Two Teachers Talking™

wizCharles Wiz

Charles started teaching in 1985 and has lived in Japan since 1988. He teaches at Yokohama National University in the English Education Department and spends his weekends in Osaka with his family. Like Tony, he is a Mac head, audiophile, and troublemaker.

Episode 135
April 2021
To face or not to face.

Maybe you don't know whether you'll be teaching online or in the classroom. Maybe you know. Maybe you think you know. If the past year has taught us anything, it's to be prepared for the unexpected. We try to help you cover all the bases. Good luck this year, folks.

Worldwide vaccination data:

Episode 134
March 2021
Game Over: Tony has retired

I made it. My last class was February 10, my contracts expire 3/31/21. I'm retired. 🍾 🥂

Charles and I talk about what this means.

Also, for the record, after some of those last classes, I cried like a baby. I will miss teaching way more than it sounds on the podcast. When it's your time, don't be too proud or think you're too tough to seek out some counseling to ease the transition. Just sayin'. It's as big a step as it looks.

Episode 133
February 2021
The self-sabotaging student.

There's nothing so creative, resourceful, or frustrating as a student set on his or her own failure. You can't win them all.

Episode 132
January 2021
Interview: Future educator Sophie Wiz

Charles grills his daughter on her experiences as a first-year education major at McGill University. They discuss her own educational journey, her transition from Canadian Academy student to Canadian Academy observer, online learning, and face-to-face classroom observation. (Sophie! Math is important!)

Episode 131
December 2020
Too tired

It's been such a rough year, we didn't have the energy to select a topic. Still, we manage to marshal some lessons learned and even find some not-so-obvious highlights of the past year.

Episode 130
November 2020
Learning Styles

Many articles have been published in the past few decades “debunking” the notion of learning styles. Yet, despite that, many teachers are reluctant to let go of the idea. Then what about differentiated learning? Well…”they" say that doesn’t work either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Tony sits down with Prof. Alison Kitzman to try to sort this out.

"The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’" A popular theory that some people learn better visually or aurally keeps getting debunked.

Neil Fleming (NZ) VARK Questionnaire Visual, Aural, R/W, Kinesthetic)

Episode 129
October 2020
What we've learned about Zoom.

After a semester on the front lines of remote learning/teaching using Zoom, we share what we’ve learned. Some basics, some stuff we’re pretty sure will be new to you. PLUS, a very special giveaway. Good luck with the new semester!

Can't make this up

Basic Zoom tips

Text Expander

Episode 128
September 2020
Remotely Survivable レモサバ.

A look back at what was necessary to survive the first semester of remote teaching and what might be necessary in the semesters to come, for both teachers and students. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Episode 127
August 2020
Mind maps.

Everyone’s feeling the strain at the end of along, even crazier than usual spring semester. A mind mapping tool might be what you need to ease the load a bit. What’s a mind map and where can it take me? Find out. Uses, tips, essential features.

Episode 126
July 2020
Social justice issues in the foreign language classroom.

How much is too much, how much is too little? Conscience, responsibilities, ethics, cultural imperialism…we struggle with how to begin to figure out what the right thing to do is on rapidly shifting social terrain.

Episode 125
June 2020
Tales from the front.

It’s been a few weeks. We’re still standing (well, sitting, mostly), zero student casualties, at least as far as we can tell. So, what’s it been like? Taking a break in the trenches, we try to assess what has been happening, what’s been working, what hasn’t, and what we–and our students–have learned so far in this very unusual academic year.

Episode 124
May 2020
The kids are alright.

We take apart the student discussion on the turns university education has taken this year (E123: Meet Generation C, 4/20) and confirm the value of listening to our students. We also talk a bit about the state of the profession and how we ourselves are coping with the new world we find ourselves teaching in.

Episode 123
April 20, 2020
Meet Generation C.

In a very special episode, we talk with students and alumni from Osaka University about how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting their education, their future, and their lives. Their discussion is full of insight, surprise, and hope. If you're teaching in Japan, you need to hear what they have to say. They distinguish themselves as very special representatives of their generation. This is a good one. Don't miss it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Big, special thanks to (alphabetical order):

  • Miyu Kataoka
  • Moku Seiyou
  • Rene Tai
  • Atsuhiro Tsuruguchi
  • Yuto Yamaoka
Episode 122
April 9, 2020
Email for remote learning.

As we all gear up for teaching in this new environment, we can predict that email, particularly email from students, is going to be a bigger part of the workday. In a special episode, we talk about what we have learned about handling student email and offer some tips on avoiding mistakes and speeding up workflows.


Text Expander

Mac built-in text expansion

Windows text expansion

iPhone text expansion

Adding a Gmail alias


Episode 121
April 2020
Needs Analysis - Part 2 and the COVID-19 Virus

A very special episode of Two Teachers Talking, so special it’s dropping early. First we recap last month’s interview with Alison Kitzman. Then, we move on to discuss the Covid-19 virus and how it will change our teaching, our students, and our world. A hard discussion in hard times. Let’s all try to get through this together. Be safe.


