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.

Shun's Perspective

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.