Category Archives: Pedagogy

The Top Five Ways to Support ESL Learners

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Do you feel uncomfortable when you visit a new place? I imagine how our students feel when they arrive to Canada. Not only are they here to learn English, but they’re also here to adapt to an unfamiliar culture.

Speaking from experience as a current ESL teacher and a former ESL learner, I thought I’d compile a short list of the top five ways that teachers can support their learners in their transition to help them adjust and become confident and effective learners.

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Rethinking How We Teach Pronunciation

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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?

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The Role of the L1 in the EFL Classroom Part III: Where to Begin? Ideas for Incorporating Cross-linguistic Strategies


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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.

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Spring Reflections

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The cherry blossoms are out! It’s spring and finally warm enough to ride my bike to work.  I do my best thinking on that bike. With a new semester starting, I find myself reflecting on the semester gone by.  Peddling on cold, rainy days tends to cause me to remember my failures, but on warm, sunny mornings, I recall my successes.  For 16 years I have been teaching university prep writing, grammar, reading, speaking, and listening to students from around the world. 

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The Role of the L1 Classroom in the EFL Classroom Part II: Roadblocks to Using a Cross-linguistic Pedagogy

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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?

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Critical Reflection in Action-based Approaches

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The role of critical reflection is very important in action-based approaches to problem solving. Reflecting allows us, as researchers and educators, to think about what can be done after an observation of a particular method and how action can be taken to fix or alter the process of the method to make it more effective. “Being able to explain what you are doing and why you are doing it also enables you to be clear about its significance for your field, which is important when it comes to saying why your research should be believed and taken seriously by others, especially peers” (McNiff, 2011, p. 10).

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TESOL’s Electronic Village Online

Boost your instruction with Free TESOL courses

Since 2001, the Electronic Village Online (EVO) has offered free, online courses starting in mid-January and finishing in mid-February. Facilitators and organizers volunteer their time and expertise to contribute to our profession.  Participants learn through lecture, activities and peer discussions on relevant TESOL topics.   Course facilitators and participants share fresh perspectives from their diverse experience and expertise. Continue reading

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Managing Strong Personalities in the Classroom

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I imagine we’ve all had classes in which one or two students dominate the room.  Maybe they ask questions at every turn or monopolize discussions, not leaving room for others to speak. Making room for everyone in the classroom without alienating these students can be a difficult task.  Here are some methods that can be used to keep a balanced classroom: Continue reading

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Reflections on the implementation of PBLA

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“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

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Reading, Reading, Reading. Why it’s so important!

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I was talking with a colleague, Lisa, during lunch break the other day. At our school, the students have a  1-hour class with a pronunciation instructor once per week. Lisa was suggesting  the merits of having a similar intensive lesson every week on reading.  After our discussion, I began to consider the importance of reading versus the other skills. I am beginning to wonder if reading is the key skill to developing English proficiency.

Don’t get me wrong – Teaching pronunciation is one of my favourite classes to teach. I guess I like the focus of language use and playing with the sounds, the stress, intonation and inflection. Many students have expressed that it is important for them, as well.

Anyway, back to reading.  Continue reading

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