Recommended Layout


The use of art-based projects in the teaching of English as a foreign language (EFL)
with specific reference to Japanese learners attending art institutions


Andrew Woollock Lecturer, Centre for Design Studies

1 | The research

 This research was born out of a desire to engage the Japanese learner in learning methodologies which more accurately synthesise and reflect the cultural and social structures of Japan. Through this work, the author aims to establish an: innovative, challenging and appropriate methodology by which EFL may be taught, specifically to Japanese learners. The author has, over a number of years been implementing and refining this learning approach, and at the generous invitation of Professor Emerita Azuma (KDU), the author was kindly invited to present this research at the one-hundred and second meeting of the Kansai chapter of JACET (Japan Association of College English Teachers)*1.

2 | Objectives of the research

 As clearly established in the abstract, the objectives of this research were to develop an appropriate teaching methodology for Japanese students of EFL. Specifically, though not exclusively, the author is concerned with those learners who are attending art universities in Japan. In particular, individuals who as part of their major studies take a minor elective of EFL. Thus it may be reasonably implied that a number of the learning methodologies adopted and expounded herein are specifically aimed at the above learner type. And whilst they may well carry their appropriateness across into other disciplines and faculties, the degree of application and reasonable appropriateness may well vary, and should be borne in mind.

3 | Difficulties and limitations of the research

 Given the primary nature of this research, the relatively short period in which the approach has been trailed and developed, and the limited access to a breadth of student learners, the following research-derived argument is naturally somewhat limited in scope and quantity. Nevertheless, the author maintains that this neither detracts from, nor weakens the strength of the thesis laid here. And that further research and development will only serve to substantiate the validity of this initial work.

4 | Preamble

 Before moving to the body, and to the content of the author's thesis, he wishes to establish with the reader, some of the difficulties encountered with the research. In first approaching the exploration and development of this methodology, the author encountered and identified three (3) main areas where potential problems existed. Those were as follows:

4 - 1 | EFL verses ESL

 The first of those problems lies in the distinction between ‘EFL' and ‘ESL'. Before engaging in any language teaching one must first determine what the student's final use of that language will be. Only by first determining this will the correct way of teaching be fully comprehended and implemented. And in the case of English, a very clear understanding must be gained as to whether one is teaching ‘EFL' (English as a Foreign Language) or ‘ESL' (English as a Second Language). Clearly if one makes the incorrect assumption and approaches language teaching from such an inaccurate perspective, the goals of the student will not be met. Japan as a mono-lingual society would naturally require an EFL approach, and not an ESL approach. This is the first problem.

4 - 2 | Art versus Science; semantics versus linguistics

 The second problem lies in a further mis-understanding of the wider positioning of language teaching. English, as with other humanities, is a liberal art, a science it is not. That concurred, it often appears that EFL teaching in Japan focuses its attention on the linguistics rather than the semantics of language. And thus is has become an all-but quasi-science. Or at least that is the assumption one could logically draw upon seeing the way it is so often approached and treated. Subsequently, as a result of this mis-appropriation a good deal of the EFL learning and teaching that occurs in Japan is approached not from a semantic or humanities viewpoint (as per the European model), rather, it is approached from a linguistic or scientific perspective.
 Whilst it is arguable that applied linguistics and extensive grammatical analysis are appropriate pursuits for academia or postgraduate research, the author believes, conversely, that they are inappropriate for the vast majority of undergraduate students here in Japan, especially that group which is the target of this research, i.e. (often lower-intermediate) learners who attend art universities and take language options as a supplementary undertaking.
 If the teaching of English is approached from a scientific, quantitative or analytical perspective, that is to say on focusing on the linguistics/mechanics, then whilst it does not fail the student entirely, it nevertheless fails to recognise the following three (3) things.
 Firstly, it fails to acknowledge the maturity level of our students, because it is effectively an extension of the approach taken in junior high and high school EFL education. Where, in aiming to establish the initial building-blocks of language it may have a degree of appropriation. But as Souza, paraphrasing Diamond and Hopson*2, explains, “There is [...] evidence that the human ability to acquire grammar may have a specific window of opportunity in the early years*3. Making the continued focus on linguistics right through to adulthood all the more inappropriate.
 Secondly, it fails to take into account the breadth of teaching styles, approaches to education and learning methodologies that exist today; and furthermore, it focusing particular attention on those students with ‘left hemisphere*4 preferences'; subsequently leaving the other students out in the cold, this point will be explained in greater detail later.
 Lastly, and perhaps most importantly it fails to acknowledge the broad spectrum of learners who enter our classrooms, and the various learning needs they posses. Classes are filled with an array of learners and learner types, and whilst not always possible, great efforts need to be made to include all of these learner types in education, not simply a narrow segment of them.

