2022.04.20 - コミュニケーション学科  ‘A Sort of Yellowy Brown’

I hope you are enjoying the spring weather.  I am going to tell you what I have been doing recently.  For the past year, I have been working with Jane Willis a well-known academic in language education on the digitalization of her course.  In the late 1980s, Jane and her also famous husband Dave Willis wrote a language course book that even today is still innovative.  One important innovation among many was that for all their language activities they used authentic recordings of native speakers doing the same tasks that the students would learn.  At some point in the lesson, students would analyze the recording of this talk.  One benefit of using authentic talk, is that it exposes students to language that they don’t typically hear. For example, if we look at the activity below from the course, we can see different ways to describe colors.  Instead of describing something as clearly ‘blue’ a native speaker might call it ‘bluish’or ‘a greeny blue.’ In all language textbooks colors are not taught in this way as you probably know.  Something is either blue or green but not both.  Of course, this language doesn’t appear on language tests but ironically it more accurately reflects real world use of English.  For reference ‘ish’ as in ‘reddish’ means ぽいor in this case 赤ぽい.    Besides colors we can attach ‘ish’ to describe many things including weather (coldish).

Our digitalization project has been going on for about a year, however, in actual fact it has been a work in process for about seven years. The reason is it took us a very long time to find all the course material.  Jane no longer had most of the course and so my job was to find it.   The most difficult search involved the audio cassettes which I eventually found in Italy.  Our goal for this project which Kanto Gakuin University helps fund is to make it free for everyone.  In many places around the world English education is crucial for future success but high-quality material is often unavailable because it is too expensive for schools and students.  With this project we hope to introduce teachers in such countries to this wonderful material.