JII Learning Circle – Research and Study group

Join JII members who will regularly get together to share their research and best practices. Each meeting we discuss a different theme presented by a JII member. A great chance to broaden stay on the cutting edge of research and practice. For details see below.

Next Meeting

Globalization and Deep Culture Learning

July-October 2020 (*Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Learning Circle is currently transitioning to a virtual format.)

Each month, we will discuss a different chapter of Joseph’s new book:Language, Culture and the Embodied Mind: A Developmental Model of Linguaculture Learning. We will learn the theory and practice of an integrated understanding of language and culture learning. For more information on the book content see here. The first three meetings (January-March) will focus on theory, while later meetings (April-June) will focus on practice. We will have active discussion of key ideas. Joseph will make electronic versions of each chapter available to attendees for free. A hard copy of the book may also be bought at a discount. Please note:
  • Free for JII members
  • Space limited. The maximum number of attendees is 12 people.
  • Participants are expected to commit themselves to regular attendance.
  • Participants are expected to read that month’s chapter before each session.
  • Recommended for educators interested going deeper into learning theory and reflecting on practice.
Dates and time: 
Friday, July 24, 2020 – 19:30-21:00
Friday, August 28, 2020 – 15:00-16:30
Friday, September 25, 2020 – 19:30-21:00
Friday, October 30, 2020 – 19:30-21:00
Location: Virtual meeting
To join or for more info: Hanna at hanna(at)chouchane.com or Joseph at events(at)japanintercultural.org

Previous Meetings

January-June 2020
Title: Academic Study Group – Language, Culture, and the Embodied Mind
September 20 (FRI), 2019
Title: Creating a Cross-Cultural Understanding Course: Insights and Challenges
Presenters: Valerie Hansford, Soka University
Description:This presentation will talk about the challenges and insights gained from creating a program-wide content course in cross-cultural understanding at Soka University. The course focused on helping students both prepare for studying abroad, and gain intercultural insights related to their personal experiences. Challenges included going beyond abstract cultural concepts, and helping students see that culture is not just related to national culture. Making course content accessible for students of different levels was a also a challenge. The speaker will introduce the course, and invite participants to share their perspectives about meeting these challenges.
June 29 (SAT), 2019
Half-day workshop–Engaging students with the Linguaculture Motivation Profiler
Joseph Shaules, Sumiko Miyafusa, Robinson Fritz, Gabriela Schmidt
This half-day workshop will introduce the Linguaculture Motivation Profiler (LMP). This validated 36-item online instrument creates a learning profile of students. It measures attitudes towards learning: resistance, engagement, and mixed states. Teachers can create student learning profiles as an in-class reflection tool, and to help class planning. The LMP is made available free of charge thanks to JSPS Grant-in-Aid research funding, and the support of JII. This is a chance to learn about new approaches to motivating students, and share ideas and best practices with other teachers.

May 24 (FRI), 2019
Language and Culture in the Lower-level Classroom—Best Practices
Gabriela Schmidt (German-Nihon University); Sumiko Miyafusa (English-Toyo Gakuen University); Chloe Viatte (French-Juntendo University); Bruno Jactat (French-Tsukuba University)
Joseph Shaules (Juntendo University)
During May’s Learning Circle, we will focus on how to encourage cultural learning with lower-level students. Some teachers may think that culture-oriented teaching and activities are abstract or too difficult. Our four presenters will, however, share their experience and best practices working with beginner students. There will be a multilingual focus. Presenters will share ideas for teaching French, German and English. There will be discussion and a chance for others to share your favourite activity or best practice. Please join us!

April 19 (FRI), 2019
Culture, Cognition and Intercultural Learning for a Global Age
Joseph Shaules
This talk will introduce a “deep culture” approach to intercultural education that is grounded in recent insights into culture and cognition. It will argue that globalization and communication technology can lead to shallow intercultural experiences as sojourners are protected in a cocoon of convenience.
How can educators encourage deeper culture learning? Research in cognitive and cultural neuroscience is providing valuable insights into how to do so. This presentation will argue that cultural learning is a “two-mind process” that involves both attentive (conscious) and intuitive (unconscious) forms of cognition. It will discuss the difference between surface and deep cultural learning, and the process by which we gain deeper intercultural insight. Joseph will also report on what he learned at A Blank Slate? Brain Science and Cultures, a conference held in Florence Italy, from April 4-6. Joseph will be holding a workshop on deep culture learning there, and will bring back his insights about intercultural education in Europe.

February 8 (FRI), 2019
‘Caught in the loop’: The engagement-resistance cycle in intercultural encounters
Facilitator: Roxana Sandu
There is no doubt that intercultural interactions can cause either engagement or/and resistance in any party involved. Shaules (2017: 69-70) explains that “an encounter with foreignness imposes adaptive demands on learners, which they respond to with more or less acceptance of change, which generates engagement and/or resistance.” In the hope that intercultural communication will be viewed in a more positive way, freshman students at a Japanese university were asked to participate in an online exchange over a period of eight weeks. This exchange offered them the opportunity to connect with English learners from other countries via Internet using English as a lingua franca. The results of pre- and post-questionnaires administered to all Japanese students participating in the exchange, along with the data collected from seven follow-up interviews indicate students’ engagement, as in an overall more positive image towards intercultural communication. On the other hand, some students appeared to be caught in an engagement-resistance loop, showing both engagement and resistance towards this type of interaction either due to anxiety towards foreignness or intolerance to unpredictability and their own lack of communication skills. Participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences and analyze them from an engagement-resistance cycle point of view.
Facilitator Bio: Roxana Sandu (PhD, Tohoku University, Japan) is currently an assistant professor of English at University of Tsukuba. Her main publications are in the field of pragmatics and discourse analysis, but recently her research interests also include raising intercultural awareness in an EFL setting, as well as teaching 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

