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Professional Development

Originated by Birmingham MA TEFL/TESL students

April 25, 2010

Do Students Read More Research on Learning than Teachers?

Classes are great when…


“I can learn with my friends, not one-way from the teacher.” - Keisuke (left)


“We have choices.” - Naomi

“I have the opportunity to speak English, and say my ideas.” - Natsumi (right)

The title is not directed to you the reader. However, these students seem to know a lot about what research shows is necessary for learning. The students in our video discussed concepts frequently documented in scholarly journals; such as student engagement (e.g. Clifford, 1999), student collaboration (e.g. Apple, 2006), and learner autonomy (e.g. Little, 2007).

Speaking%20section%20and%20lounge.jpgThe students are from the University of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. They are visitors of our English Support Room. We have a daily average of over 25 visitors from all five departments and two campuses. They visit to hone their English skills, as well as receive advice and strategies for effective learning. As Einstein once said, “I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn” (cited in Walter & Marks, 1981, p. 1). We, too, try to provide students with a relaxed, trusting, and autonomy-supportive environment to learn (Finch, 2001; Niemiec & Ryan, 2009).

Study%20section.jpg In our Support Room, students have frequently voiced their opinions concerning the strengths and weaknesses of their courses. Three students; Naomi, Natsumi, and Keisuke from the Department of Integrated Arts and Sciences had the idea of creating a video for their teachers to create a better learning environment. Naomi majored in chemistry, and is now teaching English at a junior high school in Tokushima. Natsumi is majoring in European studies and plans to be an English teacher after graduation. Keisuke also majors in European studies, and is now an exchange student in Kyungpook University in Korea. They asked me to lead their discussion; also we gathered comments from other students to create this video.

In our discussion, they expressed their view on their university courses and experience learning English. I was startled when I noticed their ideas sounded much like teachers’ talk: hence, the title. I hope you have the time to view our video as well as create and put out your own. Together, little-by-little, we can produce this much needed change. We greatly appreciate you for taking the time out of your hectic schedules to read and view our thoughts. Many thanks!

Naomi%20Steve%20Michito%20Kensuke.jpgStudent Voices Part 1 (3:49)

Student Voices Part 2 (8:27)

Photo: Naomi (bottom), Steve (middle), Michito (left), Kensuke (right)

Apple, M. T. (2006). Language learning theories and cooperative learning techniques. Doshisha Studies in Language and Culture, 9(2), 277-301.

Clifford, V. A. (1999). The development of autonomous learners in a university setting. Higher Education Research & Development, 18(1), 115-128.

Finch, A. (2000). The non-threatening learning environment. Korean TESOL Journal, 4(1), 133-158.

Little, D. (2007). Language learner autonomy: Some fundamental considerations revisited. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1(1), 14-29.

Niemiec, C. P., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice". Theory and Research in Education, 7, 133-144.

Walter, G. A., & Marks, S. E. (1981). Experiential learning and change: theory design and practice. New York: John Wiley & Sons.


Steve T. Fukuda is an Assistant Professor at the University of Tokushima. His research interests are in learning motivation, learner autonomy, and self-access centers. His day consists of teaching English courses based on learner autonomy training and spending time facilitating students learning at the English Support Room with his colleagues.

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