The Interactive English Forum


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The slides from my presentation yesterday at the ETJ Tokyo EXPO. My goals with the presentation were to make more people aware of this contest so that it may be emulated elsewhere in Japan. I also wanted to discuss what possible improvements could be made to the tournament.

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The Interactive English Forum

  1. 1. The InteractiveEnglish Forum An introduction
  2. 2. History of the tournament • Established in 1998 by Kazuo Watanabe. • First contest in 1999. • Focus on communicative language use. • Break from the (active since 1982). contest format traditional speech
  3. 3. Contest comparison Interactive English Traditional Speech Forum ContestConversation between 3 Monologic or 4 people Judged on fluency Judged on accuracyFocus on communicative Focus on memorisation skills
  4. 4. Benefits of interactionSwain and Lapkin’s (1995) Output HypothesisLearner output is equally as important as any input they receive. Long’s (1996) Interaction Hypothesis Comprehensible input is derived from modified interactions with interlocutors.Schmidt’s (2001) Noticing Hypothesis SLA is driven by what learners notice in target language input.
  5. 5. Tournament structure Prefectural Final Southern Western Northern Mito Ibaraki Rokko Ibaraki IbarakiCity City City City City City City City City CityCity City City City City City City City City City
  6. 6. Tournament simulation WinnersSchool A 6 9School BSchool CSchool D Final 1 6 15 9 Semi final 1 Semi final 2 1 14 6 3 10 8 9 15Quarter final 1 Quarter final 2 Quarter final 3 Quarter final 41 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
  7. 7. Round structure• Round topic is chosen.• Students each give a 30 second self-introduction.• Students converse in the main round for 5:00.• After the main conversation, judges’ scores are collated.• The two highest rated students proceed to the next round.
  8. 8. Additional considerations Students are separated into grade levels.
  9. 9. Judging the contest• Local ALTs judge the contest based on the following: • Ability to express oneself. • Attitude and manner. • Naturalness of communication.
  10. 10. The InteractiveEnglish Forum Analysis and critique
  11. 11. Research Aims
  12. 12. Research Aims• Discover what kind of student enters the competition.• Collect participant and teacher perspectives.• Recognize areas where the competition could be improved.
  13. 13. Participants12 JHS second grade students. From Moriya, Ibaraki. Represents all participants from 3 of 4 schools. Six teachers involved with the competition. One homeroom teacher. Five ALT judges.
  14. 14. Student questionnaire13 closed questions based on Yashima’s (2002) motivational tendencies questionnaire to measure: Extrinsic motivation Intrinsic motivation Interest in international vocation or activities International friendship orientation
  15. 15. Student questionnaire Additionally, the questionnaire featured:Questions to discovermore about their ethnic background. Questions to gain their perspectives of the competition.
  16. 16. Teacher questionnaireComprised of 11 open-ended questions to discover teacher perspectives on various topics such as: The motivational Teachers’ roles in characteristics of training the participants. participants. Positive and negative The judging criteria. elements of the competition.
  17. 17. ResultsParticipant perspectives
  18. 18. Student motivational characteristics 53.75 2.51.25 0 Extrinsic Intrinsic International Friends International vocation
  19. 19. Student motivational characteristics Reasons for entering the tournament My teacherI wanted to Ienter enter enter I wanted to enter to wanted I wanted toto enter I wanted to enter teacher teacher My Mynominated me I wanted I wanted to enter nominated me I wanted to enter nominated me My parents wanted My parents wanted me to enter me to enterMy friends wanted To improve my me to enter English
  20. 20. Student exposure to English Time spent overseas Holiday Holiday 5 years Holiday Holiday Holiday Holiday 1 year None None None None
  21. 21. Student exposure to English Extracurricular study habitsEnglish Conversation English Conversation EnglishSchool English School Conversation Conversation Cram School EnglishSchool Conversation School School Over the Internet (Skype) With friends With family members
  22. 22. Student perceptions of the contest It was a good opportunity to to It was a good opportunityIt was a good opportunity to interact with students from The best thing was being interact with students from The bestcommunicate with interact with students from other schools. able to thing was being other schools. able to communicate with other schools. the native teachers. the native teachers. I enjoyed conversing in English. It really helped with my English studies. Speaking in English to students from other schools has made me want to continue studying English.