January 12, 2019
Welcome to the Pelican family! Simulating an intercultural encounter in your classroom
Bruno Jactat
In this JII Learning Circle, hands-on activities and praxis related to intercultural education will be our prime focus. During the first part, participants are invited to immerse themselves in a brief welcoming ceremony held by a family from a unique cultural heritage. The debriefing will allow for much discussion about what was experienced and how this simulation can relate to real world intercultural contacts. And once you have experienced this activity, you will be able to reproduce it in your teaching environment.
In the second part we will show how we are implementing such simulation activities during the Intercultural Sessions held at the University of Tsukuba, activities in which both Japanese and foreign students participate together. Finally, we will showcase some of the work done recently to provide teachers with downloadable ready-made material and activities to be used in your intercultural class through the JALT ICLE SIG (Intercultural Communication in Language Education Special Interest Group).
Facilitator Bio: 
After his return to France from a one-year exchange program in Wisconsin, USA, Bruno served as regional president of the Loire Valley AFS (American Field Service) association from 1986 to 1991, coordinating the departure of numerous young French teenagers abroad and the hosting in the region of as many foreign youngsters. In 2003, he received a prize from UNESCO Japan for implementing online exchange programs during the previous 7 years between primary school kids from Japan and 7 other countries. Today he continues to raise university students’ awareness to intercultural issues through various events such as the Intercultural Sessions at the University of Tsukuba where he currently teaches French.

November 2, 2018
Culture in Language Teaching—Ideas and Activity Sharing
Joseph Shaules
Many language teachers are interested in intercultural issues, but may be unsure of what activities are effective. In November’s Learning Circle, we invite you to share and discuss the culture-related activities you use. We will start with an overview of some basic questions about culture in language education: How are language and culture connected? What are the goals of cultural learning? How can we talk about cultural difference? What about low-level learners? Participants will then share their activities, ideas and experience. The emphasis is on being inspired by each other’s creativity! You can introduce what you do, or simply learn from other members.

September 7, 2018
Culture (Shocking) your Students : Pedagogical Considerations for Intercultural Communication Education
Javier Salazar, Ph.D.
A lot has been written about Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC) models for language education, but little has been done in terms of how to translate this seemingly complex topic into the classroom. In the Japanese EFL education context, this gap between theory and practice is further expressed in the relative (and alarming) lack of available IC textbooks that approach the teaching of this subject in a way that takes into account the particularities of Japanese students ( i.e their general communicative skills and overall attitudes towards EFL education). In this presentation, I will tackle this difficulty by explaining a three-pronged IC teaching approach that is based on: a) A communicative approach where students’ strategic and discursive competence development is paramount for scaffolding the next two prongs ; b) A view of IC education that is concentrated on praxis as opposed to theory and c) The combination of Active Learning, Transformative Learning Theory and Embodiment Theory in order to develop a sense of an Intercultural Self in the EFL student. As a means for illustrating this approach, specific IC lesson plans that take into consideration the abovementioned will be described. As a result, participants will be able to see and judge by themselves how this approach facilitates the emergence of resistance ( by first “culture shocking” the students) and subsequent engagement (by also “culturing” the students).
Speaker bio: Javier Salazar is currently a lecturer in at the Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages and Tohoku University. His academic background is in Social Psychology, Cultural Anthropology and Human Informatics and his research interests gravitate towards Intercultural Communication Pedagogy, Communicative Competences Teaching, Gamification in EFL education, Humor in the EFL Classroom, EMI and CLIL.

July 6, 2018
Title: Incorporating Culture in ELT to Enhance Japanese College Students’ L2 vision as intercultural speakers
Speaker: Harumi Ogawa, Ph.D
Description: Harumi will present an exploratory practice (EP) project conducted at a two-year college situated in the area severely affected by the March 2011 earthquake. An EFL course was specifically designed to enhance the students’ future visions of themselves as L2 users (Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2014). Harumi will discuss the findings by 1) tracing the trajectories of L2 learning and intercultural experiences of selected interview participants, 2) examining group dynamics and pedagogy adopted for the course, and 3) piecing together an understanding of the role that the teacher played in mobilising one focal participant’s future vision.

June 1, 2018 
Title: Motivated Empathy and the Willingness to Change: Implications for Intercultural Adaptation
Speaker: Hanna Chouchane
Description: When talking about expatriate adaptation, the bulk of the literature is centered around a sojourners ability to efficiently function in a different environment. In particular, authors are generally guided by the concept that cultural empathy (an increase in which facilitates adaptation) is an ability that one possesses or lacks. However, adaptation defined by Shaules (2007) as “allowing for change in oneself as a response to adaptive demands from a different cultural environment” is “limited by one’s ability or desire for change”; a point not often talked about. This study examines the role of motivated empathy in a sojourners willingness to adapt.