Fellow TESL Community, whether you’ve benefited from workingwith a professional coach or not, join me in raising a proverbial glass in honour of coaches.
In March 2020, like some, or even many of you, I found myself suddenly unemployed. The private language school I had taught at for the two years prior was unable to keep its doors open to welcome local and international English Language Learners due to the swift pandemic measures that came into effect that same month. My experience, sadly, was not unique.
During the Ontario
College strike in October 2017, I felt compelled to be more politically aware.
Then, in October 2018, I attended the Canadian Ministers of Education, Canada
(CMEC) Pan-Canadian Research
Conference and I found the global and local initiatives to improve education truly
inspiring. At my institution, I
joined our Senate, Honorary Degree Committee, Local Executive Council, and
became the Chair of the Academic Policy Committee. Being a driver of change is
really hopeful and promising.
One way to promote student engagement is by providing students with real-world hands-on learning experiences. An excellent way to do this is through student-produced video projects.
In 2008, Mary Anne Peters, Julianne Burgess, Elizabeth Sadler, and Zachary Arlow created the LINC for Youth Photography Project and LINC for Youth Video Project at Mohawk College to help newcomer youth learn English in a collaborative environment. The foundation of these unique classes is grounded in multiliteracies theory, youth culture, and technology. At the College, I teach in LINC Youth Video Project (LYVP) with my teaching partner, Emily Imbrogno, and media technician, Zachary Arlow. LYVP is targeted to newcomers ages 18-25, with Canadian Language Benchmarks 4-5. LYVP has students create video projects on topics connected to newcomer youth experiences and interests.
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.
Last week, I read over my students’ poems and was reminded how much I love my job. As teachers, we need to savour these pleasures and summon them during the more tedious moments. My students, mostly from Asia, are in a year-long EAP foundation program at Ryerson University. I asked them to write a poem based on “Where I Am From,” by George Ella Lyon.
scholastic objective was to get my students to explore their identities, but my
personal objective was to learn more about
their families, their ambitions, their countries…their lives. In class, we went
through the author’s life, stanza by stanza. We examined the details, the
imagery, and the metaphors. Then my students went home and wrote their own
“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 →
The position was meant to be something new to try out, to add some freshness into my PD experience. Fast forward three years, and the job of Twitter Manager for TESL Ontario is much more than that and still interests me. Why am I leaving?
It has been a challenging couple of years, and the reason I need to leave Continue reading →
One highlight of my ESL teaching career was when I taught in the Black Forest of Germany at an English Summer Camp. I taught Local German teenagers who wanted to practise conversational English.Our mandate was to introduce them to North American English since they were being taught British English in the German school system. I was the only Canadian on our team; the others were all from the United States.
In the interest of planning a class field trip, I was reading Tara Benwell’s blog post, 25+ Field Trips for English Language Learners. She provides a variety of opportunities for live field trips. I am considering a few of these ideas. However, I teach in a situation that has several obstacles to taking students on field trips. Climate, cultural norms, transportation, scheduling, catering and budget can be issues in the Middle East. I am sure that if you are reading this in Canada, you can identify with a few of these issues. Even if you do resolve the budget, scheduling, transportation, permissions and climate issues, then you are normally limited to locations 100km from your centre. Continue reading →
I have been teaching in an EAP program for the last six years. The goal of our program is to prepare international students for the experience of studying in a post-secondary program alongside their domestic peers. Understandably, competence in their use of English is paramount. However, I am constantly struck by the fact that domestic students and international students, regardless of their ability to speak English well, remain largely separate on campus, both in and out of classes.
My students often comment that they don’t know how to make friends with Canadian students, and they are worried about the quality of their English and how they will be received. In an effort to bridge this ‘great divide’, I recently had the opportunity for my students to participate in a communicative activity that, for a change, did not involve their own classmates. Working alongside a wonderful colleague and professor in another discipline*, I was able to offer my class of twenty students a chance to meet and converse with the very Canadians they had been worried about meeting (and intimidated by) for a long time. Continue reading →