Professor Thomson is a Professor of Japanese Studies in the School of Humanities and Languages in Arts & Social Sciences.
Chihiro is an internationally recognised educator and reseacher of Japanese language, having served as President of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (2009-2011) and the Chair of the Board of the Global Network of Japanese Language Education (2007 - 2009 & 2012 - 2016), an alliance of Japanese language education associations in 11 countries and regions.
For her contribution to Japanese language education and postgraduate supervision in applied and educational Japanese linguistics, Chihiro has received a number of awards including, a Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation (2016), Vice Chancellor's Awards for Teaching Excellence (2013/2017), a Commonwealth Government Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2012), Arts and Social Sciences Dean's Award for Excellence in Supervision (2014/2015), for Best SOLT Publication (2010) and many others.
Chihiro's teaching and supervision are based on her research into educational practice such as Communities of Practice and Sociocultural Approach to language learning and teaching. The highly reputed undergraduate Japanese program she leads at UNSW functions as a cluster of Communities of Practice, which network with each other and connect with the Japanese speaking community within Sydney and beyond. This offers our students opportunities to experience real-world usages of Japanese.
For the postgraduate program, she hosts a HDR study group Community of Practice, which has become a "hub" for Sydney area HDR students of Japanese language and language education, attracting participation of students and supervisors from USYD, UTS, WSU and Macquarie. She publishes in the areas of Japanese language, language education, learner autonomy and motivation.
Postgraduate Workshop at the International Conference of Japanese Language Education
Introduction: UNSW postgrad students planned and delivered a PG workshop at the International Conference of Japanese Language Education (ICJLE) in Venice, Italy in August 2018. ICJLE is the most prominent international conference on Japanese language education which attracts participants from all over the world. ICJLE in Italy had about 700 participants. The PG workshop was attended by 32 PGs and 20 academics. PGs presented their 3-minute theses and received feedback, while 4 academics from Japan, Thailand, Sweden, and Italy shared their passages to their current academic positions.
My role was three-fold. First, I supervised my UNSW PGs in planning and delivering the workshop. Second, I liaised with the conference organisers in Italy and the supporting association is Japan in coordinating the workshop. Third, I secured the funds for the UNSW PGs to travel to Italy, and the funds for 25 international PGs to receive registration fee waiver to participate in the workshop.
PGs in the field of Japanese language and linguistics, other than those in Japan, are scattered around the world and it is unlikely for one institution to have multiple PGs in the same field. The PGs are often isolated. The PG workshop provided a venue for the PGs to get to know with each other and share their research to receive feedback. It also provided them with opportunities to think about their future by listening to the talks and chatting with academics from all over the world.
Theoretical Background: The Japanese studies program at UNSW hosts a vibrant Community of Practice (CoP) of its PG students, which has opened its door to PG students and their supervisors in the same field in other institutions. (ref. http://thebox.unsw.edu.au/video/scientia-education-academy-lecture-prof… ) Communities of Practice are a theoretical platform that enhances participatory learning by its members who share similar concerns and passion, through their regular interactions. The PG workshop is an attempt to extend our UNSW CoP into an international CoP network.
Aims: The first aim of the project is to enrich the life of PGs by offering opportunities to become members of the CoP network. By close association with like-minded PGs, they can enhance each other’s research and meet the needs for socialisation.
The second aim is to support the PGs in their pursuit for future careers by offering talks by academics from different regions.
The third aim is to offer a chance to our UNSW PGs to manage and host a PG Workshop at an international conference. They had to contact a variety of organisations, academics and other PGs to do this successfully, through the process they created a valuable network of key persons in the field, world-wide.
Progress / Outcomes / Next steps:
The PG workshop ran successfully with very positive feedback from the participants.
We invited those PG participants to our local but internationally connected via ZOOM PG Workshop in November, in which the ZOOM participants included PGs from Queensland, Tokyo, Vietnam, and Tonga.
We plan to run another PG Workshop in the next ICJLE in 2020 in Macau.
School level contributions
- School of Humanities and Languages Research Committee
- School of Humanities and Languages MyCareer Conversation Partners Team
Faculty level contributions
- Arts & Social Sciences, Teaching Awards Selection Committees
UNSW level contributions
- UNSW Scientia Education Academy
- Peer Review of Teaching
- Administration Committee of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, Chair
- Global Network of Japanese Language Education (International), Australian Member
- Japan Foundation Sydney, Advisory Committee
- Japanese Studies Association of Australia, Executive Committee
- Japanese Studies, Editorial Board
- La Trobe University Academic Promotion committee
- Nihongo Kyouiku Reviewing Committee
- NSW Japanese speech contest Steering committee
- Society for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language (Japan) Election Committee
- The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism, Editorial Board
- University of Malaya, Programme External Assessor for the Bachelor of Languages and Linguistics
Unlike undergraduate programs, which have been shaped into systematic and articulated processes with ample support for student campus life, HDR programs are largely dependent on each supervisor, only regulated by the yearly progression review process. This leaves some HDR students at a loss, especially in humanities disciplines in which traditional supervision practices have heavily depended on one-on-one consultation between students and their supervisors.
In this talk, Prof Thomson introduced an alternative supervision practice model of the HDR Study Group, based on the concepts of Communities of Practice (CoP,Wenger 1998), and Boundary Crossing (e.g., Engestrom 2012), using her own practice of hosting a Japanese HDR study group and extending the activities of the group beyond the boundary of her discipline and UNSW. The model has worked well in supporting HDR students in the timely completion of their degrees as well as in offering quality HDR life. This practice has been recognised in the form of the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award in the category of HDR supervision in 2017.
Click here to view the lecture recording.