4 - 3 | The role of Art in academia

 The final point centres around those who may question any viable or indeed possible correlation between Art and the teaching of English. It is arguable that this mental-leap may be due in part to the current reference point of Art. As stated previously, though art is clearly a humanity, English teaching (or rather EFL teaching in Japan) appears to been annexed onto the side of science. Further difficulties also stem from the awkward placement of art (not Art), in our society. The author acknowledges that art has long suffered as a subject somehow deemed outside of real academia. The idea proliferates that art is either for children, a hobby or for when you retire. Either that, or art is somehow not deemed serious or academic, thus, the pursuit of Art itself is not deemed a studious undertaking. If one were to enquire as to the origins of such ill-advised conjecture, and to try to further establish a rationale, one could say with a degree of certainty, that it stems at least in part from the subjectivity of art. Art, especially abstract or non-representational art, is often regarded as slightly aloof and rather ‘un quantifiable'. Because of the very nature of self-expression, there are no ‘rights' or ‘wrongs', no charts and maps to follow, no formulas and theories to prove or disprove; so art is further distanced from that which lends itself to be readily understood by dissection and qualification against a set of established governing dynamics. Likewise, with some disciplines, such as: painting, drawing and photography (unlike craft-based art) the skill lies as much in the mental faculty, in the conception and consideration, as it does in the actual labour of producing the Artwork. But alas we digress, for that is an entirely different thesis altogether! Let us return to the subject at hand.

5 | The research and its pedagogical application

 Despite the relative incompleteness of the concept, a clear and coherent rational has been established that unequivocally founds the methodology and philosophy of that which is conferred here. And in doing so it points the way to a wider use and application in the pedagogy of EFL. Not merely EFL to Japanese learners, but to EFL and ESL learners world-wide. That is to say, what the author is presenting here, is appropriate as a learning methodology for any first or second language acquisition. The neurological implications of the work, clearly establishes a working model within a wide framework that has far-reaching implications for the input and retrieve of learned information in its widest context. Regardless of academic discipline.

6 | Introduction

 Having laid a brief outline in the proceeding paragraphs, the author now proposes to hone in and focus on selected specific points of reasoning that have helped in the formation of this thesis. An initial sum of eight (8) areas have been defined as particularly relevant in substantiating the author's argument, and thus, it is to the presentation of those that we shall now turn. To that end the author has elected to present the body in a structured format, firstly intending to further define and refine his philosophical parameters, and finally to engage in further exploration and understanding of the terms.

6 - 1 | What is ‘Art-based'?

 Let us begin by establishing just what the author means by the use of the phrase ‘Art based'. Let us first establish and define clear perameters for the thesis so that the esteemed reader may be free to approach the understanding of the conjecture in the fullest possible manner.
 To put it in its absolutely simplest terms, Art-based teaching of EFL, is merely a way of approaching the teaching of one subject in parallel to that of another complementary skill, in this case English. One skill is simply piggy-backed onto another and carried towards the learning objectives. Art-based is about offering the student learner a visual, or more correctly, a combined visual-lingual solution to a linguistic goal.
 Once the linguistic goal has been identified, be it: target vocabulary, planning, target structures or a communicative exercise, an art or art-based project is then devised with the target in mind. It should be re-enforced at this point, that project's ultimate realisation is the production of English through art, not vice-versa. It is important to understand that the use of art or art-based projects is simply one solution towards the goal of acquiring skills in the English language; it is no more or less than a mere tool to facilitate language learning.
 As a cautionary note it should be clearly stated and likewise, clearly understood, that neither the student nor the teacher who are participating in this learning methodology are required to be good at art in order to either benefit or participate. The student learner must understand that they will not be penalised if their artwork is not as good as another students; there are no levels of expectation here regarding art, only regarding English. That must be clearly understood. To reiterate, we are talking about a primary goal of learning EFL through a secondary vehicle, nothing more. And, in any case, the visual need not be drawn per se.: printouts, downloads, cut-outs, photocopies, photographs are all equally as appropriate and valid as the hand drawn. As is clearly illustrated by students who participated in the preliminary trails, the artwork varied enormously; from basic ‘stick figures' or simple line drawings through to complex three-dimensional or full-colour works.

