Hello, my name is Jeffrey. I am currently an Associate Professor of English at Shizuoka University here in Japan where I teach a wide-range of English courses to first and second year students. I hold an M.Ed. in "TESOL, Technology in Education, and Curriculum Design" from Temple University and a Bachelor's degree in "English Writing" from the University of Pittsburgh. I have spent much of the last several years focusing on vocabulary acquisition research as well as serving as an editor for English-Japanese dictionaries and High School English textbooks. I have also had the pleasure of line-editing three published fantasy novels for a friend.
I have a wide variety of interests, many academic and some not, and I have spent much of my time as a university teacher experimenting with classroom pragmatics and the effective use of technology in the classroom. My main goal has been to learn how to boost both learner interest and learner motivation. I'm also interested in human-technology interaction, especially in how it relates to our lives and to how people in the "Internet in your pocket" age interact and learn. I have no intention on conducting any research in this field, but I do keep a close eye on it!.
The last few years I have also begun exploring the world of fantasy and children's literature. I am drawn to translation issues, such as how translators find ways to maintaining the richness, depth, style, and feel of the original work while translating into another language for another culture. However, my own second-language ability is thus far lacking to the degree that I am unable to do much in this area as of yet.
Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition|
While this sounds like quite a mouthful, it's actually simply the learning of vocabulary through reading books or watching movies. There are some very active fields in incidental vocabulary acquisition, namely "Extensive Reading", though I prefer to focus on something called "Narrow Reading" which involves reading a lot (same with Extensive Reading), but within a narrow field, such as reading many books in the same series or upon the same topic. Thus far I have looked at newspaper articles and TV News, but more recently I have looked at the "Harry Potter" book series and will look at other book series and movies series as well.
Technology in Education
I have a deep desire for my students to do well, not only in the classroom but in life. However, my sphere of influence over them is mostly confined to the classroom, and so I seek to do the very best I can for them. I have found over the years that the first key to student success is for them to have self-confidence. They need to feel like they can understand and that they know what's going on and what's expected of them. I have also discovered that they do better when they are allowed to work in groups and when the pressure is mostly off and they can relax and be themselves. (All of these things can be pointed out in various research on motivation, affective filters, and the like.) And so, to foster just such an environment, I have taken the textbooks I use and have turned them into a computer presentations. Students still use their own textbooks, but having the same material digitized allows me to show only the relevant activities, pictures, or instructions and also allows me to give extra examples or provide the correct answers (with spelling!) after an activity or quiz. This has been extremely useful for in-class activities where I can leave the instructions on the screen, or useful phrases, to help them complete the activity.
In a few other classes, I have begun to use technology in a different way, however. In my writing classes, we do everything "live" -- I have my laptop open to an empty text file and I type up students' answers as they provide them. This allows us to discuss variations in the students' answers and provides a solid means to teach group editing. For example, I typically have groups of students practice adding adjectives to a base sentence such as "I ate an apple". I will then type in each groups' answer as they say it out loud, and then we look at every groups' answers together. If something needs corrected, we discuss it and do it together, but this method also allows me to show them variations and greater possibilities. So, doing a class "live" like this feels more like "playing together with English".
And so there you have it, me and my academic interests in a very tiny nutshell. If you made it this far down the page you are either extremely patient, extremely persistent, or one of my blood-relations! Whichever you may be, thank you for visiting, and be sure to drop be a line to say hello.
Jeffrey D. Shaffer|
University Education Center
836 Otani, Suruga-ku