Tag Archives: teaching

#CdnELTchat, A Twitter Chat for Language Instructors

What is a Twitter chat?

Twitter is a microblogging tool that has recently been made most famous by the American President Donald Trump. Ok, it was popular before he started running for office, but my point is that everyone is familiar with Twitter.  It has approximately one hundred million active users daily.  A twitter chat is simply a collection of users that contribute to an online conversation using a common hashtag (#).   Twitter chats sometimes feature a guest that allows a community access to his/her expertise.

#CdnELTchat

This post is addressed to English language teachers across Canada.  Continue reading

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Reflections on the implementation of PBLA

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“You have to get your SBA’s, SUA’s, T’s and A’s in order to have an organized portfolio, Sridatt,” said the Lead Instructor of Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) implementation. “You also have to get,” continued the official, “peer evaluations [PE’s], learner reflections [LR’s], and inventory checklists [IC’s], all in order to have a good, organised portfolio.”  The order and presentation of the portfolio, not the teaching of the language itself, seems paramount. I welcome myself to the new world of English as a second language teaching, even though my new teaching practices are not aligned with my educational philosophy.

By the time the individual was finished, I was beginning to see a sort of preoccupation over skill building activities (SBA’s), skill using activities (SUA’s)  tasks (T’s) and assessments (A’s). When the individual was gone, it didn’t take much reflection to conclude that Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) seems to be a faulty assembly line approach to education.   Continue reading

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Reading, Reading, Reading. Why it’s so important!

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I was talking with a colleague, Lisa, during lunch break the other day. At our school, the students have a  1-hour class with a pronunciation instructor once per week. Lisa was suggesting  the merits of having a similar intensive lesson every week on reading.  After our discussion, I began to consider the importance of reading versus the other skills. I am beginning to wonder if reading is the key skill to developing English proficiency.

Don’t get me wrong – Teaching pronunciation is one of my favourite classes to teach. I guess I like the focus of language use and playing with the sounds, the stress, intonation and inflection. Many students have expressed that it is important for them, as well.

Anyway, back to reading.  Continue reading

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STRESSING OUT WITH THE BOMba’s

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.

English spelling compounds the problem.  Continue reading

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“Be the Star” – Making Videos for Your Classroom

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“I’m just going to find a video quickly online!” I’ve said to myself many times, clearly delusional.  A “quick” online hunt for material to use in class often becomes a lengthy goose chase.  It’s hard to find just the right thing, at the right level, on the right subject when searching the vast reaches of the World Wide Web.  The better option?  To make it myself. Sometimes this can seem intimidating though, especially if videography is a medium one is not used to working in.

Considering that fact, below is my summary of a video presentation my business partner, Larissa Conley, and I made for this year’s TESL Ontario Conference explaining how to make your own videos for classroom use.  Continue reading

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Data-driven learning with WordSift

image source: John Allan

I recently came across a web resource that reminded me of using Data-driven learning (DDL) with students.  I have not tried using DDL for a few years but I think that WordSift will allow instructors to use basic DDL techniques with their students.

What is DDL?

Data-driven learning is a learning approach in which learning is driven by research-like access to linguistic data (Johns, 1991). DDL examines a corpora or body of text. WordSift can generate useful usage data Continue reading

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I (Don’t) Understand!

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Have you ever explained a task to your students, checked to make sure they understood, and then let them go to work – only to realize as they stared blankly at their work, that they actually didn’t understand?  In my first years of teaching, I was so puzzled by students telling me they understood when they clearly didn’t.  Even when I would ask directly, “Do you understand?” the answer I was given was often “Yes, teacher” before it became clear that the opposite was true.  This was frustrating!  It seemed so obvious Continue reading

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ESL Myths Debunked

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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.

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Thinking of facilitating a webinar?

image source: John Allan

If you are considering leading a webinar in the near future, I have some suggestions that might make your experience a little more enjoyable.  I was on the TESL Ontario Social Media Committee and became interested in the idea of running a webinar as the team matured and the range of session titles expanded.  I have to admit that I thought it would be a walk in the park as I have facilitated online workshops, meetings, courses and presentations before. However, the experience surprised me, as webinar facilitation involved additional features that required attention. Continue reading

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The Translingual Approach – Agree but…

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Image source: bigstockphoto.com

I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?

Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…

Agree

I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected.  I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading

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