Monday, October 31, 2011

Advising2011 conference at KUIS - announcements

If you are planning to attend the upcoming conference at Kanda University of International Studies “Advising for Language Learner Autonomy”, here are a few announcements to help with your planning. Please check the website for information on presentations, accommodation and transportation. you can also follow us on Twitter!/advising2011


Unfortunately, Dr. Marina Mozzon-McPherson has had to cancel her visit due to illness and she sends her apologies. Please be assured that we still have a full and interesting programme of events. We have over 40 presentations from colleagues based in 11 different countries and delegates from all over the world will be present. Talks by invited speakers Lucy Cooker and Christopher Candlin will go ahead as scheduled.


If you have not yet registered, or you have registered, but not yet paid, you can pay in cash in Japanese yen on the day. The approximate rates converted to yen from UK pounds are 6000 yen (members – please bring your membership card) 6700 yen (non-members).

Presentations and schedule

All of the abstracts are available for you to browse on the website You will notice that there is a comment box beneath each abstract and we encourage you to post questions and comments to the presenters.

Registration opens at 9.30 and the opening plenary will begin at 10.30. Refreshments will be available between 9.30 and 10.30 and we encourage you to come early and take the chance to meet people and have a look at the Multilingual Communication Center (“The MULC”) at KUIS where morning refreshments will be served. The full schedule can be found on the website.

Lunch arrangements and drinks reception

A Japanese o-bento lunch will be provided and registered participants are also invited to attend the drinks reception from 5pm until 6pm.

Self-Access Centre Tours

Registered delegates can join the tours of two self-access centres on Friday 11th November. The morning tour is in central Tokyo at our sister institution Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages. The afternoon tour is at the SALC at Kanda University of International Studies where the conference is being held. More details and a link to the reservation is on the website

IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG

This is an IATEFL Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group event. For more information about becoming a member of IATEFL or the SIG, please see the website

We look forward to seeing you at KUIS!

Best wishes,

Jo Mynard, convener (on behalf of the organizing committee)

“Advising for Language Learner Autonomy”

November 12th, 2011

Kanda University of International Studies

Chiba, Japan

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Final call for papers - Advising conference at KUIS

Dear colleagues,

This is the FINAL call for papers for the upcoming advising event at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. The deadline for proposals has been extended to JULY 4th. Please note that presenters may also submit a “virtual presentation” proposal. We would be grateful if you could circulate this call.

Best wishes,

Jo Mynard (Convener - on behalf of the organising committee)

Final call for papers: “Advising for language learner autonomy” event in Japan

Event: “Advising for language learner autonomy” conference

Organiser: IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG

When: Saturday November 12th, 2011 (also tours of two self-access centres on 11th November)

Where: Kanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan

More information:

Theme: Advising for language learner autonomy


1. Training and professional development for learning advisors or peer advisors

2. Research and practice in advising

3. Peer advising

4. Advising tools

5. The dialogue and discourse of advising

6. Context-related issues in advising


Marina Mozzon-McPherson, University of Hull, UK (plenary)

Lucy Cooker, University of Birmingham, UK (opening remarks)

Christopher Candlin, Macquarie University, Australia (closing session)

Types of presentations:

· Paper presentation: 40 minutes

· Workshop: 60 minutes

· Poster: 90 minutes

· Virtual presentation (for presenters who cannot attend in person)

(Extended) deadline for proposals: July 4th, 2011

Grants: Two grants of 40,000 yen from JALT Learner Development SIG.

Conference proceedings: Special issue of Studies in Self-Access Learning (SiSAL) Journal

More details: /



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Report on JASAL Forum

Hello everyone! I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the JASAL Forum in Nagoya.

I was wondering whether anyone would be interested in writing up a report of the event for December 2010 issue of SiSAL Journal (Studies in Self-Access Learning). Please let me know if you are interested. The report should be less than 2000 words and can be about the event in general, or about your presentation. Guidelines can be found here

Last year Diego Navarro and I wrote an article based on themes discussed at the 2009 forum which was published in the conference proceedings (

We also wrote a report for SiSAL Journal (

See you in Nagoya!


