Leveraging Online Professional Learning Communities to Address the Challenges in Japanese Language Education: The Case of the Boston x New York Study Group


Japanese language education in the United States is currently confronted with an existential challenge: a severe shortage of teachers, as evidenced by the increasing average age of Japanese language educators and the retirement of experienced professionals (Hoogenboom, 2022). In light of this situation, it becomes crucial to explore how we can leverage online professional learning communities to cultivate collaboration among teachers and enhance our ability to maintain a critical mass of effective Japanese language educators. To address these challenges, the Boston x New York Study Group (BNYSG), was established in 2022. This initiative is designed to foster a sense of community among educators across the spectrum of Kindergarten to Grade 16 by using the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (NSFLEP, 2015) as our vision, thereby promoting professional growth and knowledge sharing. In BNYSG's professional development sessions, we apply the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001) for online pedagogy. By basing our sessions on the three presences, teaching, cognitive, and social, we create a space for Japanese language educators to interact effectively in support of each other’s teaching contexts. To optimize this professional development time, we implement the Synchronous Online Flipped Learning Approach (SOFLA®), which uses an 8-step learning cycle to engage participants in synchronous online settings, thus facilitating deep dialogue and collaboration among teachers (Marshall, 2017; Marshall & Kostka, 2020). The online format of BNYSG removes geographical and affiliation-based limitations, enabling equitable participation for teachers at all levels. This deliberate choice promotes inclusivity and equal engagement opportunities. It also ensures that we stay current and continue progressing toward a clear and guiding vision in our language teaching. Moreover, encouraging discussions and dialogues within the community regarding the latest theories, teaching methods, and technologies, including Generative AI Systems, promotes staying current and up-to-date. Within this community, it becomes easier to explore and experiment with new initiatives and approaches. The paper shares the current status of BNYSG, the frameworks we draw from (CoI and SOFLA®), and various new pedagogical projects derived from the members who share similar visions and awareness for the issues involved.

Author Information
Kazuko Saito, Hunter College of the City University of New York, United States
Naomi Asakura, Harvard University, United States
Atsuko Takahashi, Smith College, United States
Naemi McPherson, Brown University, United States
Kazuo Tsuda, Movement for Language and Culture, Japan
Sachiko Hiramatsu, Brown University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: WorldCALL2023
Stream: Sustainability of Resources

This paper is part of the WorldCALL2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Saito K., Asakura N., Takahashi A., McPherson N., Tsuda K., & Hiramatsu S. (2024) Leveraging Online Professional Learning Communities to Address the Challenges in Japanese Language Education: The Case of the Boston x New York Study Group ISSN: 2759-1182 – WorldCALL2023: Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2759-1182.2023.12
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2759-1182.2023.12

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon