A Timely Time to Empower College and University Educators

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On November 5, 2020, during TESL Ontario’s 2020 Annual Conference, four professors representing the organization’s Colleges and Universities Committee made a call for interested members to apply to join the committee. Mobayen, McInnis, Meyer Sterzik and Papple —each from different postsecondary institutions— shared the current objectives of the committee as well as its future goals, all meant to build a community of practice (CoP) amongst members who teach in the academic sector. As noted in their presentation, 30% of TESL Ontario members teach in the academic sector; yet I wonder, why aren’t there more members in TESL’s Colleges and Universities Committee?

You might ask: Why is it important for the college/university committee to have representation?  For me, having representation could mean the addition of more PD content that informs and enriches the teaching of English for Academic Purposes (EAP), English for Specific Purposes (ESP), and all other acronyms listed in this presentation, including “EBP” and “ESAP” (L. McInnis, personal communication [slide 21], November 27, 2020).

In their presentation, the current committee listed reasons for the need for this committee as part of TESL Ontario, which included:

  1. Respond to recent changes in ESL and EAP programs
  2. Understand the changing needs of English learners
  3. Support language teaching and learning in higher education (slide 21).

In addition, the committee saw the need for more conference coverage (e.g., guest speakers, presentations) to address the needs of the academic sector so as to engage in dialogue with stakeholders and “share experiences with other educators.”

Given the increased dependency on technology in the education sector since COVID 19, the committee also raised the issue of tech competencies as envisioned by eCampus Ontario, whose vision is to educate and empower educators in the use of technology in the pursuit of teaching and learning excellence. Although the presenters did not explain whether they plan to work alongside eCampus Ontario in this pursuit or whether the framework would help to develop the committee’s vision, it does make sense to include this framework since it could help in starting a dialogue with other stakeholders in higher education (in this case, eCampus Ontario).

Overall, as a TESL Ontario member, long-time volunteer, and now also a member of the Board of Directors who teaches in the college sector, I am thrilled to see that this committee exists. I have always felt that having a degree or certificate in teaching English as a second language or linguistics is not enough, especially if I am not willing to keep on learning about what is happening in the field. Hence, for me, being a member of TESL Ontario equates to my commitment to teaching and learning and all its acronyms and professional development. I welcome this committee!

If you teach at one of Ontario’s colleges or universities (or would like to), you might find that TESL Ontario is a place where you can continue your professional growth and be represented. If you’re interested in these ideas, why not join this committee? And if you happen to read this and you are not a member, then why not join TESL Ontario?

More on…
1. eCampus Ontario: https://www.ecampusontario.ca/
2. TESL Ontario’s Colleges and Universities Committee: https://www.teslontario.org/colleges-and-universities-committee
3. TESL Ontario Membership: https://www.teslontario.org/members/center

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