Category Archives: Approaches

The Art of Group Work

Team work conept. Hard-working university students sitting at table pointing at some information in book with pencils trying to understand what is written there. Students working with books studying
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Group work – just the mere mention of this makes some students cringe.  In fact, I have heard from students who actively choose courses that don’t involve group work even if at first the course sounds really interesting, but in reality, that limits the choices tremendously!  In other cases, I’ve stood at the front of the class and announced, “ok, let’s get into groups and…” and all of a sudden, I hear this cacophony of sighs transcend the room – no holding back, no filters. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of group work in education, and Continue reading

POST COMMENT 0

Conscious Scaffolding: Making Teacher Talk Time Matter

image source: bigstockphoto.com

Do you limit teacher talk time in favour of active learning? Good!

Do you limit teacher talk time because your students seem disengaged or don’t understand? Bad…

Let’s face it, teacher talk time (TTT) is valuable. Although it should not be the focus of any lesson, it can certainly be an opportunity to mediate learning, not just facilitate it or curate it. Hence, done purposefully, TTT can help students take better notes, recall valuable information, and differentiate between main ideas and extraneous detail. How can this be?

Let me explain . . . Continue reading

POST COMMENT 4

Tasking the Adult Language Learner To Do Tasks

Close up of old English dictionary page with word task
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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

POST COMMENT 2

Try something different this year, adopt an app!

image source: John Allan

As language teachers, many of us agree that technology is useful for assisting our instruction.  Videos, animations, virtual tours, audio clips, interactive games, self-correcting quizzes and digital online resources are some of the possibilities offered through technology. Until recently, technology based learning events have been delivered on institutional workstations, laptops or tablets.  The personal device revolution is migrating learning events/objects to mobile device applications or apps.

For security reasons, institutions have been organized to control digital resources. This includes networks, hardware, software, online subscriptions and website access.  The advent of Bring Your Own Technology or B.Y.O.T. tests this control. Continue reading

POST COMMENT 5

Ways to Reflect on Your Teaching – A Practical Approach

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

How often do you reflect on your teaching? Do you have enough time to reflect in a meaningful way? Reflective practice is an area I’m quite passionate about. However, I understand that many teachers struggle to find the time to reflect, or they may not know how to reflect in a way that enhances their teaching and benefits their learners. Making the time to reflect is key. I know first-hand the feeling of not having enough time to reflect when, for example, you have a pile of essays to mark. The second hurdle to reflection is figuring out how to reflect in a practical and purposeful way. In this post, I’d like to share some practical tools and ways to reflect Continue reading

POST COMMENT 7

PBLA: A Need for Task-Based Needs Analysis and a Study in Task Differentiation

Man stretched between two cliffs
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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

POST COMMENT 59

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

POST COMMENT 4

ESL Myths Debunked

image source: bigstockphoto.com

I was browsing the web the other day (what else is new!) and I stumbled upon a great article by Rusul Alrubail.  She answers what she calls the myths of ESL learners.

The 5 myths she addresses are:

  • Students can’t use their L1 in class
  • Students need to be corrected when they’re speaking English
  • All learners are immigrants
  • A student must assimilate with the North American culture if they want to learn properly
  • All learners share similar backgrounds, status, and culture.

Continue reading

POST COMMENT 2

Synchronous Word Clouds . . . At Last!

image source: bigstockphoto.com

Not too long ago I created an activity with my students where I asked them to write three types of literary genres they enjoy the most. The task involved writing three words on index cards. I then asked them to meet in groups to share their words. Group by group, they would come to the podium and add their words on Wordle.net  – adding each word repeatedly at times and only once other times. At the end, I would let WordleTM do its thing.  The result was a collective word cloud that would visualize the commonalities among everyone in my class. Continue reading

POST COMMENT 6

Cans, Wants, and Wills

Concept image of a Calendar with the text: Lessons Learned

This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading

POST COMMENT 0