Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Shunichiro Ito
Shunichiro Ito (ShunI) teaches business communications and Internet English at
Bunkyo Women's College, Tokyo, Japan. His current interest is further refining
his syllabus for his EFL course based on web exploration projects and computer
mediated communication activities. In the long term, he wants to show to EFL
teachers in Japan how Internet and CMC resources may be used to provide excellent
learning facilities otherwise unavailable in classroom environment.
Sometime ago I wrote an email in response to a request from a certain foundation.
The foundation was asking what I actually do using technology in my EFL classes of
Japanese college girls. In return for my cooperation, the director sent me a video
titled, "Learn and Live," promoting use of technology in education. I
learned then what the George Lucas Educational Foundation was doing for teachers.
Kids in the video all had their eyes gleaming with interest.
For awhile I had been trying to find teachers or groups of students to meet with
our students at TAPPED IN for discussion. Our class hours were so different that
I had found none. Then BJ BerquistÕs suggestion to meet with the WebHeads discussion
group led to a breakthrough. For the first time in their life, the girls were
interactively communicating online with Vance Stevens in Abu Dhabi, UAR, and Dan
Bilitz in Wisconsin. The following week our students met with Rachael and her
students from Taiwan. They were all excited and happy to find that their English
was good enough to exchange comprehensible messages. Some had frustrations, of course,
but they told me later they wanted to have more opportunities like those. The teachers
needed to type slowly, at my request, so as not to overwhelm the novices in fast paced
text-only communication. Later tally shows that in the 45-minute session one of the
girls made as many as 30 utterances. While standing by in case girls needed my help,
I noted they had that same gleam in their eyes as I saw in that video.
I know some American ESL teachers feel that face-to-face is the best environment for
language acquisition and imply MOO sessions have less value for interactive
communication. But there are millions of English learners elsewhere in the world
for whom the only chance they have of being immersed in English language environment
is when they are in the class rooms with native speaker teachers. TAPPED IN makes
it possible for non-native speaker teachers to take their students out of the old
classrooms to interact in English and to improve their communication skills while
meeting interesting people around the world. Two years of wandering in the Internet
universe made me realize that there is no other warm and comfortable meeting
environment than TAPPED IN for teachers and students for activities of this kind.