Basic Information




Assistant Professor



Research Field

My early research centred on learners' metaphorical representations of language learning and insights provided about their implicit learner beliefs, which underlie their attitudes to education, such as the respective responsibilities of teachers and learners. This led to an interest in learner autonomy and related concepts, such as: motivation; metacognition; learning strategies; identity; issues of power; social cultural context and agency. My time in Japan has inspired a particular interest in the effects of the sociocultural forces of Japanese society on the learner autonomy of language learners.

Recent Activities

For the duration of 2016 I received a Special Training Program grant to study full-time at the School of Education at the University of Sheffield, in the UK, for the first year of a PhD program. During this year, I completed the compulsory coursework, completed my confirmation paper and review, worked on my literature review and developed my methodology. My research will focus on the autonomy of AIU students, the form it takes and how it develops. I am interested in how the psychological processes of the students interact with the curricular, sociocultural, political and spatial elements of context. The methodology employs a participative approach and involves multimodal narrative inquiry, along with ethnographic research. This research is on going, however, following the transfer of my supervisor, I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Westminster.

Prior to my Special Training Program, I implemented an experimental speaking & listening course, utilising video portfolios, with the goal of promoting learner-autonomy through learner-centred pedagogy, without sacrificing academic rigour and accountability. The use of video portfolios gave tangible evidence of their progress in language learning and gave them a high degree of control over content and learning activity. The format of the course also enabled the teacher to engage the students individually on intellectual matters. This course also forms the basis of an on-going collaborative research project.

Academic Background (Graduate Level) 【 display / non-display

  • University of Westminster, PhD, Education

    Doctor's Course, 2023/05, Completed, UNITED KINGDOM

  • University of Sheffield, PhD, Education

    Doctor's Course, 2016/01, Accomplished credits for doctoral program, UNITED KINGDOM

Degree Earned 【 display / non-display

  • PhD (Education), Education, University of Westminster (UK), 2023/05

Professional Career On-Campus 【 display / non-display

  • Akita International University Faculty of International Liberal Arts English for Academic Purposes Program, Assistant Professor, 2024/04 -

  • Akita International University Faculty of International Liberal Arts English for Academic Purposes Program, Lecturer, 2012/04 - 2024/03

  • Akita International University Language Development and Intercultural Studies Center (LDIC) , Coordinator, 2012/04 - 2016/03

External Career 【 display / non-display

  • Akita University, Japan, Assistant Professor, 2010/04 - 2012/03

  • James English School, Japan, Regional Director of Studies, 2007/04 - 2010/03

  • Nova Group, Japan, Teacher Trainer, 2006/04 - 2007/03

  • ABC College, New Zealand, English Instructor, 2005/04 - 2006/03

  • Nova Group, Japan, English Instructor, 2001/04 - 2005/03

Academic Society Affiliations 【 display / non-display

  • Japanese Association of Language Teachers (JALT), 1900/04 - , JAPAN

  • Learner Development JALT Significant Interest Group, 1900/04 - , JAPAN

Field of Expertise 【 display / non-display

  • Language Education


Academic Papers 【 display / non-display

  • It's not where you go; it's what you do when you get there, ILAC Selections 2011, 2013, Joe Sykes, Marjo Mitsutomi

    Research paper (international conference proceedings), Multiple Authorship, English

  • Establishing Self-Access in Akita University, Annual Research Report of General Education: Akita University, vol.13, 2011, Joe Sykes

    Research paper (university, research institution), Single Author, English

  • Facilitating Reflection on Implicit Learner Beliefs through Metaphor Elicitation, Journal of the Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, vol.15 (1) (p.91 - 113) , 2011, Joe Sykes

    Research paper (scientific journal), Single Author, English

  • Promoting self-awareness through metaphor elicitation, Learning Learning, vol.18 (1) (p.11 - 19) , 2011, Joe Sykes

    Research paper (research society, symposium materials, etc.), Single Author, English

Books 【 display / non-display

  • Hidden Diversity in Japanese Classroom, Sense Publishers, 2017/01, Sykes, Joe

    Scholarly Book, Single Author, English

Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research 【 display / non-display

  • Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S),2011/04 - 2014/04

Presentations 【 display / non-display

  • DRAL (Doing Research in Applied Linguistics) 2/ILA (Independent Language Learning) 2014 , International Conference, 2014/06, Development of learner autonomy in an international environment: a longitudinal study, Oral Presentation (general)

  • DRAL (Doing Research in Applied Linguistics) 2/ILA (Independent Language Learning) 2014 , International Conference, 2014/06, Japaneseness and Learner Autonomy: An Empirical Study, Oral Presentation (general)


On-Campus Classes/Subjects In Charge of 【 display / non-display

  • 2024, Spring, EAP084-A_S, High Intermediate Listening & Speaking

  • 2024, Spring, EAP084-B_S, High Intermediate Listening & Speaking

  • 2024, Spring, EAP106-H_S, EAP Academic Listening and Speaking