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Meeting the Challenges of Secondary-School EFL
A Firsthand Report from the Kobe JALT MiniConference

Anthony Torbert is a member of the Faculty of International Economics at Kobe Gakuin University, and program chair of the Kobe chapter of the Japanese Association of Language Teachers (JALT). He contributed this report on the April 28th Kobe JALT miniconference on secondary education.

Kobe JALT recently held a mini-conference on secondary education at the Kobe YMCA on April 28th. The event was well attended, with 7 presenters and over 50 participants, the majority of whom were Japanese secondary English teachers who had never attended a JALT event before. The turnout was largely due to the direct mailing of a few dozen letters to area junior high and high schools informing them of the event.

The presenters covered a large number of topics such as classroom management, study abroad programs, and ways of creating effective presentation programs from students.

Longman ELT Japan was kind enough to help sponsor the event, and their representative, Paul Rosengrave, was on hand to give a presentation and introduce resources and texts.

One speaker, Yoko Honda, talked about the differences between upper primary school English textbooks in Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Her research showed the focus of the Japanese programs as aimed at introducing the children to English in a non-intimidating manner, without the goal of communicative ability, unlike the other two countries.

Another presenter, Yoshiro Kamitani, took a unique look at the English questions on the Japanese National Center Test. He selected 10 discourse completion questions and had high school age students in Britain answer them. Not surprisingly, most of the answers given by the native speakers were different from the "correct" answers on the test.

Kobe JALT hopes to continue to sponsor mini-conferences on a quarterly basis, and welcomes topic ideas, presenters and co-sponsors. Please contact Anthony Torbert ( for more information.

Report by Anthony Torbert
Faculty of International Economics
Kobe Gakuin University

2002 ESL MiniConference Online