Plenary Speakers

Pan-SIG 2012 Plenary Speakers

We proudly present:

    • Dr. Thomas Cobb, Université du Québec à Montréal
    • Dr. Hiromi Nagao, Hiroshima Jogakuin University
    • Dr. Toshihiko Shiotsu, Kurume University

Dr. Thomas Cobb


Literacy: SIGnals of emergence

Sponsored by the CALL SIG


Literacy is undergoing a major expansion, as the once simple reading of texts morphs into the interpretation of complex multimedia and interconnected documents of which texts are just one part. There is thus a new literacy and literacy training to be developed which, as ever, may involve extra challenges for second language (L2) readers. And yet ideas from the original literacy may be able to help with this development. A multimedia document is basically a text connected to some of its contexts in a single wrapper, and we know quite a bit about the relationships between texts and contexts. We also know that for first-language (L1) speakers, contexts can amplify the band-width of a message, while for L2 learners they are more likely to replace the message and reduce comprehension.  Similarly, interconnected texts or hypertexts can be a boon to expert L1 readers but place excess memory burdens on beginning or L2 learners. The need to develop traditional literacy skills is even greater in this era of the new literacy, if L2 learners are to profit from its benefits.  My talk will look at ways we can use the new technologies to work on both new and old literacies. 


Thomas Cobb has taught and coordinated ESL reading programs and trained ESL teachers in many parts of the world (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, England, and Canada). He currently teaches teachers and does research and development in applied linguistics at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada.  His development work is mainly involved with building and maintaining The Compleat Lexical Tutor website (or Lextutor) which is devoted to supplying ESL and French teachers and learners worldwide with tools for "data driven" language learning. His research mainly involves checking that Lextutor is doing its job!

Dr. Toshihiko Shiotsu


Researching the Component Skills of L2 Readers

Sponsored by the TEVAL SIG


Reading is a complex cognitive process the individual is involved in while engaged with a written text, and one may think of reading as supported by some component skills, such as decoding and syntactic parsing (Carr & Levy, 1990; Grabe 2010). A number of research studies have attempted to identify the component skills that could help characterise skilled and less skilled L2 readers (e.g., Bernhardt, 2005; van Gelderen et al., 2007), and my presentation will begin with an overview of the results of such studies. I will then report on a few of the completed and ongoing research projects in which my colleagues and I have focused on the component skills for EFL readers at the university level in Japan. The results of some of the completed projects involving students of a fairly wide range of English proficiency (n=200 to 600) indicate that the more skilled readers tend to have broader knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar, faster access to word meanings, and higher listening comprehension skills.

The ongoing project looks more into the fluency aspect of the learners' reading performance and pays closer attention to the differences in texts and response formats. This presentation will provide an opportunity for a somewhat meta-analytic account of our own studies with a view to illustrate the research methodologies employed in componential studies and discuss future directions for those interested in similar research.


読むこと、それは、私たち個々人が、視覚提示されたテクストを処理する際に経験する複雑な認知過程であり、複数の構成能力によって支えられていると考ることができます。構成能力の例としては符号解読能力や統語解析能力などが挙げられます(CarrとLevy, 1990; Grabe 2010等)。読みの熟達者と非熟達者を特徴づける構成能力とは何か。その解明に向けて多くの研究が行われてきました(Bernhardt, 2005; van Gelderen他, 2007等)。本発表では、まず、そのようなこれまでの研究を概観し、次に、私どもが行ってきた、日本人大学生を対象とする英語の読みに関わる構成能力の調査について、何件か報告します。比較的習熟度の幅が広い対象者(200名から600名)から得られたこれまでの結果を見る限り、熟達読者は、語彙と文法の知識、語の意味を判断する速度、それに、聴解力において優れているようです。現在準備中の調査では、読みの流暢さや、テクストと反応形式の違いに、今まで以上に注意を向けています。構成能力分析に用いられる研究手法を例示し、類似の研究に関心を持つ方々のために今後の研究の方向性について論じることができるよう、私どもの調査をメタ分析的に紹介します。


Toshihiko Shiotsu (PhD, University of Reading) is a professor in the Institute of Foreign Language Education at Kurume University. He has been involved in TEFL and related research and is recently interested in language assessment, L2 reading, and vocabulary. He has been presenting and publishing his work internationally on those subjects.


Dr. Hiromi Nagao


Language as a tool for communication

Sponsored by the GILE SIG


To be effective in the courtroom, a Japanese-English court interpreter working with clients from different cultures needs to be versed in four types of literacy. The first and most important type of literacy involves a sound knowledge of the Japanese and English languages. The second type of literacy involves interpreting skills. For court interpreters, it is essential to listen to every word in court, then translate quickly and accurately to guarantee a fair trial. It is not what defendants say in their mother tongue, but the interpreter’s words which are recorded as evidence for the judge to determine the sentence. The third type of literacy is cultural literacy – the ability to understand both cultures and how they affect communication. The final type of literacy is legal literacy – the knowledge of courtroom practices, language and customs. These four different types of literacy - and the moral standards of the interpreter – work to support fair, efficient and effective communication in court.







Hiromi Nagao graduated from Hiroshima Jogakuin University in 1972. After receiving a master’s at Kobe JogakuinCollege, she pursued post-graduate studies at Osaka University of Foreign Studies and received her PhD in Language and Cultural Studies in 2010. Before assuming her post as president of Hiroshima Jogakuin University in April, 2010, she taught as an associate professor at Seiwa University and a professor at Kobe Jogakuin College. Her research area is on the theory of interpretation, especially in the area of judicial interpreting. She has served as a court interpreter for the Osaka District Court. In addition to her duties as university president, she is a member of the 6th Central Council for Education and board member of the YMCA World Alliance.