Tag Archives: read-through

On awareness and understanding of different cultures

Image: Takobou/Wikimedia Commons

The dynamic Keisuke Tabata, of Kobe Shinwa Women’s University, will be talking about our recent Japan-Indonesia-China-Vietnam project at the annual convention of the Japan Association for Educational Media Study in November. The convention is being held at Kagoshima University on the island of Kyushu.

Our project involved an online movie read-through with university and high-school students. It also featured a workshop on cultural differences, including a discussion of the Lewis Model of communication.

Image: Richard Lewis/CrossCulture

A paper will also be published in the Bulletin of the International Education Research Center at Kobe Shinwa Women’s University. Thank you to Keisuke Tabata and his wonderful students, Ritsuko Anzai (formerly at Amagasaki Kita High School), and the fabulous team at Tadulako University in Palu, Indonesia.

Copernicus: Language Comes Through Culture


Thank you to the magnificent Eriky Haritsarartiaray and Keisuke Tabata for their help with my latest Copernicus column for EFL Magazine. And thank you to the rest of the brilliant team at the University of Mahajanga and Kobe Shinwa Women’s University for making our Madagascar-Japan collaboration happen!

Our first Global Communication and Science workshop

A HUGE thank you to Keisuke Tabata and his BRILLIANT students at Kobe Shinwa Women’s University, who took part in our first Global Communication and Science workshop on solar eclipses (below).


(Just for info, that’s not a green tablecloth – it’s about to become spacetime. Also, that’s not a mandarin orange – it’s a celestial body that is about to pass near the sun… This is all connected to a discussion about Arthur Eddington’s 1919 experiment, where he used a total eclipse to prove Einstein’s general theory of relativity.)

Later this month, the Kobe Shinwa students will be collaborating remotely with students at Mahajanga University in Madagascar, starting with an online read-through of the science-fiction movie “Europa Report”.

Our Global Communication and Science workshops are sponsored by Garuda Indoneisa.

“We have to get out of this”

A ginormous ‘thank you’ to two BRILLIANT English teachers who became two AMAZING test pilots!

Monica Sampaio de Lacerda from Brazil and Wynn Nguyen from Vietnam bravely agreed to take part in our first ever “SkypeRead” read-through of the 8-minute sci-fi movie “Exit Log”.

Exit Log 1

The results of our ‘test flight’ were spectacular… Monica and Wynn totally became Amy and Hannah – “How could this happen?” – and they followed up the read-through with a tremendously stimulating and insightful discussion about the complexities of the characters and the story. I learned a lot – a very sincere ‘thank you’ again to Monica and Wynn!

From the chemistry of rocket fuel to the ethics of space exploration

Our exciting collaboration with Alma College (in Michigan, USA) and Omi Brotherhood High School (in Shiga, Japan) came to a wonderful finish today, with our four groups of students making their final presentations.

The project kicked off three weeks ago with a cross-border read-through of “Europa Report”. Since then, each group has been working on formulating a question related to the movie, and preparing a response. Today, the students came together on Skype for a final time to watch each other’s presentations.

As this splendid post on the Omi Brotherhood High School web site notes, the students had to overcome time differences, language barriers AND a typhoon that is currently lashing western Japan…

The questions that our four groups came up with were as follows. (Anyone who has watched “Europa Report” will understand the relevance of the first question…)

(A) Is there an alternative to using hydrazine as rocket fuel?

(B) Do you think that life exists somewhere other than Earth?

(C) Manned vs. unmanned space exploration: which is better?

(D) Do the scientific discoveries from space outweigh the need for humanitarian missions on Earth?

I would like to say a very, very big and sincere ‘thank you’ to all the students and teaching staff who made this project an outstanding success.

Across 6,500 miles and 13 time zones…

Andy Smith, a teacher at Omi Brotherhood High School in Shiga, Japan, has put together this 23-second video of last week’s “Europa Report” read-through with students at the Co-Operative Research Experience summer camp at Alma College in Michigan, USA.

“Wow, we made it!”


Congratulations to the incredible students at Omi Brotherhood High School in Shiga, Japan, and the Co-Operative Research Experience summer camp currently taking place at Alma College in Michigan, USA.

At 6 o’clock Friday morning in Shiga / 5 o’clock Thursday afternoon in Alma, four US-Japanese groups of students came together over Skype and read the entire 90-page script of the movie “Europa Report”.

  • Click here to read “Alma CollegeとのSkypeReadプロジェクト” on the Omi Brotherhood High School blog – “Wow, we made it!”

It was the start of a 3-week cross-border project that will see the students collaborate on questions related to the movie. The objective is to enable high-school students to experience the fun – and the challenge – of working in remote, multi-cultural teams. It’s also an opportunity to think about one of the biggest ‘unknowns’ in science: are we alone in the universe?

Helping STEM students thrive in a multipolar world

The latest issue of “Education in Science” features a one-page article about our latest SkypeRead project – an exciting collaboration between Alma College in Michigan, USA, and Omi Brotherhood High School in Shiga, Japan.


