Category Archives: Impact

Lessons of the Outlier

Young students with books and notes. Smart young guy and girl doing their homework in University campus. Learning and education for young people.
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“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” M. Proust

Travel is not new to me. Travel as a newly minted ESL teacher is.

I am in the middle of a month-long TESL internship in Poland, arranged through Algonquin College, as an optional extension to the TESL Program. Though culturally quite similar to Canada, I am plunked in a community where I do not speak or read the language. Continue reading

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Ace the Interview: Using the SPARK-Technique to Stand Out from the Crowd

Group Of Diverse People Waiting For Job Interview In Office
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Congratulations! You have razzle-dazzled the department manager with your small-talk skills and your memorable elevator pitch and have received the exciting news that you have a job interview. After giving yourself that well-deserved pat on the back, you realize that it’s time to start preparing. You set out to craft the most powerful and impactful answers that will not only impress your audience, but will also demonstrate how you CAN and WILL add tremendous value to their company. What might that answer look like? Continue reading

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The 30-Second Elevator Pitch – The Necessary Evil

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To be remembered, you must first make yourself memorable.

To fully understand the power of a great elevator pitch, I first have to come clean with you. After many years of teaching Business English in Korea and China, I returned to an oversaturated ESL / ELT job market, filled with passionate and qualified language instructors who were all vying for the same jobs; yet, I had to compete in an environment where I had no network, no one to sing my professional praises, no advantage of native “Englishness”, and no real understanding of how to sell myself. Six jobless months passed, and I knew it was time to finally take stock. Clearly, it was me, not them and, with this humbling realization, I set out to Continue reading

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The apprenticeship of observation

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An interest in languages, combined with a few stints living and working overseas, has meant that I have played the role of language learner more than once.  These experiences have greatly informed my practice as a language teacher.  Famously, this is called the ‘apprenticeship of observation’. Teaching is a unique profession in this sense; teachers have their own experiences as students watching their own teachers teach, which influences them when they become teachers. Here are a few of the things I have felt and thought as a learner that have influenced my teaching…

I don’t care if there are some things my teacher doesn’t know. Continue reading

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“Be the Star” – Making Videos for Your Classroom

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“I’m just going to find a video quickly online!” I’ve said to myself many times, clearly delusional.  A “quick” online hunt for material to use in class often becomes a lengthy goose chase.  It’s hard to find just the right thing, at the right level, on the right subject when searching the vast reaches of the World Wide Web.  The better option?  To make it myself. Sometimes this can seem intimidating though, especially if videography is a medium one is not used to working in.

Considering that fact, below is my summary of a video presentation my business partner, Larissa Conley, and I made for this year’s TESL Ontario Conference explaining how to make your own videos for classroom use.  Continue reading

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Conscious Scaffolding: Making Teacher Talk Time Matter

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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

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Joining In: How I Joined the Board

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Recently I had written about why I joined TESL Ontario and my local affiliate chapter in Ottawa. To follow up, I would like to explain how I went about the process in hopes that this would inspire others to see just how easy it is to participate. Having attended a number of TESL Ottawa events, I was in awe of the amount of work and effort put forth by the local volunteers. There were always messages encouraging new members to join its executive and when curiosity got the best of me, I Continue reading

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Back to school: First day jitters for students and teachers

Learn it's cool! Joyful teacher showing thumbs up. Photo adult teacher near blackboard education concept
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While many of you may already be going into your 2nd or 3rd week of classes, we  wanted to share some ideas to get over those first day jitters that so many new instructors and students may be feeling.  For more ideas on get-to-know activities, please click on the link to read Cecilia’s blog posted previously: Get-to-know activities in the language classroom 


I don’t know about you, but I find the first days of class can be a little scary, yet exciting at the same time. Students probably wonder what the teacher will be like and how they will fit in with the other students. Thoughts such as, “Will everybody be at my level of English?” or “I hope I’m not at the bottom of the class!”  are likely common.

But what about us – the instructors? Continue reading

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Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom

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Every day I watch my kids play all day long. And they never seem to grow tired of it either. So surely there’s something to their favourite past time other than having fun. When you think about it, for children, the act of playing is a way of learning. Except, it’s not just about using brain power but also about using all of their senses alongside their schema to help them solve whatever mystery or problem comes their way. I view it as a holistic approach to learning. So how is it that we lose that as we enter into adulthood?

Continue reading

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The Whole Package

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The way we deliver our message has a big effect on how it is received.  Not only do we receive the message, but we receive the way it is presented or “wrapped”. It’s the whole package.  How we say things adds another layer of meaning to the message.  Teaching about the delivery of a message in ESL classes adds a lot of value for students. Continue reading

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