Episode 120
March 2020
Needs Analysis - Part 1: Prof. Alison Kitzman

Charles is MIA this month, but Tony interviews Prof. Alison Kitzman to explore how needs analysis can help our teaching, and more, help with course and curriculum design. In a future episode Tony and Charles will compare notes.

Episode 119
February 2020
An interview with Chris Ruddenklau.

Chris, colleague and old Japan hand, shares his teaching experiences in Thailand, Laos, and Japan. He is the coordinator of the JALT Teachers Helping Teachers (THT) Laos Program and plays an active role in the annual Laos TESOL conference. Just two teachers talking. Of course, afterwards, Charles shares his observations and analysis. Good stuff.

Japanese Association for Language Teachers, Teachers Helping Teachers Special Interest Group

Teachers Helping Teachers (THT) Laos

If you want to get in touch with Chris, just send an email to the show - - and we’ll hook you up.
Episode 118
January 2020
Great Expectations, Revisited.

Raise high the bars, teachers. That’s the current mantra. But how high is too high? How do you know? What are the consequences? What do you do if you've screwed up?

Episode 60, March 2015, "Great Expectations. "

And Happy New Year! (And thanks to Mick, Keith, et al, for the outro riffs.)

Episode 117
December 2019
Highs and Lows.

As 2019 slithers down into its ignominious place in history, we consider ourselves lucky, in that, at least from a teaching perspective, it's been an unremarkable year. We sift through the memories, panning for nuggets of wisdom to help us in the new year. Don't expect much.

Nevertheless, please accept our wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a new year better than the last. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Solstice, 今年も色々お世話になりました.

Episode 116
November 2019
Speech Contests.

Near-universally reviled and loathed, do speech contests make any sense? Tony and Charles disagree on almost everything except that, in their current manifestation, speech contests are awful. But listen in to hear all the shades of speech contest gray.

Emma Gonzalez

Greta Thunberg

Taylor Mali

Derek Sivers

Steve Jobs

TED parody


October 2019
Language and Personality: It’s me! 

ボクです!¡Soy yo! C'est moi! To ja! Это я! 나야! Tôi đây! 是我!ມັນແມ່ນຂ້ອຍ! 

So, really…how does the language we use affect…everything? Tony and Charles dive off the deep end. Luckily, they have some help from Maria Minohara, student at Osaka University, who shares her insights on bilingualism, personality, persona, and society. (And apologies to Maria and listeners for the poor recording quality of the interview.)


Ivana Paz, "How the Language I Speak Changes My Personality"

François Grosjean, "Change of Language, Change of Personality?"

François Grosjean and Aneta Pavlenko, "Psychology Today blog, Life as a bilingual"

Nairán Ramírez-Esparzaa,¤, Samuel D. Goslinga, Verónica Benet-Martínezb, JeVrey P. Potterc, James W. Pennebakera, "Do bilinguals have two personalities? A special case of cultural frame switching."

Nairán Ramírez-Esparza and Adrián García-Sierra, "The Bilingual Brain: Language, Culture, and Identity"



Episode 114
September 2019
Task Management.

We all have more things to do than time to do them. We talk about trying to manage all the things we need to, want to, or are expected to do. Spoiler: no magic app will solve all your task management problems. Also, apologies for the poor audio quality; not up to our usual standards, but TIME MANAGEMENT issues didn’t allow a re-recording.

Note type apps

Focused Task Management Apps

Task Management Systems


Episode 113
August 2019
Beyond your control.

From time to time one needs to step back and take account of what you do and don't have control over. When you realize the things that are bugging you most are things beyond your control, what do you do?


Episode 112
July 2019

Motivation. No, not yours. The students’. How do you motivate students–or should you have to? Peering into the opacity of the student mind.

Mentioned in the podcast:

You Are Not So SmartPodcast (YANSS), Episodes 52, 53, 55

Two Teachers Talking

Episodes 51, 52 School Culture

Episodes 53 Failure by Design

Episodes 67 Japanese Exceptionalism

Internet Content by Language

Us and Them, Tony Silva

Geography of Thought, Nesbitt 

Episode 111
June 2019
There’s a genius in this classroom. It’s not me.

We’re all pretty much obligated or resigned to shooting for the middle with our classes. How do you accommodate the student whose abilities far outstrip his/her peers? How about the one who just believes his/her do? Yes, the current buzzword is “differentiated learning.”

Mentioned in the Podcast:

Tony Buzan and Mind-Mapping

Episode 110
May 2019
Now you're a teacher

So, you landed a teaching job. Sit down, kid, let us tell ya couple things. We dig deep for ideas, tips, shortcuts, and insights that might have helped us in our early teaching years. (Give us a break…that was a long time ago.) Here’s your chance to learn from our many, many mistakes. 
Episode 109
April 2019
Study Abroad, Part 2: The Potential Downside

Foreign country, foreign culture, foreign language. What could go wrong?

After a short discussion about the start of the new academic year, Tony and Charles continue their discussion on study abroad. This month, they look at the challenges students might face when living and studying abroad…and when returning to Japan.


Episode 108
March 2019
Study Abroad, Part 1: Why go and how to prepare

Dicussion of the direct and indirect benefits of living and studying abroad along with some brainstorming on preparation strategies and tips. Next month we’ll talk about potential problems and downsides along with the challenges of re-entry.


