Simon D.C. Townsend
Education is undergoing constant changes under the effects of globalization as we move toward an increasingly information-based society. As a foreigner and a language teacher, I am well aware of the kinds of effects this transition is having on learning systems across the world. In my experience as a teacher in Japan, I think that the quality of education is becoming under increased scrutiny as a result of heightened global competition for employment. As a teacher currently conducting research in various higher education language classes, I take the position that the results that research generates and the implications that they may impose help to provide a basis for furthering the development of language teaching/learning to better benefit learners. Previous experience tells me that one way to achieve this is by adopting new techniques and taking advantage of developments in technology to improve teaching.
Current literature from worldwide often debates about the development of new technology and its impact on the nature of education. In recent years, I have explored the advantages of flexible delivery systems to exploit developments in technology to improve teaching. I believe that technology should not be the focus, but instead used as a tool to improve teaching and language learning outcomes. This rapid development of Internet applications and social media has made communicating with people of different backgrounds and culture more accessible. While my research has focused on utilizing chats (IM/SNS), forums, and blogs to support communication in group work, I would like to focus my future efforts studying how global communication is shaping children and young adults, as well as how the before mentioned tools can be used to help turn these future citizens of the world into “global citizens”. This would be possible by, for example, employing cultural based topics and a communicative language teaching (CLT) method to foster class interactions that are realistic and meaningful, and that assists students in generating the language they want and need in order to communicate.
In line with prevailing global thinking in higher education, I aim to support and provide more opportunities for students to experience home-stays and study abroad programs. Additional research in this area would help increase our understanding of the cultural impact that Japanese students experience when traveling abroad. If the opportunity arose, I would like to devise a study to examine how students deal with these real-life cultural differences first hand, and understand how students cope with situations when they are forced to communicate in English with foreigners. Such information would also be beneficial for regular speaking & listening classes by supporting language learners in developing these transferable skills and acquiring knowledge that students can utilize in their lives after graduating university, thus fostering life long learning, To conclude, I believe participation in community programs and events, and in educational projects and other research, is part of the greater service to our society as teachers. Furthermore, joint participation for these reasons within the community harnesses a relationship between the education institution and its citizens. Finally, I believe it is important for teachers to be involved in research because improvements in education come about as a result of research into teaching theory and methodology.