Lessons of the Outlier

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“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” M. Proust

Travel is not new to me. Travel as a newly minted ESL teacher is.

I am in the middle of a month-long TESL internship in Poland, arranged through Algonquin College, as an optional extension to the TESL Program. Though culturally quite similar to Canada, I am plunked in a community where I do not speak or read the language. Continue reading

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Learning English Through Songs

 

As teachers, we often encourage learners to expose themselves to as much English as possible. One way for learners to do this is by listening to English songs. They are readily available through apps like Spotify and YouTube and can be enjoyed ‘on the go’ as people go about their busy lives. In the classroom, many teachers use songs to enhance their lessons, especially when teaching children. Using a song from a children’s story, one study found songs could potentially contribute to vocabulary learning (Medina, 1993). However, we know very little about the impact of listening to popular ‘everyday’ songs on vocabulary learning as very little research has been conducted in this area (Maneshi, 2017).

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Getting in the Way of Progress

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This blog post is about the verb “to get,” and how sometimes this verb can get in the way of progress. Biber and Conrad (2001) list the verb “to get” as one of the twelve most commonly used verbs in spoken English, which explains why it would be an important verb to know. However, too much of a good thing can sometimes get in the way of progress. The verb “to get” and all its inflections can end up replacing every other possible verb, which in turn might prevent some learners from moving to the next stage of language proficiency. Continue reading

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Managing Strong Personalities in the Classroom

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I imagine we’ve all had classes in which one or two students dominate the room.  Maybe they ask questions at every turn or monopolize discussions, not leaving room for others to speak. Making room for everyone in the classroom without alienating these students can be a difficult task.  Here are some methods that can be used to keep a balanced classroom: Continue reading

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Summer Reading Bingo Challenge

image that says Summer Reading Challenge 2018Are you teaching this summer? Sometimes it can be tricky trying to get students engaged in the classroom – or even staff in the office – when the sun is shining and the breezy trees are calling. It’s that “happy place” feeling I try to tap into whenever I teach or whenever I want to motivate my team. For me, the best way to do this is through reading…and I mean really reading, the kind of reading that takes you to a place of wonder, reflection, reaction. Continue reading

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Smart Phones in the Pronunciation Class? Yes!

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Sometimes students come up with great ideas for learning!  When I taught a couple of pronunciation classes at our local community college a few years ago, I was struck by the students’ use of their phones in class – not so much as a distraction or a deterrent to learning, but as an aid to help them produce accurate speech.  The primary advantages I observed are that the phone can provide individual feedback at the touch of a button and that it is available for practice outside the classroom as well. Continue reading

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Ace the Interview: Using the SPARK-Technique to Stand Out from the Crowd

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Congratulations! You have razzle-dazzled the department manager with your small-talk skills and your memorable elevator pitch and have received the exciting news that you have a job interview. After giving yourself that well-deserved pat on the back, you realize that it’s time to start preparing. You set out to craft the most powerful and impactful answers that will not only impress your audience, but will also demonstrate how you CAN and WILL add tremendous value to their company. What might that answer look like? Continue reading

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The 30-Second Elevator Pitch – The Necessary Evil

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To be remembered, you must first make yourself memorable.

To fully understand the power of a great elevator pitch, I first have to come clean with you. After many years of teaching Business English in Korea and China, I returned to an oversaturated ESL / ELT job market, filled with passionate and qualified language instructors who were all vying for the same jobs; yet, I had to compete in an environment where I had no network, no one to sing my professional praises, no advantage of native “Englishness”, and no real understanding of how to sell myself. Six jobless months passed, and I knew it was time to finally take stock. Clearly, it was me, not them and, with this humbling realization, I set out to Continue reading

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Mastering Small Talk: Conversations That Get You Noticed and Rewarded!

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Close your eyes for a minute and picture being at a networking event, and the manager of the school you’ve been dying to work at walks up to you and strikes up a conversation.  The first think you do after saying hello is effortlessly introduce yourself with your well-crafted and powerfully supported elevator pitch but, with that finished, what do you do now? Your mind goes blank, and you see the manager starting to shift her body away from you.  You’re losing her and, with each passing second, your opportunity at a future interview starts to disappear. In that moment, how could you have saved the conversation?

The answer is simple Continue reading

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#CdnELTchat, A Twitter Chat for Language Instructors

What is a Twitter chat?

Twitter is a microblogging tool that has recently been made most famous by the American President Donald Trump. Ok, it was popular before he started running for office, but my point is that everyone is familiar with Twitter.  It has approximately one hundred million active users daily.  A twitter chat is simply a collection of users that contribute to an online conversation using a common hashtag (#).   Twitter chats sometimes feature a guest that allows a community access to his/her expertise.

#CdnELTchat

This post is addressed to English language teachers across Canada.  Continue reading

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