Monday, February 15, 2010

If I may, I would like to ask the members of the JASAL discussion community for recommendations of good texts related to the topic of learner autonomy. The Pedagogy Department of the university where I teach is beginning to take an interest in the subject and has asked me to supply a list of books. I'm primarily interested in texts of a general nature or ones that relate specifically to the Asian context. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Adventures in Self-Access

Allow me to make a brief introduction to help contextualize the contents of this post... My name is Elton LaClare, and I've been working in the TESL/TEFL field for much of the past ten years - first in Japan and most recently in South Korea. My initial interest in self-access learning/ learner autonomy came about from the simple observation that year upon year the most accomplished of my students shared one thing in common: they'd all been proactive in setting the agenda for their own language development. The priorities they set were sometimes in line with the curriculum and sometimes shaped by their own personal goals and objectives. There was little commonality among the methods they employed to achieve their results. There was - of course - the temptation to attribute their success to my own influence, but the fact remained that in most cases they'd arrived in my classroom already possessing formidable language skills. As a teacher, I saw it as my responsibility to learn more about what it was that separated the high-achievers from the rest. That quest is what eventually led me to self-access learning/ learner autonomy. To summarize, I see learner autonomy as the key factor in the success of the aforementioned students. My view of self-access learning centres is that they represent the most likely means of guiding the wider community of students to similar results.

My enthusiasm for learner autonomy eventually led me to attempt to create a very modest self-access learning centre at a girl's orphanage where I'd been teaching on a voluntary basis. Resources were scarce (human resources most of all). The idea of a creating a 'drop-in' study environment was born as much of necessity as design. Zoning regulations precluded a separate facility, but the orphanage generously agree to shuffle things around to accommodate us on-site. An unexpected surge of donations left us with enough money to create a nice learning environment including computer resources. Things seemed to be going well, but sadly our centre foundered for reasons I least expected. Because of their age (most of the girls are elementary and middle school students) we didn't involve them in the planning of the centre in any meaningful way. It was only after we'd failed that I realized the basic principles behind successful development initiatives in the third world apply equally to creating a flourishing self-access learning environment. Myself as well the others involved in the project had ignored everything we'd learned during years of social welfare and development experience. We'd imposed our own vision of what the centre should be instead taking into account the needs of the users. This oversight extended all the way from the layout and furnishings to the educational materials and human resources. The experience raised a number of issues that I think would pertain to anyone active in the planning of a self-access learning environment or seeking to increase participation in an existing centre.

We are currently gearing up for a second attempt at starting a 'drop-in' centre for the orphan girls. I hope that through this forum I might be able to pick the brains of those with those with similar experiences.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

SAC Development Questionnaire

SAC Development Questionnaire

From Renee Sawazaki, Faculty of Contemporary Cultures

Surugadai University

Happy New Year!

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have already contributed so much to my efforts to research SACs and develop one at Surugadai University. To summarize, our SAC opened in April 2009 as a ‘work in progress’. As of January 2010, we now have a large stock of learning materials for 7 languages, study groups for 5 languages, modern (and modest) facilities and a growing interest. What we don’t have is dedicated secretarial or educational staff (We’re ‘borrowing’ talent and energy from the very proficient International Exchange Office staff, which I suggested share facilities with the Language Education Center – so far, so good.). Nor do we have much support from the majority of the language teaching faculty, or, oddly enough, the head of the language center (“Although he doesn’t oppose our efforts…”). At the beginning of summer, I managed to create a Working Group which is composed of the 5 faculty members who are interested in the SAC. But, with all of us having so little time to dedicate to the SAC, progress is slow, but steady. And, we will hopefully have a formal committee from next April.

