October 2015 Bulletin: Learning Communities


Bulletin 5: October 2015. Learning Communities

What are learning communities?

Research shows us that people learn better when they have the support from others and this is particularly true of language learners. Learning a language is a social process and one of the functions of the SALC is to provide the environment for social interaction and language learning to occur. Many groups or ‘learning communities’ form organically and shift focus as membership changes over time. These groups of students often use the ELI and SALC space naturally and do not need any special attention from us. However, many students would like to be part of a community, but may initially be afraid to come to the ELI / SALC and we can support these students by initially proactively forming some learning communities. Hopefully, many of these groups can eventually become self-sustaining without much support from us. Continue reading

Guest presentation: Follow up

We would like to extend a big thank you to our guest presenters Kay Irie and Stephen Ryan who visited KUIS last week to give a presentation on Psychology in language learning: New directions in theory, research and practice.

As a follow up, you might be interested in taking a look at the following resources.

Students interviewed by Polygots

Three KUIS students recently created discovered the reading app ‘Mondo‘ and decided to include it in a class project designed to recommend resources and learning strategies to their peers. Polyglots, the Japanese company who designed Mondo, were so impressed with the students’ work that they visited the SALC this week to meet the students and interview them for the company blog. You can pick up the leaflet that the students designed in the SALC.polyglots

Publication: Enhanced awareness and its translation into action: A case study of one learner’s self-directed language learning experience

Congratulations to learning advisor Satoko Watkins on her recent publication in Language Learning in Higher Education (6/2): Enhanced awareness and its translation into action: A case study of one learner’s self-directed language learning experience.


The fostering of learner autonomy has become an essential element of modern pedagogy and an established object of research. There are many difficulties in providing evidence of learners’ development towards autonomy, however, since it is not measurable in a traditional sense. As a learning advisor (LA) at a private language university in Japan, I have worked closely with individual language learners who take our module designed to foster learner autonomy via the practice of self-directed language learning (SDLL). This article uses a case study of one particular learner’s SDLL experience to introduce an approach to documenting the development of learner autonomy that draws on document analysis and narrative inquiry. I first introduce a SDLL assessment rubric that allowed me to classify and analyze three kinds of data: narrative accounts of the learner’s seven-week learning journal, recordings of three advising sessions with an LA, and the learner’s final report. With reference to her achievement of the learning outcomes in the assessment rubric, I then portray the learner’s development of awareness and her response to her enhanced awareness in her particular learning context.

SALC team members present at the EuroCALL conference in Italy

Elizabeth Lammons, Jo Mynard, Yuko Momata and Satoko Watkins (co-researcher not present: Junko Noguchi) presented preliminary results of ongoing SALC research at the 22nd EuroCALL conference in Padua, Italy in August 2015:

Eurocall - Mynard et al

Developing and Piloting an App for Managing Self-directed Language Learning: An Action Research Approach
Paper-based tools such as self-evaluation activities, learning plans, reflective journals and learning logs are commonplace for managing self-directed language learning (SDLL). Such tools not only promote ownership over learning and provide a sense of achievement to learners, but they also promote reflection and raise awareness of learning processes. Paper-based tools (‘modules’) for SDLL have been used successfully at a small university in Japan since 2003, but with the gradual introduction of student-owned iPads, the time is right to explore how technology tools have the potential to enhance the SDLL experience for learners. This poster presentation outlines the process of working with an app development company to convert the paper-based modules into an iPad app. Using an action research approach to systematically gather and analyse ongoing input from users, the presenters share their experiences and findings from the pre-pilot and pilot phases of the project. The presenters share the successes and challenges and show participants both the paper and app versions of the SDLL modules. The full paper is due to appear in the conference proceedings later this year.