From October to early December, English teachers from all kinds of teaching environments will gather at the ETJ (English Teachers in Japan) Expos. This is the ninth year the Expos have been held, and they have become an essential event to attend for English teachers from Sendai to Fukuoka.
The Expos combine a broad selection of presentations on different aspects of English language teaching with a wide variety of displays of teaching materials. University teachers, high school teachers, language school teachers, and neighborhood teachers of children call all find presentations and materials that are stimulating and relevant.
The Expos are organized by ETJ (English Teachers in Japan), a free association that supports English teachers around Japan. ETJ was founded in 1999 by David Paul and now has about 9,000 members. Many of these members are presenting at or helping to organize the Expos.
The Expos themselves are not just for members of ETJ. All English teachers are welcome. If you would like to attend, just turn up at one of the Expos or preregister at the ETJ web site
Preregistering does save time both for you and for the volunteers on the registration desks at the Expos.
ETJ is very much a grassroots association for teachers and encourages members to share teaching ideas and develop professionally. The Expos reflect this approach. Most of the topics are aimed at the busy classroom teacher, and many of the presenters are local teachers who have ideas to share.
The expos were originally started for a variety of reasons. One was that many teachers are too busy to attend many events, so it was felt that it would be helpful to have one event in each of six major cities that included a wide variety of materials and presentations. Another reason was to encourage English teachers from various backgrounds to get together and bond into more of a community where ideas and opinions could be exchanged.
There are a lot of presentations by famous authors, teacher trainers and academics. Authors due to speak include Ritsuko Nakata, author of the Let’s Go series, Setsuko Toyama, author of the English Time serried, David Paul, author of New Finding Out, Communicate, Communication Strategies, and Teaching English to Children in Asia, Grant, author of Tactics for TOEIC, and Mari Nakamura, author of English Land and Hop, Step, Jump into English.
Academics include Paul Nation, a world authority of vocabulary and reading, Mike Guest, a regular contributor to the Daily Yomiuri, Rob Waring, the leading pioneer for extensive reading programs in Japan, and many respected professors from universities around Japan.
Topics will range from teaching university students writing techniques, to teaching 2-year-old children. There will be both practical ‘how to’ sessions such as how to teach TOEIC or how to teach a particular course book effectively, and sessions that connect linguistic or psychological theory with the realities of the Japanese classroom.
The displays of materials
In a similar way to the presentations, the displays will also be by both famous companies and by local teachers with self-made materials. Companies like Oxford University Press will be travelling around Japan attending the various Expos, and so will Japan-based publishers such as Abax or Alma Publishing. This ensures that teachers are able to browse through books that are not usually easy to find as well as look at the most popular course books and teachers’ resource materials.
The Expos depend on dedicated volunteers
Each Expo depends on dedicated volunteers from regional groups putting in a lot of time and effort starting a long time before the day of the Expo. The Expos themselves also require a great deal of organization on the day.
In the Kansai area, three ETJ regional groups – Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto – come together to put on the Expos. The same is true in Tokyo, where the Tokyo, Saitama and Chiba groups combine efforts.
The regional groups are actively supported by the two general sponsors of ETJ , Oxford University Press and Language Teaching Professionals, and by ELTBOOKS.com.
Organizing seven Expos around Japan is a major operation and involves many people sacrificing time and providing financial support. Even though the English language teaching industry in Japan may be in decline in many ways, it is very encouraging that the volunteer spirit within ETJ and among the supporting organizations is so strong.