John Thurman’s Profile

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Dr. John Thurman
Associate Professor of Education, Otaru University of Commerce

5-21 Midori 3-chome Otaru, Jpan 047-8501
Phone: 0134-27-5435
Email: johnt@res.otaru-uc.ac.jp

Academic Degrees:

August, 2008. Ed.D Temple University, Doctorate of Education, Curriculum, Instruction and Technology in Education (CITE).

May, 1994. MS in TESOL. California State University at Fullerton.

May, 1982. B.A. California State University at Long Beach, Special Major–Japanese History and Japanese Language, with a Minor in Marketing.

Experience
I first started teaching English to refugees from Cambodia in Long Beach, California in the early 1980’s. I have been teaching ever since then, mostly in Japan. I first came to Japan in 1980 when I studied at Waseda University for ten months. I returned to Japan in 1983 and started working at an English conversation school in Sapporo, Japan from August 1983 and then started working at Komazawa University, Tomakomai Junior College from April, 1986 to July, 1991. After that, I went to Fullerton to go to graduate school. I came back to Sapporo in the autumn of 1994 but found a job at Kanazawa Institute of Technology that started in April of 1995. I stayed there for three years. I went to Kochi Women’s University April, 1998 and then I went to Hyogo University of Education, April 2003. I returned to Hokkaido April, 2009 when I started working at Hokkaido University and I started at Otaru University of Commerce April, 2011. As you can see, I have lived in quite a few places around Japan.
My View of English Language Teaching

I have three philosophies to teaching English as a foreign language. There are: that the students become more culturally aware, that the classroom atmosphere is stress-free and motivating, and that the students learn from interacting.
For the first belief that the students become more culturally aware, I approach this through activities based on mental mapping. Mental mapping activities are those in which the students pool their knowledge of other areas of the world and make deep self-inquiries of their impressions of these other cultures and how they have come to hold them. Through the activities of researching the validity of these impressions, the students begin to hold a more culturally sensitive viewpoint.
It is also my belief that the atmosphere of the classroom is one without stress and where the motivation of the students to complete the tasks is enhanced. The first is accomplished through the understanding of the students by the teacher and with patience for the students. A stress-free environment is also a motivating one. This motivation is further supported through the design of the tasks, which have relevance for the students, and the implementation of the syllabus, in which the students have choice in the topics of the tasks they do and how they wish to conduct the tasks. These both are very beneficial for the students.
Thirdly, I approach the belief that students learn through interacting in a leaner-centered way through the implementation of a syllabus designed under the guidelines for Task-Based Language Teaching. This is an approach to language teaching that uses tasks as the central unit of the syllabus and where the students complete tasks through interacting with each other where the students come to a mutually acceptable conclusion. Tasks can be designed so that there may be a focus on grammar, but there is a great deal of autonomy for the students in completing the task. Because this approach is learner-centered, the students realize in a more powerful way the skills they have acquired as well as a great feeling of competence on completing the task on their own. Task-based language teaching is an invigorating approach to the teaching of a foreign language.
In summary, I have three beliefs in teaching that are realized through various approaches I have acquired through twenty years of teaching English as a foreign language. First, I believe the students can be made more culturally aware through activities based on mental mapping. Second, I believe the atmosphere of the class should be stress-free and motivating, where the teacher gives the students a great amount of patience and by the use of tasks that are relevant to the students designed from real-world problems implemented using choice to be motivationally supporting. Lastly, I believe the student should learn from interacting in a learner-centered syllabus implemented under the guidelines of Task-Based Language Teaching.
Research Interests
My research concerns two areas of language learning and acquisition that I will continue into the future.
One of these areas concerns the individual differences a student brings to the classroom. I am especially interested in autonomy and motivation. Motivation is one of the areas of language teaching that many teachers desire to improve for their students. In the future, I plan to conduct research of how autonomy can improve the student’s motivation to do a task. I have found that by the introduction of autonomy into the syllabus, the students become more motivated. As an example, when choice is introduced into the syllabus where the students can choose the topic of a task, the students are more motivated. Although survey research is very useful, I plan to expand my research to include areas where qualitative research methods can bring a new light upon motivation in the classroom. Using qualitative research methodology, my plan is to delve into the processes a student uses to make the choice and to know how the student chose the topic and the influences upon the student when he makes a choice of a task topic.
Another area I will research is task-based language teaching. This is an expanding field of language teaching. In this method, students do tasks that require them to interact with each other. This interaction can be a fount of information for the language teacher and the language acquisition researcher. For example, utilizing various types of tasks with various implementation procedures, such as planning and choosing the topic of the task, the differences of the language output in accuracy, complexity, and fluency can be examined. The results of this research can be of great use to teachers, researchers, and materials designers.
It is also my plan to conduct research on the combination of these two areas, Task-based language teaching has been found to be a vibrant area for researchers and teachers. Combined with procedures to improve the students’ motivation while they do the task can provide interesting insights to improving students English. For example, according to my research, if choice is introduced to the students during a class using task-based language teaching methodology, students’ motivation and complexity language output can be improved. This is a question I wish to continue purse further.

