new job

2022-03-01 TO 2022-03-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our eldest daughter got me a new job!

I was hired by the
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Japan's top language school) to improve their online learning environment. I belong to the Online Learning Support Team. I will not be teaching courses, but instead, helping teachers teach theirs.

My office is in the white-and-brown structure to the left as one enters the campus main gate.

View from my 3rd-floor window facing east. The main buildings are connected by an elevated ring road, which allows pedestrians to cross campus without being overrun by bicycles! I am not sure that that is the design rationale, but it does function that way.

Another view from my widow. From between buildings, I glimpse general aviation aircraft taking off from
Chofu airport a few blocks away. The skyline is low, close to the horizon, because the airport prohibits tall structures near it.

I share an office with 3 other team members. They are not here yet; they should arrive by 2022-04-01. 2 of them are being internally transferred, and 1 is being hired. I am the 1st of 4 people in this new team. We do not have a website yet. I need to work on that ...

I prepare for my colleagues' arrival by organizing furniture and cleaning everything. Sirokuro keeps an eye on progress.

I am sure my colleagues would like hot beverages. I cleaned the hot water pot with citric acid. I verified the outcome by brewing myself a cup of tea.


I cleaned my own section too. The right half of the cabinet is my space.

I placed my new monitor on my spic-and-span table. I use a table, not a desk, because I do not use drawers. I prefer legroom.

Whoppee! Opening my new computer!

First Boot. Before this can happen, the furniture needs to be arranged and cleaned. After booting, my computer files need to be migrated. It takes a while ...

Once my files are migrated, I logged in, and updated the operating system. Wait a while ... Kicked the power cable loose by mistake. Wait a while ...

I had problems with the network and email servers. Technicians came to help a number of times. I used my laptop in the time being.

Once network access was stabilized, I was able to join staff training. This one is for ethics.

More details to follow in the coming days, weeks, and months. For now, I am grateful, eager, bewildered, and excited!

survey for jaltcall

2021-05-08 (UPDATED 2021-06-12) TOKYO, JAPAN -- Thank you for participating in my survey for my presentation at the JALTCALL-2021 conference. The purpose of the survey is shown in the description below. The survey was open between 2021-05-08 and 2021-06-04. Thank you again for your time and expertise.

You may download
my presentation slides in medium resolution (6.6 megabytes).


河合 剛 (かわい ごう) 博士(工学)

job hunt

2020-04-30 TOKYO, JAPAN -- A few days ago, I visited the unemployment office to request benefits.

The unemployment office overlooks north Shinjuku from the 23rd floor.

Today I submitted a job application. I found the job announcement on an online depository for academic positions. They let me submit my application online. Yay!
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online learning

2020-03-19 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Oregon governor Kate Brown issued an executive order prohibiting colleges and universities in Oregon from conducting face-to-face instruction until 2020-04-28. She states that colleges can continue to teach by remote and online learning.

I am grateful that online learning is considered a viable alternative. I am saddened that a pandemic is underscoring the value of e-learning.

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former graduate students

2020-02-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our former graduate students (who are each successful in their professions today) threw us a good luck and farewell party! We are overjoyed.

Truth be told, I was never popular back in elementary school or middle school ... sometimes picked on, sometimes ignored ... had I went to high school in the United States I am sure that I would have skipped the prom. So having our academic sons and daughters wish us well was a heartfelt surprise. I couldn't believe it.

First and best time anybody had thrown a party for us!

They showered us with gifts. They gave me towels that I can wrap around my neck. (I have a permanent minor neck injury. Keeping my neck warm keeps the pain away.)

A delightful keychain with a leather trumpet. I will attach this to my trumpet case!

We enjoyed castella (sponge cake) at home.

leaving hokudai

2020-01-20 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I are leaving Hokudai (Hokkaido University) to live in proximity to our 4 aging parents, who live in Kanagawa.

We started to consider moving oh maybe a few years ago, but it wasn't until last spring (about a year ago) that our decision solidified. Each semester (that is, 2 times a year), Hokudai allows up to 5 full-time faculty members to take early retirement. Leaving in summer was too early for us. We asked to leave at the end of winter. Today we learned that our request was approved. My last day of work is 2020-02-28. I leave Sapporo the following day (leap day). We will take vacation (paid time off) during the entire month of March.

