Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) has created a new world, where the doing of tasks is a must, with no exceptions whatsoever. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word task is the notion that you have something to do, most likely something you are not too keen on doing. A task by any definition is a piece of work you must do or undertake. The Merriam-Webster dictionary goes further to add: “Something hard or unpleasant that has to be done.” Some common synonyms for the word task are chore, job, duty, labour, toil, and burden. Both as a noun and a verb, the word task does not evoke anything pleasant someone has to do. How the word task came into adult ESL teaching methodology now troubles me. There has to be a better Continue reading
Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) is here to stay. “Teachers cannot opt out” (p. 58) and it is “an expectation of employment” (p. 71). Once implemented the way it was meant to be, the evidence suggests, it is an academically sound approach to teaching and learning. The PBLA programme, now being implemented in all ESL non-credit classes that are funded by Citizenship and Immigration, has two critical shortcomings which I have encountered Continue reading
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…
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
I have been working on my TESL certification for the past few years through part-time online learning. For my practicum, I recently had the opportunity to observe and teach in a level four EAP class. Writing this blog post has posed an opportunity for me to reflect on the practicum experience and comment on the foremost challenge I faced when moving from TESL student to TESL teacher: balancing the theory learned in the TESL classroom and the realities of the classroom to provide students with the best possible learning environment.
The Perfect Lesson Plan vs. The Clock
Since I have taught in the college classroom before, I was already aware of the challenges of time. Instructors are responsible for following a rigid course outline and syllabus, regardless of the specific needs of the class. However, I felt that this was an even greater challenge in the ESL classroom.
ESL students need ample opportunity for practice in order to master language use, and this practice requires Continue reading
What is student-centred learning? There are many facets to this idea. It can be lessons based on students’ needs. It can mean choosing topics based on students’ interests. But one of the concepts that is most commonly related to student-centred learning is learning through discovery. When someone learns through discovery, they are given enough autonomy to interact with materials and consequently discover how things work (think figuring out grammar rules implicitly). On the other side of the coin you have teacher directed learning where knowledge is transferred from teacher to student (think explaining how grammar rules work). Continue reading
As ESL teachers, we all know that the techniques we need to employ while teaching adult learners differ from those techniques used with children. Jack Mezirow, a well -respected theorist in the field of adult learning, suggests that adults need to experience a disruption as a catalyst for the learning process. In his theory of transformative learning, he lays out the steps in the process which result in learning. The first step toward adult learning comes in the form of a disorienting dilemma. This dilemma provokes a period of critical reflection to help us make sense of the disturbance. As a result of our examination of what is happening, we grow.
In my experience as an ESL teacher, most of the participants attending the classes I teach have experienced a lot of Continue reading
No, this is not a blog about Sherlock Homes. It’s about investment, a termed coined by linguist Bonny Norton.
Bonny Norton is one of my favourite linguists. She takes a critical, post-structuralism theory approach to explain how adults become engaged (or disengaged) with their own second language (L2) learning. For those of you who are new to this topic, post-structuralism looks at language from the perspective of language as capital, dominance/non-dominance, and possibilities.
Of recent, it is becoming increasingly clear that more and more ESL students entering our classrooms are expecting a rapid transmission of information, structured presentations, concrete outcomes, a course syllabus, and direction from teachers. Such expectations are not new; they come with most formal classes. Such expectations, common in traditional classroom settings, coming from Adult ESL learners, necessitate a rethinking of our present learner-centered or constructivist approach. It raises a question: Is there a place for direct instruction in today’s adult classes? Or, is there not a place for the traditional approach? By that, I don’t mean the uncreative and non-liberating approach to education so well described by Paulo Freire. I mean a Continue reading