My Student is Now My Colleague

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I recently decided to take an educational workshop on Mental Health in Schools offered by our school board. While it was not directly related to Adult ESL, I felt it would enhance my learning and better equip me to understand adults with similar problems.

There was quite a mix of participants: TAs, and both elementary and high school teachers. At the second session, a young woman asked if the seat was taken at the table where I was sitting by myself, and I invited her to join me. She looked familiar, and I inquired as to whether we had taken a workshop together before, or if she had attended one of the P.D. Days at TESL Ottawa. I was naturally assuming she was a teacher. She then said she knew who I was by Continue reading


Thank You for the Music!
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Have you ever noticed that when ABBA sings they don’t sound Swedish? Country singer Mel Tillis, a chronic stutterer, lost his speech impediment when performing. There has to be something that happens to your voice when you sing. That’s why I often use music in the classroom.


In June, we were working on noun/verb contractions. One student said he had difficulty with “that’ll.” I had everyone sing “That’ll Be the Day”, and as quick as you can say: “Buddy Holly ”, his problem was solved!


Teach The World!

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The ability to easily live and work overseas can be one of the greatest benefits of teaching ESL. For me, it was actually the reason I fell into the field!
If the travel bug has you, or if you’re just looking for new teaching experiences, there is a plethora of options for you out there (depending somewhat on citizenship, level of education, experience, etc.). Below is a quick breakdown of two common destinations for ESL teachers:

East Asia

China, Korea, and Japan are by far the most popular destinations for Canadian ESL teachers, especially for those with little or no experience. For many jobs, the only requirement is a bachelor’s Continue reading


Uncovering Meaning

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Early in my ESL teaching career when I had a new class, I found myself asking: “Why don’t my students do what I tell them to do?” They rarely followed up on the advice I gave them, didn’t come back from lunch on time, or even take a break when I said it was break time. I pondered this for some time. It wasn’t until after being in my class for a bit of time, that I noticed them beginning to follow my instructions. But initially they didn’t, so I thought this lag in understanding was due to them misinterpreting my particular pronunciation.

Then, I had an ‘aha!’ moment.  Continue reading


Breaking News English: Integrate Current Events into your Classes

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I have spent the past few years working in learning object and course development. In August, I am returning to the classroom to teach EFL. Putting on my teacher hat, I remember that it is important to have an emergency kit of prepared learning events in a variety of media. Worksheets, bookmarked web activities, flash cards, board games, videos, audio clips and technology such as a digital camera will contribute to future icebreakers, Friday afternoon fillers, motivation boosting sessions or the odd substitution call. Continue reading


End of Year Reflections – for Students and Teachers!

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As another school year is almost at a close, it is time for end-of-year reflections – for both students and teachers alike.

At the beginning of each school year, my students set goals for their language learning. They begin by assessing where they see their strengths and weaknesses, then selecting one or two specific areas to focus on, e.g., “Figuring out new vocabulary I read”, or “Organizing my writing more clearly”. They then make a plan of action – what specific strategies they will use to help them reach their goals, as well as what support they would like from me as their teacher and from their families at home. Mid-year we do a ‘where we are now’ check-in, which involves Continue reading


Oddly English


I was rummaging through my books when I stumbled upon two favourites I’d purchased when I attended one of TESL’s AGMs in London,Ontario. The main speaker that day was Katherine Barber, who captivated us with her wit and in-depth knowledge of the English language.

Barber was the editor-in-chief of the dictionary department at Oxford University Press in Toronto — I know, pretty cool stuff! She is one of Canada’s best authorities on the English language, so when she says that English is “crazy”, I believe it!

We all know that English is a borrowed language, in that the majority of its words come from different languages. But, have you ever wondered where certain words you use actually come from, or what their root word means? It’s always been a curiosity of mine as to how a language is assembled into what we know and use today. Continue reading


One Milestone at a Time

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This week we reached our 50th post from our Guest Bloggers and Occasional Bloggers on the TESL Ontario blog! We wanted to write a post to allow readers and bloggers to take a moment and take it all in.  Our first post was on October 6 of last year, and it started with the lines

“We are so excited and proud of this initiative which all started because of YOU, TESL Ontario members.”

We are still excited and proud of this blog, and our passion continues because of YOU, our TESL Ontario members.

THANK YOU to our bloggers, our commenters, and even our silent readers.  Over these past posts, we have engaged in meaningful conversations and opened opportunities for reflection of our own practices, and we are invested in keeping that going with your involvement.

Here’s to another 50 posts – and many more!



A Discrete Approach to Teaching ESL – What Does it Mean?

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I have been thinking about my past experience teaching discrete ESL. It is one of those experiences that I wish I could forget – erase out of my head, but the more I try, the more I think about it. Well, I read that the best way to deal with bad memories is to either talk or write about them– so here it is:

You should not ask students to read aloud! You are only to focus on reading – when they read aloud they are speaking, which is not the focus of the lesson,” said the person in charge. Continue reading


A Time for Reflection

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Another year has ended in my journey as an ESL teacher. As I look back, I realize the roller coaster ride it was.

When I started in September, I had two students in a higher, multi-level LINC class. On the first day, only one showed up. On the second, the other student was there, but the one from the first day wasn’t there. Let’s just say that on both days we spent a lot of time getting to know each other.

Continue reading