In the Lifelong Language Learning Forum at the JALT 2017 Conference in Tsukuba, Mitsue Allen-Tamai–along with her former MA student, Yumi Matsunaga, now an English teacher for elementary schools in Shinagawa Ward–gave an intriguing report on the effects of Allen-Tamai Sensei’s Story-Based Curriculum, which is being implemented at public elementary schools in Shinagawa. They emphasized the important role of gestures and sign language to enhance the students’ memorizing, recalling, and retaining of English.
A long-time friend and colleague, the indomitable Nena Hosonaka-Nickolic (Kanda University of International Studies), spoke about how to choose stories that capture the imagination of the learner and allow them to guess from context, rely on their own knowledge base, and use clues to decipher meaning. She demonstrated her approach using the charming children’s story, “A Happy Day.” Participants became mice, bears, ground hogs, and squirrels in retelling the story, creatively and with panache. [I was a mouse, which was appropriate as I was born in the Year of the Mouse.]
It was my pleasure to organize this forum and to see the joy on the faces of the participants who attended. Many thanks to Mitsue Allen-Tamai, Yumi Matsunaga, and Nena Hosonaka-Nickolic, and the cooperative and enthusiastic participants. — Joseph Dias