Do you encourage and provide opportunities for learner self-reflection in your classes? When and how often?
I like to give students opportunities during the term (and of course PBLA prescribes it). But it always seems especially pertinent as the year closes out – whether it is the end of the school year or the end of the calendar year. So, as 2021 comes to a close, I thought I’d share some self-reflection activities that I have used and that you might like to try in your classes. These are good for upper-intermediate and higher levels, including EAP.
Instructors in the LINC program have been teaching within the framework of PBLA (portfolio-based language assessment) for a few years now with the most recent guidelines having been published in 2019. The 2019 PBLA Guidelines outline the history and rationale, address practical implementation, and conclude with a resource section. While some instructors have embraced its use and see its benefits, others continue to find that it impedes effective teaching and learning, consuming a lot of time both in and out of the classroom. Program costs, its impact on teachers’ time, and its accuracy in measuring student language proficiency are important elements when considering its effectiveness. In this blog, I consider “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in PBLA theory and practice. Continue reading →
In these strange and isolating times, many ESL instructors have navigated a truly steep learning curve of technical knowledge to teach online. Whether your online class looks the way you want it to or not, I applaud your efforts. I bet learners in your class are also very thankful for you!
Some of you might know that April is national poetry month.
The theme this year is A World of Poetry. What a great opportunity to
create poetry with your online class! Below are some resources and ideas to get
you on your way.
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.
This blog isn’t really about being thankful… unless you are thankful for a few ideas that you can use this week to teach about Thanksgiving. Are you tired of the same old worksheets that you use year after year? Are you looking for something different? Here I want to offer some (hopefully) fresh ideas that you can consider using in your classroom. Also, please share any ideas that you love to use in the comment section below. So, let’s freshen up our Thanksgiving activity repertoire. Continue reading →
Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age
Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.
In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address Continue reading →
Happy Monday TESL ON members! Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I don’t know about you, but I love poetry! Although most of us may not use it very much to teach English to our students, many are aware that it can be a good way to teach the rhythm of English. However, I think there are so many more ways that we could use this rich form of the English language. Continue reading →
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 →
While many of you may already be going into your 2nd or 3rd week of classes, we wanted to share some ideas to get over those first day jitters that so many new instructors and students may be feeling. For more ideas on get-to-know activities, please click on the link to read Cecilia’s blog posted previously: Get-to-know activities in the language classroom
I don’t know about you, but I find the first days of class can be a little scary, yet exciting at the same time. Students probably wonder what the teacher will be like and how they will fit in with the other students. Thoughts such as, “Will everybody be at my level of English?” or “I hope I’m not at the bottom of the class!” are likely common.
During my TESL practicum, I was privileged to work with a wonderful instructor in an EAP class. My practicum supervisor* was great at scaffolding and layering; as the course progressed, each language skill was incorporated into subsequent lesson activities until it all culminated in a final project. The class was in oral skills with the final project being a presentation. Along with using the targeted language from the semester, the presentations also included a focus on appropriate body language, strategies to engage the audience, and the use of technology.
While presentations are common in English language classes, they can be very stressful and time consuming. In order to add variety to the assessments during the course, another activity that was required of the students, and that could easily be adapted for any type of ESL classroom, was leading a discussion group. Not only did we use this in the EAP context, I used the same activity in an EFL class that I taught in Ecuador in which the students were preparing to take the First Cambridge Exam. Here is how I did it!