An academic pow-wow, a pedagogical rendezvous…


“Er, guys, I think I’ve just deleted all our slides…” From right to left: Martin Stack, Shiho Matsumi and me at the 2015 ATEM National Convention.

Professor Makoto “Max” Kurata, the ebullient president of the Association for Teaching English through Movies (ATEM), called it both an “academic pow-wow” and a “pedagogical rendezvous”… My University of Shiga Prefecture colleague Martin Stack, our wonderful student Shiho Matsumi and I had a great time at the ATEM National Convention last week (7th August 2015, Kyoto Women’s University).

We were presenting “Fantastic Mr. Fox, and other heroes” (you can read the abstract here), which looked at how the framework of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” can be applied to the adventure of learning a foreign language. Shiho summed things up brilliantly with this perfect real-life example:

“In my case, I will leave the normal life to study abroad in five days at Northern Michigan University. I am going to start my journey. I believe that I can come back to usual life as a different person from now.”

Some of the 2015 conference highlights included:

  • Professor Tadayuki Hayashi, the president of Kyoto Women’s University, who gave a powerful opening speech, remarking on the significance of the conference being held in this month, of this year, with a large visiting contingent from Korea (the splendid folks from ATEM’s sister organisation, STEM)
  • Professor Koji Morinaga (Doshisha University), whose presentation on the development of reading materials covered no less than 15 movies – possibly an ATEM record!
  • Dr Mijin Im (Kookmin University), who used some highly entertaining clips from “Modern Family” to outline a three-step-approach for activating long-term memory (based on constructing-a-storyline activities)
  • Dr Carl Boland (Japan Center for Michigan Universities), who demonstrated how the work of the French film scholar Michel Chion – on textual speech, theatrical speech and emanation speech – can be applied to the ESL classroom
  • Professor Takahiro Ono, whose keynote address on the groundbreaking Bi-language Simultaneous Learning programme at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies was absolutely fascinating. (Yes, Bi-language Simultaneous Learning does mean learning two foreign languages at the same time!)

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and science communicator