Category Archives: Community

Daily Small Talk

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As a person and as a language instructor, I hear the words ‘small talk’ and I shudder. However, I have learned – after teaching online for nearly three years now – not to underestimate the opportunities and utility of focusing specifically on Small Talk in class. Focusing on Small Talk has always been successful. When surveyed, learners consistently report that they want more Small Talk rather than less. 

I started teaching virtually with a fairly small class (CLB 7) who really responded to Small Talk. For one thing, I found the class needed to deal with mental health issues – near the beginning of COVID – and needed to feel as social as possible in a virtual environment. That’s when I started to develop Small Talk as an integral activity. Most recently, I had a much larger class that also responded very well to the Small Talk activities. This activity is not a one-off lesson but rather focuses on best practices, routine, feedback, and refinement.

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Trauma in the Classroom (Part 1)

Guest Contributors: Allyson Eamer, Amea Wilbur, Katie Crossman, Jennifer Allore

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If you are a LINC or ESL instructor, there is a good chance that you have taught learners who have experienced trauma. Syrian, Afghan and now Ukrainian refugees, for example, have been arriving in Canada in large numbers and are increasingly part of our classrooms. Although you are not a mental health specialist, you are often the first point of contact for many students. They likely see you more often and for longer blocks of time than they see their settlement workers or other professionals in their lives. Your students undoubtedly view you as quintessentially Canadian and very much a part of “the system” that directly impacts their lives and futures in Canada. Because you work hard to be a caring instructor and to build trust in the classroom, you are likely to witness the effects of trauma on student learning, and/or to have trauma disclosed to you by a student. You are therefore an important, if unwitting (and likely unprepared, we will argue), key player in responding to trauma.

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Interview with 3 Board Members – A Year in Review (Part 2 of 2) 

In Part 1 of this two-part series, you were introduced to three of the TESL ON Board members who have completed one year of service. In Part 2, we dig deeper into their responses about their perspectives as Board members.  

Interview (continued)

What have you learned from your fellow Board members in the last year? 

Cecilia: Where do I start? Everyone is truly focused on the continued strengthening of the organization and to share their individual talents to make this happen. We have only Zoomed since I joined but I have felt welcomed from the very first time we met. New members are matched with a mentor who we can call on anytime and that’s reflective of the spirit of collaboration that exists within the Board and our organization as a whole. David Hezell, past Chair and treasurer, became my mentor and that helped me to transition to my current role as treasurer 

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Interview with 3 Board Members – A Year in Review (Part 1 of 2)

The Blog Team had the opportunity to interview three TESL Ontario Board members who were appointed one year ago. Following is Part 1 of a two-part blog series in which the members reflect upon their experiences thus far. Part 2 will be posted Wednesday, January 5.  

Board Cohort 2020-2023 – Member Bios

Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna, M.A, OCELT, OCT

Cecilia continues to be a very active member of TESL Ontario. Her commitment to second language education along with her experience and skill set led her to her current role as a TESL Ontario Board Member and most recently Board treasurer. 

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Why Do We Need a Mentor?

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If you google the meaning of “mentorship”, you can find the literal meaning in the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, mentorship means “the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor” (n.d.).  But what does this mean in practice? Why is having a mentor important? This article discusses the importance of mentorship at work, how to find a mentor, and how to maintain a healthy and successful mentorship.

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#CDNELTCHAT: JOIN THE CHAT ON TUESDAY!

Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, March 30, when our topic will be: Teaching and Learning Vocabulary.  Below is a recap of the March 16 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Bonnie Nicholas.

A little over a year ago, on March 11, 2020, our lives were upended when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Most schools and learning institutions in Canada closed to in-person learning soon afterwards, and many of us found ourselves teaching online classes for the first time. As we left our workplaces, I suspect few of us thought that we would still be in the midst of the pandemic a year later.

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In Praise of English Language Learners

A chalkboard sign saying, "Well done!"
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher, I think I have a responsibility to remind my students of the incredible job they have done as additional/foreign language learners. I think as teachers we sometimes forget the challenges our students are going through! This letter is to all additional language learners, wherever they are.

Dear EAL learners,

I acknowledge you. I admire you. I celebrate you! You’ve already done an incredible job. Whether you are at the beginning level, where your journey has just started, or you have been in this for quite a while, you are amazing and here is why.

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#CDNELTCHAT: JOIN THE CHAT ON TUESDAY!

@CdnELTchat January 26, 2021 chat. What should we leave behind in #ELT?
Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, February 9, when our topic will be: What should we keep doing in #ELT?  Below is a recap of the January 26 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Jennifer Chow.

Whether we were ready or not, since last spring COVID-19 has forced almost all of us to become online teachers. For many of us working in ELT, the move to online teaching was a giant leap out of our comfort zone. As the pandemic enters its second year and mostly-online teaching and learning continues, we have an opportunity to think critically about our practices and to reflect on what we should maybe leave behind. This was the theme for the January 26 #CdnELTchat; the follow-up chat is on what we should keep going forward.

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Does Online Learning Enhance Learners’ Language Ego?

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Image source: Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash

Language ego is a real phenomenon. A concept coined by Guiora (Brown, 2000) “language ego” is a learner’s second identity as they come to see themselves picking up a second language. One of the most vitally important responsibilities of an ESL teacher is to ensure that students’ language ego is well protected.

Conventionally, in physical classrooms, due to the existence of face-to-face communication, learners might experience more fragility and defenselessness with their peers.  I have personally experienced the sheer fear and anxiety that the physical interaction and presence of others with their eyes placed all on one person can create.  However, through online platforms of teaching and learning, I have noticed that learners feel safer and more secure about their language ego, and I have seen improvements in learning.

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