Episode 107
February 2019
Tools of the Trade

The hammer wants nails

Choosing the right tool for the job–not always as simple as it sounds. We talk about tool essentials, the process of adding tools that best help us finish the job, and the danger of being seduced by new technologies. Oh, and fetishes.

Mentioned in the podcast:

Redundancies in writing

Episode 106
January 2019
Final Exams: Craft them or dump them?

Happy new year! 明けましておめでとう! With the new year beginning and the academic year ending, Tony and Charles discuss the task of making and scoring final exams, as well as whether or not there's a place for the final exam in today's educational world.

Final Exam Checklist

  • Does the final exam test what was supposed to have been learned? Does it test if the goals of the class have been met? (validity)
  • Is the test at an appropriate level for the students?
  • Do the items represent a balanced spread of difficulty?
  • Will almost all students be able to complete the test in the allotted time?
  • Does the test give the students the opportunity to use class content to go beyond what was done in class or in assignments?
  • Is it a learning experience for the students?
  • Is the effort required to make the test reasonable?
  • Is the effort required to score the test reasonable?
  • Will the test results give the teacher data or insight that can improve his or her teaching?
  • Will the test give the students useful feedback about their progress?
  • Does it make "cheating" impossible or almost impossible?

Maybe of interest:

How to Write a Final Exam

Creating Exams

Episode 105
December 1, 2018
Holiday Party!

Winding up the year with a return to the podcast premise: two teachers sitting around talking shop. A look back at 2018, a look ahead, and the eternal question: Where are the answers?

Mentioned in the podcast: Citation Machine

Episode 104
November 1, 2018
Backup, security, privacy.


Maybe the most boring episode yet–but it's for your own good. Backup strategies that will save your butt. Securing student information, correspondence, and work, and keeping it private.

Grab a cup of joe.

Episode 103
October 1, 2018
Teaching under the radar. No matter how great the idea, any attempt to "change things" is bound to upset somebody and meet with resistance. So, how do you up your game without drawing the ire of "we fear change" muckety-mucks? Tony and Charles discuss their strategies for stealth teaching.


Episode 102
September 1, 2018
Effective assignments: Homework?!

The question of whether or not homework "works" is not a binary proposition. What makes a "meaningful" assignment, how does one approach crafting one, what questions need to be asked, and what considerations need to be made. Now, your assignment: write "I will listen to the Two Teachers Talking Podcast" 100 times. Or, just listen to the podcast.

Episode 101
August 1, 2018
We all know 90 minutes is not enough. (We know it's too much, too, but that's another topic.) Web pages can provide an extra channel of information and communication between you and your students, as well as serve as a planning tool and a record of what's been done in class. Plus, the perfect answer to "I was absent."


Episode 100
July 1, 2018
When disaster strikes: Dealing with the ripples of external events in the classroom

The world makes no allowances for your lesson plan. Earthquakes, typhoons, death, divorce, illness, heartbreak, ICE all find their way into your classroom. So, Teach, how do you handle that?

Episode 99
June 1, 2018
Bloom's Taxonomy.

Special guest interview with Prof. Alison Kitzman of Kindai University in which she tries to unpack Bloom's Taxonomy for the rest of us in the trenches. Tony and Charles then grapple with applying the ideas to classroom practice. A glance at this graphic before listening will be VERY helpful: .

Mentioned in the podcast:

Bloom's Taxonomy

Wiggins and McTighe: Understanding By Design

Episode 98
May 1, 2018
Besides English: 英語以外.

Besides being an English teacher, you're a teacher. So, besides English language skills, what are the things you try to impart to your students? Tony and Charles go through their (partial) lists, from manners to finances to joy.

Episode 97
April 1, 2018
Making time.

The one thing each of us needs more of this or any other time of the year is time. We do a bit of a deep dive to find where we can (or can't) shave some seconds or minutes from our routine teaching tasks.

Mentioned in the podcast:

Episode 96
March 1, 2018
Teaching presentation skills.

While the "why" of foreign language education is always among the elephants in the room, presentation skills offer the student relevant, powerful tools that have real, practical value and use. If you can change people's minds, you can change the world. That's why it's important to get this one right. Or, at least one of us thinks so. So, how important are presentation skills and how do we teach them? Turns out to be a long one. And Tony apologizes in advance for his lapses into vulgarity.

Mentioned in the podcast:


Episode 95
February 1, 2018
The Grading Game: Gradecraft.

Barry Fishman of the University of Michigan has developed a task-completion model for grading that he claims encourages his students to keep trying in their pursuit of A grades. We weigh in.

Mentioned in the podcast:

Episode 94
January 1, 2018
2017: Shut it down.

今年もよろしくお願いします. A look back at the year to see what sticks out. Observations, mysteries, gripes, frustrations, warm fuzzies. Probably more interesting than this sounds. Happy New Year

Episode 93
December 1, 2017
Dear Santa.

It's the end of the year and we're making our lists for Santa. What do we want/need to make our teaching better and our jobs easier. Not a tech toy list, but a meta letter to Santa. What about you? What do you want Santa to leave under your tree this Christmas?

