Friday, December 3, 2010


Just submitted my first abstract for a conference. If accepted, I'll be presenting my preliminary findings at a conference! w00t! That's pretty nerve wreaking. My advisor said that when I'm done with the dissertation I should even try for AERA. AERA is the real deals...I can always apply but who know what will happen?

Anyways, I've spent over 200 hours in the classroom collecting data for my research. I can't believe I only have 2 more weeks in the first school. Time is passing by so fast. Before I know it, it'll be January and I'll be at the second site collecting data.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


WoW! It's been over a month since my last update? Time flies when you're having fun. Oops, did I just mention fun on my "boring blog"?

Anyways, here goes the update.

I have made my 100 hours in the classroom mark. Yes, I have observed this one class for over 100 hours. WoW. I wrote up my report and have yet to hear back from my advisor, but the teachers and headmaster at the school have read my report. They had some concerns so I was pulled into the office once again. Basically, the headmaster was a bit concerned about the things I was observing because it "shouldn't" be how I explained it. *shrugs* I mean, I wrote what I saw...what can I say? Hopefully things will work itself out soon.

Oh, and why have I been busy? after events after events, perhaps. So I had my University of Tokyo Graduate School of Education's Foreign Student Overnight School Trip. Then I participated in Nikkei Youth Exchange (NYN) Summit Japan 2010, which was also an overnight event. Then I participated in a Foreign Student Cultural Experience Trip that my scholarship sponsored. *whew*

As for University of Tokyo, it's been awesome. I got accepted into the Japanese language program. So along side all my data collection, reading, and writing, I can work on improving my Japanese as well. This is a total bonus since I really wasn't planning on taking a class.

All-n-all, I'm loving my time here. Too bad I didn't think ahead and ask for the 2 year scholarship rather than just 1 year. I guess after I graduate, I can always come back to Japan. ^__^

Friday, September 24, 2010


Update Update Update! Read all about it!

Housing - I moved into my hole in the wall on 9/16. It's only for a year, so I think I can manage. It's nice and cozy, but it was a like a puzzle putting things away because there's no space! LoL. I ended up putting my shoes, books, and dry foods all in the shoe rack/box/closet. LoL

Certificate of Alien Registration Card - Picked up my card on 9/15, opened up a bank account, deposited my money to keep it safe, and paid the school's tuition. Oh, and along with my Certificate of Alien Registration Card, I also got health insurance too.

University of Tokyo - My first meeting with my advisor here is on 9/30. I'm a bit nervous.

Now, for the good stuff.

Week 1 of observation at the first school is done. How many more? 12? How did it go? Well, I thought it went quite well. I got to meet the teachers, and the students and spend the entire day with them. But I did run into a little bump in the road. One (or more, who knows?) didn't agree with my research question. Great...after ALL that work. *hrmph* So basically, after talking to my advisor, I had to ex-nay the part where they felt as those I was evaluating the school/teacher. That's fine. Less work for me.

Gotta stay strong and pull through. Tough times are there to make you a better, stronger person in the end. I believe.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


w00t! I'm writing this in Tokyo, Japan! I made it over! Here's a quick run down of what happened so far.

Student Visa - After waiting for nearly 2 month, I took my Certificate of Eligibility to the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu to apply for a student visa. This process usually takes 4 days. However, with some connection and push, I expedited the process to 1 day. So I pick up my student visa the next day and flew out to Japan! (Literally, the day I picked up my visa was the day I flew out!)

Housing - It took 10 days, but I FINALLY found a place to live for the year. Finding a place isn't easy, but it's even harder when you're a foreigner. They don't trust you. I don't blame them...but c'mon. With the help of Nippon Keidanren, I locked down a place. It's super duper uber small. There's a bed, and a desk. That's pretty much it. LoL. But it's fully furnished down to the sheets and towel, and electricity and water is included. Sweet deal!

Certificate of Alien Registration Card - Now that I have an address, I went down to the Ward Office to apply for this card. It takes 2 weeks for it to process. Without this card I can't open a bank account and/or pay for the school's tuition. The law requires the bank to confirm the person's address...without the Alien Registration Card, I have no proof.

