ChatGPT Prompting the Basics 

During interactions over the past year with language instructors in various venues, I have observed a trend with educators’ generative chat usage.  Instructors are aware of generative chat technologies such as ChatGPT and Microsoft Edge Copilot through mainstream media, social media, relatives, students, or their peers. However, few have gone beyond sampling these tools a few times with basic prompts out of personal curiosity or to commence using prompts for lesson preparation.  

Attempts at generating resources with a generative chat tool do not always result in usable content because instructors often give up after a few prompts.   They do not understand that creating suitable content is an iterative process that involves structure, a defined target, skill, and imagination.  In this post, I offer guidance for language educators trying to create content for instructional purposes through prompting generative chat tools.   Continue reading

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Smartphones can be a “Smart” Helper in the Classroom

Image taken from: Big Stock Photo

At first glance, smartphones may seem like the ultimate language roadblock for ESL learners. The alluring prospect of effortlessly translating any text with a simple tap can lead to a habit of overreliance, hindering genuine language absorption. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. When approached with a strategic mindset, smartphones can indeed become “smart” tools in the ESL learning arsenal, especially for those who find themselves grappling with the complexities of English at a foundational level. 

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Navigating the Labyrinth: Understanding Cognitive Load in the Language Classroom 

 

In the dynamic realm of language learning, teachers continually seek ways to optimize the learning experience for their students. One crucial factor often overlooked is cognitive load, the mental effort required to grasp new concepts in language learning. Recognizing and managing cognitive load in the language classroom can significantly impact student engagement, comprehension, and overall language acquisition. This blog post explores the concept of cognitive load, its implications in the language learning context, and practical strategies for teachers to enhance the learning experience. 

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AI in ESL: Empowering Learners and Bridging Language Gaps

By Margaret Holec

Introduction

The past decade has seen a game-changing impact on English as a Second Language (ESL) education, thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Notably, AI has made students more independent in their learning, helping them secure jobs even with lower English levels. Additionally, direct translation of messages and emails has become seamless, enhancing communication.

1. Independent Learning: AI’s Role in Student Empowerment

AI in ESL education has shifted the focus to personalized learning, allowing students to learn at their own pace. This independence builds confidence and self-reliance as learners navigate language acquisition with tailored support.

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Teaching To The Test

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I had planned on giving one of my classes a task every Friday. What’s that saying? Ah, yes. Even the best laid plans. . . My plan was running like a well-oiled machine until the final week of classes before the Christmas break. I’d scheduled a writing task on December 15, and the class did it. That was not the problem. Time was. I didn’t have enough of it to cover all the material, and so I decided to teach to the test, or task, as it were.

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How admitting my mistake helped me land my dream job! 

Teaching is a lifelong process. Ask any teachers and they will vouch for it. As a teacher, you have committed yourself to being a lifelong learner. Teachers know this and have no hesitation attesting to it, yet it’s hard for some of us to admit our mistakes to our students. That exact moment of saying “Well, I was wrong guys about this, and you were right” could be one of the least favourable moments in our professional life. The reason for this is not hidden from us. Students trust teachers and we don’t want to let them down. What’s more, what happens to our credibility? Does that mistake indicate an irresponsibility to keep ourselves updated and in check?  

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Fun with AI: Day 1 Introductions and Boundaries

     Image sourcewww.bigstockphoto.com

This post is for those of us who are thinking of ways to introduce Dos and Don’ts about AI to our students from the very first day of classes. We can make this fun while ensuring that the task helps to establish our expectations of what constitutes appropriate AI use and what does not. For the following example, I used ChatGPT 3.5.

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TESL Ontario – Conference Blog: Career Booster

By Kiara Y.R. Kim, Resource Development Assistant

The Career Booster Forum held on Thursday, November 9, 2023, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, attracted participants eager to gain insights into employer expectations, resume-building, and effective interview practices. The event featured seasoned professionals sharing employment opportunities as well as their hiring expertise to empower new adult ESL teachers.

Employability at St. Charles

The St. Charles Adult and Continuing Education Centre offers programs in a number of categories which include English language instruction: ESL/LINC classes, citizenship, IELTS, English for Everyday Living, Care for Newcomer Children (CNC), and VISITORs. Holly Bartoszek (Supervisor) and Melita Vrakela (Lead Instructor), both from the ESL/LINC program at the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB), provided a detailed presentation of employment opportunities and hiring expectations at St. Charles. Successful candidates would begin on the supply list, then apply for permanent positions that become available. Some of the qualifications outlined included:

  • TESL Ontario Certified (OCELT)
  • Ability to instruct ESL according to CLB
  • Familiarity with PBLA
  • Evaluate student learning outcomes on an ongoing basis
  • Engage in accurate St. Charles reporting process
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TESL Ontario – Conference Blog: Career Connections

By Kiara Y.R. Kim, Resource Development Assistant

The TESL Ontario Annual Conference held on Thursday, November 9, 2023, featured a Career Connections webinar from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. This session, led by Reza Mazloom-Farzaghy, Accreditation Services Manager at TESL Ontario, and Krista Walsh-Murrayn, Project Manager at Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB), provided a detailed overview of the TESL certification application process, efficient job searching strategies, and resources provided by the CCLB.

