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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
It has been a year since OpenAI released its generative chat app, ChatGPT. As an avid education technologist, I must confess that I jumped headfirst into the ChatGPT spectacle. This enthusiasm is documented by more than twenty professional development activities that have been facilitated or written over the past months. These are listed in the Resources section below.
Recently, I have taken a breath to reflect on ChatGPT and how it has dominated the conversation in education technology in 2023. Within this reflection I have mapped my experience against Gartner’s Hype Cycle of new technologies to document how I am faring in relation to education’s adoption of generative chat technologies.Continue reading
In the LINC/ESL class, instructors “cross barriers of understanding, aptitudes, behaviours, desires, and knowledge” (Rappel, 2013) in hopes of helping newcomers successfully adapt to life in a multicultural community. In this context, I think that Knowle’s five assumptions of andragogy are as useful as ever: clear learning intents and expectation, teacher-student collaboration, student-student collaboration, timely feedback, and engagement in self-reflection.
I believe these practices can be helpful in creating a learning environment in which students take ownership of learning through mutual respect and co-operation. While these principles are also supported by PBLA guidelines, the application of it brings some challenges as well. Continue reading
As an ESL teacher with over a decade of progressive teaching experience, no notion in English language pedagogy was as mind–blowing to me as the idea of learner autonomy. The way that learning and learners are seen as autonomous has always resonated highly with me; I always thought if anyone masters independent learning, they can learn almost anything with joy and efficiency. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking differently about this. Not because I am now a skeptic of this approach, but because I have been wondering if all learners want to be independent learners! Based on my recent encounters and experience at work, I now think maybe there are some learners who learn best without being independent. In this blog post, I’d like to share my own experience with this type of learner. Continue reading
I know the orthodoxy of education is for lessons to be student centred. But I’m going to risk excommunication here by suggesting that there are times when it’s absolutely essential that classes be teacher centred. Literacy classes are such instances.
To go against one’s training and instincts by shifting focus to oneself (the teacher) is one of the many challenges of teaching a literacy class. It doesn’t take long, however, to see that the lower the level of a student’s English, the more guidance, scaffolding, and support they need from their teacher.Continue reading
In my very first TESL Ontario blog post, I shared an activity to help teachers remember their students’ names.1 It also happens that the activity helps students learn each other’s names and, as a result, helps to build community. By addressing each other by name, students are more likely to build bonds and feel valued. Building community is a process, however, and although this activity is a good start, teachers can incorporate other activities throughout the term or academic year to make the process memorable.
The following activity is one I use to help strengthen students’ sense of community by letting them share something about themselves that highlights a positive attribute. This activity also gives the teacher the opportunity to do the same.
Whether we teach a class in person or we teach an online synchronous course, Mentimeter can accommodate engaging large groups of audiences. If we teach a class implementing Bloom’s Taxonomy approach, Mentimeter can be a great tool in developing a successful and engaging lesson. Continue reading
January is typically a time when people are looking forward – considering new goals and new approaches. In this post, however, I’ve decided to look back. I’m revisiting some of the information I gave in my very first professional development activity for TESL Ontario: a webinar I co-delivered in 2016 entitled Getting Animated: Graphic Novels in the ESL Classroom. My hope is that this blog will encourage readers to find ways to incorporate graphic novels and/or comics into their 2023 teaching practices.Continue reading