Category Archives: Canadian Culture

Language Never Stops

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Is it possible for a language to become outdated? Daniel Tammet (2018) answered this question in Every Word Is A Bird: “Language never stops.” “Language evolves over time to reflect the way understanding and beliefs change” (Lellman, 2021). Some expressions that were common a few years ago might not be so common now. This has made choosing good materials more challenging when it comes to real-world language learning.

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Learning the Art of Critical Pivoting

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Guest Contributor: Christine Smart-Wiseman

Like many others in the field, I am always looking for new ways to improve my teaching. My research as a PhD student at York University led me to examine teaching from a critical pedagogical approach. The guiding principle of this approach is to construct equitable and democratic classrooms with a goal to positively transform students’ lives (Canagarajah, 2005).

While I was doing my research in an ELL classroom, I uncovered many ways in which ELL environments contradict the goals of critical pedagogical approaches. In many cases, planning and preparing ahead to foster a classroom environment that supports critical learning can overcome these challenges, but at times, there may be a dynamic need to shift classroom spaces towards empowering teaching and learning. I have developed a strategy I call critical pivoting to address this problem and would like to share it with you.

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Google Earth in your class? (Part One)

Photo by: John Allan

Google Earth is an application that some of us may have heard about or used for personal purposes. Unless you are a social science teacher, it is a sure bet that you have not tried integrating Google Earth into your language or settlement lessons. Whether it is used on the web or on a device, Google Earth is a very intuitive tool, and I thought it might be a good idea to raise awareness of some possibilities it can offer language instructors teaching fully online. Today, I will go over what Google Earth is and how to navigate the application, and in my next blog post, I will go more in-depth with ways to use Google Earth in your lesson plans. Continue reading

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Building cultural awareness inside and out

Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

I have been lucky enough to work with students from a myriad of cultures over the years. Had anyone asked me if I promote intercultural skills in my students, my response would be swift. Yes, of course!

After all, I have initiated plenty of culturally themed discussions, readings, presentations, digital narratives, and other activities. But after reading more about Intercultural Competence (IC) and, more specifically, Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), I realize that I am not going far enough.

What is ICC?

Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) derives from Intercultural Competence (IC). Both refer to the ability to interrelate with people from different cultures. According to Byram (as cited in Bickley, Rossiter, and Abbott, 2014), being interculturally competent means you can communicate effectively with people from diverse cultures in your own language. ICC, however, focuses on the “additional knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities” to do so in a second or foreign language (p. 138). For EAP, obviously, this distinction is important. 

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Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom

#CdnELTchat Summary for February 11, 2020

by Bonnie Nicholas

aboriginal symbol with forest in background
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If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, February 25 – on the topic of Practical Gamification in the Classroom with Cindy Liebel. You can access the #CdnELTChat Padlet at this link: Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat. Below is a recap of the February 11 chat.

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An Unexpected Canadian Gift

Source: Patrice Palmer
Source: Patrice Palmer

The standard protocol for presenting at TESL conferences in Canada is that the presenter receives an honorarium and a card expressing thanks from the organizing committee.  It’s a nice gesture and I always appreciate it.   

Recently I received a unique gift for presenting at the TEAM conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It was a beautiful bag, handmade by Angela of the One Nation Exchange (O.N.E.).  I was moved to learn more about O.N.E. and how this bag came to be.

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A Positive Group Volunteer Experience

multi-ethnic volunteer group hands together showing unity
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While teaching a module about working in Canada, I found my students were a bit surprised when I told them that volunteer work was not only valuable to have on a resume, but also one of the best ways to gain work experience in Canada.  For many, “paid” work experience seemed to be the only valued work experience they had known.  So, when I mentioned to my class that employers like to see volunteer experience on resumes and hear about it in job interviews, students started asking how they could do it.

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Let It Snow: My Students’ First Time Seeing Snow

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It was a cold day in January, 2017. I was standing in front of a class of about twenty students from Panama who had come to Canada as part of the Panama Bilingue Program. I was trudging my way through my lesson, clicking through slide after slide of my rigorously-prepared Power Point presentation, when suddenly something happened that changed my outlook on teaching ESL forever: it started snowing.

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Caring About Students: A Lesson About Stress

Introduction: Caring is the First Step

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For years, I have been fascinated with the work of Nel Noddings and her themes on care. In one of her (2010) articles, she presses educators to become role models who shape healthy and caring students. The students in my class were feeling stressed and overwhelmed by being constantly assessed on their performance, so I decided to create a set of lessons on the theme of stress. These lessons were prepared for a high-intermediate level and each day represents a period of 50 minutes.

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