Category Archives: Academic

Critical Thinking Skills as Easy as 1-2-3

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The numbers 1-2-3 stand for the formula I devised to teach students to develop and demonstrate Critical Thinking Skills. By following the 1-2-3 formula, I teach students to think about their choice of answers.  I came up with this strategy as part of my efforts to teach first year college students to answer reading comprehension questions. Historically, I have found that short-answer questions tend to ask students to answer in one or two sentences, which, I think, limit students’ ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills. One or two sentence responses do not really encourage students to explain how they arrive at the answer. The result is usually an answer that can either be easily found in the text or must mirror what the instructor expects the answer to be.  Continue reading

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Navigating Ontario’s EAP Sector (Part 1)

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2022 marks a professional milestone for me: one decade as a contract instructor within Ontario English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs. The last ten years have seen me criss-cross the province undertaking assorted contracts for eight post-secondary institutions. Every college/university I have worked for has had a unique culture and slightly different approach to academic preparation for English language learners. However, some common themes have emerged about how the Ontario EAP market seems to operate.

In a two-part series, I will share insights about navigating a career in EAP that I wish I had realized from the start. I am confident much of what I say can apply to other TESL environments too.

In this first blog of the series, I discuss how people can get their foot in the door.

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Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction: Praxis in Motion

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Praxis, the process of enacting theory, has played a significant role in my teaching practice, especially whenever my adult learners have a difficult time grasping a concept or feel like they are not learning as fast as they should. I find that when students begin to ask “why” and “how” questions or err repeatedly, I can rely on theory to explain and demonstrate the issue at hand. This methodology (Seabury, 1991) has worked for me and my adult learners, whose problem-solving curiosity is driven by their andragogical needs (Knowles, 1971).

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An Epic Battle of the Imagination

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

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(Carroll, L. 1865. Alice in Wonderland)

Introduction

 I wrote this piece about three years ago, reflecting on an old lesson and the role imagination plays in our ESL curricula.  I believe this activity could be modified for an online classroom. If you give it a go, please let me know how it works out!

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#CdnELTchat Summary for June 1, 2021 Self Directed Professional Development with Anna Bartosik

Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

Post by Jennifer Chow

#CdnELTchat was happy to have Anna Bartosik (@ambartosik) share her expertise on Self-Directed Professional Development (SDPD) on June 1. Anna is an English language teacher at George Brown College, instructional designer, and PhD Candidate at OISE. Her research is in self-directed professional development in digital networks. Learn more by reading her blog: https://annabartosik.wordpress.com/.

Before we started our discussion, we had a moment of silence to mourn and remember the #215children in Kamloops. #CdnELTchat is also taking time to reflect and plan a future chat with #teslONchat later this month to talk about what we need to do in order to move forward with the 94 Calls To Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and work for #Reconciliation.

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#CdnELTchat and #teslONchat Summary with Guest moderator JPB Gerald: Decentring Whiteness in #ELT

Decentring Whiteness in #ELT
Guest Moderator, JPB Gerald
Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

Post by Tanya Cowie, Jennifer Chow and Bonnie Nicholas

On May 11, the #CdnELTchat team, along with #teslONchat, welcomed JPB Gerald (@JPBGerald) as our special guest moderator for a live chat on the topic of Decentring Whiteness in #ELT. JPB Gerald is a doctoral candidate in Instructional Leadership. His scholarship focuses on language teaching, racism, and whiteness. Learn more at jpbgerald.com or by listening to the podcast, UnstandardizedE. We can also recommend his article in the BC Teal Journal, Worth the Risk: Decentring Whiteness in English Language Teaching, as well as his most recent co-authored piece (with @ScottStillar and @Vijay_Ramjattan) in Language Magazine, After Whiteness.

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Effective Online Tools & Resources for Teachers and Learners

Education, distance education, internet studying, e-learning flat vector illustration. Online classes, training courses, tutorials, online education design for mobile and web graphics
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Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our learners.

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#CDNELTCHAT & #TESLONCHAT : JOIN THE CHAT ON THURSDAY!

Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team
Guest Contributor: Jennifer Chow
 
Join #CdnELTchat & #teslONchat to chat about designing inclusive pedagogies in #ELT on Thu, Feb 25 (note the date) at 6PT 7MT 8CT 9ET 10AT.

If you can, join @Jessifer ‘s webinar earlier on Feb 25 as this will be the basis for our chat (but not essential): https://asuevents.asu.edu/content/design

Below is a recap of the January 26 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Jennifer Chow.

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Haiku: a humble but mighty tool in ESL

photo: Sahil Pandita on Unsplash

Reduce, reduce, reduce. Make every word count. I repeat these instructions every day in my EAP classroom. Session after session, I hand out exercises to reduce wordiness and replace empty, abstract words with those that are strong and specific.  

And yet, the students have a hard time going “beyond the exercise” to apply these skills to their writing. They continue to fill their pages with in the event that, “as a result of,” and “in our society today” as well as abstracts such as “the meal was good,” “the lake was beautiful,” and “the people looked happy.”  

I needed to find an authentic writing form that would encourage rich, yet spare, prose. And then it struck me—the haiku. The Japanese poem is inherently concise and relies on specific, sensory words. A win-win! 

So, I initiated a “holiday haiku” activity. First, I explained the basic form: one line with five syllables, the next with seven, and the third with five. Secondly, I divided the class into small groups to brainstorm specific, image-worthy words that evoked their celebrations back home. This second stage worked beautifully. Not only did the words flow, but also the students enjoyed sharing their cultural traditions.  

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