Category Archives: Academic

Effective Feedback in Higher Education

What are some ways you choose to provide feedback to students in higher education? How do you think students perceive and react to our feedback? How effective do you think written feedback comments can be? Nicole and Milligan (2006) have identified seven main principles that effective feedback should entail.

1.     Effective feedback helps students identify what good performance is and assists students in grasping a clear understanding of the goals and standards set for their level. Research suggests that there is often a gap between the expected standards set by educators and students’ perception of these standards. Unless students clearly understand the goals and standards set for them, they cannot succeed in self-regulating their learning process.

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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
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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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Student Infographics

image source: John Allan

What is an infographic?

Infographics are a contemporary means of transmitting information on media platforms. They appear as printed or digital infographic displays at hospitals, airports, shopping malls and more, and deliver complex information in a visually concise format. The first infographics I remember were positioned in the corners of the USA Today newspaper.  They drew my eyes towards them and informed me about trends, recent events or celebrities in many sections of the newspaper.

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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.
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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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Where I am from

Copyright: Jennifer MacKenzie-Hutchison. All rights reserved.

Last week, I read over my students’ poems and was reminded how much I love my job. As teachers, we need to savour these pleasures and summon them during the more tedious moments. My students, mostly from Asia, are in a year-long EAP foundation program at Ryerson University. I asked them to write a poem based on “Where I Am From,” by George Ella Lyon.

The scholastic objective was to get my students to explore their identities, but my personal objective was to learn more about their families, their ambitions, their countries…their lives. In class, we went through the author’s life, stanza by stanza. We examined the details, the imagery, and the metaphors. Then my students went home and wrote their own versions.

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Positive Reinforcement in the College Classroom

Why is it important for our higher education learners to receive positive reinforcement? Do adult learners have this need? In what ways can instructors provide their adult learners with positive reinforcement?

Sharp (2011) lays it down beautifully, explaining that as we grow up we receive incentives, prices, stickers, and encouragement for the most mundane actions such as making our beds. However, as we grow and become more self-motivated, the amount of positive reinforcement declines exponentially by the time we pursue higher education.

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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.
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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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Kahoot, not just for games anymore

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Using visuals is an integral part of our daily teaching practice; however, often, our visual aids are rather mundane. For example, one of the primary and most popular visual aid has been PowerPoint. Despite the benefits of using this tool, it can easily turn a classroom into a passive learning environment.

Having said this, there are other tools available through which knowledge and information can be transferred to students. One of the alternatives available is Kahoot. Now, many of us might have heard of or used this tool in our classrooms. Kahoot is a game-based teaching tool that teachers usually use to test student knowledge after their teaching is completed. However, Kahoot can be used for purposes other than testing. This post introduces Kahoot as a tool that can replace PowerPoint presentations Continue reading

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A Guide to Teaching Essay Writing to Your ESL Students

Group of multiethnic college students writing at desk in classroom
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As your students become more fluent in their new language, it’s a good idea to start focusing on more complex forms of writing. Essays are a great way for ESL students to practice researching, organizing information, and clearly representing their ideas. However, writing an essay in a second language can be difficult, so your students are going to need some help. Continue reading

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Lessons of the Outlier

Young students with books and notes. Smart young guy and girl doing their homework in University campus. Learning and education for young people.
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“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” M. Proust

Travel is not new to me. Travel as a newly minted ESL teacher is.

I am in the middle of a month-long TESL internship in Poland, arranged through Algonquin College, as an optional extension to the TESL Program. Though culturally quite similar to Canada, I am plunked in a community where I do not speak or read the language. Continue reading

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