School Observation 1 - I visited the first school I'll be observing. I thought I could start right away, but the school needs to inform their parents that I'll be around campus and I also need parent/student signatures approving me to observe. Hopefully by mid September I can start collecting data.

University of Tokyo - I visited the school and met a few important people in charge of the education department. They were all very nice and made me feel welcomed. They even have a "camp" for incoming foreign students that I will be joining! So excited!

So basically, I'm playing the waiting game at the moment. Waiting for the Alien Registration Card so I can open up a bank account and pay for school; Waiting for the school to notify and get parent/student signatures; Waiting for the university to start.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Initially I didn't think I'd still be around for COEDSA's orientation, so I didn't sign up to help with anything...but I'm still here! So I decided to go help the orientation. I ended up being on the student panel to share my journey so far with the new incoming phd students.

Two most important thing I can share:
1) Take breaks to do what you enjoy.
2) Research what you REALLY want to do.

When I first began this journey...somewhere along the lines...someone told me I shouldn't REALLY do what I am interested in since I'll get burnt out and lose interest. So I decided on the whole "humor in the classroom" theme. Well, that didn't go very well. My advice, stick to what you really want to research.

Oh, and after speaking, one guy, Jesse, even came up to me after to ask further about my studies and plan. It was nice to know that someone actually cared enough to follow up on what I said. ^__^

As for when I'm leaving to go to Japan, still no date.

Monday, August 16, 2010


So I was suppose to leave on 8/18/10, but that won't be happening anymore. I will be needing my visa so I'm waiting on that. As soon as I get the visa I'll be on my way.

Today I met up with some other Ph.D students for dinner and one of them said that she's planning on graduating in Fall 2011. She said that she'd want me to graduate with her then. Seriously? I don't know if I can do that...I'd have to really concentrate on school and write my dissertation while I collect data. We'll see.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Here's an update. I rewrote my research questions:

Dual Language Education:
Main: What are the mission, purposes, structure, and program characteristics of dual language education in international schools in Japan?
Sub: What are the characteristics of the school setting, features of the program, personnel and participants involved? How is the curriculum and instruction organized?

Within Students' General Education:
Main: What are the essential educational experiences that underlie students' learning within these types of dual language education programs in international schools?
Sub: How do students understand these experiences? What parent processes (i.e., values, goals, behavior) underlie the roles parents play in supporting student learning? How do teachers structure and influence student learning activities in the classroom? What other features of schools appear to support the learning process in these types of schools?

Main: Are there any discrepancies between the schools' mission and values and what students actually experience?
Sub: What meanings do participants (e.g., students, teachers, and parents) attach to those discrepancies?

So, a little birdy named, Fred, told me I don't need my Visa. muahahaha. So, I booked my flight and getting ready to leave for Japan. (Fred is a made up character in my world.) I've been saying my goodbyes and slowly packing, while attempting to rewrite my first chapter.

I also got my first scholarship check in the mail today! $10,000 to my name! I'm excited.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Today was my dissertation proposal defense. In order to prepare for this day, of course I practiced my 20 presentation, but I also cut a few veggies, made dip, and had water ready for the know, to relieve any anxiety.

Well, the proposal defense consisted of a 20 minute presentation and 1 hour of question and answers. After that, I was kicked out of the room so they could talk amongst themselves my destiny. I returned to the room to find out that I need to revamp my research questions, and do more reading, and more researching on the "elite" dual language education field.

So...yes, it is a relief to have this step done. However, at the same time, A LOT more works needs to be done. I just checked my email and my advisor just sent me a 4 pages-single-spaced notes on today's event. Not to mention my exploratory case study has now changed into an ethnographic study.

On that note, I must say, I love my advisor. I really, really, really do. Without his help and guidance, I would not have been able to get to where I am now. It is because of him, and his hard work, and his faith in me, that I am where I am.

I am very happy that my committee is strict, but at the same time very supportive of my research and ideas. They are a great bunch of people and I am happy to be working with them.