Mentioned in podcast:

Episode 92
November 1, 2017

Mayday! Mayday! This class is going down!

You start class and something is off. You try a reliable trick…and it flops. It doesn't get better. We've all been there. Looking at those classes when it seems like you can't catch a break, what you can do to prevent them, and what to do when drowning seems imminent.

Episode 91
October 1, 2017
Tablet or laptop?

Which is the best tool for the classroom teacher? Spoiler alert: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . It still comes down to a whole lot of "it depends," but it's more complicated (and fun?) than you'd think. What's your take?

Mentioned in the podcast:

30% discount on Text Expander, by Smile Software.

Federico Vitticci
Mac Stories
Personal blog

Fraser Speirs
Personal blog
The Sweet Setup

David Sparks and Katie Floyd - Mac Power Users

Nebo - handwriting recognition software

Episode 90
September 1, 2017
Writing tools: when the writing's not on the wall.

The tools and workflows we use or have tried to help us cope with the many different kinds of writing we need to do in our teaching. From pens to Siri, from simple notes to dissertations, we try to cram it all in.

Mentioned in podcast (alphabetical order):

And, as promised, 30% off the essential TextExpander from Smile Software. Also good for renewals, upgrades, etc.

Episode 89
August 1, 2017
The Inescapable Bias Matrix.

Biased? Not me! An attempt to identify and unravel the many ways our biases can affect what happens in the classroom. And then what to do about it. With special guests, the cicadas!

Episode 88
July 1, 2017
Lessons learned.

A leisurely lightning round (?!) of things we learned or were reminded of in the past year or so. Pretty frank and honest introspection and coming clean of things forgotten, unknown, and re-learned. We both think this is a good one. Hope you agree–and let us know.

Mentioned: Taylor Mali on what teachers make (YouTube)

Episode 87
June 1, 2017
Sage on the stage: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Musings on why most classes are still being taught the old way and why change is so difficult to bring about.

Episode 86
May 1, 2017
Student questions. Kinda.

Questions we wish students would ask, the questions they do ask, and enough sidetracks, ratholes, and diversions to bring it all together. Kinda.

Episode 85
April 1, 2017
Ripeti, con spirito.

It's next year. Now what? Trying to apply lessons learned from past years' mistakes to make the coming year the BEST EVER. Trying, anyway.

Mentioned: Episode 69, 12/1/2015, Past our expiration date, or improving with age?

Episode 84
March 1, 2017
Student Feedback: A yen for their thoughts.

Different kinds of student feedback, different ways of trying to get (good) student feedback, why it's important, and why it's so damn hard to get.

Episode 83
February 1, 2017

Things aren't right. When does it make sense to leave a job and when are you better off staying? Once you decide to leave, when and how should you do it? From two guys who have quit more jobs than most people will ever have. Just don't call us quitters.

Episode 82
January 1, 2017
Take out your phones.

Turning student smartphones from a distraction to a learning and teaching device. Got an idea of your own? Share it!

Episode 81
December 1, 2016

Gotta have it.

Things we can't live without. In class, outside of class, essentials, luxuries, wish lists. A long talk about STUFF. Maybe you'll get some gift ideas for the teachers on your list.

Episode 80
November 1, 2016

To Moodle or not to Moodle?

That is what Charles sat down to tease out with two Moodle mavens steeped in geekery, Professors George Trescott and Bill White of Kindai University. Four teachers, two hours later, the conclusion is…

Mentioned in the podcast:

Charles's student web pages

Tony's student web pages

Big thanks to George and Bill!

Episode 79
October 1, 2016

How to teach whatever.

Tony and Charles smash together a lightning round session of "how we teach X." If you want hands on, practical discussion of real-world teaching practices, this is for you: fluency, presentation/public speaking, reading, writing, writing email, manners, listening, pronunciation, class culture, critical thinking, teacher web sites…all in 60 minutes.


Episode 78
September 1, 2016


What the hell is it? How are we supposed to teach it? How will developments in artificial intelligence and computer translation change our teaching? Not to mention that proficiency vs. fluency conundrum. Tony and Charles spend precious vacation time to stumble around in the dark, separated by 6000 miles.

Episode 77
August 1, 2016

Interview with Paul Nation - Part 2.

Paul and Charles discuss the importance of replication in research, the balance of entertainment and learning, the first day of class, and the future of teaching in light of AI and computer translation developments.

Mentioned in the podcast:

- Paul Nation
- Four Strands
- The creation and validation of a listening vocabulary levels test Stuart McLean, Brandon Kramer, David Beglar
- What Every ESL Teacher Should Know
- Vocab@tokyo / Meiji Gakuin University, September 12-14, 2015

Episode 76
July1, 2016


What role do textbooks play today, what role will they play tomorrow, and when will they become just a symbol of the way things used to be? Same questions with "should." What textbook alternatives exist now?

Mentioned in the podcast:

If This Then That
Us and Them, Tony Silva
Breaking News English, Sean Banville

Episode 75
June 1, 2016

Workflows: A String On Your Finger.

