Last Thursday, Salt Lake Community College hosted a lecture about using computers to help learn language. The lecture was presented by Shitennoji University Associate Professor Shiyo Sakamoto.
Sakamoto’s presentation was about Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The presentation was about using computers for language learning. He talked about computers and software that he uses in his class.
“In Japan, the language computers would be in English. The software that is used is non-commercial specific science software,” Sakamoto said. “My students are required to use this software in one of my classes.”
Sakamoto told of some of the benefits of CALL. It is a multi-model practice with feedback. It has individualized learning, game-like programs, and authentic communication, oral if possible. Some of the currently free web sites that he uses are Smart.Fun, English Central, E-Mail Exchange and Skype. There is also record keeping that tracks how a student does, and can tell the student where help is needed. Sakamoto explained how the computer program manages the student’s progress.
In many Asian countries, a person has to speak fluid English in order to be in the higher echelons of a company. However, people in Japan are not required to speak English. As a result, students do not get much of a chance to interact with English speaking people.
“Japanese students are not good at reading English aloud because they have a hard time pronouncing English words,” Sakamoto said. “Teachers try to help students with this by role playing, but it’s not authentic English.”
About 40 guests were in attendance, including some SLCC students.
“I’m here to fill a commitment for my communications class,” student Joshua Gourley said.
“I came for extra credit, and because I’m interested in this,” student Keshav Poudel said.
Sakamoto has been teaching at Shitennoji University for 15 years. The University is also called the International Buddhist University. He teaches English and PC skills. “In my classes I use Word, Excel and some scripting,” Sakamoto said.
Faculty Services, Study Abroad, the International Education Office, and the Faculty Teacher Learning Center (FTLC) hosted the presentation.
“Faculty Services has events like this all the time. We put up posters all over the campus…on the bulletin boards announcing events like this,” Amber Herzog of Faculty Services said.
Audience members had the chance to meet Professor Sakamoto at a post-presentation reception.