Introduction: Supporting Leadership and Academic Development in a SALC

Kevin Knight, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan.
Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan.
Erin Okamoto, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan.

Paginated PDF version

Knight, K., Mynard, J., & Okamoto, E. (2017). Introduction: Supporting leadership and academic development in a SALC. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 8(4), 291-293.

Welcome to the 31st issue of SiSAL Journal which is Issue 8, Volume 4. This is a general issue organized into two key themes: leadership, and academic support. There are also two book reviews, details of three relevant events coming up in 2018 and a call for papers for a special issue.


In this section, the two papers focus on leadership, and while the scholars agree that leadership has been defined in different ways, their approaches to the topic of leadership differ. Kevin Knight based at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan argues that leadership is contextually bound and illuminates how leadership was conceptualized in a proposal for leadership development in a self-access learning center. Micòl Beseghi from the University of Parma in Italy selects a definition of leadership that aligns with the use of social networks and discusses how Facebook promotes a sense of community and leadership development in language learners. In the two papers, we gain insights into the leadership conceptualization process (i.e., how leadership is conceptualized respectively in a SALC and in a research paper) and are left reflecting on Knight’s question of how leadership and learner autonomy should be conceptualized in a SALC.

Academic Support

There are three papers in this section. The first paper is by Shawn Andersson and Naho Nakahashi from Osaka University in Japan. The authors provide a description of some of the issues encountered when the purpose and scope of a writing support help desk at their institution were expanded. The authors report that students who actively use the facility can raise their communicative confidence and participate more actively in the international community. This goes beyond what a traditional writing help desk normally focuses on.

The second paper in this theme was contributed by Dileta Fabiani and Marta Soler Alemany from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. Again, the focus is on support offered in a writing center. The authors examine tutors’ experiences specifically in giving feedback on presentations. They argue that training is needed for writing tutors so that they might adequately support learners with issues related to presentation materials.

The final article deals with principles of effective workshops and learning materials for TOEIC test preparation, discussed from a practical first-hand point of view. From personal experience and anecdotal evidence from other SAC colleagues, Learning Advisor Atsumi Yamaguchi of Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan questions whether or not workshops offered in SACs are successful in achieving the goal of promoting learner development. Whilst she asserts that workshop attendance is often a challenge, the author has seen some success with a series of TOEIC workshops. The principles, tools, and best practices she has used are shared in this short article.

Book Reviews

The reviews section, edited by Hisako Yamashita, contains reviews of two books that were published in 2017. The first, Learning Japanese: Voices of Experience by Belinda Kennet and Yuriko Nagata, was reviewed by Michael Lin. The second, Language Learner Autonomy: Theory, Practice and Research by David Little, Leni Dam and Lienhard Legenhausen, was reviewed by Jo Mynard. Both books are relevant to the field of self-access language learning.


We are grateful to members of the review and editorial boards for their help with producing this issue and to the authors for choosing to publish with us.

Notes on the Editors

Kevin Knight is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan.

Jo Mynard is the founding editor of SiSAL Journal. She is an associate professor and the Director of the Self-Access Learning Center at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan.

Erin Okamoto is a Learning Advisor in the Self-Access Learning Center at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan.