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.
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
Last week, just before my webinar on using Twitter for Professional Development and Developing your Personal Learning Network (PLN), I came across a tweet from @danielmccabe, quoting Dave Burgess (@burgessdave), in Teach Like a Pirate , that said:
The negative teachers aren’t on Twitter…the people you see there are trying to move forward and help others move forward. (Burgess, 2012)
I am fresh off a third webinar for TESL Ontario and am basking in the glow of my PLN. This webinar was the second in a series of three that TESL Ontario has supported me in presenting. I had the pleasure of telling some stories about the important connections I’ve made on Twitter with teachers who offer me support and necessary dialogue. My Twitter PLN is the best sounding board for developing and tweaking ideas I have.
One of the challenges for educators active on Twitter is to bring more lambs into the fold. My favourite quote is from @AcademicsSay:
“You’ll have to show me how to do this Twitter thing sometime.” – Every colleague ever.
Over the past twenty years, I have met and befriended many teachers, but don’t even need all of my fingers to count the ones active on Twitter. It’s a shame, really. So many teachers are missing out.
I had lunch with a former colleague this week who was surprised and shocked by what I’ve been able to do Continue reading
I went to my last class this past Friday expecting my entire class to be present. Well, of the 13 who normally attend, only 5 showed up! I didn’t know how to feel about this. But no matter, I carried on with the lesson. To stay positive, I thought it was great that I could focus more on each individual. We had a lot of fun despite the lack of attendance that day.
The feeling in the room was certainly bittersweet. On one hand, I was happy to have my Fridays back to spend with my little girl, but on the other hand, it was kind of hard for me to leave these special individuals, whom I’ve come to respect and appreciate so much throughout the course of the past seven weeks.
“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
A great song lyric from Rod Stewart’s Forever Young
Listening to Irfan’s voicemail message, my mind darted back to a November morning in 2007 when he and his older brother Arman walked into my class.
They stopped, stared, and smiled. They said hello and sat down. They pointed to their names and addresses on the paper they carried. They had barely made it to level 1. As a novice teacher in the first year, I was more nervous than they were in the multi- level classroom. At 22, Arman was shouldering the responsibility of caring for his widowed mother and younger brother. At 18, Irfan had moved to Canada with no knowledge of English. They had worked in a factory for a few months before they’d been laid off. He wasn’t even aware he was entitled to Unemployment Insurance (EI now). Continue reading
Learning a language is tough. Period. And if English is your first language, count yourself lucky. Because truth be told, English has to be one of the more difficult languages to retain, especially if you had to learn as an adult. I know a thing or two about that (minus the adult part). When my family made the move to Canada, I couldn’t speak a word of English. In fact, I struggled to learn even at the young age of 8. Based on my interview, the school felt I didn’t need an ESL teacher and decided to throw me in the lion’s den, unaided and helpless (or at least that’s how I felt at the time).
My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Eadie, challenged me mentally in more ways than I can describe. She never took it easy on me since I understood nothing of the language. Instead, she thankfully treated me like the rest, and if I didn’t understand, well I’d better read up! I welcomed the challenge, although I was quite frustrated at times. But with the help of both my homeroom teacher and my English teacher, Mrs. Harley, who had me write in a journal every day at the beginning of class, I learned that making mistakes was the only way I was going to learn. I needed to fail a few times before I was able to see the light. Such an invaluable lesson I’d learned: you’re going to fall before you can stand, and that’s OK! Continue reading