Early retirement means that we receive the full amount of retirement pay (otherwise only a small amount is paid), and I can apply for unemployment benefits while I search for my next job. I haven't found a job in Tokyo yet. Wish me luck!

I will miss walking to work across the snowy campus. I'm the person with both arms raised in this picture that Noriko took from our apartment.

belated commencement

2018-06-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I celebrated our graduate student's commencement.

Ivy finished 3 months ago but we missed her ceremony because were out of the country. She and I were busy the last 2 months with classes. Tonight's celebration was belated yet relaxed.

Our 2 families enjoyed food and conversation.

Ivy made a photo album of our 3 years together. The classes we taught, the conferences we presented at, the jazz gigs we went. Wonderful memories!

school cafeteria

2018-06-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We had lunch at the north campus cafeteria. This is the cafeteria with the most attractive architecture on campus.

We rarely eat at the school cafeteria, because they open too late for breakfast (I often bring yogurt and granola for breakfast at 07:15 after morning trumpet practice), and because we feel rushed during our short lunch break (break is from 12:00 to 13:00 but I return to my office around 12:10 and must leave at 12:40 so I have only 30 minutes).

Beautiful summer day!

my former students

2017-05-11 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I visited my former students who are now full professors at Hokkai Gakuen University.

Takafumi Utashiro teaches the teaching of Japanese language. I observed his class today. His students impressed me with their enthusiasm.

HIroya Tanaka has a heavy teaching load in English language. His research in and development of vocabulary acquisition tools is helping my graduate student Ivy Lin.

in remebrance of mutsuko masaki

2017-02-20 TOKYO, JAPAN -- We learned this morning that our friend and colleague Dr Mutsuko Masaki (眞崎睦子・まさきむつこ) passed away this past weekend due to a sudden illness at home.

Mutsuko earned her PhD in language and culture studies at Osaka University. She joined Hokudai as an associate professor in 2006, 3 years after I was hired.

We did not work on research projects together -- her interests focused on immigration while mine are in online learning systems and teacher training -- but she, Noriko and I chatted from time to time on topics ranging from pleasant culinary tips (Mutsuko was a serious cook) to exasperating concerns such as a senior professor telling junior colleagues they were unfit for academic duty because they were physically unattractive.

Mutsuko took a stand against coercion. If I understand correctly her interests stemmed from the history of immigrants from Japan to north and south America after the Meiji restoration. Low-class samurai and farmers who lost their jobs were urged to relocate abroad without receiving what nowadays is called full disclosure. Mutsuko gave me a copy of her book about the information the immigrants did receive (ISBN-13: 978-4872591767).

During her tenure at Hokudai, Mutsuko's angst widened to encompass present-day coercion resulting in binge drinking at college parties. Her work was often misinterpreted as a crusade against alcohol abuse. Mutsuko told me on several occasions that the central issue to her was being forced into acting unwillingly. Press-ganging into drinking is an example of present-day intimidation, she explained. She taught classes on this topic, and wrote a book (ISBN-13: 978-4891152840).

Mutsuko and our last professional connection was in hiring teaching assistants (TAs) for the 2017 academic year. We created an austere web page for potential applicants. The English Online class is hiring 15 TAs starting 2017-04-04.

Our last personal connection was several weeks ago when we passed each other by near Oodoori park in downtown Sapporo. She smilingly declared that she approved of us holding hands in public. (Holding hands in Japan is not as rare as it was 30 years ago, but among our generation perhaps it still is.) Mutsuko had a sweet habit of pointing out positive aspects in people.

My obituary omits Mutsuko's picture because she preferred that her photograph not be taken. A screenshot of Mutsuko's self-introduction on the
Hokudai grad school web site is attached below in remembrance.


our 1st daughter

2017-02-15 FUCHU, JAPAN -- We visited Hiroko, our 1st daughter. Hiroko is an assistant professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan's top language school.

Her office room number is my birthday.

From her office window, a wonderful view (through bird-proof netting) of Mt Fuji.

Unlike me, Hiroko doesn't hoard belongings. Her office is sparse and uncluttered.

TUFS architecture is classy.