Wrestling with the multi-layered difficulties of something that deserves to be (should be, needs to be) so simple: capturing a thought or idea for later retrieval. Oh, yeah, and that managing that steaming pile of "stuff I have to remember to do."

Episode 74
May 1, 2016

A brand-new year.

A new academic year has begun and brought with it a slew of new opportunities to screw things up. What we're doing differently to try to save our students and our sanity.

Episode 73
April 1, 2016

Interview with Paul Nation - Part 1.

Paul Nation, one of the leading researchers in ESL/EFL, discusses the importance of extensive reading, vocabulary testing and acquisition, the flipped classroom, and implicit and explicit knowledge. Part 2 will be aired later in the year.

Mentioned in the podcast:
Paul Nation's What Should Every ESL Teacher Know
Paul Goldberg's Xreading

Episode 72
March 1, 2016


In the tradition of rushing in where wise men fear to tread, Tony and Charles make predictions for the future, predictions that will no doubt return to haunt them. What are we looking forward to? What are we dreading? Hold 'em? Fold 'em?

Also, a reminder that next month we will be interviewing Paul Nation. Don't miss it. Finally, still some chances for free e-book teaching material from Chris Cotter's Heads Up English (see entry for Episode 71 below).

Episode 71
February 1, 2016
We sit down with Chris Cotter of Heads Up English, a resource site for English teachers to talk about the road that's brought him to his situation as academic director at a private English school and the man behind the web site. Interesting insights on the alternate dimensions of teaching English in Japan.

Chris has generously offered sets of materials from his collection to ten of our listeners. Send an email to with "HUE" in the subject line. The first ten folks to respond will get one copy of each:

1001 Grammar Discussion Questions

101 Pre-lesson Worksheets - General English 

Episode 70
January 1, 2016

Starting from zero.

You've been assigned a new class. No problem, you're a TEACHER, dammit. You've done this. You reach into your bag of tricks and come up with...air. OK, now what?

Happy new year! 明けましておめでとうございます!


Compleat Lexical Tutor (Vocabulary web site. Careful your eyes.)
Vocabulary Size, Text Coverage, and Word Lists - Nation and Waring

Episode 69
December 1, 2015
Past our expiration date or improving with age? An attempt to answer the question of whether we're learning and getting better at teaching or if our best years are behind us. Not a simple question, we find, as we wrestle with various vectors of change.

And MacArthur Park.

Best of the Holidays to everyone!

Episode 68
November 1, 2015
Reelin' In the Years. An interview with Prof. Kim Kanel of Kinki Univerity. and a look back at the changes that have snuck by in almost 40 years of English language teaching in Japan.
Episode 67
October 1, 2015
Japanese Exceptionalism - It IS different here, right?

The sometimes obvious and sometimes not-so-obvious ways that teaching in Japan can be very different from what you might expect, and how those differences can affect your teaching. Never assume.

You are not so smart podcast, Episodes 52, 53, 55

Episode 66
September 1, 2015
Is this working? What does successful learning look like? When you compare that picture with your and your students' accomplishments, how similar are those two pictures? Determining what success is, how to increase chances of achieving it, and how to measure it.
Episode 65
August 1, 2015
An Interview with D.J. Condon, Headmaster of Canadian Academy. Charles sits down with D.J. Condon to discuss the International Baccalaureate World Schools, assessment, mentoring, student empowerment, and the future of education.
Episode 64
July 1, 2015
The failure of tech.Why hasn't tech transformed education? Why do our classrooms remain essentially unchanged from those of the nineteenth century? Why are these the wrong questions to ask? And where are our flying cars? Tony and Charles flail.
Episode 63
June 1, 2015
Tech me, Teacher. Teacher tech tools: Who let the nerds out? Tony and Charles get their tech geek on and talk about the tech that they use (and don't use) in the classroom. Practical advice and bigger thoughts on the use of tech in learning and teaching.

Links to some of the tools mentioned, in alphabetical order: link shortener
Flubaro plug-in
iTranslate phone app
Text Expander
Timer by Ten
Word Scrambler

Episode 62
May 1, 2015
Teaching incommunicado. Teaching without communication…and only with "appropriate" materials, of course. Tony and Charles work hard at not boiling over in their attempt to understand some new impediments to learning and teaching.

Japan Times: Teachers, pupils: no talking online
Japan Times: Communication ban shortsighted
Japan Times: Necessity of boundaries
Japan Times: Inappropriate teacher warning

Episode 61
April 1, 2015
Won't get fooled again. Another academic year is upon us. So, what did we learn from all the mistakes we made last year? Listen as we struggle to make ourselves seem wise in charting our new routes for the upcoming year. And…

Happy anniversary to us! April 21 will mark the end of our third year of Two Teachers Talking. Thanks for listening and thanks for your support.

Mentioned in the podcast:
Tony's Day One Google Form

Episode 60
March 1, 2015
Great Expectations. Raising the bar for our students and ourselves: what can we do, how can we think to help students perform better than their best. Yes, easier said than done, as you'll hear.

