Looking at ESL from an International Perspective

Image source: bigstockphoto.com
Image source: bigstockphoto.com

I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the ACPI-TESOL National Conference in Costa Rica earlier this month.  Although it was a relatively small conference (under 60 participants), the organizers were able to attract presenters from the U.S., Panama, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and UAE (and me from Canada).

I believe as teachers, we can always learn something new no matter how many years we have been teaching. This conference was no exception in that there were many take-aways from the presentations.  However, before I provide some of the conference highlights, I wanted to talk about my experience trying to navigate in a Spanish-speaking country as a non-speaker of Spanish.  (I did take some lessons a few years ago, but I didn’t even have enough language skills to function.)  I forgot how it feels to be unable to communicate – even a simple request!  The last time I experienced this kind of powerlessness and vulnerability (not to mention feeling dumb) was when I got lost in Hong Kong; I actually got lost 3 times in 3 different taxis in Costa Rica!  There is certainly nothing more meaningful for a language teacher than experiential learning and appreciating the daily challenges for many of our students!

Here are some of the conference highlights: Continue reading

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Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom

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Every day I watch my kids play all day long. And they never seem to grow tired of it either. So surely there’s something to their favourite past time other than having fun. When you think about it, for children, the act of playing is a way of learning. Except, it’s not just about using brain power but also about using all of their senses alongside their schema to help them solve whatever mystery or problem comes their way. I view it as a holistic approach to learning. So how is it that we lose that as we enter into adulthood?

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Introductory Videos – A Digital Tool for Building Classroom Communities

Hey now, TESL Ontarians! Recently, I have been teaching online and multimodal courses and I thought I would share with you an activity I have found effective when working both with ESL students and pre-/in-service teachers. As someone who is new to incorporating (in any substantive way) digital tools into my teaching arsenal, I have slowly come to view activities that allow for taking advantage of students’ digital literacies as invaluable. I hope you find this two-part description of how to incorporate digital technologies in our language classrooms useful and engaging. This first post describes how Continue reading

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Six Tools to Enhance Video Learning

video logosObserving my students struggle with worksheets based on videos was quite frustrating.  As all teachers do, I was thinking there must be a better way.  After trying pair-work and modifying learning activities, I decided to look further into technology.  I used Hot Potatoes and Adobe Captivate to place prompts and questions on the screen as the video played.   The results were satisfactory but Continue reading

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Kate’s Top 10 Secrets: How to Succeed in Canadian Culture

Measuring Business Success and Achievement Concept. Two different tape measuring success word with chalk with metric system and imperial units, flat design. Various way of measuring success in business and sales.
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Over the next year, I would like to share what I consider to be some of the 10 most important unwritten social rules in Canada that newcomers and their families need to know to succeed in Canada. In this first post, I’ll give you the list of all 10 secrets, as well as the first secret.

How am I qualified to know these secrets?

Keep in mind that these are what *I* consider to be the most important secrets.  I am drawing on a lifetime of experience in Canada as a mother of 3 and as a worker in education, banking, computers, and employment counselling, but that doesn’t mean these social rules are cast in stone or true in every community across Canada.

Okay, so here is the list of the 10 most important secrets I’ve learned for succeeding socially, as well as in Canadian schools and workplaces:

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Teachercraft

The Experience

Man jumping over precipice between two rocky mountains at sun light. Freedom, risk, challenge, success.
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Teaching is not a 9-5 job even if you teach 9-5. A lot of preparation  time goes into developing lessons that are useful and valuable for our students. In addition, a teacher often plays multiple roles in the lives of their students. This multiple-role responsibility is particularly important as an ESL instructor who teaches newcomer adults. Much of the time, the interaction with students involves advising, counselling, and mentoring. These roles together with prep-time can sometimes feel overwhelming.

According to Allain (as cited in Simmons, 2011), the first 5 years can be the most demanding, potentially affecting a teacher’s physical and mental health (p. 229).  However, these first 5 years can be a time when Continue reading

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First-Second-Third…In Conclusion

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What is academic writing? Are we all on the same page? Is it a five paragraph essay? I don’t think so. Let me explain.

I always read with great enthusiasm my students’ essay writing diagnostics. This helps me to understand their way of thinking and their prior working understanding of academic writing. For some, the question posted is somewhat forgotten as they go about making their essay fit into a five paragraph structure. I perceive trains of thoughts interrupted as these students try to inject the three point parallel structure at the end of the so called introduction paragraph, while moving on to adding transitions throughout the remaining paragraphs as they seek to achieve the perfect five paragraph layout. The structure looks good…Hmm…Let me go inside and look.

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Special Post: Leadership, Professional Development, and the Annual TESL Ontario Conference

Conference Concept. Modern Line Style Illustration. Multicolor Conference Drawn on Dark Brick Wall. Doodle Icons. Doodle Design Style of Conference Concept. Conference on Dark Brick Wall. Conference.
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Fellow TESL O members, it is almost that time of year where we get a chance to share our knowledge with each other and develop our skills as educators at the annual #TESL2016 Conference.  This face-to-face experience Continue reading

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Solve the Question

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’m privileged to have been teaching newcomers for the last few weeks. It’s definitely been an interesting class, more so because of the extreme level differences in learning. Having a multilevel class can be quite challenging because you want to ensure that no one is bored and everyone is engaged.

Forming questions to match answers is a great way to challenge your students at any level. (Although I wouldn’t recommend this to first time English language learners). I’d say it works anywhere from from a high CLB 2 or low CLB 3 and up. Continue reading

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