Category Archives: Academic

Raising students’ awareness of the effectiveness of note-taking for vocabulary learning through testing rather than teaching 

Learning new words is a challenging aspect of language learning and the fact that there are numerous methods for vocabulary learning is itself a testimony to its difficulty.

Of all the methods and techniques that exist, I have always found it useful to keep records or take note of new vocabulary words with their English definition and then use them in one single paragraph. Some popular vocabulary books, such as 504 Essential Words and 1100 Words You Need to Know, have endorsed this method of learning vocabulary.

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Student Success in the Online Classroom 

I work remotely as an ESL teacher for a Chinese company teaching English as a Second Language to students aged six to thirteen in China. From my observations, the cultural expectations in China are highly focused on academics.  

I’ve witnessed students attend class through a mobile device while eating dinner, in bed sick, or completing other homework while waiting for class to begin. It’s not unusual for students in China to have 12-hour school days, then come home to learn English.

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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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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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The Silent Barrier of Language Learning

Image taken from: Big Stock Photo

Language learning is always challenging, with the fear of making mistakes standing out as one of the barriers. The fear is often rooted in shame, signaling to language learners that they will face rejection in the form of judgment, invalidation, punishment, scolding, etc. This fear leads to students’ reluctance to embrace errors as stepping stones to fluency.  

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The Case for Supplemental Instruction (SI) in EAP Programs

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The EAP programs in Ontario vary considerably in many regards (e.g., curriculum), but what connects them is a shared interest in student retention and seeing EAP learners progress to becoming students enrolled in diploma, certificate, and degree programs. 

One method that has been shown to increase student performance and retention is Supplemental Instruction (SI). Though SI has been used for decades in a variety of post-secondary programs, it is very rarely used in EAP contexts. So, in this post, I will present the case for implementing SI in Ontario EAP programs.

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Suffering from Recycling Prompts? “SQT Prompt” to the Rescue

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I have been hearing the word “prompt” a lot more lately. “Prompt engineering” to be exact. This recent IT term is all the buzz, and it is paired with terms like artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLM). This blog post, however, is about another type of prompt: the one that language and communications teachers at the college level have been engineering since time immemorial and students write in response. And there lies the problem! The prompts are being recycled and passed on from the classroom to students’ sharing sites such as Studocu and Course Hero, and then making their way back to the classroom. It is not the type of recycling teachers want to see. Going viral is not always a good thing; it kills originality for everyone, so I have started to retreat my prompts and generate new ones. This time with a different twist.

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Marking my life away

Source: Zarah V. Windh on Unsplash

I set the timer and focus on my new goal: to grade a paper in twenty minutes. Everything starts smoothly; checkmark after checkmark, praise after praise. A quick glance at the rest of the paper reveals more of the same error-free, polished style. Hmm. I pull up the student’s writing diagnostic, previous assignments, and emails. All are riddled with errors and awkward phrasing. The plagiarism report, though, comes up clean.

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Questioning as a Learning Method

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As an ESL teacher, the majority of my teaching has recently been shifted to questioning. This is mainly because I’ve been teaching university Pathway courses lately, and the role of critical thinking has been the highlight of these lesson plans. In order to help my students become better critical thinkers, I need to ask critical questions. And that’s why I believe we should create the culture and context before asking critical questions, to ensure learner engagement as well as academic excellence.

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Activity: Journal Writing

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When I started teaching online, it was clear to me almost immediately that I wanted to encourage my learners to write and that I wanted to see their writing on a regular basis. I had a CLB 7 Academic class, and I began rather naively and ambitiously. The assignment was straightforward:

You will have three journal topics a week. You will be given 15 minutes a day, three times a week, to write in your journal. You will be given a journal topic or you can write about whatever you want. 

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