Two Teachers Talking™
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.
Drop us an email at < firstname.lastname@example.org >, or leave us a message on Skype <twoteacherstalking>.
Native of Chicago, IL, Tony began teaching English in Japan in 1988. Retired in 2021 from 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.
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.
Three very special guests join us to discuss being a black educator in Japan: hiring (and leaving), student interaction, staff interaction, peer interaction, teaching materials, stereotypes of the English teacher…and, most importantly, how we can improve things.
Avril Haye Matsui is an educator, activist, researcher, and Ph.D. candidate, studying the status and roles of black women in ELT. You can view one of her JALT presentations here: The Changing Face of ELT: Black Women in ELT, https://youtu.be/8nO3fLcq-OQ
Rachel Patterson serves as the Assistant Academic Director and instructor at the Berlitz-ELS program at the Kindai University Faculty of International Studies. Her focus is on teacher training and development, study abroad, and formal assessment. She lives in Nara and spends her free time gardening, studying Japanese, and wood burning. Professional Development Through Language Conferences: https://bit.ly/PDTLC-RP
Davina Robinson is an educator, narrator, and singer living in Osaka. Tony and Davina go waaaaay back. https://davinarobinson.com
We all dream about it. What’s yours look like? But, remember the old adage…be careful what you ask for. Make your list and let’s compare notes.
We know that Japanese students’ English comprehension is overrated, even by those of us who know that their listening comprehension is overrated. But that’s not it, or, at least all of it. Join us in a deep dive on impediments to understanding and how maybe, just maybe, we can make things better.
Thoughts and comments on teaching pronunciation and the interview with Prof. Alison Kitzman in Episode 139. Then, a brief discussion of how computer translation may require a reset on how English or any foreign language, is taught.
Prof. Alison Kitzman of Kindai University talks to us about the what, why, and how of teaching English pronunciation in Japan. Included free: cicadas and a very bad Eliza Dolittle impersonation.
You know how you’re “supposed” to conduct and manage your classes, assignments, and grading. Sheer work volume—classes per week, students per class—often makes that ideal impossible. So, how do you get it all done and still maintain quality and sanity? With great difficulty and effort. And some tech.
Approaching mid-semester, an odds and sods SITREP. What can we learn and apply going forward this year, including a report from Tony on the world of retirement.
(Apologies for any wonkiness with Apple Podcasts or other podcast sources over the 5/22-5/23 weekend. I spent a weekend in RSS/XML hell fixing things that got broken with unannounced changes and protocols.)
Two heads, too many cooks...when does it make sense to sit down and hash things out and when is it better to just go it alone?
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: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations
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.
There's nothing so creative, resourceful, or frustrating as a student set on his or her own failure. You can't win them all.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, and Yuto Yamaoka.
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.
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.
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.
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.
JALT THT SIG Japanese Association for Language Teachers, Teachers Helping Teachers Special Interest Group https://jalt.org/tht-sig
Teachers Helping Teachers (THT) Laos http://www.tht-japan.org/
If you want to get in touch with Chris, just send an email to the show - email@example.com - and we’ll hook you up.
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.)
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.
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.
ボクです！¡Soy yo! C'est moi!T o ja! Это я!나야!T ôi 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.)
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
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?
Motivation. No, not yours. The students’. How do you motivate students–or should you have to? Peering into the opacity of the student mind.
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/hers do? Yes, the current buzzword is “differentiated learning.”
Mentioned: Tony Buzan and Mind-Mapping https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5Y4pIsXTV0
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.
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.
Discussion 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.
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.
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:
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?
Citation Machine citationmachine.net
Yawn. 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.
October 2018 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.
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.
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, they’re the perfect answer to "I was absent."
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?
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: http://bit.ly/bloomrose .
In addition to 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.
Note taking video based on the Cornell system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JylLC_4CXa4
Internet language content http://tony-silva.com/eslefl/whyenglish.html
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.
March 2018 .
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
Federico Vitticci - Personal blog http://ticci.org
Mac Stories https://www.macstories.net
Fraser Speirs - Personal blog http://fraserspeirs.com
The Sweet Setup https://thesweetsetup.com/fraser-speirs-sweet-setup/
David Sparks and Katie Floyd - Mac Power Users
Nebo - handwriting recognition software
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):
Claris Works / Apple Works https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AppleWorks
Google Docs https://www.google.com/docs/about/
Microsoft Office http://bit.ly/2v5UFuJ
Nisus Writer Pro https://www.nisus.com/pro/
Notational Velocity http://notational.net/
Text Expander https://smilesoftware.com/textexpander
And, as promised, 30% off the essential TextExpander from Smile Software. Also good for renewals, upgrades, etc.
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 EFL cicadas!
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)
Musings on why most classes are still being taught the old way and why change is so difficult to bring about.
Questions we wish students would ask, the questions they do ask, and enough sidetracks, ratholes, and diversions to bring it all together. Kinda.
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?
84 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.
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.
Turning student smartphones from a distraction to a learning and teaching device. Got an idea of your own? Share 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.
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…
Learning Management Systems (Wikipedia)
Big thanks to George and Bill!
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.
What the hell is it? How do you get 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.
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.
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?
Us and Them , Tony Silva
Breaking News English, Sean Banville
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."
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.
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
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 Episode 71 below).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
January 2016 .
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
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!
An interview with Prof. Kim Kanel of Kinki University. and a look back at the changes that have snuck by in almost 40 years of English language teaching in Japan.
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
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.
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.
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.
June 2015 . 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: Bit.ly link shortener http://bit.ly
Flubaro plug-in http://www.flubaroo.com
iTranslate phone app http://www.itranslateapp.com
Text Expander https://smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/
Timer by Ten http://tenbyten.com/software/
Word Scrambler http://textmechanic.com/Word-Scrambler.html
62 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.
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.
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
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…with very special guest Prof. Alison Kitzman of 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.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oops. “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 critical information into English. See also: Forest, trees. Apologies to all.
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 atmospheres of the institutions. Today we look at the student end: why are students so damn different at different schools.
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"?
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
36 A new semester
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.
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?
August 17, 2013
Does English matter? Immeasurable expense, time, energy spent on learning and teaching English...is there a point? Does anyone care? Why should they?
English is a Dialect with an Army, Ta-nehisi Coates
The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated, John Henry Newman
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).)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
May 11, 2013
"Problem kids." Sometimes, kids end up in our classes that for a number of reasons, just shouldn't be there. Sometimes, they’re just kids we need to learn how to teach. How can we tell the difference? How do we proceed?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
20 Writing the Syllabus
February 2, 2013
Writing the Syllabus. Every class needs a syllabus, but what does that mean? Drudgery or useful tool?
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?
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."
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!
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.
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?
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 .
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.
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.
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 into the hands of your next boss. First, though, let's take a good look at that CV before you send it off.
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.
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!
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.
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.
June 23, 2012
Mid-semester blues - help for you and your students. Or...Tony and Charles bitch incessantly about the weather.
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
May 26, 2012
Losing It. How to keep from running out of patience - and what to do when you do. And you will.
May 12, 2012
Walking on Water (when you can't even swim). What to do when you're asked to do the impossible.
Manipulating Classroom Space. Tony and Charles discuss effective ways of using classroom space - and when to bail.
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?
Two Teachers Talking™ by Tony Silva & Charles Wiz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License .