Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Setting up a SALC at Surugadai University

Title: Setting up a SALC at Surugadai University

Hello everyone,

My name's Renee and I work at Surugadai University in Hanno, Saitama. We will be setting up a language center to open in April 2009 and I am in charge of creating a layout plan and proposal for materials. I would like to ask for your advice and support as I enter this challenging path.

First of all, I'm the only language teaching specialist at Surugadai and I just succeeded in convincing the administrators to invest in a SALC in addition to restructuring the foreign language program at an administration level (that is what they envision when they say 'Language Center'!) And, I am working on getting the support of colleagues who teach foreign languages. So far, so good.

I received permission to visit other SALCs in the area and am setting up appointments at Soka University, Kanda University of International Studies and Tsuda College. I would like to go to Akita and Kansai, but that’s not possible. I would like to conduct the visits in May and have a proposal ready by the beginning of June. Tight time line!

The main areas I need to research now are:

  1. What kind of layout is conducive to high usage?
    1. Group space vs. individual and pair/small group booths
    2. Student, staff and language teacher usage space
  1. What kind of materials are desirable?
    1. Balance of high tech and paper-based?
    2. Student and teacher resources
    3. Specific ‘must’ items (Thanks, Lucy, for the software advice!)
  1. What kind of support to offer students, staff and faculty members?
  1. What are important questions to ask / things to look for when I visit other centers?

I’ve enjoyed reading contributions that you have placed on the web regarding your centers, papers, etc. I would really appreciate any detailed advice you could give.

I look forward to exchanging ideas and keeping you posted on the progress here at Surugadai. I hope to be able to one day to have a good model and help others to create similar ones.


Renee Sawazaki

Language Center planning committee member

Surugadai University

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In our time: what is a good self-access facility?

Hi everyone

In the UK, the University of Nottingham's Centre for English Language Teaching is setting up a new self-access centre, and I know that a team headed by Caleb Foale from Kanda University of International Studies is currently setting up a new SALC too, at Hiroshima Bunkyo Women's University, and that Garold has a new ILC up at Akita International University. This has made me think: what, these days, makes a good self-access facility? For example, is it having good levels of staffing (both advisors and administrators) in the centre? A good range of materials? A technology-rich environment? Authentic, interactivity-rich materials? A friendly ambience?

Do you think, in light of the previous entry about Clarity's newsletter and the slow death of self-access, that there are any traditional facets of self-access facilities which are no longer relevant to language learners?


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Clarity Newsletter - are self-access centres really dying a slow death?

Hi everyone!

It's really great to see that we have some new people joining this discussion, and although it's currently vacation time for a lot of you, I thought it was time to get a bit controversial!

If you click on this link you can download the latest newsletter from "Clarity". Clarity is a Hong Kong based software designer and provider which produces some great language learning software for use in self-access centres. If you don't already have their software in your centres, then you might want to take a look at their main website.

In this month's newsletter, there is an article called "The slow death of the self access centre?" Two people are giving their views on whether or not self-access centres are becoming defunct. The argument centres around two points: technological advances which allow learners to access both authentic and learner-specific materials in their own homes, and the importance of the learning advisor/educator in self-access centres.

What do you think about this? Is there still a place for providing resources (including human ones) in a dedicated physical space, or should we be letting our centres die?

Looking forward to your comments!