“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
(Carroll, L. 1865. Alice in Wonderland)
I wrote this piece about three years ago, reflecting on an old lesson and the role imagination plays in our ESL curricula. I believe this activity could be modified for an online classroom. If you give it a go, please let me know how it works out!
#CdnELTchat was happy to have Anna Bartosik (@ambartosik) share her expertise on Self-Directed Professional Development (SDPD) on June 1. Anna is an English language teacher at George Brown College, instructional designer, and PhD Candidate at OISE. Her research is in self-directed professional development in digital networks. Learn more by reading her blog: https://annabartosik.wordpress.com/.
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.
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 encouragerich, 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 linewith five syllables, the next with seven, and the third with five. Secondly, I divided the classintosmall groups to brainstorm specific, image-worthy wordsthat 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.