6 - 2 | What is not meant by ‘art-based'

 Having defined the terms of what is, let us now turn our attention to, and establish what is not.
 Though to very different ends, the author has seen the use of art in EFL, championed both here in Japan*5 and in England*6. And whilst it is arguable that any research in the field is a positive thing for the greater good of the collective, the author maintains serious reservations about that which he has previously encountered. That is to say, his deep concerns lie in the very limited nature of that research, which rather than challenging and advancing the cause for the inclusion of art-based projects in EFL, ultimately detract from that goal, insofar as they simply perpetuate the status quo. For example Grundy & Parker's approach is centred around using images to stimulate vocabulary retrieval, and arguably not on learning new vocabulary through assimilation with related imagery (as per the author's approach). Their approach is focused upon taking imagery and asking the student learner to explain/recall what they can see (or feel); essentially to retrieve from the brain previously acquired and stored information. It is arguable that in this case, identical objectives could be met if the learner were taken outside, e.g. to a scenic view, or the centre of a city, and simply asked to recount the English words for that which they could see.
 It must be clearly understood that according to the author's rationale and neurological reasoning, this is not what is meant by the phrase ‘Using Art in EFL', rather, something entirely different. At a neurological level all this is doing is asking the student to recall the word for what they can see in pictorial form. To a lesser degree this functions in the same way that a flash-card works, except that with a flash-card it is a ‘two-way' process; the flash-card is used to both input and retrieve the target information. In simply showing a picture and asking the student to describe what they see, one is simply ‘retrieving' not inputting. As stated previously, were one to ask them to look out the window or look around the room, one would be challenging them and their brain in exactly the same way. For reasons that will become apparent, this therefore is not a recommended approach.

7 | ‘Art-based' use in language teaching, an outline

  Because of the relatively complex Sino-Japanese kanji characters used in Japan, the country has a very rich tradition of tandem-teaching kanji with art*7. The early stages of kanji acquisition is a prime example of a multi-disciplined approach to language learning. The twin elements of lingual and pictorial working in perfect unison to achieve the ultimate goal of kanji literacy. Yet here, as with the European incarnation too, the beauty of this dynamic and multi-spacial model is also soon dropped. In the case of kanji, once the elemental components are mastered and the radicals*8 too, so the learner is expected to simply repeatedly rewrite and memorise the increasingly complex formations. Art is, it seems, no longer offered a seat at the table of learning. Paradoxically though, the focus on pictograms still forms part of the way kanji is taught to non-Japanese adult learners*9.
 Likewise, in respect of teaching EFL to children, visual stimulus is invariably employed. No child's EFL lesson would be complete without a set of brightly coloured flashcards, which combined with the instructor oral teachings aid the brain in registering and storing the target vocabulary. From an early age, (when vocabulary is scarce) children are positively encouraged to offer a visual solution to a problem or express themselves in a visual form. However, once the child has a basic grasp of either their mother tongue or their chosen foreign/second language, that visual methodology is, more often than not, ceased to be employed. It appears as if it is simply tolerated as a bridge to get the child from a stage of no understanding, to a stage of basic understanding.
 So, to conclude this initial introduction, let us once more re-establish our focus on the thesis, and ask ourselves, “What then, is the use of art and art-based projects?", and how does it differ from that which has been described above? As previously stated, the keystone of the philosophy is, that it maintains as its core and ultimate realisation, and the noble goal of language learning. It simply aims to teach language (in this case, English) by assimilating target vocabulary and structures etc. with pictorial representations that are generated by the student. In contrast to the two (2) previously cited examples*10, this approach is a clearly defined as being a distinct two-way process. A process of both input and output, deposit and retrieve. Learning facilitated through a combined visual-lingual approach.

