release from native culture norms is an important aspect of language learning.


Lorraine de Beaufort, Laboratoire Atilf, UMR 7118, équipe Didactique des langues et sociolinguistique, Université de Lorraine-CNRS (France)

Narrative Insights Into Learning French in Hong Kong

In this talk, I will present findings from two participants in a narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), showing how learning French and other so-called ‘additional’ languages in Hong Kong provides affordances for identity construction. This takes place despite limited levels of proficiency, in conventional terms. The learning of French and other languages is also a way of dealing with the pressures and limitations of their context, with interactions between the personal, institutional and socio-political levels (Barkhuizen, 2016). This talk argues for the usefulness of narratives in understanding multilingual learner development,  and considers their possible role in language pedagogy. The talk also briefly considers some of the methodological challenges of narrative inquiry such as the need to bring closure to narratives that are always ongoing.