It's going to be a tough road ahead, but well worth it in the end...I know.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Date, Time and Place has been set for the dissertation proposal defense! Now, I'm scrambling to create a 20 minute Powerpoint presentation. Hopefully I can get it done by Wednesday, so that there's more than enough time for my advisor to look it over before my presentation on July 26! So close! So excited! So nervous.

Visa...well, nothing yet.

Housing? Well...nothing yet either.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


So I've sent my dissertation research proposal to my committee. There's 2 things that I need to hope for at the moment. 1) That all 5 committee members agree on a date and time to meet 2) That they approve my study.

Of course I still have visa to tackle.

Now that the paper is in their hands, I need to start working on my Powerpoint presentation. It needs to be about 20 minutes or so. After that, I'm questioned for about an hour. That's the proposal defense. Yikes, right?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So close yet it still feels so far! I just got word this morning that my committee has been approved by the graduate division at UH! Now only 2 more steps!

1) Committee approves of study
2) Visa

...and then it's off to go to Japan! I can taste Japan.

Looking to submit my research proposal to the committee by the 10th. They need 2 weeks to read/review my research and then I must meet with them to defend my proposal. That's nerve wreaking. Really....they're gonna ask everything and anything about why my research SHOULD be conducted and what GOOD will it do. *rawr* I better start preparing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Another great news! My study was approved by Human Studies! IRB approval!

It took 3 times, but I did it. I just kept revising and resubmitting until I got it just right. I was getting a bit worried because I haven't heard from them, but I guess that was good news!

Just a few more things on my list to do, before I leave for Japan.

-Committee approved
-Committee approves dissertation research proposal

Hopefully everything falls into place soon! I'm getting excited!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Yet another milestone in my "road to a completed dissertation"!

I am looking at the acceptance letter from Tokyo University! Yes, Tokyo University. Although I did receive a scholarship to go study in Japan for a year, that did not come with a "free" entry into a university. I needed to apply to see which university would accept me as a research student to conduct my research. I was looking to return to Keio University, where I attended for undergraduate, but I thought why go back when I can get another "brand" name attached to my name. How about Tokyo University?...THE number ONE university in Japan. Why not? Let's give it a shot...was my thoughts.

To my surprise, I have been accepted and will be going to Tokyo University for a year to conduct my research. Words can't express how happy I am. It's like being 2nd/3rd tier your entire life and all of a sudden you reach 1st tier. That kind of feeling? You get my point.

Still have lots to tackle though. Here is the list:
-Dissertation committee approved
-Dissertation proposal accepted by committee members
-Research approved by University of Hawaii

Alright. I did my happy dance. It's crunch time. Back to my desk.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Dissertation Committee Members Set!

Yes, after all the rejections, I have finally gathered 5 professors who will determine my faith. In the end, I'll be needing 3 of the 5 to agree that whatever research I did "adds to the body of knowledge" and that I should graduate.

So, obviously this is a big step. So when the last professor agreed to serve on my committee naturally I got teary eyed. I'm so thrilled I don't even know where to begin.

Shay's Dissertation Committee Members
R.H. - Chair

Preparing for Japanese summer school has taken time away from the proposal and IRB papers, but I must get back to them. Oh, should I mention that IRB has denied me twice already...I wonder how many rejections this is going to take until they finally accept. Hm...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Yesterday marked THE last class. Yes, THE last class I need to take for my Ph.D. Of course I still need to do comps and write the dissertation, but NO more course work. What a relief, yet a hint of sadness.

But I see it as, this is where the REAL work begins. Up until now, I had a professor that told me read this by next week, write this by the following, etc. Now, I'm the BOSS! I decide what I need to read and when I should have things written by. This requires LOADS of self discipline. Thank goodness I have some. ...enough to get a black belt in karate that is. LoL.

So, now that the real work I no longer a graduate student, but a researcher? LoL.

Good luck to me!

Oh, and a side note. A special someone got me an iPad as a congrats-for-finishing-course-work. Of course I needed it to sound like an iPad is a tool I NEED in order to conduct my research. LoL.

