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CEAPS Speaker - Takako Aikawa "The Roles of Language Teachers and Technology in the Age of the New Normal"

Event Type
Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
Feb 12, 2021   3:00 - 4:30 pm  
Takako Aikawa, Ph.D (Sr. Lecturer in Japanese, Global Languages, MIT)
Originating Calendar
CEAPS Events Calendar


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a significant transformation in how class material is presented and taught.  For instance, the delivery of lecture and teaching materials has had to be digitized.  In addition, our instruction and communication have had to be done virtually.  We are literally in the age of digital transformation, and the role of technology has become more invaluable than ever before to our teaching.  With such rapid and unanticipated changes, we need to modify our pedagogical strategies accordingly.  But how?   


This talk aims to investigate this question by: (i) providing conceptual scaffolding and concrete strategies to tackle the underlying complexities of remote instruction (Goodell & Kessler 2020) and (ii) presenting sample learning activities that can demonstrate the connection between the theory of learning and its practice.  I contend that the adoption of remote instruction into our curriculum has great potential to make our teaching more effective, and that we need to proactively integrate “blended learning” to maximize the strengths of both face-to-face and remote instruction.   


I begin with a discussion of challenges that we are facing in remote instruction.  Next, I discuss challenges specific to language teaching.  Language teaching differs in nature from other lecture-based teaching in that it involves reciprocal and dialogic engagement.  Thus, remote language instruction has unique properties and challenges, which I examine.  Then, I introduce strategies and modalities of remote learning proposed by Goodell & Kessler (2020).  I demonstrate how these strategies and modalities can help us design remote learning activities.  To this end, I present the learning activities that I used for my advanced Japanese course during Fall, 2020.  I also present takeaways from my remote teaching experiences.  Finally, I discuss how we can develop a “new normal” language pedagogy.  I propose that we need to explore a new “blended” language pedagogy that synergizes: (i) face-to-face instruction; (ii) synchronous remote instruction; and (iii) asynchronous learning environments.  In this respect, the role of a language teacher has become ever more critical. It is time for us to unlearn and relearn for the “new normal” age.   


Reference: Goodell, J. & Kessler, A. (2020). The Science of Remote Learning



Dr. Takako Aikawa is a Sr. Lecturer in Global Languages at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Her responsibilities include shaping the future direction of MIT’s Japanese language program and adopting new technology into language pedagogy.  Her recent interests include advocating for a “blended learning” that synergizes various learning modalities. 


Aside from teaching Japanese, she conducts her own research project on the development of language learning tools, using emerging technologies such as virtual reality, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence.


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