Getting on Board: Giving Back to ESL

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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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Bringing holidays into the classroom: Ramadan

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I often think about newcomers to Canada, and specifically those coming from challenging circumstances who are building a new life in a new land. How are they settling into their new environment? Are they adjusting? Managing? Dealing? Healing?

Many of these newcomers are from the Middle East and are observing Ramadan, a holy month that’s observed by millions of Muslims around the world, where the central focus is fasting. Continue reading

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PBLA: A Need for Task-Based Needs Analysis and a Study in Task Differentiation

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Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) is here to stay. “Teachers cannot opt out” (p. 58) and it is “an expectation of employment” (p. 71). Once implemented the way it was meant to be, the evidence suggests, it is an academically sound approach to teaching and learning. The PBLA programme, now being implemented in all ESL non-credit classes that are funded by Citizenship and Immigration, has two critical shortcomings which I have encountered Continue reading

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Word Order Makes It in Kahoot’s Jumble Game

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Have you tried Kahoot’s new jumble game? It’s fun!

If you are an avid reader of TESL Ontario blogs, you would know Nadeen wrote about it in October 2015 – so yes! Kahoot has been around for a long time. You can read her blog here: Use Kahoot to spice up your lesson.

Now for the newness, which soon will be ‘the has been’ since technology moves faster than a speeding bullet (sorry . . . Superman).

Pick from an existing activity

The new Jumble game is great for students at any level who need to practice word order or any other type of sentence structure. Continue reading

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Change the routine without disrupting the class – take a virtual field trip!

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In the interest of planning a class field trip, I was reading Tara Benwell’s blog post, 25+ Field Trips for English Language Learners. She provides a variety of opportunities for live field trips. I am considering a few of these ideas.  However, I teach in a situation that has several obstacles to taking students on field trips.  Climate, cultural norms, transportation, scheduling, catering and budget can be issues in the Middle East.  I am sure that if you are reading this in Canada, you can identify with a few of these issues. Even if you do resolve the budget, scheduling, transportation, permissions and climate issues, then you are normally limited to locations 100km from your centre. Continue reading

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TESL WW, May 2017 Conference: Thinking Critically

Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age

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Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.

In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address 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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ESL Myths Debunked

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I was browsing the web the other day (what else is new!) and I stumbled upon a great article by Rusul Alrubail.  She answers what she calls the myths of ESL learners.

The 5 myths she addresses are:

  • Students can’t use their L1 in class
  • Students need to be corrected when they’re speaking English
  • All learners are immigrants
  • A student must assimilate with the North American culture if they want to learn properly
  • All learners share similar backgrounds, status, and culture.

Continue reading

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Synchronous Word Clouds . . . At Last!

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Not too long ago I created an activity with my students where I asked them to write three types of literary genres they enjoy the most. The task involved writing three words on index cards. I then asked them to meet in groups to share their words. Group by group, they would come to the podium and add their words on Wordle.net  – adding each word repeatedly at times and only once other times. At the end, I would let WordleTM do its thing.  The result was a collective word cloud that would visualize the commonalities among everyone in my class. Continue reading

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National Volunteer Week: Let’s Make a Difference Together

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I tried to scour the Internet for motivational/inspirational quotations to start this post. I wanted to really capture the essence of my intention and put it into words using a famous quotation or an iconic figure that would resonate with you. I read quotation after quotation, visited page after page, and no string of words truly said what I wanted to convey today.  Why is today so special? Why am I trying to find just the right combination of words? Continue reading

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