 Having laid some depth of foundation, and established some of the preliminary mechanics of the author's thesis, let us now expose the entire governing dynamics to the subject and scrutiny of the esteemed reader; as the author lays before them, the eight (8) key-stones that form the arch of truth and understanding. The Rationale for the development and inclusion of Art-based projects in the teaching of EFL are:

7 - 1 | They cater to both hemispheres of the brain

 Though the human brain is biologically one whole unit, neurological it is divided into two distinct halves or cerebral hemispheres, commonly called the left and right side of the brain. The left side deals with functions concerning logic, analysis, sequencing, time and speech, it also recognises words, letters and numbers*11. More females are what is colloquially referred to as left-brained*12, that is to say, they have a preference for tasks that involve the use of the left hemisphere. In contrast, the right side of the brain deals with intuition, creativity, patterns, space and context: it also recognises faces, places and objects*13. More males than females have right hemisphere preference*14. Interestingly, though both males and females process and deal with language in the left hemisphere, “females also have an active language processor in the right hemisphere too*15.
 The above explanation pertaining to the division of hemispheres is actually a little simpler than the biological and neurological reality. For the human brain is not only divided right and left but perhaps more importantly it is divided up, down front and back into four major lobes*16, and other recognised areas. Each of these lobes deals with a very specific skill or function. Because the function of this thesis pertains to defining a coherent rationale in support of using art-based projects in the teaching of EFL, there is unfortunately, insufficient opportunity to further explore the more detailed neurological functions of the human brain. Here, the author is only able to hint at the fascinating neurology associated with learning, and beg leave of the esteemed reader to pursue the object of this work. Suffice to say that as you can already deduce, any EFL activity that incorporates art, art-based or a TPR*17 approach to learning is stimulating the brain in a way a mono-track approach*18 never can.

7 - 2 | They make the lessons fun, interesting and stimulating, they also create a stimulating environment for learning

 In order to best facilitate both the teaching and learning process, one should first identify one's target market (audience) and the needs of that market. As this research pertains to the teaching of EFL to Japanese university students; thus is may be assumed and noted that the target audience would consist of a broad range of individuals aged between eighteen (18) and twenty-two (22). By the very nature of time, order and experience that would render an instructor eligible to teach in H.E., that individual will be some distance from the age and interests of those students whom they are teaching. Whilst this is inevitable, and certainly not a problem per se., it is something that the educator must bear in mind if they are to motivate, stimulate and challenge their students. Sadly, the author often feels that a good deal of HE courses are offered on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it' basis, that is without fully considering the method by which the content must be delivered. Though, the content is something which cannot or should not be readily altered, the vehicle which is employed to deliver the information must, the author believes, always be appropriate and relative to the needs of the student learner. And there are a plethora of approaches to learning which are seldom or rarely used, not only in Japan, but elsewhere too. And so, whilst the content is often considered at length, the method by which the learner receives, appropriates and digests the information is arguable archaic. The author concurs that educators and educational establishments should be offering a range of approaches to learning, which are: well-conceived, appropriate, current, dynamic, challenging and above all interesting and stimulating for young adults to engage in. And the use of art and art-based projects run in conjunction with other four-skills programmes offers just that; it offers an interesting alternative to the status quo of language learning. That is, approaches that arguably do little to fully engage the student's physical, mental, emotional and psychological being.

7 - 3 | Art or art-based projects help draw upon the Japanese student's latent skills

 It is noteworthy that, as Souza states, “We have yet to discover a culture on this planet, past or present, that doesn't have art. Yet there have been a number of cultures - even today - that don't have reading and writing*19. Art is a presence within us all, it is as if part of our very fabric, our DNA. And as proved by the use of art in pre and elementary schools, most (if not all) human beings have a natural gift for expressing and manifesting themselves to varying degrees, through art - the author is not so rash as to conclude that we are all good at art, but humans are arguably more than capable of expressing themselves through visual mediums.
 In respect of Japan, generally speaking a Japanese child is at a far greater state of advancement and competence in their artistic ability than the average European child. Weaned, during the formative years on a steady diet of cartoons and animation coupled together with the visual approach taken in the early days of learning Kanji*20, a Japanese student is highly visually literate indeed.
 As a contemporary society, Japan is also much more geared to offering information in the twin forms of visual and lingual. Japanese advertising, be it: inside a train, or outside a shop, on the television or in print, invariably mixes the lingual and the visual, presenting them in tandem. What implications does this have for the Japanese learner of English? Well, quite simply the author concurs that Japanese student learner is: ready, able, receptive and accustomed to receiving information and expressing themselves in the visual format, much more so than in other cultures. And if that be the case, it seems logical to exploit that latent ability and tap into and connect with those recourses in the classroom.

