Ever just chat with your students?

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I often hear students say they like any chance to have a casual conversation in English.  Literacy learners, however, are much more likely to avoid a conversation because they’re not confident enough to use the language yet. As ESL teachers, we prepare well-thought-out lessons that focus on grammar, composition, pronunciation, and structured activities, but we rarely foster a free flow of dialogue that encourages the students to just “use the language.”

I recently wrapped up an introductory English course with literacy learners and got some valuable feedback from my students. After three months of students learning verbs, adjectives, and nouns, and practicing sentence structure and pronunciation, during our last lesson I decided to take a break from the routine and just engage students in a casual chat.   

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Tip for TESL Career Advancement: Be Visible! 

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Are you a part-time ESL/EAP instructor hoping to step into fulltime employment at your institution? If so, you are not alone. Recent evidence shows most ESL/EAP instructors in Canada are sitting in the precarious part time employment boat with you and are hoping to advance.   

Perhaps you are wondering how you can distinguish yourself from the pack? One method of distinguishing yourself is to have workplace visibility. 

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SAMR Says, Part II

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SAMR Says

Change is never comfortable, but, as we all know, it is necessary. The SAMR model is flexible and easy to use at all levels of education. To read about ‘Substitution’ and ‘Augmentation,’ please check out SAMR Says, Part I, where we discussed these stages of ‘Enhancement’ and some simple and fast tools you can find to help you move from paper to online without much stress or extra work. Using technology tools that enhance your class, as per the SAMR model, means that you are enhancing yourself, the material, and the students’ experience too.

In this blog, we will be discussing the stages of ‘Transformation’ and how to modify and redefine your approach to allow for more technology in your class.

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Personal Reflections on Online Teaching

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Going back to class can be daunting. I feel sad to leave my online classroom and excited to interact with students in person.

I learned many lessons during this unprecedented coronavirus period. Returning to in-class teaching, I can reflect on my experience. Continue reading

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Why Do We Need a Mentor?

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If you google the meaning of “mentorship”, you can find the literal meaning in the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, mentorship means “the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor” (n.d.).  But what does this mean in practice? Why is having a mentor important? This article discusses the importance of mentorship at work, how to find a mentor, and how to maintain a healthy and successful mentorship.

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TESL Ontario – Building Connection and Community in a Virtual World

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In this pandemic reality, a virtual world like no other has been born. Pre-pandemic, our members enjoyed a combination of online and in-person events that fulfilled both professional development needs, as well as authentic peer connections. Since 2014, TESL Ontario had been focusing its efforts on providing accessible online professional development to our members. Our successful webinar series has always allowed members to gain new skills and expand their knowledge from the comfort of their own homes. However, at that time they had other options available to them, if they were looking for something more. If they were seeking tangible connections, organic conversations with other ESL practitioners, or a basic sense of community, they often turned to in-person events, such as our annual conference, or local affiliate chapter conferences and other professional development events. 

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Enhancing Reading Comprehension II: Structured Experience Techniques

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The key feature of structured experience techniques is their combination of hands-on learner involvement, with a reassuring framework to reduce anxiety and promote active engagement. The trick is to provide supportive, structural guidance without lapsing into full-on, direct instruction. For comparison purposes, it might be helpful to begin by reviewing my earlier suggestions in ‘Enhancing Reading Comprehension I: Explicit Teaching Techniques.’ Structured experience strategies require teachers to gauge their own participation very carefully. The goal is not only to enhance learner skills but also to bolster their self-esteem through encountering success with experiential activity.

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Networking at the TESL Ontario Annual Conference

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When we think of “networking” at a conference, we tend to think of coffee breaks and catching up with colleagues in hotel lobbies and banquet centre hallways. Perhaps we think of late-night chats in a hospitality suite or conversations over lunch at a table for ten. For many, the idea of networking may not immediately translate to a virtual conference environment … but this year’s TESL Ontario Annual Conference will be putting networking front and centre.

The conference’s Supplier Showcase will run from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm each day of the conference, allowing attendees ample opportunity to chat virtually with exhibitors from all areas of the language learning sector. We encourage you to take advantage of Supplier Spotlight panel sessions to learn from and connect with exhibitors and have scheduled these opportunities so they do not conflict with any conference sessions.

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Humor in the ESL Classroom

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Learning English (or any new language) requires student focus, repetition, and practice, so it’s easy to see why students may often feel disengaged or even bored in the classroom. This is why ESL teachers love to try off-the-wall ways to liven up their classes and infuse some enthusiasm into the topic. Continue reading

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