Category Archives: Academic

Effective Online Tools & Resources for Teachers and Learners

Education, distance education, internet studying, e-learning flat vector illustration. Online classes, training courses, tutorials, online education design for mobile and web graphics
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Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our learners.

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#CDNELTCHAT & #TESLONCHAT : JOIN THE CHAT ON THURSDAY!

Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team
Join #CdnELTchat & #teslONchat to chat about designing inclusive pedagogies in #ELT on Thu, Feb 25 (note the date) at 6PT 7MT 8CT 9ET 10AT.

If you can, join @Jessifer ‘s webinar earlier on Feb 25 as this will be the basis for our chat (but not essential): https://asuevents.asu.edu/content/design

Below is a recap of the January 26 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Jennifer Chow.

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Haiku: a humble but mighty tool in ESL

photo: Sahil Pandita on Unsplash

Reduce, reduce, reduce. Make every word count. I repeat these instructions every day in my EAP classroom. Session after session, I hand out exercises to reduce wordiness and replace empty, abstract words with those that are strong and specific.  

And yet, the students have a hard time going “beyond the exercise” to apply these skills to their writing. They continue to fill their pages with in the event that, “as a result of,” and “in our society today” as well as abstracts such as “the meal was good,” “the lake was beautiful,” and “the people looked happy.”  

I needed to find an authentic writing form that would encourage rich, yet spare, prose. And then it struck me—the haiku. The Japanese poem is inherently concise and relies on specific, sensory words. A win-win! 

So, I initiated a “holiday haiku” activity. First, I explained the basic form: one line with five syllables, the next with seven, and the third with five. Secondly, I divided the class into small groups to brainstorm specific, image-worthy words that evoked their celebrations back home. This second stage worked beautifully. Not only did the words flow, but also the students enjoyed sharing their cultural traditions.  

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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).

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A Short Talk with Conversation!

conversation between two people
Image by josemiguels from Pixabay

Hello everyone and welcome to my Language Teaching and Learning talk show. I’m Language Pedagogy and here with me is Conversation. Today we’re going to have a fantastic talk about the history and current standing of this amazingly popular ESL task. Well, I have been in this profession since day one and frankly I haven’t seen any classroom task as appealing to students as conversation, so I thought, why not sit together and talk?

Language Pedagogy: Thanks for being with us today. I am sure that our audience is excited to hear from you.

Conversation: Oh, glad to be heard.

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Symbolic New Materialism: From Theory to Practice

A Brief Introduction to New Materialism

The interconnectedness of two people's stories symbolized through this unique artwork
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Consider how much time instructors and students spend in front of electronic screens and how essential technology has become within the last eight months. Meetings and lessons delivered via Zoom and other online platforms are the new normal. Given the challenging times that we are facing including new approaches to learning, living, and overcoming adversity, the idea of new materialism is gaining momentum.

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Organizing Teaching Materials in Google Classroom

E-learning graphic organizer depicting a computer screen.
Image by B_A from Pixabay

No matter how trivial it sounds, in an online class the organization of course content is absolutely essential. Let me share a few practical observations.

1. Materials and Assessments

The most basic organizational tenet of an online classroom stems from the platform itself: in my case it was Google Classroom which gives an opportunity to divide learning content into assignments, quiz assignments, questions, and materials within a section called Classwork. It is a slight deviation from the terminology usually employed in the LINC/ESL world, but one easy for learners to accept. Understanding the distinction between materials and the other options is primarily important for students.

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Adventures in Summer School

Retro television with technical difficulties warning , 3D rendering
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Like many of my colleagues, I was teaching online this summer using Zoom. My adult ESL class (CLB 4) had about 14 regular students. By the end, we had become quite close and it was sad to see them go. Along the way we had a few adventures related to online learning that I’d like to share with you.

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Making Editing Fun

Writing is a process, and Díaz Ramírez (2014) gives the steps as follows: “brainstorming, planning, multiple drafting, peer collaboration, delayed editing, and portfolio assessment” (p.34). However, our students perceive writing differently and often skip a few of these steps. Editing is one of these skipped steps. 

Editing is one of the vital skills I teach in my higher education communication courses. Interestingly, however, when I ask my students how often they edit, the answers I hear are as follows: “sometimes” and “almost never”. Also, when I ask what tools students use to edit their work, they often seem to be unsure of an existing tool. This is when I introduce Track Changes in Microsoft and the Suggesting Mode in Google docs.  

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