Key Takeaways from the TESL Ontario Certification Application Process (Reza Mazloom-Farzaghy)

OCELT and ICTEAL are officially registered professional designations and certificate trademarks. OCELT certification recognizes that a certificate holder has the knowledge and skills required for teaching English to adult learners in all publicly funded and private programs in Ontario, other Canadian provinces and territories, and abroad. ICTEAL certification recognizes that a certificate holder has the knowledge and skills required for teaching English as an Additional Language in international settings. TESL Ontario offers three application pathways to gain certification:

  • Application pathway 1 is for graduates of TESL Ontario accredited training programs.
  • Application pathway 2 – CCPLAR Stream A is a credit-based evaluation pathway for those who hold prior education from non-TESL Ontario accredited training programs.
  • Application pathway 2 – CCPLAR Stream B is a competency-based evaluation pathway for those who only hold prior ESL/EFL teaching experience.
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Happy New Year!

Here are some short and sweet messages from some on our TESL ON Blog Team. We asked the question: What are you hoping to discover and learn about in 2024 with regard to your TESL practice or any other endeavours? 

Jennifer Hutchinson: Happy New Year everyone! I hope this year brings you the contentment of routine as well as the excitement of trying new things.  My resolution is to lower my screen time, watch TV less, read more, and spruce up my teaching practice with new strategies and tools. Hope I succeed!  Here’s to a happy, healthy and engaging 2024 to you all.

Derek Czajkowski: I’m reading a book by Stanford University Professor Jo Boaler called Limitless Mind, which supports the science behind neuroplasticity, the idea that we don’t have fixed brains, and we are capable of learning any subject, at any age. I want to explore this topic in my blogs, as it has definite relevance to our students, who are learning a new language, many of whom are older, and are dealing with learning impediments. I also want to expand my subject range for my blogs. In 2024, I want to learn how to be a better teacher, improve, especially how to be a more effective teacher to lower level students. I would also like to become more adept using online platforms such as Avenue, as well as incorporating AI and ChatGP in my lessons, which I keep at arm’s length, for now, but am becoming somewhat more open to. Last, I want to wish everyone a creative and dynamic year in and out of the classroom, and that despite all the frustrations that come with being an ESL teacher, we are helping our students flourish. 

John Allan:  In 2024, I am hoping to share projects that I have been contributing to over the past few years.  These are New Language Solutions, the team behind Avenue, resources being shared to the Canadian LINC sector. Posts may include discussions about online technology standards, open independent learning resources, new Canadian graded readers and considerations to make online courses more efficient. If there is an opportunity, maybe some commentary on AI and language teaching. 

Ozma Siddiqui: As the year turns over another leaf, I would like to start the new year with learning more about how AI can be used for successful learning in the classroom. AI seems to be the way forward and I would love to see how it can be integrated into the English classroom. I wish the TESL fraternity around the world the best of 2024 and hope to continue on this journey of lifelong learning!

Gordon Hatt: I’m currently doing twenty, one-hour classes per week. They are one-on-one and small group coaching classes with native French speakers whose abilities range from level 4 to 7. All of these students have studied English since grade one, and many through the college level. All of them need to be able to function in English at work at least occasionally. Finding authentic texts that stimulate the upper-level learners and learners needing specialized vocabulary is an ongoing challenge: Too easy, and there is no learning. Too difficult, and the students founder. Recently, I have experimented using ChatGPT to convert authentic news articles to the appropriate CLB level. I felt it was very successful and will be using it again in the coming year.

Elyse Borgdorf: Wishing everyone a happy and fruitful 2024.  I’ll be taking maternity leave during the year, but hope to use time away from the classroom to understand AI better and look into TESL opportunities that complement my current life stage as a young mom.

Beth Beardall: Best wishes to everyone for a healthful and fulfilling 2024. I hope to continue to hone my skills as a LINC/ESL Instructor. I am especially thinking about how to incorporate a more holistic approach to “doing” PBLA.  On a personal note, I want to continue to strengthen my newly discovered practice in Qigong.

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