7 - 4 | Art or art-based projects help build language skills spatially, not only linearly

 By simply engaging in the one-dimensional, mono-track approach to learning, for example ‘rote' learning of vocabulary, or the linguistic-scientific approach discussed previously*21, one acquires and builds skills linearly and negates to build skills spatially. Whilst this may be useful or necessary for passing a test of the cloze variety, beyond that it has arguably little or no worth, and essentially fails the student in attaining higher ideals of second language fluency. For example by employing the predominant teaching methodology of input (and occasional retrieve), that is to say, the method by which most Japanese children are taught from elementary through to senior high school; the author maintains that a child's brain does not understand the full or wider implications of language nor abstract retrieval. Hence when students encounter an abstract response, or a response that differs from the patterns they have been taught, they are invariably left feeling stranded, because they don't know how they should respond. And this is further proven by the fact that, though a Japanese learner entering H.E. may have studied English for at least seven (7) years*22 their actual fluency level does not, in most cases reflect this length of time. Sadly, why would that be the case? The answer can be found with very little effort. The author sincerely believes that it is attributable almost entirely to the linear input model which is employed in most junior and senior high school EFL classes in Japan; a method that too often focuses on the input of information, and seldom on the retrieval. And any retrieval that is sought is generally very one dimensional, i.e. simply to answer a test question. It could be categorised as a methodology that focuses on the content, but not the substance.
 One other problem with focusing exclusively on the mere letters and words, is that the student learner gains no wider understanding of the significance or appropriation of the words being taught especially in regards to the us of it in an abstract or spacial context. If language is taught in a one dimensional or linear manner then the learner's subsequent ability to use that language will surely mirror that method of input, and the eventual use will be limited. Sadly this is proved true on a daily basis. Japanese students with reasonable academic scores often find it difficult to engage in natural conversations, or express themselves in a natural form of language, that is of a comparable level to their paper standing. Stepping outside of those very narrow environments and into H.E. EFL with its wider and altogether more malleable parameters, students are all too often lost or bemused by relatively simple task requiring some original mental dexterity. Thus it may be logically deduced that by focusing on the typical linear method throughout the Japanese school system, whilst a student may well gain some paper recognition, they are all too often ill-prepared or ill-equipped to deal with the realities of natural language interaction.
 If however, concepts, ideas, words and structures can be taught visually as well as literally or linearly i.e. simply remembering the word, then the author maintains that students will not only gain greater insight and depth into the use, but also the application and understanding of said information in a wider context. This notion will be developed further in point seven (7)*23.

7 - 5 | They incorporate numerous skills, such a problem solving, group planning, teamwork and logic

 As stated previously, in simply engaging in the rote learning of vocabulary and phrases, the student is engaging with the target vocabulary in a strictly one-dimensional manner. Whilst this may well be appropriate for the EIKEN*24 test, it certainly is not appropriate for academically demanding tests like the British IELTS*25 test, which often sees Japanese student's scores concentrated in the middle ground of 4.5 ~ 6.5*26 (from a maximum score of 9). What differentiates these tests is that the student operating in a linear manner (i.e. in the traditional manner prescribed in Japan) is often unable to ‘think outside the box', thus when they are presented with a conceptual, logic-based or abstract application they are often ill-equipped to offer a comprehensive answer. This lacking has serious repercussions for using language as a fully functional creative tool, or in situations which do not run according to some pre-determined pattern as they do in a textbook.
 Likewise, when students engage in a task that requires spatial awareness and logic, or when language involves abstract or imaginary situations, students taught in a traditional one-dimensional manner are seldom equipped to fully engage. One reason that has already been stated is that the words or phrases hold no depth of meaning. To put this is some relative context, imagine if one learned a kanji character and simply focused on the lines and not on the etymology, radical or component parts (which hint at the character's greater meaning) then the same would undoubtedly be true, the learner would acquire only a superficial understanding of the character being learnt. That is essentially what is happening to the Japanese learner of English, who acquires information non-spatially, and with no depth.
 In contrast, if when one approaches such tasks, one first gets the student learner to correlate the visual with the lingual, and to produce visual imagery in conjunction with the learning the vocabulary, then not only will that approach input the information spatially but the information will be stored in a greater number of areas in the brain, rendering its retrieval more likely and all the more lucid.
 Finally, if one approaches the practice of learning in this manner, then one immediately makes it both appropriate and appealing to a wider number of learner types, than would be the case with the traditional learning methodologies that are currently en vogue. This alone renders it worthy of inclusion.