  23. 23. ResultsTeacher perspectives
  24. 24. Data obtained via anonymousonline questionnaire sent to Jr. High English staff. Contained 11 open ended questions on four themes. Five responses from native English speaker ALTs and one from a non-native Japanese English teacher.
  25. 25. Teacher’s Perspectives Participant selection •What influenced the teachers’ decision to select a participant? • Was the students’ performance a measure of teacher’s skill?Factors for selection: •More a measure of student skill and motivation than• Volunteers teaching ability.• Better study habits• Greater ability to express •Teachers chosethemselves in English unenthusiastic, yet skilled students due to their• Strong social skills competitive ego.
  26. 26. Teacher’s Perspectives Student background•Did the student’s English bilingual students wereethnolinguistic background affect present at both observedthe teachers selection decision? locations. •Mixed-descent students had an • A lot of pressure to put such uphill battle for acceptance. students forward. •Some declined offers to •No guarantee that a students participate. English will be any better. •Participation may emphasize the fact they are different. •Didn’t feel bilinguals would •Some teachers force their benefit from the contest. non-Japanese students to participate due to their competitive ego.
  27. 27. Teacher’s Perspectives Positive Aspects What were the best aspects of the competition from a language education point of view? •Real chance for the students to•Raised confidence. use English.•Increased enthusiasm towards •Saw progression andEnglish study. enthusiasm for English.•Instilled a sense of importance •Promotes English as a livingregarding communicative means of communication, notlanguage skills. just another school subject like math or history.
  28. 28. Teacher’s Perspectives Suggested improvements What aspects of the competition did the teachers feel were in need of improvement?In general problems included: Harsher penalties for:•Judging system •Monopolizing the conversation•Participation criteria •Shutting other students out by•Unnatural conversation not letting them participatecircumstances •Lack of participation More leniency towards: • Talking time limitations, in order to prevent unnatural conversation volleying
  29. 29. Discussion
  30. 30. Discussion Participant profile•More attractive to intrinsicallymotivated students who valuethe learning experience over thecompetitive nature of the event. •Less attractive to extrinsically motivated students who: ✴Avoid tasks which seem too difficult ✴Concerned with receiving positive judgment ✴Desire to appear intelligent ✴Desire to outperform others
  31. 31. Discussion Participant backgroundStudents who have lived abroad There were a lot of halfs andfor more than one year may not gaijin… There were just so manyparticipate. gaijin faces there, I thought I was in the wrong place! Of course Rules state nothing regarding: they dominated all the awards.• Amount of extra-curricularEnglish instruction• English bilingual children The Interactive English Forum is for native speakers of JapaneseDiverse participants and as such feel that it isdisproportionately represented? inappropriate to have returnee students or students who useClear resentment towards English everyday to participate.diverse participants.
  32. 32. Discussion Positive aspectsHighlights the importance ofcommunicative competence inL2 learning. Encourages less anxiety towards using English with native speakers.The pre-competition trainingincreases opportunities topractice their communicativelanguage skills. Brings attention to foreign language education in the community.
  33. 33. Discussion Suggested improvements Conversation environment Another option?•Stress of speaking and being •Use task-based activities, withjudged in front of an audience of closed goals and pre-determinedpeers and strangers may raise outcomes.affective filter.•Discourages student •Promote intragroup cooperation rather thanparticipation due to fear of individual competition.failure or intimidation.
  34. 34. Discussion Suggested improvementsTake greater care in studentselection:• Priority for students whoexpress interest in competing.• Consider diverse students’sensitivities. Improve the rule set in order to promote equality and fair competition: •Create tiers separated by English skill or experience level. •Create a special version of the competition for returnees/ bilinguals.
  35. 35. Thanks for listeningAny questions or comments?