Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

Mynard, J. (2016). Editorial. Studies in Self-Access Learning, 8(3), 199-202.

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Welcome to the 30th issue of SiSAL Journal which is Issue 8, Volume 3. This is a general issue, but I organised it into three key themes: learning spaces (three papers), supporting learners (two papers), and professional development for learning advisors (two papers). There are also details three relevant events coming up within the next year.

Learning spaces, is a good theme to start with and the first paper is a research paper contributed by G. Victoria Madrid Durazo and E. Desirée Castillo Zaragoza from the Universidad de Sonora in Mexico. The authors describe a qualitative longitudinal research project which was carried out in the SAC at their institution. The purpose of the research was to understand learners’ performance as they direct their own learning in a SAC. The authors focus on learning experiences, activities, and materials in order to present some interesting results showing learners’ understandings of the language learning process due to working in a SAC.

The second paper takes us to the United Kingdom, where Marion Krauthaker from the University of Leicester provides a report on the observations and conclusions based on a project which assessed self-access foreign language centres (SALCs) in UK higher education institutions between 2014 and 2016. Drawing on data collected from in-depth interviews with stakeholders at 12 institutions, the author suggests that the findings reveal challenges related to resources and support which need to addressed in the coming years.

In the third paper, Garold Murray, Mariko Uzuka, and Naomi Fujishima draw upon data collected during a five-year ethnographic study conducted at a self-access facility at a large national university in Japan. The focus of the paper is on the experiences and voices of international students studying at the university. Based on the findings, the authors suggest that we reflect on the role of social learning spaces and how they support the process of glocalization by contributing to the globalization of facilities in Japan.

The second theme contained in this issue is ‘supporting learners’ and the first paper was written by my own colleagues Amber Barr and Phoebe Lyon at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. The authors provide a discussion of ways in which language educators might support learners in making choices of graded materials to select. Choices such as these can be daunting to learners, but making such choices undoubtedly contributes to the development of their autonomy. Drawing on data collected from surveys, the authors summarise some factors that affected learners’ initial and subsequent book choices which give an insight into some of the issues and dilemmas facing learners.

The second paper in this theme was contributed by Rachael Ruegg, Taku Sudo, Hinako Takeuchi, and Yuko Sato and was the result of an evaluation of a peer tutoring programme operating at a university in Japan. One interesting aspect of this paper is that it was written as a collaboration between a faculty member and three student tutors, surely an excellent example of engaging learners in the learning, writing, and researching process. The aim of the paper is to provide an overview of the tutoring programme for others interested in setting up a similar service. It gives insights into features of running a centre along with some details of successes and challenges.

The final two papers relate to the theme of ‘professional development for learning advisors’. I have witnessed an increase in papers exploring the nature, roles, and features of advising in the past few years. As the field develops, it seems appropriate that more attention is given to how learning advisors are trained, supported, and mentored. Saki Inoue, a learning advisor and coordinator based at Kanazawa University in Japan summarises an overview of an ongoing training and professional development programme for language learning advisors. Drawing on reflections contributed by eight advisors the author indicates areas where the professional development programme could be enhanced.

Finally, Satoko Kato, an experienced advisor and advisor educator based at Kanda Institute of Foreign Studies in Japan presents research which draws upon the life narrative approach as a way of tapping into the personal constructs of experienced learning advisors. The study investigates the effects of drawing a ‘picture of life’ (PL) at the beginning of a six-month mentoring programme by looking into mentees’ views and also features that indicate the development of the mentoring relationship and how the PL promoted deeper connections.

Upcoming Events

Firstly, as previously announced, the Japan Association on Self-Access Learning (JASAL) Annual Conference 2017 will be held at my own institution Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba Japan on 16th December. Details are available on the JASAL website https://jasalorg.com/.

There are two other events that might be of interest to colleagues based both within and outside Japan as they are part of international organisations who happen to be hosting events in Japan in 2018. The first is the Psychology of Language Learning Conference. PLL3 is the official event associated with the International Association of the Psychology of Language Learning. Previous conferences were in Finland (2016) and Austria (2014). PLL3 will be held at Waseda University in Tokyo from June 7-10. The call for papers closes on December 11th. More details are available on the website http://www.pll3-tokyo2018.com/

Finally, the Independent Learning Association has been running for many years and has hosted conferences in Australia (2003), New Zealand (2005 and 2012), Japan (2007), Hong Kong (2009), Thailand (2014) and China (2016). Next year, it returns to Japan and will take place at Konan Women’s University in Kobe on September 5-8. The theme is Whose Autonomy? Voices and Agency in Language Learning and the call for papers closes on December 31st.


As always, I am 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 Editor

Jo Mynard is the founding editor of SiSAL Journal. She is an associate professor and the Director of the Self-Access Learning Centre at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. She was also recently appointed Director of the newly established Research Institute for Learner Autonomy Education (RILAE). She holds an M.Phil. in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College, Dublin and an Ed.D. in TEFL from the University of Exeter in the UK. She has been involved in facilitating self-access language learning since 1996.