Pygmalion Effect (Wikipedia)
Teacher Expectations and Student Performance NPR Podcast
Teachers' Expectations and their Effects on Student Learning

Episode 59
February 1, 2015
It's not just the classroom. The entire physical environment where teaching and learning happen matters and affects the teaching and learning profoundly. Right? Well, we think so, but... Very special guest Prof. Alison Kitzman from Kindai University.

Regarding last month's episode on burnout (#58), listener Adam Murray provided us with a link to his article on burnout. Especially of interest to 特人-type contract teachers.

Related links:

Kindai University's Eigo Mura / E-Cube
Learning Spaces
Malcolm Brown, Dartmouth
Next Generation Learning Space University of Queensland
Learning Spaces: Literature Review Deakin University
Learning Spaces Sketchbook Herman Miller
(commercial, but cool)

Episode 58
January 1, 2015
明けましておめでとうございます!A Very Happy New Year to you all.

This month, we address BURNOUT: little ones, big ones, how to tell the difference between a bad day and a sign of something much more serious. Symptoms to look for and ways to deal with the stresses that can lead any of us over the line. No magic, but a solid look at the realities we face as teachers and why burnout is such a prevalent, insidious danger. For those of us winding up the academic year in Japan, some timely help.

Mentioned in the discussion:

Wikipedia: Kotatsu
Edutopia: Warning Signs of Burnout
Edutopia: Avoiding Teacher Burnout
Huffington Post on Teacher Burnout
Kyriacou: Causes of Teacher Stress and Burnout

Episode 57
December 1, 2014
Holiday reboot! A do-over for the old guys and a look back at the last year of Two Teachers Talking podcasts. What did we say, what do we want to take back, what do we stand by. Happy holidays to all!
Episode 56
November 1, 2014
So, what exactly is Student Centered Learning and what does it really mean for foreign language education in Japanese universities. Forget the trend of the moment; how do we help our students learn as best they can.
Episode 55
October 1, 2014
How many bad - or good - apples does it take to change the atmosphere or personality of your classroom? What can and can't a teacher do to use that influence to optimize learning? Sometimes it's just a matter of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks
Episode 54
September 1, 2014
Plagiarism. One of the least savory aspects of the job is coming to terms with plagiarism and then dealing with it fairly. While "it's the teacher's fault" is as unpalatable to us as is it no doubt is to you, we look at what we can do to minimize plagiarism.
Episode 53
August 1, 2014
Failure by design. Ever have one of those days when you look around and wonder how things got so dysfunctional? That doesn't just happen, you think. You're right. We pop the hood on the system, poke around, and look at some of the systemic gotchas the teacher is up against.

This much bad takes special talent.
Episode 52
July 1, 2014
School Culture - Part 2: Administration

How administration affects school culture. Administrative factors that influence the university environment, what it means for you in your job, and how to negotiate the geography. Beware the trolls.

猿も木から落ちる. "Even monkeys fall from trees." Seems the old farts passed over the most obvious tell of all when trying to divine a school's culture: English language support, translation of information into English. See also: Forest, trees. Apologies to all.

Episode 51
June 1, 2014
School Culture - Part 1: Students

Night and Day. The more schools one teaches at, the more one sees it: the incredible differences in the behavior, attitudes of students, and overall atmosphere of the institutions. Today we look at the student end: why are students so damn different at different schools.

Episode 50
May 10, 2014
Unteachable? What happens when you find yourself with an "unteachable" student...or, perhaps, a student unteachable by you. Is there such a thing as an unteachable student? Is it them or us? When, if ever, is it acceptable to "give up"?
Episode 49
April 26, 2014
Five teachers talking: D. J. Condon (Canadian Academy), Alison Kitzman (Kinki University), and Frances Shiobohara (Kobe Shoin Women's University) join Tony and Charles for a discussion about their teaching and how it has evolved over the years. A spirited and enthusiastic analysis of the past, present, and future of teaching English in Japan. This is a good one, and apologies for the background noise.
Episode 48
April 12, 2014
Transitions. A harvest of graduates leaves, a new crop of freshmen enters. Success? Failure? What do those look like? A pretty intense thrashing of the tea leaves looking for an answer.
Episode 47
March 29, 2014
A look at the different kinds and evolution of teacher-student interaction and its slippery nature. How can the teacher tweak his/her interaction with students to maximize the chances of quality learning. It's like magic, only harder.
Episode 46
February 22, 2014
Teaching writing. Paper, pencil, S-V-O…not so fast. The many differences between teaching oral and written communication, pitfalls to be aware of, kinds of writing classes, and, and, and…

Just a fast note to remind you we'll be taking a short break. Episode 47 should be here for you on March 29. Enjoy the spring break!

Episode 45
February 8, 2014
Final assessment tasks. Quantifying learning and performance.

A room full of students. Create an assessment task that results in a 0-100 numerical representation of their learning in your class. Go.

Episode 44
January 25, 2014
Five Students Talking: Letting the Students Speak. Five first year foreign language majors from Osaka University look back at the academic year and talk about their experiences and observations.

Sincere thanks to Mr. Ryo Fujioka, Mr. Taiki Itazaki, Ms. Shoko Kida, Mr. Ryousuke Takemoto, and Ms. Ami Tanaka for taking time from their busy schedules to share their thoughts with us.

