Tag Archives: teaching

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!

                                        image source: bigstockphoto.com

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.

Continue reading

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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…

Image source: bigstockphoto.com
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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TESL and QR codes

johna-qrcode_tesl_on_blog
A colourized QR Code leading to the TESL Ontario Blog site

While working on ESP books for a technical program, I found that QR codes were a great solution to add quick links to additional resources.  These resources included interactive activities, worksheets, images, videos, animations, graphs and further readings. I am not the first person to think of using QR codes for educational purposes. Links to fantastic resources providing a myriad of uses of QR codes for educators can be found in the additional resources section below. I am offering a few simple practices that you might consider to improve access to resources in your classroom, on your class website, or in your instructional documents.

What is a QR code?

QRs, or Quick Response Codes, were developed for Continue reading

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Say It With Confidence!

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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

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See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’ve just come from giving a presentation with a wonderful group of teachers at the TESL Ontario Conference in Toronto. My presentation was on reflective practice and we were all sharing ideas on various ways teachers can reflect on their teaching.

One teacher suggested doing peer observations. I immediately saw looks of uneasiness on a few faces. I don’t blame them as  I too have had some bad experiences with peer observations, but I have also had many great ones. So, here are some suggestions on how you can, hopefully, have a positive experience with peer observations. Continue reading

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Uncovering Meaning

Illuminated light bulb in a row of dim ones concept for creativity, innovation and solution
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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.

Then, I had an ‘aha!’ moment.  Continue reading

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Oddly English

bigstock-Learning-language--English-B-30565190
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I was rummaging through my books when I stumbled upon two favourites I’d purchased when I attended one of TESL’s AGMs in London,Ontario. The main speaker that day was Katherine Barber, who captivated us with her wit and in-depth knowledge of the English language.

Barber was the editor-in-chief of the dictionary department at Oxford University Press in Toronto — I know, pretty cool stuff! She is one of Canada’s best authorities on the English language, so when she says that English is “crazy”, I believe it!

We all know that English is a borrowed language, in that the majority of its words come from different languages. But, have you ever wondered where certain words you use actually come from, or what their root word means? It’s always been a curiosity of mine as to how a language is assembled into what we know and use today. Continue reading

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