One colleague, Prof. Yayoi Tanaka and I, are currently working on applying for a Gendai GP grant which would help deter the cost of hiring dedicated staff. In the event that we do not get it, we have to continue our appeal to our university for funding. We also plan to co-author a paper for Surugadai’s journal in Japanese to help educate our faculty on the benefits of a SAC and what is necessary to run one properly. Many of you have given me the advice that this step is crucial. Unfortunately, all of my appeals thus far have been in English. No faculty member up till now would help with the translation. In the paper, I will summarize information I gathered from my visits to Kanda Gaidai and Gaigo Gakuin, Soka Univ., and Tsuda Juku College, as well as a presentation I attended on Bunkyo Univ.’s Language Garden. In addition, I would like to include responses to the following questionnaire. If you could kindly respond to any of the questions you can by January 10 (If you plan to respond, but need more time, just let me know), we would greatly appreciate it. We will be happy to share the bilingual version with you when it is finished. I’m rather busy getting myself and family prepared to leave for the US in March for a one-year sabbatical, so I do not have much time to spend on it, but want to at least get something done so that the efforts for our SAC do not stagnate in my absence.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Q1: Please describe your SAC (The name, when and how it was founded, what kind of facilities, materials, services, programs, staffing, etc.)

Q2: What were the challenges faced in creating your SAC? How were they overcome?

In addition, please address any of the following challenges:

Q2.1 Creating understanding within the administration.

Q2.2 Creating understanding amongst faculty and receiving help

Q2.3 Language barriers (if non-Japanese were/are involved in the process and are not capable of reading and writing in Japanese)

Q2.4 Getting funding (from university, grants, other)

Q2.5 Getting staff and help (secretarial, educational, committee, volunteers, etc.)

Q3: What are your SACs greatest strengths?

Q4: What are your SACs greatest weaknesses?

Q5: What would you like to see done in the future to improve your SAC?

Q6: If you were writing a paper for or appeal to your institution with the aim of creating understanding for SACs and receiving support, what information, resources, etc. would you definitely include?

Q7: Are you able to follow up this questionnaire with a phone interview? If so, please let me know your preferred method of contact, and possible dates and times.

Thank you and cheers to the implementation and improvement of SACs!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Validation of Self-Access Centres

Hi everyone

David Gardner, from the University of Hong Kong and of 'Establishing Self-Access' fame, has set up a discussion forum to encourage contributions to a project he is involved in regarding the validation of self-access centres. Below I'm pasting a message (in blue font) that David has sent out on various email discussion lists related to autonomy - apologies if anyone has received this through these means already. Why not take a minute to check out his forum, and even register and contribute your comments? I think this is a very exciting project that could result in a worthwhile system for all of us.

This is to let you know about a new forum that has been established as part of a project looking at the validation of self-access/independent learning centres. The purpose of the forum is to initiate a participatory approach to defining a set of standards and an evaluative system that is meaningful to all. Please take this opportunity to participate in the development of a system for validating SACs by joining us at:

For a slightly more detailed explanation of the background and goals to this project see below.

Looking forward to discussing with you online.

David Gardner (HKU) and Marina Chavez (UNAM)

Some More Background

In our paper at the ILAC conference in Hong Kong (June 2009) we discussed the benefits of a system for the validation of self-access centres. We proposed a system which evaluates self-access centres with reference to their own goals and contexts but also with reference to an agreed set of standards. Ultimately, the system could become the basis for a process of certification. We suggested such a system would be of benefit to self-access practitioners for purposes of self-development and to provide evidence of performance to host institutions and funding bodies.

In our paper we suggested that the only viable way forward is to develop a set of standards which define aspects of an effective SAC through a global participatory process. The goal of this process is to develop a system which is meaningful for all participants.

We have now established a discussion forum to start the participatory process. We envisage this forum will serve as a place for discussing ideas and also as a place to participate in formulating the standards that we hope will eventually emerge from the process.

At the moment the forum is very young so we need your participation to make it work. If you are interested in developing a system for validating self-access centres please sign up to the forum at: