After Decades in the Field, I Am on the Board!

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In 2018, after some 37 years in the TESL field, I joined the TESL Ontario Board. This is the ideal volunteer challenge for me at this point in my life. I am keen to do what I can to contribute to the health of the organization and, most importantly, to the ongoing professionalization of TESL. Throughout the life of a teacher, you gain perspective as your career progresses and at one point you realize that you are ready to pitch in and give some time to the profession at large.

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October 22 #CdnELTchat (Technology, Organization, Blended Learning and Online Learning)

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by Jennifer Chow

On October 22, enthusiastic #CdnELTchat participants talked about “Technology, Organization, Blended Learning and Online Learning”. We were excited to have Rob McBride (@LearnIT2Teach) of New Language Solutions join us as our guest moderator for this chat. Rob is one of the project managers for the EduLINC coursewareand LearnIT2Teach/Avenue.ca. Thank-you to all those who added their thoughts before, during and after the chat. 

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Self-care for teachers: #CdnELTchat September 24, 2019

image source: #CdnELTchat

written by Bonnie Nicholas

As always, during the live chat, participants had a lively discussion responding to the questions posted by our moderator, Augusta Avram. And as always, people who couldn’t participate in the live chat added to the richness of the conversation afterwards through the #slowburn format. Thanks to everyone who participated! A couple of themes emerged from the ongoing conversation: #ELT can be stressful work, and we need to take care of ourselves and support each other. Some ideas that were shared included having an emergency self-care kit, remembering that “no” is a complete sentence, making  time and space to debrief, blocking off me time, advocating for ourselves as well as for our students, setting boundaries, and remembering the importance of exercise and physical health.

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What I Did on My Summer Vacations

Image Source: Patrice Palmer
Palmer, second from left, with staff of Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce Training Centre, 2017.





Do you remember having to write about your summer vacation on your first day back to school?  It doesn’t seem like a very original topic, but I want to share my experience as a volunteer in Honduras, Ethiopia, and Guyana with Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO).  You are probably wondering how this happened since I’m an ESL teacher, not an executive.  Let me explain. 

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September Brings a New School Year and New PD Goals

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The start of a new school year is upon us! Are you prepping for the first week of classes? The excitement of new students, the rush to finalize lesson plans and materials, the planning and organizing of new routines at home are all part of the exhilarating feeling that September fills the air with. September is a chance for a new start. Maybe you’ve been reading the blog throughout the summer for some new lesson ideas or new technology to try out in the classroom.  But September is also a time to think about new professional development goals.

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Summer Camp – Where Learning Can Be Fun

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Over the summer, I worked as an ESL teacher at a summer camp for children and teens from abroad. This was my third-year teaching at the camp and I had a great time!

Camp Chaos

As expected, it was chaos, with students arriving every week from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. There were lots of new faces with students coming and going.

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Let It Snow: My Students’ First Time Seeing Snow

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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.

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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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What about those Unexpected Fights?

A few years ago, I asked my students to do oral presentations about the geography of their native countries as a speaking test for LINC level 6-7. It seemed like a good idea, one that was more focused on English rather than research. The students prepared their PowerPoint presentations and when the presentation day finally arrived, the first up was Aisha from Pakistan.

She showed us several slides of Pakistan, pausing on the last one that clearly outlined the territory of the country. As Aisha explained the boundaries and its position relative to other countries, another student, Aryo, who was in the back row, jumped to his feet and pointed at the bottom border and said, “That’s wrong, that’s in Afghanistan!” I was still looking at the slide when he rushed up to the slide and traced the boundary he was referring to with his finger. “This is in Afghanistan, not Pakistan!” He kept repeating ever more loudly and stabbing his finger on the slide. I didn’t know it then, but there was a disputed border between the two countries where both were claiming the same land.

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