P16. Japanese Language Learning Beyond the Classroom: Three Types of Out-of-Class Learning

Session: Session 3, 3:30 – 5:00 pm, Friday 9/29

Category: Organized Panel

Location: Excellence

Chair: Misumi Sadler (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Misumi Sadler (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Chie Nozaki (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Shino Hayashi Hirata (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract: Teaching during the pandemic gave us opportunities to learn a wide variety of technologies and instructional modes to keep learning diverse and engaging and to build equitable and inclusive education. This panel session provides a space where each of us reflects on and shares experiences and ideas about language learning beyond the classroom. Specifically the session demonstrates how three language teachers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) helped their learners bridge the gap between formal instruction and autonomous language learning. Chie Nozaki (Instructor, UIUC) will discuss the results to date and future possibilities of her weekly Tadoku (extensive reading) group that she has been running as an extra-curricular activity for a number of years; Shino Hayashi Hirata (Senior Instructor, UIUC) will describe the TalkAbroad activities for her third-year Japanese classes where each student meets and talks with a native speaker twice per semester; Misumi Sadler (Associate Professor, UIUC) will report the use of VR for a telecollaborative language learning exchange between students studying Japanese at UIUC and students studying English at Chuo University in Japan. These out-of-class learning opportunities will not replace the classroom learning but instead provide students occasions to “use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world” (ACTFL’s World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages https://www.actfl.org/educator-resources/world-readiness-standards-for-learning-languages). It also gives students prospects to learn and grow as autonomous and lifelong learners.

A US-Japan VR Korabo Exchange and a Third Space: A Preliminary Report

Speaker: Misumi Sadler
Role: Chair, Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: The VR Korabo (collaboration) Exchange between students studying English at Chuo University in Japan and students studying Japanese at UIUC was planned over the summer and fall of 2022 and implemented in the Spring term, 2023, co-researched by Yukie Saito (Chuo University) and Randall Sadler (UIUC). Considering that a VR exchange can provide a “third space,” where the participants can expand their horizons, this project encouraged informal language exchange via the use of Meta Quest II Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. The exchange took place in the VR app Spatial for about six weeks, with students meeting for about one hour per week. During their weekly meetings, the students built out their own Spatial space, decorated it with 3D objects representing both countries, shared photos and videos of their real-life universities and towns, and explored a variety of locations in Spatial. Both weekly reflections and exit-surveys demonstrate mixed experiences/perceptions of the exchange. While time difference and accessibility were main obstacles for some groups, the VR exchange as a third space came to life for others where all the participants were in action, co-constructing intercultural views and identities with one another, by claiming common ground, and sharing intimate information and mutual understanding.

UIUC Tadoku Group Activity: Lessons from the Past and Suggestions For the Future

Speaker: Chie Nozaki
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: Tadoku (extensive reading in Japanese) has been offered as a weekly activity at UIUC since the Spring of 2019. For several years, this activity has provided Illinois JFL students opportunities to read and study Japanese outside the classroom. The activity is offered as a non-credit extra-curricular program, open to students of all levels, and provides graded readers at various levels and other reading materials in Japanese. Extensive reading is usually viewed as a solo activity in which each student chooses books at their level and reads quietly as much as possible in a communal space without interacting with others. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, in order to continue the activity, a number of drastic changes had to be introduced: the change between in-person and online, the change in the media used between physical and electronic books, and the instructional change from solo activity to group activity. In order to accommodate students with different conditions and situations, I experimented with various approaches to keep the experience engaging and rewarding despite new challenges. These years of experimentation alongside with the end-of-semester student surveys have taught me some important lessons. Strategies that work in one setting do not necessarily work in an another. In this report, I will discuss some of these instructional strategies and suggest ways to run effective extensive reading sessions under different conditions.

Incorporating TalkAbroad into Third-Year Japanese Language Teaching

Speaker: Shino Hayashi Hirata
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: The pandemic gave us opportunities to learn technologies and explore new instructional modes. We reflected on and re-evaluated our existing practices and discovered more diverse, inclusive, equitable ways of teaching. The pandemic influenced not only our classroom teaching but also activities beyond the classroom and helped students broaden their range of community and connect with people in the globalized world. This presentation reflects on TalkAbroad experience in my third-year Japanese language class at UIUC and shares ideas about how activities outside the classroom as TalkAbroad can be implemented in an intermediate-level language classroom. TalkAbroad is a private for-profit company that provides a web-based platform where students can access online conversations with native speakers of nine foreign languages, including Japanese. In my Japanese class, students met and talked with native speakers of Japanese for fifteen minutes twice a semester. Specifically they followed these three steps. First, they exchanged text messages and chose a topic so that both parties can prepare for the conversation. Next, they met and talked freely for fifteen minutes. Finally, they reflected on and shared their experiences in class. By choosing the topic on their own and talking freely without any restriction, students controlled their learning that led to divergent outcomes. This experience helped students bridge the gap between formal instruction and autonomous language learning. It also provided students with opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations in real-life contexts with native speakers of their own age.