#CdnELTchat, A Twitter Chat for Language Instructors

What is a Twitter chat?

Twitter is a microblogging tool that has recently been made most famous by the American President Donald Trump. Ok, it was popular before he started running for office, but my point is that everyone is familiar with Twitter.  It has approximately one hundred million active users daily.  A twitter chat is simply a collection of users that contribute to an online conversation using a common hashtag (#).   Twitter chats sometimes feature a guest that allows a community access to his/her expertise.

#CdnELTchat

This post is addressed to English language teachers across Canada.  Continue reading

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Board Moments: My First Year As A Member

Image of board membersMy first of three years as a TESL Ontario board member will be coming to an end soon, but it feels more like the beginning of what is turning out to be a rewarding professional opportunity.

I’m writing this blog entry to share with you why I feel so fortunate to be a member of this board, and why I recommend that you, my OCELT colleagues, consider applying to be a member of the TESL Ontario Board of Directors. I hope my positive experience will convince you to take action.

The call for nominations is open until June 11 at noon. To get started, head to our board recruitment info page:  http://www.teslontario.org/board-recruitment. Continue reading

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On Leaving

Image by Sanjeevan SatheesKumar on Unsplash

The position was meant to be something new to try out, to add some freshness into my PD experience. Fast forward three years, and the job of Twitter Manager for TESL Ontario is much more than that and still interests me. Why am I leaving?

It has been a challenging couple of years, and the reason I need to leave Continue reading

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Teaching in Mexico

Old black leather suitcase with books on the floor. Retro stile. Vintage accessories for business. Checkered suitcase. Summer vacation
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

After a seven-year hiatus, I am teaching ESL again. I am in Los Cabos, Mexico and this morning’s class will be at a non-profit college aimed at giving underprivileged kids an opportunity for higher learning.

My sister K., who lives here half the year, instigated this.

I’ve been looking forward to it. I even managed to fit in a few of my old ESL books from my teaching days into my suitcase.  Continue reading

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Seeing Through My Students’ Eyes

The topic for this post has been on my mind for a while. It is more of a question arising out of my experience with multi-modal text, specifically students’ work when transducing words to image. Perhaps you can help me answer the question:

Whose images should students be required to produce when asked to analyze the author’s writing: The visualization of what they read or what the author intended?

I ask because I have found that controlling what students visualize while reading might be just as controversial as asking students to think in English. Continue reading

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Reflections on the implementation of PBLA

image source: bigstockphoto.com

“You have to get your SBA’s, SUA’s, T’s and A’s in order to have an organized portfolio, Sridatt,” said the Lead Instructor of Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) implementation. “You also have to get,” continued the official, “peer evaluations [PE’s], learner reflections [LR’s], and inventory checklists [IC’s], all in order to have a good, organised portfolio.”  The order and presentation of the portfolio, not the teaching of the language itself, seems paramount. I welcome myself to the new world of English as a second language teaching, even though my new teaching practices are not aligned with my educational philosophy.

By the time the individual was finished, I was beginning to see a sort of preoccupation over skill building activities (SBA’s), skill using activities (SUA’s)  tasks (T’s) and assessments (A’s). When the individual was gone, it didn’t take much reflection to conclude that Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) seems to be a faulty assembly line approach to education.   Continue reading

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The apprenticeship of observation

image source: bigstockphoto.com

An interest in languages, combined with a few stints living and working overseas, has meant that I have played the role of language learner more than once.  These experiences have greatly informed my practice as a language teacher.  Famously, this is called the ‘apprenticeship of observation’. Teaching is a unique profession in this sense; teachers have their own experiences as students watching their own teachers teach, which influences them when they become teachers. Here are a few of the things I have felt and thought as a learner that have influenced my teaching…

I don’t care if there are some things my teacher doesn’t know. Continue reading

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Teach Writing with a Web Design Project

image source: John Allan

One of my courses specifies that students create a presentation on an educational resource and present it to their peers.  The following is a model I’d like to share with you as a potential means of using a common theme with a final presentation as a way of promoting inquiry, research, collaboration, communication, planning, and writing within one term of instruction. The project comprises eight separate activities.  Each activity involves the students practicing language and social skills in a variety of ways.  These steps are detailed below in the section, Project Process. Continue reading

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Board Moments: How a Meeting Opened Up Pathways

Diverse people teamwork on meeting table
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

ESL instructors often ask about favourites to get conversation started. What is your favourite sport? food? movie? etc. Well, if you were to ask me, “What is your favourite board meeting?” (and surprisingly, no one ever has) I’d have to say the annual joint meeting with the TESL Ontario Affiliate Chapter Representatives (ACRs) and the Board of Directors.

My First Joint Meeting

The first joint meeting I attended was back in 2013 when I was neither a Board Member nor an ACR. I had agreed to Continue reading

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‘Fake News’! Helping Students Navigate the Web

There is a lot of misinformation out there. How do you help your learners find the facts?

The idea for this lesson started when Ontario introduced the new Sex Education Curriculum in 2015. My students wanted to talk about it and everyone had a different idea about what was in this curriculum. I was shocked to find out that their information had come mostly from Facebook. Continue reading

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