7 - 6 | Art and art-based projects increase retention of new vocabulary and offer a setting for the application of previous learning, especially comparatives

 As touched upon previously, if language is taught in unison with imagery then the chance of retention is arguably far greater than if the language is taught in isolation*27. By incorporating art or art-based approaches in EFL the learner is engaging not one but at least four (4) areas of the brain*28: motor cortex (body movement), frontal lobe (planning & thinking), parietal lobe (calculations & recognitions) and the occipital lobe (visual processing). It is an empirical fact that when learning targets multiple areas of the brain the initial comprehension rate is not only higher but it is retained longer and with greater depth and clarity*29. Quite simply, in coupling a word or phrase to its visual form, or indeed any related visual reference, the brain is offered not one, but two or three threads on which to hang the new information.
 In particular, with the learning of comparatives when one simply learns a word out of context or by translating; whether that be in their first or second language it is enormously difficult for the brain to divide and distinguish mere phonetics as being radically different or even opposing concepts. Hence, it is only by attaching meaning to those empty words or sounds that the concepts behind the words begin to emerge and take form. In the case of comparatives attaching visual imagery not only aids the retention but also distinguishes the words and adds texture, depth and quality to them. In the process of learning words where similar spelling or even phonics can cause difficulties, if the word is coupled to a visual form then not only will retention be aided but also the differences will become plain to see.

7 - 7 | Art or art-based projects help to form the basis of learning for higher ideals, such as thinking conceptually and figuratively

 Briefly, it is anticipated that at H.E. level of EFL the student will begin to engage with language in the fullest of contexts. However, as touched upon previously, if a very rigid and inflexible methodology has been employed as the principle vehicle of learning, the problems will be magnified further.
 Clearly in terms of developing skills in creative writing, poetry or in the construction of metaphors, if the student has little or no figurative tendencies then this will render the production of such tasks virtually impossible. By engaging in art or art-based projects in direct connection to language learning, the student learner begins to see the words they encounter not only in their present finite form of mere black and white letters. Instead, however, they should begin to see language in a much freer, more colourful and an altogether more lucid manner, than would be the case with standard methods of input; for example by rote-learning. Henceforth when it comes to expressing oneself creatively, figuratively or conceptually the ability to conceive concepts pictorially will be of enormous benefit.

7 - 8 | They offer the educator an insight into the psychological identity of the student

 Finally, though it might seem beyond the interest of many educators, understanding the mentality and psychological makeup of one's students is undoubtedly one of the foundations to good teacher student relations. Beyond that, by gaining an insight into the students real nature, a nature often submerged here in Japan under layers of Tatemae*30, one begins to truly understand the students who spend a year in one's classroom.
 Art-based projects offer the teacher an illuminating insight into the psyche of the student, in such a comprehensive way that non of the four-skills alone can compete with. They achieve this largely because there are no restrictions, barriers or hiding places, as there arguably are with other lessons which employ the four skills in a context of self-expression. In addition to this when providing a visual-lingual response, the student's work can be read much quicker and more accurately on many sub-concious levels than e.g. the spoken or written form can rarely compete with. For example, compared to writing a journal, where the student actively wishes to express something of themselves i.e. they essentially wish to present a facet of themselves; with art, the student is passive in what they are showing, that is to infer, that the teacher reads them from what they show. For example: the size of the students drawing, the neatness, the colours, the position on the page, the attention to detail, the creativeness, etc. All of these and more offer a wealth of supplementary information about the student's psychological makeup, that is very hard to get elsewhere, especially in a once-a-week, ninety (90) minute class. And therefore, once clarity has been reached, mixed messages end and the teacher begins to understand how to interpret the student's manners and behaviour correctly. Note also that none of these signals are concerned with how well a student can draw.

8 | Conclusion

 The author has, in keeping with the aims clearly outlined and firmly established in the initial abstract, produced a series of cohesive and persuasive arguments which unequivocally demonstrate the case for the inclusion of art-based projects in the teaching of H.E. EFL to Japanese learners. He has provided an array of information and examples which add weight to the case for their inclusion and he has founded this in philosophical conjecture and empirical neurology.

