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…
In the early summer of 2017, I had the privilege of being asked to make a trip to Tehran, Iran to train a group of teachers for the TESOL Canada Certificate Program. When political events made the trip too dangerous an undertaking, I was crestfallen. I had already “met” the Iranian teacher who would be the primary facilitator of the program on Skype, and we instantly made a strong connection. I tried to console myself with the notion that I would make it there – one day – to meet her in person.
Then a different opportunity presented itself when the Iranian teacher asked if I could do a Skype train-the-trainer session with her and two other teachers who would be running the program. I was thrilled to be a part of the process in any capacity, so I happily agreed. The training sessions went Continue reading →
Have you ever explained a task to your students, checked to make sure they understood, and then let them go to work – only to realize as they stared blankly at their work, that they actually didn’t understand? In my first years of teaching, I was so puzzled by students telling me they understood when they clearly didn’t. Even when I would ask directly, “Do you understand?” the answer I was given was often “Yes, teacher” before it became clear that the opposite was true. This was frustrating! It seemed so obvious Continue reading →
Shavitt, Torelli, and Riemer (2010) distinguish between vertical culture, which emphasizes hierarchy and horizontal culture, which values equality. According to them, individuals who come from vertical- individualist cultures (e.g., the US, the UK, France) focus on how to improve their status, hence the emphasis on competition, achievement, and power which allow them to stand out. People who belong to horizontal- individualist cultures (e.g., Denmark, Norway, Australia) Continue reading →
Over the years, I have always found it interesting that the first three words many of my students have seemed to master by day one are peace and safety. Oh, the third? – double-double, or so it seems. I’ll get back to that in a moment. Most of my students come from places where conflict and corruption create an environment that lacks peace and safety, two things that we as Canadians often take for granted. So, when asked why they come to Canada, these two words form a neat summary without needing much grammar. Sometimes they say or write: Peaceful and Safety, or Peace and Safeful, but we get the idea.
And though they certainly did not come here for the double-doubles at Tim Horton’s, considering many left behind the delights of Turkish coffee and various forms of baklava, or real tea brewed in pots, this is the comfort Canada offers them so they take it. Continue reading →
How often do you reflect on your teaching? Do you have enough time to reflect in a meaningful way? Reflective practice is an area I’m quite passionate about. However, I understand that many teachers struggle to find the time to reflect, or they may not know how to reflect in a way that enhances their teaching and benefits their learners. Making the time to reflect is key. I know first-hand the feeling of not having enough time to reflect when, for example, you have a pile of essays to mark. The second hurdle to reflection is figuring out how to reflect in a practical and purposeful way. In this post, I’d like to share some practical tools and ways to reflect Continue reading →
In June, I attended the ISTE2017 conference in San Antonio, Texas. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is a non-profit organization serving over 100,000 educational stakeholders. ISTE is at the forefront of educational technology, driving change and offering professional development throughout the year.
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.
I always attend conferences to try to improve myself as a teacher, and sometimes I come away exceptionally motivated. This was the case a few years ago when I attended a great session on rubric creation. At the time I was working in a private language school and also doing some part-time LINC teaching. I kept wondering how I could mark student writing in a way that was useful to the students but also less time-consuming for me. This session seemed to be the answer to my prayers. Continue reading →
One of my TESL Professors told me that to be an effective educator you needed to participate in the community. I’m not sure I’ve accomplished the first part yet, but I have certainly learned a lot from volunteering. What I love about being on the TESL Ontario Board is how it has enriched my knowledge of the diversity of our field.
I have been on the TESL Ontario board for nearly 6 years, which means that my time is drawing to a close. When I reflect back on the last 6 years, the first thing that pops into my head isn’t Continue reading →