All posts by Laila Al-Sbeinati @lailasbeinati

‘Tis the Season! Bringing students’ holiday traditions to the classroom

Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Hello, December! I realize it’s a few days away, but
with all the songs being played in malls and on radio stations and the stunning decorations everywhere, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been in December for the last 2 months! Every student and teacher (admit it!) is thinking more about his or her time off, and less about the time spent in the classroom. Holidays are both wonderful and important in one’s culture and society. They bring families, friends, and strangers together as they unite in the celebrations.

Holidays give us a sense of connection and perhaps more importantly, a sense of self. When you feel like you are part of something big, your life has that much more meaning. It’s a time when people make the effort to come together no matter the distance. People are more forgiving, and the desire to help is felt everywhere.

So how would you feel if you had no clue what holidays are like here? Continue reading

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Mid-term blues – Keep Going!

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I find myself asking this question often, but in all seriousness, where has the time gone?
I can’t believe November is a week away!  It’s fair to say that some of us don’t have that drive we once had at the start of the school year to get up first thing in the morning, eager to start the workday. And honestly, no one can be blamed for feeling run down already. Our profession can take a lot out of us. There’s no
denying that. And with the influx of newcomers – due to what’s been happening in the world – it hasn’t lightened the load any. So teacher burnout is a real possibility.

So much demand is placed upon teachers, and the needs of the students can really affect your will and drive to stay motivated. Especially around this time of year, it’s easy to Continue reading

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Learning English through Music

Music items doodle icons set. Hand drawn sketch with notes instruments microphone guitar headphone drums music player and music styles letterig signs vector illustration isolated
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

No matter what language you speak, music has a universal tongue, wouldn’t you agree? Its power in bringing people together, no matter what language they speak, is priceless. So, if music has the ability to unite us, why not use it in the classroom to help your students learn English?

I have my kids to thank for inspiring this post, partly due to their love of watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood every day. You find inspiration everywhere.
On the show they sing the lesson of the day repeatedly throughout each episode. It sticks in your head and is really catchy, and the nice thing is that the lessons are useful for children in helping to problem solve or deal with certain emotions that may arise out of unpleasant situations.  Continue reading

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Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom

Close up portrait of hard laughing young man. Isolated on white background, mask included
Image source: www.bigstockphotos.com

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?

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.

The usual Q & A

I’ve been working on getting my students to think about asking and answering questions, and up until last week, it’s been the usual — I ask and they answer – the same concept applied on their worksheets. They read the questions and answer accordingly. Continue reading

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Anaphylaxis in the Classroom – Do you know what to do?

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

Food allergies are on the rise, so it’s safe to say that you may know at least one person who has to stay away from common or obscure dietary allergens and intolerances.  With both adults and children affected, (mine included), you will inevitably come across someone dealing with food allergies in your classroom. In fact, this topic may have already been covered in your work module. Here are some good facts and tips that may simplify this topic, helping to create a healthy discussion amongst coworkers and students alike.

Disclaimer: The following content is for information purposes only. I’m not a health expert, but I know a lot from personal experience. Always seek advice from a trained professional. Continue reading

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The Multilevel Merger – Can It Work For You?

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

Hello again, dear colleagues!

I was at a friend’s house the other day discussing the usual things moms talk about, when my friend expressed her frustration about her daughter’s multilevel classroom. I asked how her daughter is handling the setup, to which she replied: “She doesn’t think much of it because she’s in the upper grade of the split class. I don’t feel like she’s being challenged enough.” I wondered then how our ESL adult learners — especially the advanced students, might feel about their multilevel classes, should they happen to be in one.

Every class you teach as an adult ESL instructor can be considered multilevel to a certain extent. However, a true multilevel class takes place when there’s a substantial difference in learning levels in the same classroom, (e.g. levels 2-7). I’m sure some welcome the challenge; maybe even thrive on it like: “Who are you because we need to talk?!” While many others dread the thought of being in this situation, dealing with a multitude of learning levels. 

So here are a few tips that I hope you’ll find beneficial: Continue reading

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Resolutions 2016

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

Happy New Year to all of you! How did you celebrate the New Year? My husband and I had planned to host a party but that plan quickly fell apart and thankfully so. We weren’t in the mood to do anything big, and our kids fell asleep early. So, I ended up getting dressed in my finest cotton pyjamas and watched a movie right in the comfort of my own home. Nothing beats that feeling. Besides, isn’t that how you roll when you’re a parent of young ones? 

Speaking of the New Year, I can’t believe we’re halfway through January already. Our weather this year has felt more like springtime than winter, but today is a completely different story —  It’s actually starting to feel like the winters we’re used to in Canada. This awful dip in temperature had me thinking about all of the New Year’s resolutions that were made, and I wondered how long we typically follow through with them when the going gets tough. January is a great month to start fresh and focus on accomplishing goals over a new year, but to stick to our resolutions requires commitment and patience as you set out to achieve what you’re looking for, whether it’s losing a few pounds, taking on a new challenge, or simply spending more time with family.
Continue reading

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Why I Blog for TESL Ontario

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I often get asked how I stay connected with the TESL community since I’m not always teaching. Blogging as a volunteer guest blogger for TESL Ontario is an avenue I chose to do just that. So, I thought I’d share what I love about blogging for TESL Ontario with you. Be warned, this may entice you to apply!

When I applied to become a TESL blogger, I was excited. When I got the call to be interviewed, I was nervous (but the good kind of nervous).  And when I found out that I was selected to be one of the bloggers, I did a happy dance, (luckily all of you didn’t have to witness it…I digress). Continue reading

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ROLES, REFUGEES, AND REFUGE

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

I attended my first PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meeting at my son’s school last week. The Chair had asked if I’d be interested in joining them to help execute a healthy food initiative for the students. I happily obliged because I’m a tad obsessed with food — the wholesome and tasty kind that’s kid approved. Anyway, I digress.

What struck me at this meeting was a new project directed at helping refugees, (particularly those who have fled from war torn countries), acclimate to their new community. The school is planning on raising a significant amount of funds to help them out, whether it be through financial or psychological support.

This got me thinking about the work we do as ESL instructors. During my ESL teacher training, a big part of the program focused on recognizing the students’ cultural backgrounds so that we could understand our students’ perspectives better and adjust our lessons accordingly. Continue reading

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