Seminar / Workshops

The Centre encourages academics to present and share their research and knowledge with colleagues and students on a variety of topics encompassing the twelve languages under it.

Why do Foreign Sumo Wrestlers speak Fluent Japanese? Closer Look at Foreign Language Acquisition

Date: 27.02.2013
Presenter: Dr Satoshi Miyazaki
The aim of the talk is to explain the relationship between language learning strategies adopted by professional foreign sumo wrestlers (FSW) with learner autonomy as well as briefly introducing sumo society. It has been recognized that FSW acquire Japanese successfully in a short period of time in comparison with other Japanese language learners. However, their acquisition process has not yet been systematically identified and a longitudinal empirical research on such issue is to be explored. The talk will clarify their second language acquisition process and also convey pedagogical suggestions to the field of Japanese as a second/foreign language education, particularly in terms of the understanding and the actual practice of learner autonomy.


About the Speaker:

Dr. Satoshi Miyazaki is Professor and Associate Dean at the Graduate School of Japanese Applied Linguistics and Director of Institute of Australian Studies, Waseda University, Japan. He obtained his Ph.D in Japanese Applied Linguistic from Monash University in 1997. He is the author of “Why is the Japanese of foreign sumo Wrestlers so Good?” Tokyo, Meiji Shoin, 2006.

Understanding and Bridging Cultural Gaps in Teaching and Learning French as a Foreign Language

Date: 08.03.2013
Presenter: Miss Hélène Girard-Virasolvit
In linguistics studies, linguistic distances are measured according to the level of mutual intelligibility between two languages. It has been shown that “low distance language acquisition requires significantly lesser investment than high distance language acquisition.” (Robert, 2004) and the field of contrastive studies receives a lot of attention.
In teaching and learning, there are a variety of distance factors, not all linguistic, that need to be identified, whether it is to make use of or overcome them. During my academic talk to NUS, I would like to briefly explore three – not predominantly linguistic – distance factors in teaching and learning a foreign language, taken from both my recent publications and current class practices. I wish to show how understanding distance factors has become one of my areas of interest while teaching undergraduate students in South-East Asia. The first case explores how identifying a gap between teaching and learning cultural habits helped me adjust aspects of my practice successfully. In a second case, investigating non-specialist students learning habits led to identifying and attempting to bridge a digital literacy gap that hindered my students’ learning autonomy. Finally, I will address the cultural gap, showing how a cross-cultural approach to teaching and learning culture in the foreign language class translates in my own class practice. This aims to show an array of my work in one area of research I intend to continue exploring while teaching in the context of higher education in the region.