Helping STEM students thrive in a multipolar world

A project called SkypeRead is taking an unusual approach to improving cross-border communication and teamwork within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

By Graham Jones

Copernicus was Polish; Gilbert, English; Kepler, German; Galileo, Italian; Descartes, French; Huygens, Dutch. There is not much that connects these giants, upon whose shoulders Newton famously stood. One of the few things that does, however, is that most of their key works were written in Latin, the language of science in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the language that connects scientists across the world is English. But English plays an even more important role today than Latin did 400 years ago, because science has become significantly more collaborative.

A 2011 report* by the Royal Society describes “an increasingly multipolar scientific world”. The same report highlights the growing importance of “informal connections” between scientists: “Motivated by the bottom-up exchange of scientific insight, knowledge and skills, they are changing the focus of science from the national to the global level.”

We recently launched an initiative to give students experience of working in remote, multinational teams, using English as a common language. It is a three-way collaboration between Alma College in Michigan, USA; Omi Brotherhood High School in Shiga, Japan; and SkypeRead, an online programme that uses movie read-throughs as a way to develop language, communication and remote teamworking skills.

Alma College has received a $5 million grant from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for improving education within STEM. As part of this, the College is running a four-week summer camp for high-school students called the Cooperative Research Experience (CORE). Our project will add an international dimension to CORE by connecting the American students at the camp with Japanese students located 6,500 miles – and 13 time zones – away.

A-still-from-Europa-ReportImage: Start Motion Pictures

The first phase of the project will be a team-building exercise. Small, cross-border groups of students will do read-throughs, via Skype, of the script for “Europa Report”, an intelligent and exciting science-fiction film about an international mission to search for evidence of life on Europa. This builds on research I have done into how movie read-throughs can bring remote, multicultural teams closer together. (This research has been supported by Start Motion Pictures, a film-production company, who provided the final draft of the “Europa Report” script.)

In the second phase, the cross-border groups will formulate a question related to the movie, and then devise ways of working together remotely to prepare a response. Potential questions could be along the lines of “How would a crew be selected and trained for a deep-space mission?” or “What, in theory, might life on Europa look like?”

English will be used as the working language throughout both phases of the project – something that will create challenges for all the students. “The most important part of this is the opportunity it gives both sides,” says Takeshi Taniguchi, who teaches in the English department at Omi Brotherhood High School, near Kyoto. “We’re bringing native and non-native speakers together, not only to think about how the universe works, but to understand more about working with each other.”

John Davis, principal investigator and the Charles A. Dana Professor of Integrative Physiology and Health Science at Alma College, thinks that focussing on “real-world” collaboration and research can help attract students into the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “For many reasons, schools and colleges haven’t been able to prepare students in STEM fields at the rate of need, and the need is tremendous,” he notes. “Here in the US, it has been predicted that an additional one million STEM graduates will be needed over the next decade.”

Looking ahead, the potential for using movie read-throughs as a way to improve cross-border teamwork within STEM is not limited to science-fiction films. For example, the acclaimed director, writer and producer Wes Anderson has given SkypeRead the script of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” for a project based on ‘the Hero’s Journey’, a model for narratives that can also be applied to the challenges of working across cultures.

“Communication challenges are part and parcel of working in STEM,” says Martin Stack, an Alma alumnus now at the University of Shiga Prefecture, who set up the collaboration between Alma College, Omi Brotherhood High School and SkypeRead. “Teaching STEM without enhancing students’ communication skills produces very capable people who are missing out on the opportunities available through international cooperation. For me, that is what this project is all about: communication, collaboration and cooperation.”

Graham Jones is an astrophysics graduate who has run English-language courses in Argentina, the Congo, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey and the UK. He  launched SkypeRead in 2013.

* “Knowledge, networks and nations: Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century.” The Royal Society, 2011.

ASE blue logo left w strapline

Education in Science (the magazine of the Association for Science Education). May 2015.

“Developing Language and Cross-Cultural Communication Skills via Movie Read-Throughs and MMORPGs”


“Our principal goals in this project were to (a) inspire students to have fun with English, (b) enable students to communicate and connect with people from other cultures, and (c) improve students’ English abilities and develop a range of other ’21st-century skills’ (skills that are generally regarded as being important in the information age).”

ATEM Journal: Teaching English Through Movies (Volume 20, March 2015) includes a paper by Walter Klinger and Martin Stack (both at the University of Shiga Prefecture) and me. We present the results of a semester-long project that engaged students in “language and cross-cultural communication skill development through a combination of a movie script read-through, and task- and project-based learning activities in both a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) and in real life.”

Our MMORPG was World of Warcraft, “where players create personal online avatars to explore and interact with the game environment and with other players from around the world.” Our movie was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). The connection between the two was that “the entire high-fantasy game genre, of which World of Warcraft is a part, traces its roots back to Tolkien’s celebrated work”.

Education in Science

The Association for Science Education has featured SkypeRead in its annual conference review (Education in Science, No. 259). Coming up in the next issue of Education in Science: a full article about our latest international collaboration…