Category Archives: Academic

Teach Writing with a Web Design Project

image source: John Allan

One of my courses specifies that students create a presentation on an educational resource and present it to their peers.  The following is a model I’d like to share with you as a potential means of using a common theme with a final presentation as a way of promoting inquiry, research, collaboration, communication, planning, and writing within one term of instruction. The project comprises eight separate activities.  Each activity involves the students practicing language and social skills in a variety of ways.  These steps are detailed below in the section, Project Process. Continue reading

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Reading, Reading, Reading. Why it’s so important!

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I was talking with a colleague, Lisa, during lunch break the other day. At our school, the students have a  1-hour class with a pronunciation instructor once per week. Lisa was suggesting  the merits of having a similar intensive lesson every week on reading.  After our discussion, I began to consider the importance of reading versus the other skills. I am beginning to wonder if reading is the key skill to developing English proficiency.

Don’t get me wrong – Teaching pronunciation is one of my favourite classes to teach. I guess I like the focus of language use and playing with the sounds, the stress, intonation and inflection. Many students have expressed that it is important for them, as well.

Anyway, back to reading.  Continue reading

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Journaling – a Means to Enhance Research Writing

I did not know that I was a researcher until I did academic research for the first time. Like many fellow teachers, just hearing the word research used to make me cringe. It might be the vast implications that research entails that put teachers off, myself included. After all, we all do our own research on a daily basis, whether it is preparing for class, looking up or creating new material, providing feedback, etc. We need to give ourselves more credit, for we all do research, an argument supported by Parsons, Hewson, Adrian, and Day (2013), who claim that “research is less rocket science than carefully planned, rigorously attended activity” (p. 5). Continue reading

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Data-driven learning with WordSift

image source: John Allan

I recently came across a web resource that reminded me of using Data-driven learning (DDL) with students.  I have not tried using DDL for a few years but I think that WordSift will allow instructors to use basic DDL techniques with their students.

What is DDL?

Data-driven learning is a learning approach in which learning is driven by research-like access to linguistic data (Johns, 1991). DDL examines a corpora or body of text. WordSift can generate useful usage data Continue reading

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TESL WW, May 2017 Conference: Thinking Critically

Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age

image source: http://fourc.ca/critical-readers/#more-9409

Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.

In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address Continue reading

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Preparing Great Grammar and Pronunciation Lessons

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We all want our teaching to be interesting and effective.  I regularly reflect on my teaching practice, and try to consider each of the following aspects of lesson planning*, particularly for grammar and pronunciation lessons. Let me share some tips that help me improve my lessons, and perhaps you will find an idea you could use.

Presenting the point

First, remind yourself of the scope of the lesson; know the needs and abilities of your students, and the time frame and focus of your class session.  Aim not to overwhelm your class with too much information, but also not to under-interest your students with too little challenge. Continue reading

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Focusing on Bring Your Own Device – or B.Y.O.D. – Resources

image source: John Allan

At my current institution, I’ve been working with teachers, administrators and students trying to integrate technology into classroom learning.  This blended learning approach expectation has led to some frustration. There have been so many promising tools,
ideas, and toys that have not met our requirements. On the positive side, we have been lucky enough to experiment with ample resources to try out a variety of edtech tools and techniques. Continue reading

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The Translingual Approach – Agree but…

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?

Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…

Agree

I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected.  I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading

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