Category Archives: TESL Ontario Conference

Experiences at the 47th Annual TESL Ontario Conference

Photo source: Jessica Freitag

The Marriott Downtown at CF Eaton Centre in Toronto was abuzz December 5 and 6 for the TESL Ontario Annual Conference 2019. Events included three keynote speakers, over 80 presentations, 28 interactive workshops, poster and publisher exhibits, and more.

Attendees viewing exhibits at the conference
Photo source: Svjetlana Vrbanic

Two members of our blog team, Lana and Jessica, attended Day 2 of the conference and each experienced a small sample of what was available. Following are some highlights from their day.

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‘Tis the Season for a Conference!

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The TESL Ontario Annual Conference is right around the corner! December 5th and 6th will be here before we know it. Are you attending? We’ve been looking at the schedule and highlighting all over the place! There are so many interesting topics being covered that it’s hard to pick just one at a time.

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Preparing for the TESL Ontario Conference

The 47th Annual TESL Ontario Conference is quickly approaching, and I am gearing up for a great time.

A Chance to Network and Learn

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This will be my first conference as a newly certified teacher. I am looking forward to seeing my colleagues – some new faces, and, hopefully, some I have seen before – and learning something new.

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TechKnow at the TESL ON 2018 Conference

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For the last 20 years, TESL Ontario has held technology workshops at the annual conference to introduce and provide conference attendees with the opportunity to learn from the many individuals who utilize technology in the classroom. Over the years, the interest has grown along with the opportunities to use technology from computers to tablets to smart phones. Most of our students have one or several of these devices. The use of these devices Continue reading

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Learning and Resilience

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This year at the TESL ON conference, Asmaa Cober, Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre, will be one of our Keynote Speakers. The following blog post was written by Asmaa. Here she gives you a synopsis of her keynote address:

Learning never happens in a vacuum — people bring all of their experiences with them to the classroom. Newcomers (and refugees in particular) have a life history — experiences that greatly affect their ability to learn. We will explore some of the types of experiences that refugees bring with them to the classroom. Continue reading

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How to Reduce Stress and Promote Positive Mental Health in Adult Learners

image source: Toronto Public Health

October 1st marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. But, what exactly is mental health and why does it need a special week?

Mental health is an important part of our overall health and well-being. In the same way we all experience physical health; we also all experience mental health. Continue reading

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Use Technology for an ESL Scavenger Hunt

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At some point in your classroom, you’ve probably created a scavenger hunt for your students. You know, the type where you hide things and provide questions, clues, or riddles to find the hidden items. These scavenger hunts have traditionally been used as a way to get students familiar with their surroundings or as vocabulary association exercises. But add the wonders of technology and the increase of ownership of mobile devices by students, and you can take scavenger hunting to a whole new level. Continue reading

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Gamification in Education: Hype or Useful Teacher Tool?

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This year at the TESL ON conference, Deborah Healey, TESOL International Association, will be one of our Keynote Speakers. The following blog post was written by Deborah. Here she gives you a taste of what she will be sharing at the conference.

Gamification in Education: Hype or Useful Teacher Tool? This is a question that I’ve been asking for the past few years, as I’ve tried gamifying some of my classes. Most teachers (myself included) have long used games in the English language classroom and in teacher training to encourage motivation and add a fun factor to learning. Some teachers have been able to use game-based learning, where a game sets the context for learning. Continue reading

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Board Moments: 2018’s New Start

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2018 has arrived with a lot of new energy and enthusiasm. At our first TESL Ontario board meeting of the year were 3 newly elected directors: Lara McInnis, Art Rekhtin and Amy Yani. Adding to that, David Hazell sits as the new Chair and I’m adding my efforts as the new Vice Chair. Other board members include Brett Basbaum, Alex Harchenko, Geoff Lawrence and returning secretary, Cheryl Fretz. The board is a great mix of experienced and newer members; with such diverse backgrounds, I am reminded of our vast membership.

TESL Ontario’s small staff has been hard at work since the conference in November 2017 and has been busy preparing many of the items raised at the AGM. It will be posted soon on our website. As for the board, planning has already started for the year ahead. We’re eagerly anticipating our joint meeting with the local Affiliate Chapter Representatives in early March. We only have the opportunity to meet twice a year, which is why it’s always a meeting we look forward to.

Having sat in on these meetings both at the affiliate and board level, the landscape of ESL in Ontario is clearly represented. To confess, as a LINC of many years, I often forget the thorny issues faced by my peers teaching in colleges and universities or the demands and challenges of those in administration and coordination. We’re all working towards the same goals of preparing our students for success. The joint meeting is also an opportunity to hear about what is happening in all 12 of TESL Ontario’s affiliate chapters.

My own affiliate chapter, TESL Ottawa, is showing such ambition in organizing new and innovative professional development opportunities. Our first “Ed Tech Jam” was inspired by what was happening in TESL Toronto’s annual T4T conference. TESL Durham tried out their first remote presenter from Ottawa a few years ago. Did you know that TESL Niagara has an “Eat, Talk, Learn” event? Or what about TESL Hamilton’s trivia nights? There’s so many creative opportunities happening at local levels and when we are able to come together, we can really share what works and what was learned.

It’s also an opportunity to come together to share what concerns we are seeing. PBLA seems to the newest acronym across most affiliates, but it’s old news in Ottawa. While international students seem to be dwindling in one area, another area has seen a surplus. One region has received federal pilot funding and another is facing job cuts. Our industry, it seems, is cyclical in nature. It’s either feast or famine. Every affiliate has faced this, and every affiliate has found a way to best handle the challenges.

The attitude at the board and at all local affiliates, I’m sure, is one of collaboration and teamwork. We’re here for each other as friendly colleagues and professionals with questions, suggestions, complaints, compliments and sparks of new ideas.

With the start of 2018, what questions and suggestions do you have for your local Affiliate Chapter? What new ideas would you like to share with the board?


Sharon Deng has over a decade of teaching experience in LINC, ESL and private sector settings. She currently sits on the TESL Ontario Board of Directors and had served as President, Affiliate Chapter Representative and Program Chair for TESL Ottawa.

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Joining In: How I Joined the Board

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Recently I had written about why I joined TESL Ontario and my local affiliate chapter in Ottawa. To follow up, I would like to explain how I went about the process in hopes that this would inspire others to see just how easy it is to participate. Having attended a number of TESL Ottawa events, I was in awe of the amount of work and effort put forth by the local volunteers. There were always messages encouraging new members to join its executive and when curiosity got the best of me, I Continue reading

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