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.Continue reading
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.
The 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 versions.Continue reading
“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
I often get asked how I stay connected with the TESL community since I’m not always teaching. Blogging as a volunteer guest blogger for TESL Ontario is an avenue I chose to do just that. So, I thought I’d share what I love about blogging for TESL Ontario with you. Be warned, this may entice you to apply!
When I applied to become a TESL blogger, I was excited. When I got the call to be interviewed, I was nervous (but the good kind of nervous). And when I found out that I was selected to be one of the bloggers, I did a happy dance, (luckily all of you didn’t have to witness it…I digress). Continue reading
I went to my last class this past Friday expecting my entire class to be present. Well, of the 13 who normally attend, only 5 showed up! I didn’t know how to feel about this. But no matter, I carried on with the lesson. To stay positive, I thought it was great that I could focus more on each individual. We had a lot of fun despite the lack of attendance that day.
The feeling in the room was certainly bittersweet. On one hand, I was happy to have my Fridays back to spend with my little girl, but on the other hand, it was kind of hard for me to leave these special individuals, whom I’ve come to respect and appreciate so much throughout the course of the past seven weeks.