Last Spring, as I was sitting listening despondently to students mangling stress, I decided to give up on words, and create a sound pattern that was so visually simple, they’d be compelled to listen.
If you can’t hear a sound, it is very difficult to reproduce it. Our students hear stressed syllables, which would be okay, except in English over 60% of our syllables are unstressed, and we often forget to teach them how to listen for those unstressed syllables.
Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age
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 →
Over the next year, I would like to share what I consider to be some of the 10 most important unwritten social rules in Canada that newcomers and their families need to know to succeed in Canada. In this first post, I’ll give you the list of all 10 secrets, as well as the first secret.
How am I qualified to know these secrets?
Keep in mind that these are what *I* consider to be the most important secrets. I am drawing on a lifetime of experience in Canada as a mother of 3 and as a worker in education, banking, computers, and employment counselling, but that doesn’t mean these social rules are cast in stone or true in every community across Canada.
Okay, so here is the list of the 10 most important secrets I’ve learned for succeeding socially, as well as in Canadian schools and workplaces:
When we are submitting a cover letter to a perspective employer, we want to showcase our skills and to communicate the fact that we have confidence.In work preparedness classes we promote the idea that confident vocabulary and sentence structure is essential to having our cover letter read.But where is the line between confidence and over confidence, and how do we teach that to our students?
I once received a homework assignment that was a sample cover letter written by a student.The format was good, the sentences well formed, and there were no spelling mistakes. However, a few lines made me wince:“I am brilliant.I am the best person that your company could hire.”This surely was confidence, bordering on hubris, that may in fact have the same effect as grammatical error on the reader of the letter.If I were the hiring manager, I’m not sure I would have read much further. So, where do we draw the line?Continue reading →
Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was planning what I wanted to do this summer with my family, and here I am already preparing for classes.I can’t believe how fast the school year got here!Everyone will soon be going back to the daily grindoflesson prepping, dry mouth from excessive talking, and marking, so I hope you’ve all enjoyed your time off.
I’m going to be honest — I was struggling to come up with a topic, especially on such a beautiful day like today. But then I thought about going back to work and how to best transition from no school habits like: sleeping in, (well, I haven’t had the pleasure of doing that since becoming a mom), and going wherever the wind takes me, to a quick shift into the routine of waking up early, standing for hours teaching, and the usual work-related things.Continue reading →
Early in my ESL teaching career when I had a new class, I found myself asking: “Why don’t my students do what I tell them to do?” They rarely followed up on the advice I gave them, didn’t come back from lunch on time, or even take a break when I said it was break time. I pondered this for some time. It wasn’t until after being in my class for a bit of time, that I noticed them beginning to follow my instructions. But initially they didn’t, so I thought this lag in understanding was due to them misinterpreting my particular pronunciation.
Have you ever seen the movie Lost in Translation? The main character, played by Bill Murray, has some strange experiences while working in Japan. The situation seems almost surreal to someone who has not experienced Japan. However, if you’ve ever lived there, what happens to him is not all that extraordinary. After having been exposed to a bit of Japanese culture, what happens to him seems closer to everyday life. Culture has a big impact on our activities and our perceptions of what is happening. How much impact, then, does culture have on something as integral as communication?
It is very difficult to teach Canadian communication norms. Most people who have been raised in Canada aren’t even aware that the language structures they use may carry a different meaning when literally translated, simply because the meaning of the expression has been internalized. Often we think our expressions are logical. Continue reading →