We had a quiet French lunch behind the
birthplace of Kondo Isamu, a samurai at the end of the Edo period.

nobuyasu is hired

2017-01-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our co-teacher Nobuyasu Obata accepted a job as a law professor. Congratulations!

We met when Nobuyasu was a grad student in the school of law. He was studying to become an academic in law, not a lawyer in legal practice. He was our TA while he was a grad student, and has been our co-teacher since he earned his PhD and was hired by Hokudai as a researcher in law. Just last night he received and accepted an offer to be a law professor at a private legal college. He came to my office to deliver the fantastic news. Way to go!
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hokudai elects new president

2016-12-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Hokudai elected Toyoharu Nawa as university president. Nawa is a professor of cement engineering, and currently is dean of the school of engineering. On 2017-04-01 Nawa replaces Keizo Yamaguchi, a math professor.

I am glad to see Yamaguchi gone. He is an embarrassment in both administrative leadership and public relations. Yamaguchi is a spineless yes-man for the Ministry of Education (he agreed to cut costs and personnel without seeking alternate funding), and a heartless no-man towards the local community (he banned barbecue parties and children from campus). I attended a keynote talk by him, and was appalled by his lack of vision and compassion.

I welcome Nawa, partly because of his corporate experience. He worked at Chichibu Cement before joining academia. Hopefully Nawa's real-world training will put Hokudai back on track.

Similarly to the United State's electoral college, Hokudai's president election is not decided by popular vote. All full-time instructors may vote, but the president is chosen by a closed panel of 13 individuals, who are not bound by the results of the faculty vote. This steering committee is akin to the privy council under the Meiji constitution, and is designed to protect the upper echelons of university administration.

Newspaper clipping from Hokkaido Shimbun 2016-12-14 online edition.

library talk

2016-11-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai North Library invited us to give a workshop on learning phrases in context by using manga and books in L1 (a language you are familiar with) and their translations in L2 (a language you wish to learn).

We expected a tiny audience of somewhere around 3, which was the number of people who told us they might come. 34 people showed up -- a mix of faculty, administrative staff, and grad and undergrad students. Noriko and I were ecstatic.
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The workshop took 97 minutes, consisting of (1) 5 minutes of introduction by the library staff, (2) 10 minutes of lecture by me explaining the merits of reading identical material in L1 and L2, (3) 10 minutes of lecture by me explaining how manga and anime are appreciated in America and Europe, (4) 27 minutes of hands-on activity by students under my guidance, (5) 30 minutes of hands-on activity by students divided into groups (each table received different language material), and (6) 15 minutes of sharing results from each group of students.
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Students first found corresponding phrases in L1 and L2, then used the L2 phrases to construct new messages, and lastly shared their results with the other participants.
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Many thanks to Kyoko Jo and Yuji Nonaka for organizing the event! In the picture below, they are standing 3rd and 2nd from the far right.
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library talk

2016-11-11 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai north library invited me to give a workshop on reading in 2 languages. The talk is on 2016-11-30 from 18:15 to 19:45 in the north library, 3rd floor group study zone.

The idea is that by reading your favorite manga or books in L1 (the language you already know) and L2 (the language you want to learn), you can read the books you love in L2, and learn phrases without looking up words in the dictionary. Manga gives graphical context, which provides the nuances of social relationships that are so important to the Japanese psyche. Manga (and to a limited extent novels) provide spoken language expressions in written form.

I intend to ask students to find corresponding phrases, and create short sentences using those phrases.

A pair of slides from my talk. These slides are shown to students at the beginning of my workshop as a warm-up task. The tasks increase in complexity during the 70-minute workshop. The artwork below is from Osamu Tezuka's "Black Jack", a classic medical drama which was serialized when I was in middle school.
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They made a flyer with a rather embarrassing picture of me. Here's a 2nd galley proof after I asked them to change a few minor portions of text.

back at hokudai

2016-04-01 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Returned to Hokudai today after stopping by our parents' homes on our way back from Lincoln City, Oregon. We are grateful that all of our 4 parents are healthy and active.

Mom runs a publishing company out of her house. Pictures of my departed sisters adorn the walls.

I'm relieved that there is hardly any snow left in Sapporo. I slipped and fell a couple of times earlier this winter and was sore for a while. Ouch!