Episode 43
January 11, 2014
Tough enough? What does being a "tough teacher" mean? Is a return to disciplinarian classroom style really something we should be lauding? A look at a (possibly) misguided call to bring fear and threat back to the classroom. Discussed: Why tough teachers get good results, Joanne Lipman, Wall Street Journal.
Episode 42
December 21, 2013
Missionary?! Me? The teacher's personal and cultural values: when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. The conscious and unconscious role of cultural and personal values in English language education. Where do we draw the line?
Episode 41
December 7, 2013
Coordinated Programs: coordination or encumbrance? What is a coordinated program and what is it good for? How much coordination is enough and how much is too much? Clarity of purpose or chafing at the neck?
Episode 40
November 23, 2013
Toys for teacher. Uh, tools. Better make that tools for teacher. With everyone about to start sketching out their letters to Santa, we thought it might be interesting to share some of the tools and toys we use regularly, from wheels, to hardware, to software. Maybe you'll get an idea for a teacher on your list.
Episode 39
November 9, 2013
Teacher Training: A slippery three-pronged animal. Can you make a teacher? Excellence vs. effectiveness. Objectives? Wrestling with the conundrum of teacher training.
Episode 38
October 26, 2013
From Ditto to Download - Part 3. A more detailed look at various ways teachers and students can communicate, share, and exchange work online. Google Drive, Survey Monkey, Edublog, Wordpress, Moodle, and Edmodo.
Episode 37
October 12, 2013
From Ditto to Download - Part 2. Getting information online for students. Down to the basics of getting information online for your students, as well as some advice on arranging for digital submission of their work.
Episode 36
September 28, 2013
A look at the beginning of the second semester. How does the new start affect our students, our teaching, and our sanity? Maybe we'll get it right this time.

Episode 35
September 14, 2013

From Ditto to Download - Part 1. We've come a long way from the days of the banana scent of damp blue ditto handouts to our digital downloads. Or have we? What's the reality of digital information sharing in 2013 Japanese university classrooms? Is it worth it?

Episode 34
August 17, 2013

Does English matter? Immeasurable expense, time, energy spent on learning and teaching there a point? Does anyone care? Why should they?

Discussed in the podcast:
English is a Dialect with an Army, Ta-nehisi Coates
The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated, John Henry Newman

Episode 33
August 3, 2013
Off the rails and into the sky. In an attempt to retain sanity in the madness of the semester's end, we invite world traveller Prof. Alison Kitzman of Kinki University to discuss vacations: kinds, destinations, getting good intel, the teacher's spin on getting away, and the changing nature of leisure time. Start packing. (Yes, the same Alison Kitzman to whom I am very happily married).)
Episode 32
July 20, 2013
The Grading is Nigh. That big cloud on the horizon? The grading that awaits you with that final wallop at the end of the term. We talk about what we do to try to minimize the pain.

Episode 31
July 7, 2013

Time management. OK, you've got 90 minutes. Go. Different ideas about ways to think about, approach, and tweak time management. Never mind that we always go over our one-hour podcast limit. Never mind that this is getting posted a day late.

Episode 30
June 22, 2013

Teachers under attack. Looking at the big country across the pond, we examine the many ways teachers in the US are being set upon, and consider what it might mean for us here in Japan. Teaching to the test, anti-intellectualism, erosion of teacher autonomy - the list is long. We also interview a retired Chicago area high school teacher, who shares his first-hand observations in an interview at the end of the podcast. Finally, links to two very relevant classics:

Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Taylor Mali: Be honest, what do you make?
Dramatized or by the man himself.

Like this blurb, the podcast is a long one.

