Asian Language Teaching Methods: Asian 510

University of Washington, Autumn Quarter 2015
M/W, 1:30-3:20, MGH 286
Amy Snyder Ohta, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Office: Gowen 247 Phone: 543-6315
Office hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30 and by appointment

Course Description: 

This course provides a practical overview of current methodology (focus on communicative language teaching (CLT) and task-based language teaching (TBLT)) for teaching university-level modern foreign language classes, with an emphasis on Asian languages.  The course is experientially oriented, with an emphasis on skills development and developing familiarity with foreign language learning processes. Along with learning teaching methods, the class also involves first-hand observation of classroom learning processes via observation, recording, and transcription of learner interaction. The goal is for graduate students not only to develop an increased command of various teaching techniques, but also to develop a better understanding of how what teachers do impacts learners, and how learning tasks are realized in the activity of learners in the classroom.

Because teaching foreign language is largely the same enterprise regardless of the language, textbooks and techniques taught apply to any language. What makes this course “Asian” is that the students gathered all plan to teach Asian languages, and the instructor is also a teacher of an Asian language. This means that the course content, while generally applicable to any language, is tailored, as appropriate, to Asian language contexts. This includes discussion of teaching writing systems and other language-specific matters relevant to the Asian languages context. Occasionally an article tailored to a particular language is assigned to students who plan to teach that language. In addition, materials samples for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Hindi/Urdu are provided in the course, and students will collect data and do observations in classes where their language(s) of expertise is taught.

This course is recommended for graduate students who teach in the Department, who are preparing to apply for a teaching assistant position, or who are preparing to teach at the college level.  Graduate students who are interested in teaching Asian languages in other contexts, whether K-12 education or other college contexts are also welcome in the course, though we will not deal with issues related to teaching children.

Required Materials:

  1. Brandl, Klaus (2008). Communicative Language Teaching in Action: Putting Principles to Work.
  2. Ohta, Amy (2001). Second language acquisition processes in the classroom: Learning Japanese. 
  3.  Articles and materials (including Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Materials Supplements) are available under "Files" at the web page.


This class is credit-no credit only.  Grades are calculated as follows:

1. Attendance & Participation: Regular attendance (no more than 4 absences) required for a grade of “CREDIT”

2. Teaching-related assignments/demos: 50%

3. Data collection, transcription, and analysis: 20%

4. Journal, reading notes: 10%

5. Observation Reports 20%

Attendance & Participation:  Because the benefits to be gained from this class accrue through attendance, timely preparation of assignments, and active participation, missing five or more class sessions will result in a grade of “no credit.”

Assignments/demos: Assignments listed for each day of class are due that day.  Late assignments are not accepted, as the purpose of most assignments is to prepare you for productive participation in class. This category includes a variety of activities. All students will do brief teaching demonstrations in class, as well as presentations of teaching materials.  For example, teaching pronunciation, doing a grammar lesson, etc.  “Demonstration” means teaching as if the other students are your language class. “Materials Presentation” is an explanation to the class of materials you developed, for example, to teach reading or listening. Also, you must write a "reading reflection" for each reading assignment, whether from the textbook or supplementary (language-specific) materials. These short reflections consist of notes describing what you found useful (or not) about the reading or teaching materials listed.

Data collection, transcription, and analysis: Each student will audio-record students interacting in a language class (where the language of specialization is taught), while observing the class and taking field notes. Students will transcribe the learner and teacher talk and analyze this data to discover various learning processes that may occur in foreign language classes.

Journal:  A teaching journal is a developmental tool.  Research has shown that good teachers are in constant dialog with their work, and writing a “teaching journal” will help you to learn from your experiences in teaching.  In this journal, reflect upon what you learn through observations, teaching, being observed, methods class activities, etc.  Weekly prompts for journal writing are suggested (see "Journal Entries" at the web page), but you are free to choose your own topic and write about anything related to language teaching—observations about your teaching or the teaching of another, activities you have tried or want to try, what went well or badly, encounters with students, joys or frustrations, problems you are facing, things related to this methods class or readings, etc. One entry a week is due, generally on Mondays. Reading notes, documenting reading responses and questions, are also required.

 Class Observations:  Six hours observing Asian L & L language classes is required for this course. Three of these observations must be a class in the language you are teaching (or hope to teach), and at least four must be of expert teachers from the contact list provided on the web page.  One observation may be of a classmate or TA not listed.  If you are a new teacher, or if you aren’t yet teaching, you are encouraged to observe once a week if possible.  Ethics of observations (including confidentiality) will be discussed in class.  Notes from your observation visit (including dates, instructor name, class & level, and a write-up of the focus questions) are due as noted on the syllabus.

Observation reports due dates on the schedule are general guidelines, but please do not delay in doing observations. There is some flexibility depending on the dates for observations you arrange.  Observation steps are listed at the "Observations" tab on the course web page.


Send questions about this workspace to Amy Ohta.