Tag Archives: culture

A Summertime Teaching Adventure

image source: bigstockphoto.com

One highlight of my ESL teaching career was when I taught in the Black Forest of Germany at an English Summer Camp. I taught Local German teenagers who wanted to practise conversational English. Our mandate was to introduce them to North American English since they were being taught British English in the German school system. I was the only Canadian on our team; the others were all from the United States.

A typical day was spent teaching in the mornings and then having workshops, such as cooking, in the afternoons. On Wednesdays, we took the whole day for field trips. For one fieldtrip, we went to this amazing waterpark in Lorrach, Germany. It was huge and the indoor pool flowed right into the outdoor pool with a view of the Alps. There was a totally awesome waterslide that was so long and steep that they actually had a traffic light to tell you when you could go! My six-year-old daughter really wanted to try it, but she couldn’t go alone. I was a little less eager, but certainly didn’t want to miss the opportunity. So up we climbed. It was definitely worth it. The experience was great for group discussion the next day as campers were excited to talk about how their terrified-of-heights teacher was convinced by a six-year-old to climb all the way to the top and then go flying down.

I found teaching overseas enabled me to be far more vulnerable since nobody knew me. There was simply less reason to worry. After all, in two weeks, I would likely never see these students again. It was a very different perspective to approach the class with. To be honest, it was kind of fun and sometimes scary at the same time.

The other great excursion was the End of Camp picnic on the banks of the Rhine River on the German side. Right across from us was France and to our left (as we sat eating) was Switzerland. Yes, this was one awesome teaching gig! I commented to the students around me, “You just can’t do this in my country. Have a picnic lunch and look at three countries at once.” My students, who could eat breakfast at home and zip through at least one or two countries by noon, were quite surprised. That led to a good discussion about the size of Canada compared to Germany.

Perhaps one of the best features about teaching internationally is how easy it is to find things to talk about. Obviously, I highly recommend it! Here are a few tips for you to think about.

6 Tips for teaching overseas

  • Start planning at least 8 months before you want to go. Six months is okay, but you’ll need to really keep things moving along.
  • Read your contract very carefully. What does it cover, what does it not include. (Flight, accommodation, etc.) Also, if you’re going for longer than just a summer, check out their payment schedule and sick day policy.
  • Be sure you know who your contact is in the destination country. If possible, start communicating with them directly by email or phone at least 2 months before you fly. Many organizations also have a North American contact person. My experience is that the communication between those two is not always what it should be. There were one or two key points where the information we were given by the North American representative was not exactly how the destination representative wanted it.
  • Be flexible. This is an amazing opportunity for you personally and for your teaching career. But you’re the newcomer. I quickly found out that even though I was very open to whatever came my way during the camp session, I still had unspoken assumptions and expectations about how this was all going to work.  It’s important to remember this is a work situation, not a vacation. (in the summer, it can be a lot harder to make that distinction). The reality is your site supervisor is running a workplace.

Above all, Have Fun!

Please share your overseas ESL adventures in the response section below. We’d love to hear about it!

Ramona Brown Monsour has taught LINC, ESL and EWP (English in the Workplace). She currently writes and publishes a digital newsletter App for ESL students called About Canada: Culture, Immigration & Lifestyle. She has also served as newsletter editor for the Waterloo-Wellington chapter of TESL Ontario.




15 Sources of Canada Day Activities

 Well, it is June and there is no better time to introduce the Canada Day holiday to your students.  I have searched the web and have asked colleagues about favourites for teaching about Canada and Canada Day.  Since150 would put this post way over the maximum word count, I have pulled together 15.  I hope this helps you and your students with your holiday preparation.   The resources are listed in alphabetical order. If you have any that I have missed please add them through the comments feature below.

Happy Canada Day! Continue reading


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


ESL Myths Debunked

image source: bigstockphoto.com

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


April is Poetry Month!

image source: susangaylord.com

Happy Monday TESL ON members!  Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I don’t know about you, but I love poetry!  Although most of us may not use it very much to teach English to our students,  many are aware that it can be a good way to teach the rhythm of English. However,  I think there are so many more ways that we could use this rich form of the English language. Continue reading


Aboriginal Lessons

Native American Inukshuk road side stone marker.
image source: bigstockphoto.com

When we’re educating ELLs, how many of us have the opportunity to expose students to Canadian history? I love teaching history and having learners explore how we got to today. At times, I wish I were more like a history version of Ms. Frizzle (I kind of have the hair for it minus the red).

It’s common to talk about the government, Confederation, and the iconic symbols of Canada, but I have found Continue reading


‘Tis the Season! Bringing students’ holiday traditions to the classroom

Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image Source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Hello, December! I realize it’s a few days away, but
with all the songs being played in malls and on radio stations and the stunning decorations everywhere, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been in December for the last 2 months! Every student and teacher (admit it!) is thinking more about his or her time off, and less about the time spent in the classroom. Holidays are both wonderful and important in one’s culture and society. They bring families, friends, and strangers together as they unite in the celebrations.

Holidays give us a sense of connection and perhaps more importantly, a sense of self. When you feel like you are part of something big, your life has that much more meaning. It’s a time when people make the effort to come together no matter the distance. People are more forgiving, and the desire to help is felt everywhere.

So how would you feel if you had no clue what holidays are like here? Continue reading


Learning English through Music

Music items doodle icons set. Hand drawn sketch with notes instruments microphone guitar headphone drums music player and music styles letterig signs vector illustration isolated
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

No matter what language you speak, music has a universal tongue, wouldn’t you agree? Its power in bringing people together, no matter what language they speak, is priceless. So, if music has the ability to unite us, why not use it in the classroom to help your students learn English?

I have my kids to thank for inspiring this post, partly due to their love of watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood every day. You find inspiration everywhere.
On the show they sing the lesson of the day repeatedly throughout each episode. It sticks in your head and is really catchy, and the nice thing is that the lessons are useful for children in helping to problem solve or deal with certain emotions that may arise out of unpleasant situations.  Continue reading


Kate’s Top 10 Secrets: How to Succeed in Canadian Culture

Image Source: bigstockphoto.com
Image Source: bigstockphoto.com

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:

Continue reading