Oh and I was promoted to full professor effective today. No big deal -- our school limits the number of full professors so qualified associate professors wait their turn. I qualified years ago. Vacancies were created last month when several professors retired. I ordered bilingual, double-sided business cards.

noriaki katagiri, phd

2013-06-28 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriaki Katagiri, my graduate student, received his PhD at a commencement ceremony presided by the dean of the graduate school of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University. We are proud of his accomplishment.
Download his dissertation. 130628_noriaki_katagiri_dissertation


dissertation defense

2013-04-12 SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO -- I am pleased to announce that my graduate student Noriaki Katagiri will defend his PhD dissertation titled "Enabling English Classroom Discourse by Non-native Instructors" on 2013-04-23 Tuesday starting at 13:00 in room IMC-105. Room IMC-105 is across the hall from IMC-110 (see map).

Your attendance would be most appreciated. Refreshments will be served.

Presiding at Katagiri Noriaki's defense will be his dissertation committee, consisting of the following members:

(a) Dr Kenji Araki, Professor of Natural Language Processing, Hokkaido University,
(b) Dr Yoshiki Yokoyama, Professor of English Language Teaching, Hokkaido University of Education, Sapporo, and
(c) Dr Goh Kawai, Associate Professor of Education Technology, Hokkaido University.

Abstracts in English and Japanese languages of Noriaki Katagiri's dissertation are attached below (PDF file, approximately 500 kilobytes). To obtain a full draft of his dissertation (PDF file, approximately 5 megabytes), kindly contact me.



the 90th best job in America

2012-11-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- CNN says in their article titled “The top 100 jobs in America” that the 90th best job is Assistant Professor. CNN says assistant professors benefit society and derive personal satisfaction, but stress is high and flexibility is low. I agree with the high stress but disagree with the low flexibility. In fact the flexible work schedule is one of the highlights of my job.

Unfortunately the Japanese government has been lowering salaries at national universities. I make less than I did 10 years ago. And that’s with significant increase in pay scale. (My rank went up but my pay went down.) The government is bankrupt and needs to skim off its employees.

my first hokkaido-style barbecue party

2012-06-29 SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO -- Hokkaido locals love a style of barbecue that they call Genghis Khan, named after the Mongol warrior-king who allegedly fed his troops lamb and mutton to keep them fighting-fit. The Japanese seem to enjoy barbecue sitting on the grass. Noriko and I contributed by smoking salmon, chicken, rice balls, and hard-boiled eggs.

spoken language corpora class starts

The first class will meet met on 2012-04-10 tue1 (Tuesday 1st period) in room ITE-SE (情報教育館3階サーバ編集室).
The second class and all subsequent classes meet in room S316 (CALL staff room B).
Bring your laptop. We have WiFi (801.11g). I will tell you its SSID and password when you come.

winter break

Winter break starts on 2010-12-25 and ends on 2010-01-04. Regarding my undergraduate and graduate classes, the last class day before winter break is 2010-12-24, and the first class day after winter break is 2011-01-07. My grad class on 2011-01-05 will be delivered as an online lecture, not as an in-person class.

Have a great, safe, winter vacation.

AIESEC internships

AIESEC offers overseas internships for various jobs, places, languages, and durations. Opportunities include teaching Japanese language in America. The following description is from one of AISEC’s webpages.


accessing glexa

Contact me if you need an account or password for glexa. You may do your assignments at school (in the CALL rooms, IT rooms, or library) or at home. You need a microphone to do your spoken assignments. Our CALL rooms have microphones. The IT rooms and library do not (and you need to be quiet anyway).

visitors welcome

Visitors are welcome at any time. My students, teaching assistants, conversation partners, guest talkers, and I are eager to have you join us. You may drop in unannounced to observe or to participate under my direction. Should you wish to co-teach, prior coordination would be appreciated.

Past visitors have included: family members of students (parents, siblings), students (high school, college), teachers (middle school, high school, college), professionals (software engineers, journalists).

grad course "spoken language processing" will meet in ITE-SE tue1

The first class will meet on 2010-04-13 tue1 (Tuesday 1st period) in room ITE-SE (情報教育館3階サーバ編集室). Bring your laptop.

We have WiFi (801.11g). I will tell you its SSID and password when you come.