Category Archives: Seasonal

Haiku: a humble but mighty tool in ESL

photo: Sahil Pandita on Unsplash

Reduce, reduce, reduce. Make every word count. I repeat these instructions every day in my EAP classroom. Session after session, I hand out exercises to reduce wordiness and replace empty, abstract words with those that are strong and specific.  

And yet, the students have a hard time going “beyond the exercise” to apply these skills to their writing. They continue to fill their pages with in the event that, “as a result of,” and “in our society today” as well as abstracts such as “the meal was good,” “the lake was beautiful,” and “the people looked happy.”  

I needed to find an authentic writing form that would encourage rich, yet spare, prose. And then it struck me—the haiku. The Japanese poem is inherently concise and relies on specific, sensory words. A win-win! 

So, I initiated a “holiday haiku” activity. First, I explained the basic form: one line with five syllables, the next with seven, and the third with five. Secondly, I divided the class into small groups to brainstorm specific, image-worthy words that evoked their celebrations back home. This second stage worked beautifully. Not only did the words flow, but also the students enjoyed sharing their cultural traditions.  

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Adventures in Summer School

Retro television with technical difficulties warning , 3D rendering
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Like many of my colleagues, I was teaching online this summer using Zoom. My adult ESL class (CLB 4) had about 14 regular students. By the end, we had become quite close and it was sad to see them go. Along the way we had a few adventures related to online learning that I’d like to share with you.

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Reflections of Summer Teaching on a Snowy Day

Concept Dreams Come True,  miracle, a dog with eyes closed sits in a winter forest and dreams of summer, butterflies fly around
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’m looking forward to the summer months. Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I recall my adventures teaching ESL at a children’s summer camp. I learned a lot, as I do every year. I enjoyed adapting existing material and creating my own instead of working strictly from a textbook. It was challenging and time consuming, but I would argue better, more student-centered, and fun.

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June is Bike Month – Let’s Get Active

image source: Toronto Public Health

Summer is a great time to get active outdoors, and getting active is something we can all use a lot more of! The World Health Organization has identified a lack of physical activity as the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality. The Government of Canada recommends Canadians should get onto their feet more and sit less during the day to maintain good health. Engaging in physical activity allows you to strengthen your body and improves your overall sense of wellbeing. Getting active is something everyone can take part in.

Our last TESL blog on physical activity looked into ways to stay active in the classroom. We hope that this month’s blog will help you promote an active lifestyle for your students outdoors.

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Let us be thankful

image source: bigstockphoto.com

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers!

This blog isn’t really about being thankful… unless you are thankful for a few ideas that you can use this week to teach about Thanksgiving. Are you tired of the same old worksheets that you use year after year? Are you looking for something different?  Here I want to offer some (hopefully) fresh ideas that you can consider using in your classroom. Also, please share any ideas that you love to use in the comment section below.  So, let’s freshen up our Thanksgiving activity repertoire. Continue reading

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Bringing holidays into the classroom: Ramadan

image source: bigstockphoto.com

I often think about newcomers to Canada, and specifically those coming from challenging circumstances who are building a new life in a new land. How are they settling into their new environment? Are they adjusting? Managing? Dealing? Healing?

Many of these newcomers are from the Middle East and are observing Ramadan, a holy month that’s observed by millions of Muslims around the world, where the central focus is fasting. Continue reading

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‘Tis the Season! Bringing students’ holiday traditions to the classroom

Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Hello, December! I realize it’s a few days away, but
with all the songs being played in malls and on radio stations and the stunning decorations everywhere, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been in December for the last 2 months! Every student and teacher (admit it!) is thinking more about his or her time off, and less about the time spent in the classroom. Holidays are both wonderful and important in one’s culture and society. They bring families, friends, and strangers together as they unite in the celebrations.

Holidays give us a sense of connection and perhaps more importantly, a sense of self. When you feel like you are part of something big, your life has that much more meaning. It’s a time when people make the effort to come together no matter the distance. People are more forgiving, and the desire to help is felt everywhere.

So how would you feel if you had no clue what holidays are like here? Continue reading

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