Happy studying!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A lot has happened in the past few weeks I thought I'd write an update. (I make this sound like I shouldn't be doing this everyday. LoL. In reality, I SHOULD do it daily. So much for that idea.)

1) Dissertation Proposal is now at 30 pages. I turned it into my advisor on Monday with a feeling of accomplishment. Of course it still needs LOTS of work, but just turning it into him was a relief. That moment of relief should've been cherished because the next morning, my inbox had my paper with comments and suggestions, and sections of the paper that must be re-worked. No time to breath is probably life of a phd student, right?

2) Working Title! Yes, I have, or shall I say, we have a working title! (I say, we, because I'm working on this with my advisor.) It is Educating Children in Two Languages: A Multiple-Case Study of Dual Language Instruction in Japan. Of course, it is a working title meaning it WILL change. See, I even used the word WILL, instead of MIGHT. LoL.

3) Destination Japan. So, I'm looking at different schools to apply to as a research student in Japan. You know, to fulfill my scholarship opportunity of $45,000. I was initially looking into Keio University, my alma mater, but I also have my eye on Tokyo University. Why? Well, not that it really matters to me since I live my life in America, but in Japan it's all about the brand. I already have the Keio University brand attached to my name, why not also get a Tokyo University brand? LoL, simple as that. (For those reading thinking what's so special about these schools, it's like Yale, Harvard level. Why not get both attached, right?)

4) IRB. Institutional Review Board is a hurdle that all research students much overcome. It is a board that oversees all research done at the university to ensure that we're not harming humans. There are three levels, full, expedited, exempt. Most education related research is exempt because it's not like we're poking anyone with meds. However, if you do work with students under the age of 18, minors, then you'd need to submit a expedited full review. So, in my case, since I will be observing students who are minors, I must go through the expedited review. Basically, I need to turn in a bunch of paper work saying I will not harm the people I decide to observe.

5) Comprehensive Exam. I thought I needed to take this exam BEFORE I left for Japan in August, but I have been since notified that I may take this WHILE in Japan. Sweet. This exam is basically 3 super-duper-long essays. You're given 10 days or so to complete all 3 essays, each being anywhere between 15 to 20 pages. Oh my, not looking forward to that.

6) Now what? The class I'm currently taking marks my LAST course required for my degree. Yay! On to taking Independent Study with my advisor. It's called the 699 course where you register for 1 credit just so that you can "stay in the system".

Whew. What an update. There's probably more, but this is all I could think of as of now. I will attempt to write more often. No promises. LoL.

Monday, March 8, 2010


So a friend of mine gave me a copy of The New York Times Magazine today. The title read, "Building a Better Teacher" with small text underneath saying "Can educators be educated about how to educate? By Elizabeth Green".

So I started to read the article and came across this:
"Among the factors that do not predict whether a teacher will succeed: a graduate school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm and having passed the teacher certification exam on the first try."

Seriously? Then what's all this schooling for?!? Wait, what are the factors that predict whether a teacher will succeed? Apparently Lemov's Taxonomy helps..."Teach like a champion: The 49 techniques that put students on the path to college". Wait, is putting them on the path to college the ultimate goal for every student? Ah, all the questions...

Monday, March 1, 2010


It's been 11 days since I've got my paper back from my advisor. Am I anywhere near done? No.

The two-page proposal that we've been working on has now become a "short" proposal. It's 8 pages long now. (It's supposedly suppose to be 50 to 60 or so by the time I'm done.) Right now, I'm focusing on other countries, other than the United States that have had experience with dual language education. Also, I'm looking for previous research on different program features. And of course, I need to tie this all back to the setting of the research, Japan. Oh, not to mention, I need to solidify which method of research I'll be conducting as well.

So far, I've borrowed 2 books from the library, purchased many books online, and have printed numerous articles related to my study. (I'm so lucky to have found a printer that I'm able to print from for FREE. 100 pages? No problem! LoL.)

