Phill Bennett, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
Isra Wongsarnpigoon, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
Bennett, P. & Wongsarnpigoon, I. (2021). Editorial. Relay Journal, 4(1), 1–4. https://doi.org/10.37237/relay/040101
We welcome you to Volume 4, Issue 1 of Relay Journal. Undoubtedly, all of us, whether as educators, advisors, other professionals, or learners, have continued to experience great change in our work or learning over the past year or more. During times of change, in order for the change to be developmental, an individual must be able to reach a sense of equilibrium (Zittoun, 2006, Zittoun et al., 2013). This concept of equilibrium is also referred to by Damasio (2019, p. 6) as a sense of “homeostasis” to which all living beings constantly are driven to in order to feel fulfilled and satisfied. Through change and the subsequent restructuring of how we function in our teaching or learning in order to reach a new stability, our umwelt (see Uexüell, 1987; Zittoun, 2006), i.e., our own semiotic world, can also be altered. In the context of language learning, going through changes, finding balance, and undergoing a transformation of perspectives are all experiences that learners and teachers alike face. Engaging in reflection can help students to cope with these transitions and ultimately better understand and benefit from the process (Kato & Mynard, 2016). It is also through reflective practice that educators are likewise able to successfully handle and grow from potentially difficult times of transformation or development (Argyris & Schön 1974; Farrell, 2015, 2019).
In this issue, we are happy to present a collection of papers which represent examples of such reflections. Readers can get a closer look at various aspects of advising in language learning through analytic accounts of its implementation by educators. Additionally, valuable insights into the learning journey may be gained from reflections on topics such as self-directed collaborative learning among undergraduate students or the evolution of a distance learner’s identity while engaging in graduate studies. Finally, those who are interested in the intersection of technology and self-directed learning will find something valuable in these articles as well.
In our first featured article, Jason R. Walters reflects on an advising session which he conducted with a student in the online environment now familiar to nearly all of us. Recognizing the student’s struggle to feel a sense of well-being, Walters draws on his experience and interest in positive psychology by viewing the learner’s situation through the lens of Seligman’s (2012) PERMA framework. In Walters’ use of PERMA as a means to identify opportunities for supporting an advisee’s well-being, advisors at any level of experience can gain insights on a new resource for utilizing positive psychology in advising.
The second paper, by Philip Cardiff, is a reflection of an advising session with a highly motivated student who was experiencing frustration with the progress of her Spanish ability. The author explains how he introduces an advising tool called the Wheel of Language Learning and the international reflective dialogue which followed. In addition to the advising tool, he details his use of a metaphor (as an advising strategy) in order to further prompt reflection by the advisee. Finally, he concludes his paper with his experiences of a post-session reflection as well as his reflection with peers in the advising in language learning course.
In the third reflective piece, Thomas Ashton thoughtfully analyzes an advising session from the perspective of a teacher who is also a developing advisor. He discusses his efforts to provide positive feedback and broaden the advisee’s perspectives during the session. Ashton’s reflection leads him to ponder some challenges he faced in trying to temper his instincts as a teacher while supporting the student as an advisor. His account can help others who are pondering the contrast in roles between educators and advisors.
While the above reflective papers are written from the perspective of educators, the Perspectives section contains two reflective accounts by learners at different stages of educational development. In the first piece, Yusei Takahashi and Rio Fukumura, two undergraduate students working as peer advisors in their university’s self-access center, introduce a regular collaborative event they co-organized in order to interact with and support their fellow learners. They present details on how they planned and promoted the events, along with observations on how the event differed when held in person and in the online environment imposed by the pandemic. The authors then each provide their own personal reflections on how they supported their peers’ learning and what they gained from the experience. In contrast to the in-person and emergency remote, undergraduate learning situations in Takahashi and Fukumura’s paper, our second paper in this section focuses on a different learning context. Ena Hollinshead contemplates how her identity has been shaped by various factors while attending graduate school via distance learning. As individual learners’ identities are not defined solely by their studies, Hollinshead considers the interplay between aspects of her own identity. She then examines her own development as an autonomous learner and how it connects to the various forms of support which have helped her in this progress.
In “Harnessing the Potential of Technology to Support Self-Directed Language Learning in Online Learning Settings––Online Symposium Review,” Hatice Celebi reports on a number of presentations at a joint online symposium between Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan Royal Institute of Technology and the Research Institute for Learner Autonomy Education at Kanda University of International Studies. The topics covered are research and practice relating to technology and self-directed learning. The author then shares her thoughts on the construction of the online identities of language learners across various digital learning platforms.
We would like to thank the authors, the reviewers, and all those who contributed to this issue despite the ever-changing circumstances we have encountered over the past year. Further, we would like to also thank you, the readers, and encourage you to continue to contribute to the field of learner and teacher autonomy––whether through commenting on previous or future publications or by sharing your own contributions.
Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. Jossey-Bass.
Damasio, A. (2019). The strange order of things: Life, feeling, and the making of cultures. Vintage.
Farrell, T. S. (2015). Reflective language teaching: From research to practice. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Farrell, T. S. (2019). Reflective practice in ELT. Equinox Publishing Limited.
Kato, S., & Mynard, J. (2016). Reflective dialogue: Advising in language learning. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315739649
Seligman, M. E. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Free Press.
Von Uexküll, T. (1987). The sign theory of Jakob von Uexküll. In M. Krampen, K. Oehler, R. Posner, T. A. Sebeok, & T. von Uexküll (Eds.), Classics of semiotics (pp. 147–179). Plenum. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4757-9700-8_7
Zittoun, T. (2006). Transitions: Development through symbolic resources. Information Age Publishing.
Zittoun, T., Valsiner, J., Gonçalves, M. M., Vedeler, D., Salgado, J., & Ferring, D. (2013). Human development in the life course: Melodies of living. Cambridge University Press.