Marlen Invited to Present in Tokyo, Osaka and Nara, Japan

On Saturday November 19th, Dr. Harrison will present his PhD research on language and sexuality in 21st century Japan in the sociolinguistics session at the annual JALT (Japan Association of Language Teaching) conference in Tokyo, Japan (SLIDES: Language and Sexuality in Japan). He has also been invited to speak on Saturday evening, the 26th in Osaka (Namba, Lifelong Learning Centre, 6-8:30) and on Sunday afternoon, the 27th in Nara (dates and times TBA) for the two cities’ local chapters.

The following are his programs for Osaka and Nara JALT. Find a description of Marlen’s Tokyo presentation on the 2011 JALT Conference pages.

Osaka, Part 1 – The Post-Japan, Doctoral Experience in TESOL: Pursuing Language and Sexuality Research

For many language instructors in Japan, further education may be key to job security and a wider range of options or may fill a need for personal growth and development. Marlen Harrison, an instructor/researcher in Japan from 2002-2006 will report on his experience leaving Japan to pursue a PhD in TESOL at a North American university. Marlen will describe the academic environment he encountered in doctoral studies (admissions requirements, funding opportunities, curricular options and research expectations) and discuss his final dissertation titled “Discovering Voices,” an examination of language, sexuality, and identity in 21stcentury Japan. When considering a dissertation topic, he recalled a conversation in which a friend discussed being gay in one language and not in another and wanted to further explore why this might be. By weaving together his own narratives about Japan and sexuality with the autoethnographic narratives of English-speaking, queer Japanese individuals, Marlen showcases the intersection between linguistic repertoire and those critical moments when we conceptualize, reveal, and perform our sexualities.

Osaka, Part 2 – Bridging Passion & Profession: Supporting Agency and Investment in Multilingual University Writers

After a short break, Marlen will continue by discussing how his academic experiences shaped him as a researcher and present a qualitative project he recently completed with current students in central Finland.

Throughout the last two decades, scholarship discussing learner development has expanded from viewing the learner as one who possesses intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to a performer who to varying degrees invests as an agent in the learning process – one who interacts, gives and gains. With this expansion in mind, the authors sought to look back at the trajectory of their experiences in a second language communication and composition course in order to more deeply understand the roles of agency and investment in their own and fellow classmates’ learning. As such, this research examines the role of project-based learning activities that attempt to bridge the learners’ personal and professional interests. Seven student-researchers reported via written narrative how such a bridging approach in the multilingual writing environment supported learner investment and agency. Student responses speak to the need for a stronger sense of connection with both their disciplinary studies and instructors, and highlight the ways in which investment and agency are associated with ideas about learner identity, autonomy and language acquisition.

Nara – Writing Innovation: A research project examining the teaching and learning of English writing in Japan

If innovation can be defined as a new method or idea, how do learners in the Japanese post-secondary classroom respond to innovations in writing curricula? Likewise, how do instructors develop and implement such innovations? Despite the plethora of studies documenting development of teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language), there has been little previous research in writing curricula investigated from two different perspectives such as the lived experiences of both learners AND instructors, or how the Japanese EFL writing context, itself, is a unique environment. Although research has tended to highlight oral skills as effective strategies to improve English proficiency in Japan (Ogura, 2009), few studies exist that examine how EFL writing curricula addresses students’ emotional needs (Falout, 2009). This presentation focuses on written dialogues between both Japanese post-secondary English learners and English instructors in the Japanese EFL context, in order to more deeply explore innovative writing pedagogies in the Japanese post-secondary classroom, and the lived experiences of those involved in such innovations. Learn more at:


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