Learning about TESOL and the Brain at the NUFS Language Workshops

Learning about TESOL and the Brain at the NUFS Language Workshops

By: Scott Bowyer & Jason Walters

Editor’s note: Nagoya University of Foreign Studies holds a free monthly workshop for current English teachers in junior and senior high schools, including AETs. Some of the workshops, organized by Kazuyoshi Sato, are on brain science topics.

If you live in Japan and would like to attend future workshops, please contact Chihaya Sugiura here for more information. [email protected]

What Scott has to say

I’ve been attending the monthly workshops at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies (NUFS) now for about five years. Originally, I went as a way to rehearse what I was learning in my TESOL MA, but now I go just because I get so much from it that… well, why wouldn’t I? Each workshop lasts for about three hours with a lunch break in between, and there’s always a great balance between theory and practice. I’d guess that about half of them are directly brain-related, either neuroscience or positive psychology, two areas which I find super interesting. I’ve learned so much over the years that it couldn’t possibly be summarized here, but I will say that it’s been a huge help in my Ph.D., as I’ve been able to pick up on both the theoretical and practical sides of the most recent brain research. Most people attend on a regular basis, so there’s a great community and a very friendly atmosphere, and plenty of time to delve deeply in to your own areas of interest and chat with the presenters. Not only that, but it’s my favorite price: free!

What Jason has to say

For more than a decade, NUFS language workshops have played a meaningful role in the professional development of hundreds of educators working in Japan. This program’s events, conducted in English, are scheduled thoughtfully to encourage the involvement of practicing public school teachers, allowing both Japanese and foreign participants to come together on a regular basis to collaborate and share experience.

In particular, NUFS workshops are attentive to the unique issues facing Japanese learners of English—anxiety, motivation, identity, and others—and the growing demand for early childhood language education. As a result, brain science is front and center at many of our monthly meetings, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from the most prominent figures working in Japan at the intersection of language learning and neuroscience. Theory and practice are brought together in a casual and engaging atmosphere as educators specializing in psychology, neurobiology, social cognition, positive psychology, and other relevant fields make their areas of expertise accessible to teachers of all backgrounds. Some attendees find their most valuable takeaways to be useful hands-on activities for their classrooms, while others go on to incorporate brain science into their lifelong research interests. Whatever your needs as a language teacher, the NUFS language workshops, offered monthly and free of charge, can be a truly rewarding way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

Scott Bowyer originally came to Japan as a 23-year-old backpacker, hitch-hiking around the country and sleeping on the couches of kind strangers. Like many, he somehow forgot to leave. He is currently a lecturer in English at Nagoya Gakuin University. His research interests include Chaos/Complexity Theory and neuroscience in language learning.

Jason R. Walters is a full-time lecturer at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, and has lived in central Japan since 2009. His primary research interests include native speaker-ism in Asian EFL education, learner autonomy and self-access learning, and practical applications of positive psychology in the language classroom. <[email protected]>

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