Episode 29
June 8, 2013
The full-time / part-time divide - Part Two. No better example of "greener grass syndrome" can be found than the PT-FT teacher divide in the little world of English language education in Japan. Today we look at the lot of the full-time teacher. Mind the elephants.
Episode 28
May 25, 2013
The full-time / part-time divide - Part One. No better example of "greener grass syndrome" can be found than the PT-FT teacher divide in the little world of English education in Japan. Today we look at the good and not so good in the world of the part-time teacher. Next, we'll look at the full-time side of the fence.
Episode 27
May 11, 2013
"Problem kids." Sometimes, kids end up in our classes that for a number of reasons, just shouldn't be there. Sometimes, we just need to learn how to teach them. How can we tell the difference? How do we proceed?
Episode 26
April 27, 2013
Starting Over – マジで? A look at the beginning of a new school year: what we did right, what we did wrong. Again. As we say in Chicago, wait till next year.
Episode 25
April 13, 2013
Why do we teach? As the new year begins, a look at exactly why it is that we keep teaching, year after year, in spite of the obstacles and frustrations. And, a happy anniversary to us: Two Teachers Talking is one year old. And...Mickey Mantle.
Episode 24
March 30, 2013
Pre-Prep. Getting your mind right before buying your new notebooks, sharpening your pencils, and taking care of the other million things that need doing before you walk into the classroom on the first day.
Episode 23
March 16, 2013
Change. The only constant. Your textbook this year may be the same as last year's and the year's before, but everything else in the world around it has changed. Tony and Charles look back at almost 50 cumulative years of teaching in Japan.
Episode 22
March 2, 2013
Cognitive and Affective Filters in the Classroom. Sorting out the cognitive and affective filters that the teacher and student bring to the classroom experience. The case for multiple universes in the classroom.
Episode 21
February 16, 2013
Issues, Culture, and Convictions in the Classroom. Language and culture - inseparable, we know. What to do when personal convictions and native cultures clash. Sorting out language instruction and cultural relativism.
Episode 20
February 2, 2013
Writing the Syllabus. Every class needs a syllabus, but what does that mean? Drudgery or useful tool?
Episode 19
January 19, 2013
Grades. The end of the academic year. Converting a semester or year's work to a number between zero and One hundred. What's fair? What's practical? What makes sense? Is it vacation time yet?
Episode 18
January 5, 2013
A Flat Learning Curve. A look back at mistakes made, lessons learned, and lessons forgotten. As they say in Chicago, "Wait till next year."
Episode 17
December 22, 2012
With grading right around the corner, Tony and Charles talk about spreadsheet basics and tips. And if you're not using spreadsheets, why you should. (Sample spreadsheet.) Finally, Santa has some Dropbox storage for you!
Episode 16
December 8, 2012
Hypocritical. What we say we do, what we think we do, what we really do. Tony and Charles come clean. What really happens when we close that classroom door.
Episode 15
November 25, 2012
Using Web Technology. So what in the world is a Moodle? Different ways of using web technology in the classroom; roll your own or buy into an existing learning management system?
Episode 14
November 10, 2012
Teaching for the future. How can we help our students prepare for a reality that doesn't yet exist. Mentioned in the podcast, Ken Robinson's TED talk on Creativity and Education.
Episode 13
October 27, 2012
OK, everybody, switch chairs. What it's like interviewing job applicants and what might be going on in the interviewer's mind. Strategies for finding gold and diamonds and for avoiding future headaches.
Episode 12
October 13, 2012
The ins and outs of interviewing for teaching jobs in Japan. So you got called for an interview. Now what? Take a good look at your shoes, for starters.
Episode 11
September 23, 2012
OK, break's over. Along with a new semester, it's job-hunting season for teachers in Japan. Now's the time to get your CV in the hands of your next boss. First, though, let's take a good look at that CV before you send it off.
Episode 10
August 18, 2012
Finally, it's here: your summer break. It'll be over before you know it, so think now about how to make the most of it. Tony and Charles fight the fatigue to help you set your own priorities.
Episode 9
August 4, 2012
Pet peeves. The middle of the summer and time to blow off steam. Tony and Charles talk about the stuff that drives them crazy. MEXT, admins, sysadmins, coordinators, students: INCOMING!
Episode 8
July 21, 2012
About those grades. The art and science of grading. A peek into the out-of-control kitchens where student grades get cooked up. Not for the faint of heart.
Episode 7
July 7, 2012
Essential Teacher Tech. Tips on software that will make your job easier and help your students learn. PLUS, some great software giveaways.

Very special thanks to the folks at Dropbox, Smile Software, and IdeasOnCanvas for their generosity and support. Check out their great software. We can recommend these apps because we use them.

Smile Software TextExpander


IdeasOnCanvas MindNode

Episode 6
June 23, 2012
Mid-semester blues - help for you and your students. Or...Tony and Charles bitch incessantly about the weather.

Episode 5
June 9, 2012
Wish we knew then what we know now. A collection of lessons learned the hard way - things no one ever tells you when you're new to Japan, and things it takes us a long time to figure out.
Episode 4
May 26, 2012
Losing It. How to keep from running out of patience - and what to do when you do. And you will.
Episode 3
May 12, 2012
Walking on Water (when you can't even swim). What to do when you're asked to do the impossible.
Episode 2
May 1, 2012
Manipulating Classroom Space. Tony and Charles discuss effective ways of using classroom space - and when to bail.
Episode 1
April 21, 2012
Surviving Week One. Only fourteen to go. Tony and Charles talk about the beginning of the semester and the mistakes they won't make next time.
April 21, 2012
Introduction - Who are these guys and what do they think they're doing here?




Creative Commons License Two Teachers Talking™ by Tony Silva & Charles Wiz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


tonyTony Silva

Native of Chicago, IL, Tony began teaching English in Japan in 1988. Osaka University, Osaka City University, Kyoto Women's University, and Kobe College. Husband, Mac nerd, audiophile, driver, karate ni-dan, wise-ass, and all-around troublemaker and fun-lover.

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Teachers know that when classes are done, the beer has been poured, and teachers gather around the table, the talk turns to...yes, teaching. Great (and not so great ideas) are thrown around, argued, praised, and ridiculed. What's been missing is a microphone on the table. Until now. If you're a teacher, and especially if you're teaching in Japan, have a listen. Then let us know what you think.

Two Teachers Talking™ – subscribe on iTunes (or download individual episodes below). Also available on Soundcloud.

Drop us an email at <>, or leave us a message on Skype <twoteacherstalking>.