Dr Shinichi Izumi, Assistant Professor of English and Area studies at Sophia University, gave a presentation in which he synthesized the results of second language acquisition studies and provided suggestions about how teaching in Japan can be adapted in the light of these studies. Dr Izumi began with a questionnaire and discussion, asking the audience to consider their own beliefs about language learning and teaching. He examined the traditional ‘focus on forms’ (grammar translation, and audio-lingual approaches) as well as the more recent ‘focus on meaning’ (communicative) approach and highlighted their weaknesses. When learning with ‘focus on forms’ approaches, students are apt to develop accuracy without fluency. Conversely, communicative learners may develop fluency without being pushed to be accurate. According to Dr Izumi, the way ahead is to find middle ground where form and meaning are integrated. Rather than simply adding communication components to a grammar based curriculum, the learner’s attention should be drawn to the form-meaning relationship within the context of each task . He suggested ways in which meaning can be added to the language classroom and discussed studies that have direct practical application to teaching: effective ways to modify input; when and how grammar should be introduced; and helping students improve their grammar in communication. Dr Izumi’s presentation stimulated much discussion.
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