Introduction

Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

Diego Mideros, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago

Hisako Yamashita, Konan Women’s University, Kobe, Japan

Mynard, J., Mideros, D., & Yamashita, H. (2019). Introduction. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 10(2), 135-139.

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Welcome to the June 2019 issue of SiSAL Journal which contains four regular papers and three reviews. Coincidentally, three of four regular papers focus on the roles of learners within self-access centres. In addition, one of the conference reviews is by an undergraduate student (Shirakawa) who presented his research at a self-access conference in Japan. Finally, the book review (Cotterall) is for a volume edited by Murray and Lamb that (among other things) explores how learners appropriate and take ownership of spaces for learning. Our observations from conferences and recent papers, including this issue of SiSAL Journal, indicate that student leadership and learner ownership and empowerment are growing areas of development for self-access. We will continue to observe this aspect of our practice with interest.

Regular Papers (Edited by Jo Mynard and Diego Mideros)

The first paper by Mariana Manués Baretto describes a study conducted at a Self-Access Center (SAC) at the Federal University of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon. The study is based on the experiences of two undergraduate students who volunteered to be student-facilitators at the SAC. The researcher collected data in the form of parallel surveys and follow-up interviews. These tools enabled the student-facilitators to reflect on the feedback they received from the audience and their own assessment of the activities. The study highlights the importance of reflection at the level of undergraduate students who volunteer to take the lead in SAC activities. The mere fact that students voluntarily take initiative to be facilitators is a strong sign of autonomy. Reflection on those activities takes autonomy to a whole new level. 

In the second paper, Stephanie Lea Howard based at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University, Turkey provides insights into a successful aspect of a programme designed to train student peer advisors (PAs). The author discovered that advising sessions for the PAs that were embedded into the training led to deeper insights into the role of a PA.

The third paper, by Pamela Sigala Villa, Adelina Ruiz-Guerrero, and Laura María Zurutuza Roaro from the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, explores the role that a conversation club plays in proficiency development in a self-access centre. The paper reports on a community of practice comprised of the leaders of the conversation and how they developed an awareness of their practice through recording and analysing their practice. 

In the fourth paper, Shenglan Zhang from the University of Iowa in the USA, the author describes a study which investigated self-regulated learning (SRL) in a blended/flipped learning environment with learners of Chinese as a foreign language. The study explores how the learners were able to use a WeChat environment to solve problems and develop strategies and benefit from the environment,

Reviews (Edited by Hisako Yamashita)

There are three reviews in this issue. In the first review, Brandon Bigelow provides a review of JASAL 2019 x SUTLF 5, the annual conference of the Japan Association for Self-Access Learning (JASAL 2018) held on December 15th 2018. This year, the JASAL annual conference was jointly hosted by JASAL and SUTLF (Sojo University Teaching and Learning Forum), the flagship event of the NanKyu Chapter of JALT (Japan Association for Language Teaching) at the recently renovated Sojo University. Brandon was awarded the Newcomer’s Grant, a grant given to educators who are new to JASAL conferences. In this review, Brandon gives a thorough overview of the conference, featuring several presentations he attended, and provides his reflections on his poster-sharing experience which according to him was intense, revelatory, and exhilarating. 

In the second review, Sara Cotterall reviews Space, Place and Autonomy in Language Learning (Routledge, 2017) edited by Garold Murray and Terry Lamb.  According to Cotterall, in this collection, Murray and Lamb “have trained their gaze on space and place – phenomena so very ordinary and ubiquitous that many of us may never have reflected on the role they play in learning. Each of the book’s 15 chapters explores, in very different ways, the processes by which spaces are transformed into places for language learning or teaching.” Cotterall shares how this collection inspired her and how the book offers accounts of and reflections on research, as well as suggestions for practice. 

In the third review, Tomoya Shirakawa also shares his experiences at the JASAL 2019 x SUTLF 5 conference. Tomoya was one of the Student Grant recipients of this conference and he gives us his perspectives as a then undergraduate student participant. In his review, he touches on several presentations that interested him based on his background and experience as an active student SALC user, research assistant, and community leader. Tomoya also talks about his presentation, “Challenges and successes of study group and the role of the self-access learning center” which focused on a student-led learning community. He shares his ideas and insights into the importance of establishing connection or cooperation between SACs and other departments within institutions. 

Upcoming Events

The Japan Association for Self-Access Learning (JASAL) is holding its annual Conference JASAL 2019 on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1, 2019 at Otemon Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan. The theme of JASAL 2019 is New Beginnings. JASAL 2019 will bring together language teachers as well as practitioners, administrators, and students involved in the field of self-access learning across Japan to share innovative practices, to learn from each other, and to inspire each other. There will be a pre-conference tour of E-CO, Otemon Gakuin University’s self-access learning center. The deadline for presentation submissions is Sunday, August 4th, 2019. The call for presentations and more information can be found on JASAL website: https://jasalorg.com.

If you would like your active student users, student volunteers, or student staff members to meet, share experiences, discuss ideas, and develop action plans with fellow students from other institutions, you may consider attending the JASAL Student Conference 2019 in Kobe. The JASAL Student Conference 2019 will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at Konan Women’s University in Kobe. The organisers have asked for expressions of interest in participating by July 31, 2019. Documents can be submitted by September 15, 2019. The call for participation and more information can be found on JASAL website: https://jasalorg.com

Finally, as we announced in the previous issues, the fourth Psychology of Language Learning Conference (PLL4) will take place from June 24-28, 2020 at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia in Canada. The imaginative and quite appropriate theme given that the event takes place on a small island is “Themes and Waves”, which is also a metaphor for the currents and waves that shape our work in exploring the nature of language teaching and learning. The conference chair is Peter MacIntyre who is also the current president of the International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning (IAPLL). The call for papers is open until September 15th, 2019. For updates, see the website https://www.iapll.com/pll4.

Acknowledgements

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the reviewers and editorial team members for their generosity in sharing their time and knowledge to ensure that this peer-review journal can continue to be published. In addition, we thank the authors for choosing to publish in SiSAL Journal and their contributions to the growing body of quality published work in the area of self-access. 

Special thanks to: Neil Curry, Robert Dykes, Paul Lyddon, Garold Murray, Wareesiri Singhasiri, Vance Stevens, Katherine Thornton, Stacey Vye, and Satoko Watkins.

Notes on the Editors

Jo Mynard is a Professor in the English Department, Director of the Self-Access Learning Center, and Director of the Research Institute for Learner Autonomy Education at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. She holds an M.Phil in Applied Linguistics (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland) and an Ed.D. in TEFL (University of Exeter, UK). Her research interests include advising in language learning, the psychology of language learning, and learning beyond the classroom.

Diego Mideros is a lecturer in Spanish at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a PhD in Linguistics awarded by the same university. His research interests include autonomy and agency in language learning, phenomenological research and qualitative approaches in language learning, identity and sociocultural research. 

Hisako Yamashita is a lecturer and learning advisor at Konan Women’s University in Kobe, Japan. She is the current Student Involvement Coordinator for the Japan Association for Self-Access Learning (JASAL) and is the Reviews Editor of SiSAL Journal. She specializes in developing autonomous learners and has extensive experience working with language learners in various contexts. Her research interests include affordances and reflective dialogues, peer interactions, and learner autonomy.