A Clash of Technology and Needs

Confused elderly man looks at the computer
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The age of technology has arrived. It can be integrated, according to its pundits, into every stage of teaching the four basic skills: Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing. Better yet, nothing beats technology for enhancing both teaching and learning, the pundits add. It’s the new transformative tool and game changer in the domain of education.

Selected studies on specific target audiences suggest that one particular app or another has indeed enhanced reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. On the whole, however, years have passed, and test scores and outcomes have not gotten any better with most technology assisted learning and its various applications. No one, especially me, seems to know which technology is best suited to a teacher’s goals and outcomes. There are, and I think everyone would agree, too many apps purporting to enhance both teaching and student learning. At the same time, studies on the efficacy of technology and second language learning are Continue reading

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Need PD, no budget? Consider a MOOC.

What is a MOOC?

image source: www.flikr.com
Image source: www.flikr.com

A MOOC or massive open online course is a course that is open to the public and is typically free of charge.  MOOCs are available on the internet.  They are offered by a wide spectrum of institutions including universities, colleges, for profit concerns, and diverse interest groups.   There are thousands of courses available.

Why use a MOOC?

MOOCs are usually free with the option of a purchased certified credential delivered on the completion of course requirements.  The cost of certification commonly ranges from $15 to $50.  Many of us are experiencing limited budgets in the education sector. MOOCs offer the potential for career advancement or skills improvement without the need for requesting funds from your institution. Continue reading

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Mid-term blues – Keep Going!

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image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I find myself asking this question often, but in all seriousness, where has the time gone?
I can’t believe November is a week away!  It’s fair to say that some of us don’t have that drive we once had at the start of the school year to get up first thing in the morning, eager to start the workday. And honestly, no one can be blamed for feeling run down already. Our profession can take a lot out of us. There’s no
denying that. And with the influx of newcomers – due to what’s been happening in the world – it hasn’t lightened the load any. So teacher burnout is a real possibility.

So much demand is placed upon teachers, and the needs of the students can really affect your will and drive to stay motivated. Especially around this time of year, it’s easy to Continue reading

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ESL for Specific Purposes – Myth or Reality?

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

To function or not to function? That is the question. Have you ever been faced with a 36-hour business English intensive course that aims to bring beginner-level students to a “functional” level of fluency in a work-place setting? Do you think this type of course can be successful in developing “functional” fluency? I think not.

There currently exists a panoply of “function-specific” ESL courses, from business correspondence to academic purposes. While it is possible to teach an advanced student to draft conventionally proper business letters, it is virtually impossible to do the same with a beginner. In order to meet this demand however, many institutions offer short courses which are function-specific. In other words, the ESL course will not cover, say, Continue reading

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The Translingual Approach – Agree but…

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?

Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…

Agree

I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected.  I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading

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Encouraging sustainable writing practices in the ESL/EAP classroom

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

Hey now, TESL Ontarians! Have you ever found yourself concerned that your students may leave your class/course without a solid foundation for long-term development of their writing? Perhaps they have managed to write an argumentative essay or reflective essay in your class, but you wonder what you could do to better help them achieve the feat again in the future?

During the span of my teaching career, I have felt this way at times. So, over the past several years I have been sure to include a focus on writing processes and practices that may help students achieve sustainable academic writing outcomes. In this post (as well as in a subsequent post in November), Continue reading

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Back to school: First day jitters for students and teachers

Learn it's cool! Joyful teacher showing thumbs up. Photo adult teacher near blackboard education concept
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While many of you may already be going into your 2nd or 3rd week of classes, we  wanted to share some ideas to get over those first day jitters that so many new instructors and students may be feeling.  For more ideas on get-to-know activities, please click on the link to read Cecilia’s blog posted previously: Get-to-know activities in the language classroom 


I don’t know about you, but I find the first days of class can be a little scary, yet exciting at the same time. Students probably wonder what the teacher will be like and how they will fit in with the other students. Thoughts such as, “Will everybody be at my level of English?” or “I hope I’m not at the bottom of the class!”  are likely common.

But what about us – the instructors? Continue reading

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Don’t just press play: using video in the ESL classroom

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

There are a plethora of videos available to instructors and many  are excellent tools to use in the classroom.  When learners watch a video in the ESL classroom, it can transform a subtle point of language instruction from abstract to concrete.
Learners not only process information with their rational minds, but also with their emotions when they watch and listen together. Exercising more than one domain in a learning situation assists in skill development (Bloom, 1956). Watching a character on video experience a situation simulates a real life experience for the observer promoting use of the Cognitive and Affective Domains (Bloom, 1956).

According to Gibbons, McConkie, Seo & Wiley (2009), using simulation in conjunction with supplementary problem solving materials that promote learner interaction with simulation Continue reading

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Special Post: TESL Ontario Webinar Survey Opportunity

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

Have you participated in one of TESL Ontario’s webinars?  Have you viewed a recording of a webinar?  Have you just been waiting for a topic that reflects your PD needs?  Let

your voice be heard through TESL Ontario’s Webinar Survey!

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes, and it’s time worth spent!  The TESL Ontario’s Webinar team works hard at developing a high-quality PD format for our members.

Please support this amazing program that not many other professional regulatory bodies offer!  You have until Friday September 16, 2016 to complete the survey.

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