Osaka JALT:

An Evening with Marlen Harrison: (1) Language and Sexuality; (2) Supporting Agency & Investment in Multilingual Writers

Date: Saturday, November 26th, 2011 Time: 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Speaker: Marlen Harrison (University of Jyvskyl, Finland)

Part 1 - The Post-Japan, Doctoral Experience in TESOL: Pursuing Language and Sexuality Research
For many language instructors in Japan, further education may be key to job security and a wider range of options or may fill a need for personal growth and development. Marlen Harrison, an instructor/researcher in Japan from 2002-2006, will report on his experience leaving Japan to pursue a PhD in TESOL at a North American university. Marlen will describe the academic environment he encountered in doctoral studies (admissions requirements, funding opportunities, curricular options and research expectations) and discuss his final dissertation titled Discovering Voices, an examination of language, sexuality, and identity in 21st century Japan. When considering a dissertation topic, he recalled a conversation in which a friend discussed being gay in one language and not in another and wanted to further explore why this might be. By weaving together his own narratives about Japan and sexuality with the autoethnographic narratives of English-speaking, queer Japanese individuals, Marlen showcases the intersection between linguistic repertoire and those critical moments when we conceptualize, reveal, and perform our sexualities. Read more here:

Part 2 - Bridging Passion and Profession: Supporting Agency and Investment in Multilingual University Writers
After a short break, Marlen will continue by discussing how his academic experiences shaped him as a researcher and present a qualitative project he recently completed with current students in central Finland.

Throughout the last two decades, scholarship discussing learner development has expanded from viewing the learner as one who possesses intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to a performer who to varying degrees invests as an agent in the learning process -- one who interacts, gives and gains. With this expansion in mind, the authors sought to look back at the trajectory of their experiences in a second language communication and composition course in order to more deeply understand the roles of agency and investment in their own and fellow classmates' learning. As such, this research examines the role of project-based learning activities that attempt to bridge the learners' personal and professional interests. Seven student-researchers reported via written narrative how such a bridging approach in the multilingual writing environment supported learner investment and agency. Student responses speak to the need for a stronger sense of connection with both their disciplinary studies and instructors, and highlight the ways in which investment and agency are associated with ideas about learner identity, autonomy and language acquisition. Read more here:

About the speaker: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison has been teaching language, communication, composition, literature and gender/sexuality studies at universities in Asia, Europe and North America since 1997. Having published numerous articles and chapters on topics ranging from second language teaching to writing classroom pedagogies, he specializes in writing across the curriculum and multilingual learner writing pedagogies. Currently teaching for the Language Centre at the University of Jyvskyl, Finland, he previously taught in both Japan and the English department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), USA where he also completed his PhD in Composition and TESOL. With a background in mental health counseling and an MA in Education and Human Development/Counseling from The George Washington University, he is an inter-disciplinary instructor-researcher who works at the crossroads of humanities and social sciences to explore how both spoken and written language are shaped by cultures and identities. Learn more at

Afterwards: Dinner and drinks will follow the presentations at a nearby restaurant.

Organization: Osaka Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (Osaka JALT)

Cost: JALT Members: free
Non-members: 1,000 yen

Venue: Namba Shimin Gakushu Center (Osaka City Municipal Lifelong Learning Center - Namba Branch), (O-CAT 4F, 06 6643-7010)

Location: Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan


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