Guest presentation by Kay Irie and Stephen Ryan, October 16th

Rescheduled to: Friday October 16th, 4.30 – 6.00pm, Presentation Room (Building 6)

We are delighted to announce that two local experts in psychology in language learning Kay Irie and Stephen Ryan have agreed to visit KUIS and give a talk aimed at KUIS teachers. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Psychology in language learning: New directions in theory, research and practice

This 90-minute presentation and discussion session is aimed at any KUIS teachers who are interested in the psychological dimension to language learning. The first part of the session will offer a broad theoretical overview identifying key changes in thinking about psychology in language learning. The second part will have a much more practical focus, demonstrating an innovative approach to research—Q methodology—and considering possible classroom applications.

Psychology in language learning: Theory, research and the classroom.

This 90-minute presentation and discussion is divided into two distinct sessions. In the first session, we consider some of the ways in which thinking about psychology in language learning has been changing in recent years. One of the first things that language teachers learn about their job is that things rarely go according to plan and that learners can behave in unpredictable ways; what works with one class or on one particular day may not work with a different class on a different day. Much of this is down to the individual learners in the class, how they respond to learning tasks, how they interact with other learners, and how they regard the teacher at any given moment. For a very long time the dominant approach to understanding individual variation in language learning was the so-called individual differences approach. Here learner psychology was regarded as a composite of distinct modular components—individual differences—that could be accurately measured. Implicit in this approach was the notion that increased accuracy in the measurement of these individual components could reduce the unpredictability in learning and teaching. However, in more recent years there has been a marked shift to considering learner psychology as a whole, to considering how the various parts function in combination with each other; the aim of this new perspective is not to eliminate unpredictability but to understand and perhaps enjoy it.

The second session focuses on the challenge of researching the inner mental lives of language learners. Here we will consider some of the potential of an innovative research approach, Q methodology. Q is a method already established in various areas of the social sciences but only recently gaining recognition within language learning research. In fact, the earliest pioneering studies were conducted at KUIS. Q methodology is a comprehensive research package comprised of a distinctive set of data collection procedure (Q-sort), statistical analysis (Q factor analysis), and operational principles of data interpretation common with that of qualitative studies. The session primarily focuses on two ethically and pedagogically sound features of Q, for which we might consider trying it out in our classroom and research; involvement of participants in developing the instrument, and engaging nature of the Q-sort to encourage participants’ critical reflection. This highly practical session invites the audience to consider how this can be applied in their classroom and research.

About the Presenters

StephenStephen Ryan is a professor in the School of Economics at Senshu University, Tokyo. His research and publications cover various aspects of psychology in language learning, with his most recent books being The Psychology of the Language Learner Revisited, co-authored with Zoltán Dörnyei (2015, Routledge) and Exploring Psychology in Language Learning (2015, OUP), co-authored with Marion Williams and Sarah Mercer.

kayKay Irie is a professor at Gakushuin University and an adjunct professor in the graduate TESOL program at Temple University Japan . Her primary research interests are learner autonomy, L2 motivation related to the concept of L2 self, and research methods used in these areas. Her recent publications include Study abroad and the dynamics of change in learner L2 self-concept (2015, in Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning, Multilingual Matters, co-authored with Stephen Ryan), and Q methodology for post-social-turn research in SLA (2014, Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching). She also co-edited Realizing Autonomy: Practice and Reflection in Language Education Contexts (2012, Palgrave Macmillan) with Alison Stewart.