Category Archives: Uncategorized

The “Good Old Days” Are History

For many of us, our parents or grandparents graduated from high school, walked into a permanent full-time job, and stayed there until retirement. That’s not the case for the majority of people these days.

Many ESL professionals are on short-term contracts, working at multiple locations, or looking for their next way to earn a living. TESL Ontario makes every effort to stay relevant for its members, and a recent member survey showed the need for this topic to be addressed. Continue reading

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Peace by Chocolate – A Newcomer Success Story

I was able to attend the presentation given by Tareq Hadhad, owner of “Peace by Chocolate” at the Toronto Reference Library this past summer.  My Specialized Language Training course was just wrapping up; within the course, learners explored local entrepreneurs and local small business stories.  Peace by Chocolate showed up as a news story sometime in May, and immediately I could see the relevance for my group of adult newcomers.  I created a skill-building activity related to the news article, Daily bite: Peace by Chocolate names new bar after Mi’kmaq word For peace and the class responded with a great deal of enthusiasm, hope, and energy.  The reason they did so was because they connected emotionally to the story.  Peace by Chocolate is more than a success story for newcomers to Canada.  It’s a chronicle that exemplifies what it means to never give up, to pursue your passion, to develop strong community relationships, and to do what’s right. Continue reading

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2017 in Review

image source: bigstockphoto.com

Dear TESL ON blog readers,

We wish you all a Happy Holiday and a well deserved time of rest and relaxation, as the clock winds down for year 2017.  And on that note, below is a recap of the blogs for 2017 – in case you missed something. It’s a good time to catch up on your blog reading. 🙂

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Teachers’ Beliefs about Teaching and Learning (English)

We all have our own beliefs about teaching and learning English. Sometimes these beliefs are explicit, and we can articulate them. Other times, these beliefs are more implicit. We may not be aware of them and we may not be able to articulate them, but they are still there.

Professionally, we have beliefs about many things, including our students, the effectiveness of various pedagogical practices, the nature of knowledge itself, and even our capabilities as teachers (i.e. self-efficacy).   Continue reading

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‘I don’t know why!’

Years ago the ESL program at Brock University welcomed a cohort of remarkable students on scholarships to pursue graduate studies in Canada. All of them were optimistic and highly motivated, but one – let’s call her Marianna – stood out for her exceptional diligence. She was a geneticist, and perhaps that academic focus promoted her extremely methodical approach to studying English; in any case, she wonderfully exemplified the self-aware style that often characterizes successful adult learners. One of my experiences when teaching her was especially memorable.

But first, the background: Guided by theoretical findings that were emerging at the time, we required every ESL student to read one entire easy-reader per week. We offered a large bank of fiction and non-fiction texts, and students could freely select whatever title and difficulty-level they wished. Continue reading

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Reflections on Canada’s 150th birthday – creating unity in diversity

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

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Connecting and learning at the ISTE2017 Conference

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.

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How A Rubric Changed My Classroom

Proofread checklist and checked boxes next to the words spelling, grammar and accuracy
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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

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Getting on Board: Giving Back to ESL

group of people around a table
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

It was nearly 5 years into my teaching career before I cautiously attended my first executive meeting for TESL Ottawa. I’ve attend conferences, lectures and workshops religiously from the very beginning. It was the best opportunity to meet and get to know other colleagues away from the photocopier. It was energizing to end the day with new tips and tricks for my own teaching toolbox to try out on Monday morning. It was also a chance to Continue reading

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Language Proficiency – How much English does a teacher need?

The issue of proficiency is always at the forefront for English language teachers. As English language teachers, we need a certain level of proficiency in the language to teach it so we can serve as models for our students, and provide them with valuable language input that can help them learn. However, there is still no agreed upon level of proficiency that an English language teacher needs to teach effectively, and there may never be. Continue reading

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