Summary of the #English Language Skills discussion with Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, OCELT

Image source: teslontario

On April 30, 2021 people in the TESL Ontario community discussed teaching the English language skills on Twitter. The guest moderator of the evening was Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna (@capontedehanna). Cecilia is a full-time professor at Centennial College, where she teaches English communications courses to local and international students. With over 15 years of teaching experience, Cecilia has taught children as young as 3 years old to adults in their golden years.

Cecilia’s background in education is grounded on her life-long journey to teaching and learning, starting with a Diploma in Education with specialization in second-language and reading and literary, which led to Ontario College of Teachers and TESL (OCELT) certifications, and continuing with an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from York University. She has written for College Quarterly, and college magazines, presented at numerous conferences, and is an active blogger for TESL Ontario. Cecilia has also served as webinar moderator and is currently a video editor for the organization’s video editing team and a member of TESL Ontario Board of Directors.

These questions guided our 1-hour long chat:

  1. What is your approach to teaching the various language skills: inductive or deductive, discrete or integrated?
  2. What’s your favourite reading strategy or activity?.
  3. When it comes to #writing, is “read to write” your approach or is it mixed?
  4. What listening and speaking strategies do you recommend?
  5. What skill other than RWSL should be  included in the language classroom?

To read the tweets of the evening check out the live #teslONchat on Twitter. 

#teslONchat’s Evening Highlights by @capontedehanna

We began the chat by acknowledging the land from where I tweeted, which is the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, Haudenosaunee and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. From there we moved swiftly from one question to the next. I was impressed at how the hour flew as we explored teaching English language skills from a  holistic lens covering #reading, #writing, #speaking, #listening, and beyond.

From the responses to Q1, it looks like we all do a mix of everything (i,e., inductive, deductive, discrete, integrated) with the view to benefit our learners, yet keeping in mind the needs of the curriculum, which sometimes calls for discrete teaching of language skills. This, I have learned, is not as discrete as we think since to teach one skill, we need to medley with the others.

Q2 produced a productive list of ideas (no pun intended!). I shared my Questioning the Author (QtA) technique, which is based on Beck, McKeown, Hamilton, and Kucan (see source below); QtA is a L1 reading technique for beginner readers but with great application to L2 learners of any age, and it is meant to help students differentiate between main and supporting ideas while deconstructing meaning through paraphrasing, summarizing, and analyzing the author’s intention. Tyson @seburnt reminded us of Academic Reading Circles (ARC) and I have to agree that ARC is an invaluable technique to promote reading comprehension, especially as students take on reading responsibilities and engage in collaborative meaning making. I also really liked Vanessa’s (@vinino23) approach of using infographics as a reading technique, which is a great idea since it pushes students to find vocabulary to explain what they see (see resources below). 

Q3 came in quickly after –we were flying in Twitterverse– and participants shared some of their writing strategies, including the use of pictures and titles as a way to activate students’ prior knowledge.

Q4, which dealt with listening and speaking, produced a robust chain of tweets. Role-playing tasks and story-tellinhg are popular techniques, which Robin @Robin_sethi incorporates for beginners and advanced learners respectively. Participants agreed that teaching students about turn-taking and how to agree/disagree politely are important speaking skills; @leutner_s explained that these skills help with both listening and speaking. I couldn’t agree more! I shared my use of dictogloss and the cloze test. The latter, although originally meant to assess reading, can also help students hone their listening skills as they tune in to listen for the missing words in the passage (see source below).

Time ran out on us before I knew it, but I was able to plug in culture as a skill in my answer to Q5. Curious about what else was discussed? Fortunately, you can check out #teslONchat on Twitter to read more about the topic. 

Resources shared throughout the chat

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Join us on May 28, 2021 at 7pm as we discuss Google Apps for ELT with Stephanie Leutner (@leutner_s


This summary post was written by Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, OCELT and Vanessa Nino.

Vanessa is the manager of TESL Ontario’s Twitter. Find Vanessa tweeting over @vnino23 

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