9 | Addendum

 The author would like to reiterate and re-establish his desire to see a broader range of approaches to the teaching of EFL applied both here in Japan and overseas. As language and society continue to diversify it seems to be inevitable that teaching methodologies should likewise keep pace. With the shrinking student population in Japan too, and the subsequent increased competition for student numbers, the author hopes to see a more: realistic, engaging and student-centric approach to both teaching and learning. He concurs, that those academic institutions which play be the old rules and approach language teaching primarily from the linguistic-scientific angle and not from the semantic-liberal art will, begin to struggle. As universities are pressured to offer courses that suit the needs and desires of their increasingly powerful and fickle customers, so, the market will dictate a much more radical approach to teaching. Indeed we are already witnessing that starting to occur, with universities beginning to offering an abundance of drama, theatre and performance based units in conjunction with traditional four-skills courses.

10 | Further research

 This paper represents but a briefest of introductions to the thesis under consideration. As such there is still an enormous amount of exploratory and developmental work yet to be undertaken before the research can really begin to take shape. It is therefore advisable that this preliminary research and application be continued and monitored over a period of time. That the initial projects continue to be used, and new ones developed according to the needs of meeting the goals of further research. During the next phase, the author would also anticipate further expanding the neurological explorations, preferably in partnership with a department of neurology at a recognised medical establishment. Partnership that would involve clinical trails to monitor neurological activity during language acquisition exercises, and monitoring of language retrieval.

11 | Observations

 Having been conducting this research for approximately six (6) years, the author can state quite categorically that there has been nothing but a genuinely positive response from student learners, to these tasks. From language majors and social science faculty students at non-art universities, through to an array of design and art majors at art universities throughout the breadth of Kansai, these projects have been welcomed and embraced by all who have helped in the research and development of the projects. And it is finally to those individuals that the author wishes to extend his sincere gratitude.

Diamond, M. & Hopson, J. Magic Trees of the Mind New York: Dutton, 1998
Souza, David, A. How The Brain Learns (Second Edition) Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 2001
Infra. p.7
Saito, A. “Enjoying Arts in EFL Classes " 摂南大学 国際言語文化学部 摂大人文科学 第9号別刷 2001年 9月
Grundy, P & Parker, K. “Art deserves more appreciation in the language class" Guardian newspaper, June 24th 2005
『日本まるごと事典』 東京: 講談社、2001年 p.103
Radicals refers to the dominant component of the elements that together form a Sino-Japanese kanji character. This part alone usually infers the general meaning of the character.
Howell, Lawrence, J. The Secret World of Kanji Pictographs Osaka, Kotoba Project, 2005
Supra, p.5
Souza p.167, 8
ibid., p.174
ibid., p.167, 8
ibid., p.174
ibid., p.173
ibid., p.16
T.P.R. (Total Physical Response)
Mono-track, would be defined as a singular method of learning i.e. one that encompasses only one of the four skills of language acquisition: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Sousa p.214
Kano, C., Shimizu, Y. et al. Basic Kanji Workbook Volume 1. Tokyo, Bonjinsha, 1989
Supra p.2
The average Japanese student studies English for four (4) years whilst attending junior high school, and three (3) years whilst attending high school. The author acknowledges that there are exceptions to that rule as there are to all rules.
Infra p.13
The popular Japanese EIKEN or ‘Step' test is essentially a two-skills-test, and comprises of multiple choice answers to short reading and listening comprehensions, with a very short ‘interview' for successful candidates. The interview, using imagery to prompt responses, much as per Grundy & Parker's model (supra p.5 )
International English Language Testing System
Souza, chapter 3, p.78
ibid., p.16
ibid, chapter 3, p.78
Tatemae (建て前) refers to the face one presents to the world, that is, in contrast to honne (本音), one's real self, or one's real opinions and beliefs.


・Dryden, W. (Ed.) Handbook of Individual Therapy (Fourth Edition) London: SAGE, 2002
・Kano, C., Shimizu, Y. et al. Basic Kanji Workbook Volume 1. Tokyo: Bonjinsha, 1989
・Higbee, Kenneth, L. Your memory: How It Works & How to Improve It New York: Marlow & Company, 1977
・Howell, Lawrence, J. The Secret World of Kanji Pictographs Osaka: Kotoba Project, 2005
・Sousa, David, A. How The Brain Learns (Second Edition) Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 2001
・『日本まるごと事典』 東京: 講談社、2001年

・摂南大学 国際言語文化学部 『摂大人文科学』 第9号別刷 2001年 9月

The Guardian London, June 24th 2005


 page top