I often think of my classroom, in which I teach advanced English learners, as a laboratory. The analogy seems appropriate since both parties – students and I – are involved in some intense and sometimes experimental brain manipulations. Often by design, but also incidentally. Sometimes stemming from theoretical reflection, often just from common sense and intuition.Continue reading
What does being a skillful teacher mean to you? Is it the same as or similar to being a powerful teacher? Are there any expectations inherent in unravelling any difference between these two perceptions?
Stephen Brookfield, a scholar in adult education, is someone I look up to because his focus is on helping adults learn how to critically think about internalized ideologies. He believes that we teach to change the world and that being a sincere and reflective educator can be complex but that we need to be aware of those complexities in order to learn and empower our students (Brookfield, 2015). I have always enjoyed learning about his perspective and determining how I can use it in my teaching techniques.Continue reading
Why is extensive reading important for language learning? And how can students be motivated to read for pleasure?
As an international student and immigrant, I know how difficult it is to read extensively in English. Diverse backgrounds and school experiences can create different profiles of reading strengths and needs. As an experienced EAP/ESL/EFL instructor, I did a case study about Extensive Reading (ER) for my MA, and I learned things I wished I had known much earlier! Now I would like to share that knowledge with other instructors because ER touches every skill we teach (Reading, Writing, Grammar, Speaking and Listening).Continue reading
When I teach pronunciation, a feeling of unease claws at my chest. I scan the expectant faces from Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, China, Korea, Columbia and Cameroon. How do I respond to the needs of such an internationally diverse group?Continue reading
The Task at Hand
Quilting and knitting circles have existed for a long time for the purposes of pleasure and producing a useful final product, but how did a handicraft project for a group of Master of Education students turn into a feel-good, emotional learning journey? It was an assignment for a research methodology course, but it was so much more than that. It was also collaboration, self-discovery and an emotional roller coaster all rolled into some highly memorable academic presentations. At least that was my observation, if not quite my personal experience.Continue reading
Bringing the L1 into the EFL classroom does not need to be an overhaul of current practice in the classroom, nor does it need to be applied to each and every classroom activity. It is something that can be applied strategically and with intent at the teacher’s discretion. The point is not to create a new method, but to understand that cross-linguistic awareness is one of many useful teaching/learning techniques that are available to us as language teachers.Continue reading
Despite the wealth of research that purports the benefits of a cross-linguistic approach, many learners and teachers are operating in an environment where the L1 is used with trepidation and as a last resort if it is used at all. Why is it that teachers and learners are hesitant to take cross-linguistic and multilingual approaches on board, despite the value of these tools for language learning?Continue reading
“You have to get your SBA’s, SUA’s, T’s and A’s in order to have an organized portfolio, Sridatt,” said the Lead Instructor of Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) implementation. “You also have to get,” continued the official, “peer evaluations [PE’s], learner reflections [LR’s], and inventory checklists [IC’s], all in order to have a good, organised portfolio.” The order and presentation of the portfolio, not the teaching of the language itself, seems paramount. I welcome myself to the new world of English as a second language teaching, even though my new teaching practices are not aligned with my educational philosophy.
By the time the individual was finished, I was beginning to see a sort of preoccupation over skill building activities (SBA’s), skill using activities (SUA’s) tasks (T’s) and assessments (A’s). When the individual was gone, it didn’t take much reflection to conclude that Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) seems to be a faulty assembly line approach to education. Continue reading
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
Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age
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