Meaningless Grammarisms

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When you hear a newscaster say, “The hurricane has WENT from Hawaii to Osaka overnight,” perhaps, like me, you yell, “That’s GONE from Hawaii, you knucklehead!” Nevertheless, you have understood that knucklehead perfectly despite the grammatical error.  There is no ambiguity in his meaning.

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Self-care for teachers: #CdnELTchat September 24, 2019

image source: #CdnELTchat

written by Bonnie Nicholas

As always, during the live chat, participants had a lively discussion responding to the questions posted by our moderator, Augusta Avram. And as always, people who couldn’t participate in the live chat added to the richness of the conversation afterwards through the #slowburn format. Thanks to everyone who participated! A couple of themes emerged from the ongoing conversation: #ELT can be stressful work, and we need to take care of ourselves and support each other. Some ideas that were shared included having an emergency self-care kit, remembering that “no” is a complete sentence, making  time and space to debrief, blocking off me time, advocating for ourselves as well as for our students, setting boundaries, and remembering the importance of exercise and physical health.

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Once Upon a Time: Using Stories to Teach ESL

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When I was a student in elementary school, I used to love “story time.” Some of my earliest and fondest memories as a child were sitting around in a circle and having the teacher read stories to the class. I’ll never forget the time my Kindergarten teacher cried while reading us “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. Stories are powerful. Story time was the best!

I love stories, whether they be novels, movies, or a friend’s adventure. So, naturally, as a teacher I like using stories in my classes.

Here are a few examples of how I have used stories as an ESL Teacher.

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Who has the Final Say about Student Marks?

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Recently, we had a lively discussion at our school regarding who has the final say regarding student benchmarks at the end of the term – is it the teacher or the program administrator? 

When we look at the PBLA 2019 guidelines, it makes a number of statements like the following:“In all PBLA assessment practices, teachers’ professional judgments are central. From selecting or developing appropriate tasks, choosing or developing assessment tools, giving feedback on writing and speaking performance, to deciding when a learner is ready to progress to the next level, teachers make decisions based on professional interpretation and judgment” (PBLA Reporting, 2019, p. 31, emphasis added).

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The Power of the Warm-Up

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The ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning of an ESL class are so valuable to both teachers and students. That is the time when students are fresh and eager to learn. I would go so far as to say that students may even be optimistic and excited about what they are about to do (at least that’s how I like to view the students in that part of the class). In the spirit of that optimism, the warm-up is a great tool to increase students’ confidence, show them what they know and what they need to work on, and give the teacher a clear understanding of where the class needs to go that day.

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A Positive Group Volunteer Experience

multi-ethnic volunteer group hands together showing unity
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While teaching a module about working in Canada, I found my students were a bit surprised when I told them that volunteer work was not only valuable to have on a resume, but also one of the best ways to gain work experience in Canada.  For many, “paid” work experience seemed to be the only valued work experience they had known.  So, when I mentioned to my class that employers like to see volunteer experience on resumes and hear about it in job interviews, students started asking how they could do it.

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What I Did on My Summer Vacations

Image Source: Patrice Palmer
Palmer, second from left, with staff of Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce Training Centre, 2017.





Do you remember having to write about your summer vacation on your first day back to school?  It doesn’t seem like a very original topic, but I want to share my experience as a volunteer in Honduras, Ethiopia, and Guyana with Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO).  You are probably wondering how this happened since I’m an ESL teacher, not an executive.  Let me explain. 

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The Top Five Ways to Support ESL Learners

Teacher helping high school students with technology
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Do you feel uncomfortable when you visit a new place? I imagine how our students feel when they arrive to Canada. Not only are they here to learn English, but they’re also here to adapt to an unfamiliar culture.

Speaking from experience as a current ESL teacher and a former ESL learner, I thought I’d compile a short list of the top five ways that teachers can support their learners in their transition to help them adjust and become confident and effective learners.

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September Brings a New School Year and New PD Goals

Start of school year concept. Teacher faceless holds blackboard with title back to school. Man welcomes students, chalkboard on background. Teacher holds chalkboard in front of face.
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The start of a new school year is upon us! Are you prepping for the first week of classes? The excitement of new students, the rush to finalize lesson plans and materials, the planning and organizing of new routines at home are all part of the exhilarating feeling that September fills the air with. September is a chance for a new start. Maybe you’ve been reading the blog throughout the summer for some new lesson ideas or new technology to try out in the classroom.  But September is also a time to think about new professional development goals.

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Summer Camp – Where Learning Can Be Fun

Summer Camp word cloud , education concept
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Over the summer, I worked as an ESL teacher at a summer camp for children and teens from abroad. This was my third-year teaching at the camp and I had a great time!

Camp Chaos

As expected, it was chaos, with students arriving every week from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. There were lots of new faces with students coming and going.

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