All posts by Guest Contributor

After Decades in the Field, I Am on the Board!

Inspire hand lettering phrase on watercolor imitation background with color splashes frame.  Modern calligraphy inspirational quote. Vector illustration.
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In 2018, after some 37 years in the TESL field, I joined the TESL Ontario Board. This is the ideal volunteer challenge for me at this point in my life. I am keen to do what I can to contribute to the health of the organization and, most importantly, to the ongoing professionalization of TESL. Throughout the life of a teacher, you gain perspective as your career progresses and at one point you realize that you are ready to pitch in and give some time to the profession at large.

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The Power of the Warm-Up

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The ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning of an ESL class are so valuable to both teachers and students. That is the time when students are fresh and eager to learn. I would go so far as to say that students may even be optimistic and excited about what they are about to do (at least that’s how I like to view the students in that part of the class). In the spirit of that optimism, the warm-up is a great tool to increase students’ confidence, show them what they know and what they need to work on, and give the teacher a clear understanding of where the class needs to go that day.

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A Meaningful Handicraft Project: Collaboration, Learning and So Much More!

The Task at Hand

A handicraft of the alphabet described by the author in the post.
Image source: Suzanne Nicks

Quilting and knitting circles have existed for a long time for the purposes of pleasure and producing a useful final product, but how did a handicraft project for a group of Master of Education students turn into a feel-good, emotional learning journey? It was an assignment for a research methodology course, but it was so much more than that. It was also collaboration, self-discovery and an emotional roller coaster all rolled into some highly memorable academic presentations. At least that was my observation, if not quite my personal experience.

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Bring Book Clubs into the Classroom

Vector cartoon illustration of Reading club. Open books on table with human hands top view, letters and words around. Colorful graphic concept
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Do you belong to a book club? My mother-daughter book club is nearing its fourth anniversary! We started it as a way to encourage reading in our daughters, and four years later, not only do we have voracious young readers, but we have also built a neighbourhood community.

I started to wonder if this concept could be applied to my teaching context. I teach LINC online with LINC Home Study. I had attended a few webinars online regarding extensive reading and decided to try it out.

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The Role of the L1 in the EFL Classroom Part III: Where to Begin? Ideas for Incorporating Cross-linguistic Strategies


Foreign language school persons. International languages people teaching communication translations, men and women foreigners students, vector illustration
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Bringing the L1 into the EFL classroom does not need to be an overhaul of current practice in the classroom, nor does it need to be applied to each and every classroom activity. It is something that can be applied strategically and with intent at the teacher’s discretion. The point is not to create a new method, but to understand that cross-linguistic awareness is one of many useful teaching/learning techniques that are available to us as language teachers.

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My ANPC Experience

In early October, I saw a call go out on the TESOL webpage looking for members to join a newly formed committee called the Affiliate Network Professional Council (ANPC).  The call asked for interested parties who had recent previous experience on an affiliate board, as you would be working with other affiliate leaders closely. I thought it sounded interesting, and I quickly discovered that I was right. 

TESOL International has about 100 affiliates from a wide range of places, like Bangladesh, New York state, and Yakutia, Russia. When I first joined TESL Ontario, I was surprised to learn that

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The Role of the L1 Classroom in the EFL Classroom Part II: Roadblocks to Using a Cross-linguistic Pedagogy

Rear view of a puzzled businessman in front of a huge chalkboard written with the word hallo in different languages and colors. Opportunity for learning many languages for students.
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Despite the wealth of research that purports the benefits of a cross-linguistic approach, many learners and teachers are operating in an environment where the L1 is used with trepidation and as a last resort if it is used at all. Why is it that teachers and learners are hesitant to take cross-linguistic and multilingual approaches on board, despite the value of these tools for language learning?

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Thinking about Grammar

Handwriting text Grammar. Concept meaning System and Structure of a Language Writing Rules Bearded Man and Woman Faceless Profile with Blank Colorful Thought Bubble.
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Does grammar make you nervous?  Do you wonder if you know enough to be able to help your students with their grammar?  Let’s take pronouns, for example.   Can you explain when to use  who or whomYou and I  or  You and me?  You can Google these issues fairly easily and find helpful explanations, or you can find good ESL grammar exercises and worksheets online, or you can use a good textbook. 

The bigger question is what grammar should we teach? 

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The Role of the L1 in the EFL Classroom Part I: What Research Says

College students learning in class room and having fun with learn english concept.
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In a time where TESOL teaching is turning away from prescriptive methods, and teachers may have the increasing freedom and responsibility of adapting to their students’ needs, a question that faces ongoing consideration is whether or not the first language (L1) has a role in the EFL classroom. The good news for teachers who engage or would like to engage L1 use in the classroom is that this approach is strongly backed by theory and research-based evidence in the field of second language acquisition. Here, in the first part of a three-part series on this topic, I will outline this body of support for incorporating the L1.

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