Tag Archives: learning

English is the worst!

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We’ve all been there and heard it – “Why are these two words spelled the same but sound different?” or “Why do I need a comma there? You might have answered, “Because you don’t want to eat your mom; it’s “I want to eat, mom.””

I came across this humorous article Continue reading

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Cans, Wants, and Wills

Concept image of a Calendar with the text: Lessons Learned

This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading

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Lessons learned in an ESL Literacy Class

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During the fall term, I was privileged to teach a group of 10 ESL Literacy students. Although in the past I had volunteer-tutored a literacy student and had taught various computer literacy classes, teaching a whole class of beginner ESL students with literacy needs was a whole new challenge. I have to say it was thoroughly rewarding 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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Rediscovering our inner child: Games in the classroom

Close up portrait of hard laughing young man. Isolated on white background, mask included
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Every day I watch my kids play all day long. And they never seem to grow tired of it either. So surely there’s something to their favourite past time other than having fun. When you think about it, for children, the act of playing is a way of learning. Except, it’s not just about using brain power but also about using all of their senses alongside their schema to help them solve whatever mystery or problem comes their way. I view it as a holistic approach to learning. So how is it that we lose that as we enter into adulthood?

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Trauma + Second Language Learning = Alternative Pedagogy

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Imagine you are in a doctor’s office being told that you have a serious, life threatening condition. Blood races through your veins, heartbeat pounds between your ears, breath is shallow, and you can feel your clothes sticking to your skin. Your body is in a heightened state of arousal. Do you recall the term “fight/flight/freeze” from science class? This is it — you are in what is called “survival mode”. By the time you get home, you realize how many questions needed to be asked but were forgotten while in the doctor’s office, and you barely remember what was said. This is an example of the psycho-physiology of trauma.

If you can relate to this scenario, (or one like it), then you can understand how difficult it is to function normally in this heightened state of arousal. It’s understandable that this state of anxiety can occur during a traumatic or highly stressful experience, but what you may not be aware of is that it can also persist for long periods after the traumatic event.

Why is this important now? With the refugee influx coming into Canada, you may encounter a surge of students in your classroom displaying symptoms related to post traumatic experiences like violence, displacement or loss, which will have an impact on how they learn. As a teacher, you may see a trend of problematic behaviours or students’ lack of progress in the traditional learning environment. Continue reading

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A Time for Reflection

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Another year has ended in my journey as an ESL teacher. As I look back, I realize the roller coaster ride it was.

When I started in September, I had two students in a higher, multi-level LINC class. On the first day, only one showed up. On the second, the other student was there, but the one from the first day wasn’t there. Let’s just say that on both days we spent a lot of time getting to know each other.

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Alleviating Article Anxiety

Simplify Blue Marker
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While it is probably true that simple language structures are the easiest thing to teach and  learn, we should look very carefully at what we consider to be simple.

Take for example English articles. There are only two of them: definite and indefinite —   maybe three, if we count the allophonic variant of the indefinite article  ‘an’.  Unlike other languages,  in English we don’t have to take into account gender or case when deciding which one to use.   So, why are these items so difficult for English language learners?  The answer to this question relates to the rules that govern articles, which are very complex, thus making their application somewhat difficult.

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Life Lessons (for Me) Through Education

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“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”   —John Dewey

I love this quote.  It’s so simple but, at its core, it embodies the vastness of what it means to be “educated”.  In its essence, education is so much more than desks or books or technology.

As the Winter/Spring term of my EAP classes at CultureWorks dashes to the finish line, I reflect on the ‘tidbits’ of wisdom that my students have imparted unto me.  I “teach” mostly young adults mostly, from many parts of the globe.  To be honest, teaching to an international audience is only part of what I do.  The bulk of my days are spent amassing an “education”.

My vocation is unique in that it inspires an environment of ‘give and take’, conducive to the search for truth.  Although there are countless aspects of my career that are fulfilling, I am most grateful that it allows me to be a lifelong learner, where the students are the teachers.

I’d like to share a couple of “truths” fashioned by two of my students recently.

Truth #1:  Experiencing life requires a good sense of humour.

We’re human.  We make mistakes. Foreign students like Lu will naturally commit a faux pas of the “cultural” kind.  A simple task such as grocery shopping can prove to be incredibly confusing.  For example, grocery carts in this city come in a few different sizes–small, large, and motorized.  Generally speaking, loading a small or large grocery cart with newly purchased edible goodies out to the parking lot will attract little, if any, attention; however, climbing Continue reading

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