Category Archives: Communication

In Praise of English Language Learners

A chalkboard sign saying, "Well done!"
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher, I think I have a responsibility to remind my students of the incredible job they have done as additional/foreign language learners. I think as teachers we sometimes forget the challenges our students are going through! This letter is to all additional language learners, wherever they are.

Dear EAL learners,

I acknowledge you. I admire you. I celebrate you! You’ve already done an incredible job. Whether you are at the beginning level, where your journey has just started, or you have been in this for quite a while, you are amazing and here is why.

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Accelerate the Feedback Process

Image by Volodymyr Hyrshchenko from Unsplash

How do you provide feedback to your students? Do you send them emails with feedback? Do you fill out a report card with descriptive feedback? Here’s a final question and I’ll get to my point! How fast is your typing? 

Typing down all the comments in any application can be time consuming for teachers and perhaps frustrating if your typing speed is below average. According to a study done at Cambridge University, the average typing speed is 52 words per minute (Dhakal, 2018). If our speed falls below this number, why not use a shortcut?

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Does Online Learning Enhance Learners’ Language Ego?

Person covering one side of face while smiling.
Image source: Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash

Language ego is a real phenomenon. A concept coined by Guiora (Brown, 2000) “language ego” is a learner’s second identity as they come to see themselves picking up a second language. One of the most vitally important responsibilities of an ESL teacher is to ensure that students’ language ego is well protected.

Conventionally, in physical classrooms, due to the existence of face-to-face communication, learners might experience more fragility and defenselessness with their peers.  I have personally experienced the sheer fear and anxiety that the physical interaction and presence of others with their eyes placed all on one person can create.  However, through online platforms of teaching and learning, I have noticed that learners feel safer and more secure about their language ego, and I have seen improvements in learning.

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A Short Talk with Conversation!

conversation between two people
Image by josemiguels from Pixabay

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.

Conversation: Oh, glad to be heard.

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Symbolic New Materialism: From Theory to Practice

A Brief Introduction to New Materialism

The interconnectedness of two people's stories symbolized through this unique artwork
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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.

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How to Approach Creative Writing!

Writing is an art, and art is supposed to be creative. But how come there’s a course called “Creative Writing?” How is this different from any conventional “Writing Course?” To be even more specific, should we have a course called – Creative Writing – in ESL, or can a conventional “Writing Course” do the job?

As an ESL teacher, I think that in the world of language pedagogy every piece of writing should be creative and therefore whether the course is called “Writing” or “Creative Writing,” creativity is an inherent part.

In this article, I’d like to share with you what happens when I teach a Writing course, which to me is no different than a Creative Writing course.

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Online Teaching Reflections

Fast forward and rewind symbols on either side of zen stone, pause reflect and rewind
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Some of my primary concerns about this current online world of teaching are the creation of community and how to effectively engage learners.

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I write, therefore I am? Go hybrid in online language teaching

Person smiling and waving at computer screen.
Image source: Unsplash.com

As Eva Hoffman quipped, “We live forward, but we understand backwards.” Hence, I’ve done a recount of my experience as a LINC instructor of advanced online classes during the pandemic and a student myself of different online courses from Additional Basic Qualification courses at OISE,  to  my own French lessons, transformed during the pandemic into Zoom meetings.  An issue that captured my special attention was the rationale for the hybrid mode of the remote ESL teaching.

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Teach As If You Are Your Own Student

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A common expression I often heard when I first started teaching was “Teacher, I don’t understand.” I would, of course, ask them which part they didn’t understand, and then give them further explanation. However, I would still see confusion on their faces. It was my turn to be confused. I had done what I was supposed to do, explain, but still they repeated “Teacher, I don’t understand.”

I didn’t find the answer until I had the chance to observe a student teacher. I had my ‘aha’ moment. The teacher was explaining vocabulary and expressions perfectly. However, she had barely considered her students’ levels and their level of understanding for the “perfect” explanations. At that moment, I realized my mistakes: 1) I treated them like their English was at my level; 2) I taught English like I was an ESL teacher.

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Adapting lesson plans for online teaching

A PowerPoint slide titled, "PowerPoint Design," illustrating design ideas from PowerPoint
Image source: Jessica Freitag via PowerPoint Design

Awkward silence and staring at the screen while not knowing what happens next are what students may experience during an online session. On the other side, however, the instructor is trying hard to pull up a file for the next activity. You may think naming the activities of the day will do the job, but perhaps a bit of visual aid helps keeping the plan in mind both for the students and teachers. This is where an electronic version of a lesson plan might play a role.

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