Try something different this year, adopt an app!

image source: John Allan

As language teachers, many of us agree that technology is useful for assisting our instruction.  Videos, animations, virtual tours, audio clips, interactive games, self-correcting quizzes and digital online resources are some of the possibilities offered through technology. Until recently, technology based learning events have been delivered on institutional workstations, laptops or tablets.  The personal device revolution is migrating learning events/objects to mobile device applications or apps.

For security reasons, institutions have been organized to control digital resources. This includes networks, hardware, software, online subscriptions and website access.  The advent of Bring Your Own Technology or B.Y.O.T. tests this control. Continue reading

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‘I don’t know why!’

Years ago the ESL program at Brock University welcomed a cohort of remarkable students on scholarships to pursue graduate studies in Canada. All of them were optimistic and highly motivated, but one – let’s call her Marianna – stood out for her exceptional diligence. She was a geneticist, and perhaps that academic focus promoted her extremely methodical approach to studying English; in any case, she wonderfully exemplified the self-aware style that often characterizes successful adult learners. One of my experiences when teaching her was especially memorable.

But first, the background: Guided by theoretical findings that were emerging at the time, we required every ESL student to read one entire easy-reader per week. We offered a large bank of fiction and non-fiction texts, and students could freely select whatever title and difficulty-level they wished. Continue reading

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Notes From a Registered Dietitian: Helping Newcomers Make Healthier Choices at the Grocery Store

Image says "Join the movement. Bike. Walk. Play. activeto.caIn my practice as a Registered Dietitian at Toronto Public Health, I have heard many newcomers tell me that they get overwhelmed by the huge number of choices at the grocery store. Think about the last time you went down the cereal aisle. How many different cereals were there? What are the factors you considered in making your choice? Did you read the fine print? Was it just based on the price tag? Or did the cartoon characters or other pictures convince you (or your child) to pick them?

Helping your learners interpret the fine print on nutrition labels can make Continue reading

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Culture Is a Verb

Vertical Culture versus Horizontal Culture

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Shavitt, Torelli, and Riemer (2010) distinguish between vertical culture, which emphasizes hierarchy and horizontal culture, which values equality. According to them, individuals who come from vertical- individualist cultures (e.g., the US, the UK, France) focus on how to improve their status, hence the emphasis on competition, achievement, and power which allow them to stand out. People who belong to horizontal- individualist cultures (e.g., Denmark, Norway, Australia) Continue reading

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Notes From a Registered Dietitian: Talking About Healthy Eating

Image says "Join the movement. Bike. Walk. Play. activeto.caAs a dietitian with Toronto Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention program for the past 11 years, I have had many years of experience bringing healthy eating messages to newcomers. In my experience, what influences my audience isn’t dazzling them with details about the science of nutrition, it’s helping them to understand how to make healthier choices delicious, easy and practical.

Healthy eating is one of those topics that can be complicated to communicate. Often people get caught in the details, like the whole butter vs. margarine debate.  Continue reading

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Reflections on Canada’s 150th birthday – creating unity in diversity

Over the years, I have always found it interesting that the first three words many of my students have seemed to master by day one are peace and safety. Oh, the third? – double-double, or so it seems. I’ll get back to that in a moment. Most of my students come from places where conflict and corruption create an environment that lacks peace and safety, two things that we as Canadians often take for granted. So, when asked why they come to Canada, these two words form a neat summary without needing much grammar. Sometimes they say or write: Peaceful and Safety, or Peace and Safeful, but we get the idea.

And though they certainly did not come here for the double-doubles at Tim Horton’s, considering many left behind the delights of Turkish coffee and various forms of baklava, or real tea brewed in pots, this is the comfort Canada offers them so they take it. Continue reading

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Ways to Reflect on Your Teaching – A Practical Approach

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How often do you reflect on your teaching? Do you have enough time to reflect in a meaningful way? Reflective practice is an area I’m quite passionate about. However, I understand that many teachers struggle to find the time to reflect, or they may not know how to reflect in a way that enhances their teaching and benefits their learners. Making the time to reflect is key. I know first-hand the feeling of not having enough time to reflect when, for example, you have a pile of essays to mark. The second hurdle to reflection is figuring out how to reflect in a practical and purposeful way. In this post, I’d like to share some practical tools and ways to reflect Continue reading

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Connecting and learning at the ISTE2017 Conference

In June, I attended the ISTE2017 conference in San Antonio, Texas. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is a non-profit organization serving over 100,000 educational stakeholders.  ISTE is at the forefront of educational technology, driving change and offering professional development throughout the year.

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Bending Without Breaking: Error Correction in a Culturally-Sensitive World

I’ve become accustomed to taking a hatchet to my own writing. I’m a severe editor of my own bad stuff, but that has never bothered me. I keep at it, trying to arrive at what I want to say.

Fifteen odd years of editing and re-editing of my own work (and that of others) has helped me build a semblance of emotional elasticity. But, how am I to communicate this elasticity to the handful of internationally-trained adult English language learners who are now under my guidance? Continue reading

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Notes From a Public Health Nurse: Getting Active In The Classroom

Image says "Join the movement. Bike. Walk. Play. activeto.caWhat do you think of when you hear the word “classroom”? I doubt “health” is a word that comes to mind. When you think of the classroom you probably think of learning.  But why not use that learning opportunity as a chance to promote healthy behaviours? Classrooms are a safe environment where cultural and social norms can be established and reinforced. Together with your students, you can create Continue reading

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