LIST OF PUBLICATIONS
Research Articles
(1992). The confessions of a videophile: My use and abuse of the video in the classroom. Bulletin of Komazawa University, Tomakomai Junior College, 24, 13-27.
(1999a). Classification and acquisition studies of the English article system with some pedagogical implications. Bulletin of Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, 48, 49-67.
(1999b). Giving then the voice: Providing free or low-cost internet services for the English as a foreign language classroom, part i. Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, Bunka Ronso, 1, 50-64.
(2000). Giving then the voice: Providing free or low-cost internet services for the English as a foreign language classroom, part ii. Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, Bunka Ronso, 2, 65-83.
(2001a). A preliminary study of motivation in English students at Kochi Women’s University. Bulletin of Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, 50, 17-41.
(2001b). A study of affect change in EFL university students. Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, Bunka Ronso, 3, 39-58.
(2001c). A survey of process and product in the teaching of writing to EFL students. Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, Bunka Ronso, 3, 87-95.
(2001d). Affect change in University EFL students. The Language Teacher, 25(11), 41-42.
(2002a). A comparison of learning strategy use between humanities and technology university students. Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, Bunka Ronso, 4, 43-61.
(2002b). An analysis of classroom discourse in the foreign language teaching context. Bulletin of Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, 51, 21-32.
(2002c). Some observations of a rajio taiso group. Kochi Women’s University, Department of Cultural Studies, Fumanisumusu, 14, 2-15.
(2007a). Choice of task topic: Are the students more motivated? The Language Teacher, 31(10), 19.
(2007b). The effect of choice upon task motivation and task competence. Bulletin of Hyogo University of Education, 31, 71-76.
(2008). Using FACETS to improve rater reliability. JACET Chugoku-Shikoku Chapter Research Bulletin, 31, 1-19. (with Nunn, R., & Lingley, D.)
(2009). The effect of choice upon task affect and task output. Bulletin of Hyogo University of Education, 34, 77-90.
(2013). Choice and its influence on intrinsic motivation and output in task-based language teaching. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly 15(1), 202-245.
Conference Proceedings
(1998). Providing free or low-cost internet services for the EFL class via the Macintosh OS. In T. Mohani (Ed.), New Technologies and ELT International Conference: A selection of papers of the conference held in June 1998 at University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. (pp. 54-70). Kuala Lumpur: University Malaya.
(1999). English language needs analysis for EST students. In A. Barfield, R. Betts, J. Cunningham, N. Dunn, H. Katsura, K. Kobayashi, N. Padden, N. Parry & M. Watanabe (Eds.), The Proceedings of the JALT 24th Annual International Conference on Language Teaching/Learning & Educational Materials Expo. (pp. 217-221). Tokyo: The Japan Association for Language Teaching. (with Najar, R. L., G, K., Rogstad, L. S., & Sakka, L.)
(2002). Affect change in university EFL students. In M. Swanson & D. McMurray (Eds.), On PAC3 at JALT: Conference Proceedings (pp. 52-59). Tokyo: Japan Association for Language Teaching.
(2007). Choice of task topic: Are the students more motivated? In K. Bradford-Watts (Ed.), JALT2006 Conference Proceedings (pp. 12-24). Tokyo: The Japan Association for Language Teaching.
(2008). Topic choice influence on language output in TBLT. In K. Bradford-Watts (Ed.), JALT2007 Conference Proceedings (pp. 110-123). Tokyo: The Japan Association for Language Teaching.
Conference Presentations
(1993, November). Teaching in Japan. Paper presented at the California Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages: Southern Regional Conference, Fullerton, CA.
(1997, October). Providing free or low-cost Internet services for the EFL class via the Macintosh OS. Paper presented at the Korea TESOL National Conference, Kwanju, Korea.
(1998, June). Providing free or low-cost Internet services for the EFL class. Paper presented at the New Technologies and ELT International Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(1998, November). English language needs analysis for EST students. Paper presented at the Japan Association for Language Teaching 24th International Conference, Omiya, Japan. (with Kellogg, G., Rogstad, L. S., Sakka, L., & Najar, R. L.)
(2001, November). Affect change in university EFL students. Paper presented at the JALT/PAC3 International Conference, Kitakyushu, Japan.
(2005, May). Choice of task topic: Are the students more motivated? Poster session presented at the 6th Annual Conference of the Japan Second Language Association, Tokyo, Japan.
(2006, November). Choice of task topic: Are the students more motivated? Paper presented at the Japan Association for Language Teaching 32nd International Conference, Kokura, Japan.
(2007, September). Choice of task topic and task motivation. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching, Honolulu, HI.
(2007, November). Topic choice influence on language output in TBLT. Paper presented at the Japan Association for Language Teaching 33rd International Conference, Tokyo, Japan.
(2008, August). The influence of the choice of task topic on task motivation and language output in TBLT. Paper presented at the AILA 2008–15th World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Essen, Germany.
(2009, September). The influence of affect upon the complexity of output in TBLT. Paper presented at the 3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching, Lancaster, England.
(2010, September). The influence of choice on lexical complexity in TBLT. Paper presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, Aberdeen, UK.
(2010, December). The effect of choice on task oral output. Paper to be presented at the 2010 Applied Linguistics Association of Korea International Conference, Seoul, Korea.
(2011, March). The influence of topic choice upon complex output in TBLT. Paper to be presented at the TESOL 2011 Annual Convention, New Orleans, USA.
(2011, August). Topic choice and complex output in +/- here and now tasks. Paper presented at the AILA 2008–16th World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Beijing, China.
(2011, November). Topic choice and output in +/- here and now tasks. Paper presented at the 4th Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching, Auckland, New Zealand.
Textbook Consultation
Sunshine English course I. (2005). Tokyo: Kaitakudo.
Sunshine English course I. (Teacher’s Book). (2005). Tokyo: Kaitakudo.
Sunshine English course I. (Assistant Language Teacher’s Reference Book). (2005). Tokyo: Kaitakudo.
Research Report
(1998). A needs analysis of English language requirements of KIT. Kanazawa, Japan: Basic Language Education Research Laboratory, Kanazawa Institute of Technology. (with Najar, R. L., Kellogg, G., Rogstad, L. S., & Sakka, L.)