Hopefully I will get this paper out of my hand and back to my advisor by the end of the week. Wish me luck. Oh wait...that connects to the previous post! LoL.


Reading my textbook from my EDCS 768: Seminar in Curriculum & Instruction Theories, and I come across this:

While girls are more likely to attribute their success to luck, boys are more likely to attribute their success to ability. As a result of these different causal attributions, boys are more likely to feel mastery and control over academic challenges, while girls are more likely to feel powerless in academic situations. (P. Campbell and J. Wirtenberg, "How Books Influence Children: What the Research Shows," Interracial Books for Children Bulletin 11, no.6 (1980):3-6.)

Reflecting on my thoughts and how I'm currently pursuing this degree, I find this oddly true. I'm not terribly smart, I think I just have perseverance and luck. So yes, I naturally think that I'm a bit powerless in academic situations...but perhaps that's just my personality too? Who knows?

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I made the last minute decision to go to Denver, Colorado to attend the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) conference. It was the greatest decision I have ever made so far in regards to a completed dissertation. The conference was filled with information that helped me get a better understanding of the bilingual education field. Not only that, I was able to meet the people who conducted major studies that I have been reading about. You're Dr. Gomez from Gomez and Gomez?

Apparently I have had the wrong understanding about bilingual education. "One-way" and "Two-way" refers to the population being educated. That is, in a "one-way" dual language program, all the students speak the same native language and are learning to become bilingual/biliterate. In a "two-way" dual language program, half the students speak one language, and the other half, a different language, and the goal is to become bilingual/biliterate in both those languages.

It has been shown, through research, that in the long haul, students in a two-way dual language program out perform students in a monolingual program.

Furthermore, I was aware of the 90:10 model and the 50:50 model, but had the wrong understanding about the 90:10 model. I thought that if the student's first language was English and they wanted to learn and become bilingual/biliterate in Japanese and English, then in the 90:10 model the student would have 90% Japanese and 10% English classes. However, the research shows that literacy knowledge and skills transfers from L1 to L2, and further stating that a strong understanding in their L1 will contribute to L2 success. Which means that in a 90:10 model, an English dominant student would start with 90% English and 10% Japanese!

There were approximately 1,600+ people in attendance, and I was surprised by the support people are willing to give. I introduced myself and said I was "new to the field" and they were more than happy to keep in touch and answer any questions that I may have regarding dual language education. Sweet!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


So, here I am staring at the same paper for the past 5 days. It's the two page proposal that I wrote to my advisor with all his comments. I'm suppose to revise, edit, and resubmit...ASAP. Sounds unthreatening since it's only TWO pages, but that hasn't been the case.

What I think I'm having an issue is with framing the whole situation. I tend to look into all the political debate other bilingual education and then start thinking to myself, my research isn't remotely related to public education... Then I start to realize that every article defines "bilingual education", "immersion education", "dual language education", etc. all differently so it's a pain to figure out what they are actually referring to.

Anyway, here are some preliminary research questions.

What are the main features in program models that deliver English and Japanese bilingual education in Japan?

What academic achievement differences exist between program models in the early dual language phase of language acquisition of English and Japanese in Japan?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It is a new year with many new beginning! This is it! Or so I would like to think.

So, what happened between then and now? Well, I was awarded a scholarship. The scholarship is for a year study in Japan along with $45,000! WoW! So, how am I going to use all that money? Well, I'm thinking of using it as an opportunity to collect data for my dissertation. Grand idea.

Grand idea and all, but it entails loads of work. What kind of work?

*Finish last course work EDCS 768
*Field Study
*Gather 4 more professors for my committee
*Write my dissertation proposal
*Get my proposal approved by my committee
*IRB approval
*Comprehensive Exam

...all before I leave to Japan in August. Possible? Well, it's not a matter of possible. It's a matter of it MUST be done.

So, here is my preliminary research question.

What are the perceptions of parents and students towards whether or not the program goals and expectations are being met at English-Japanese two-way immersion schools in Japan?

Reasonable? Understandable? I know it needs work, but it's a start!