Category Archives: Engagement

The 2024 TESL Ontario Annual Conference Call for Proposals is Now Open!

This year’s TESL Ontario Annual Conference will be taking place November 13-15, 2024. The call for presentation proposals is now open for this year’s event: Navigating New Routes in Language Education. The TESL Ontario Annual Conference provides an exceptional opportunity to share your expertise and research to a diverse and engaged audience, fostering professional growth and visibility in your field. It allows you to contribute to the collective knowledge of our community, receive valuable feedback, and engage in stimulating discussions that can inspire new ideas and collaborations.

Participating in the TESL Ontario Annual Conference as a presenter enhances your communication and presentation skills, builds your network with peers and industry leaders, and positions you as a thought leader. The experience not only boosts your confidence but also opens doors to future opportunities, both academically and professionally.

Interested presenters can choose from a variety of session types to deliver live or pre-recorded, including Papers, Presentations, Publisher’s Presentations and Technology Presentations.

The benefits of presenting at the TESL Ontario Annual Conference are numerous:

1 – Presenters receive a one-day complimentary registration for the day of their presentation
2 – Presenters receive a certificate for five (5) hours of Professional Development for their one-hour session
3 – The opportunity to hone virtual presentation skills
4 – The opportunity to expand one’s personal learning network within our field
5 – The opportunity to share knowledge and engage in inspiring conversation

New presenters will have access to a comprehensive and self-directed training package with the support of a dedicate conference team of organizers, session moderators and web admin. Returning presenters will not be require to complete training unless they wish to do so. A brief “What’s New in 2024” reference video will also be available for repeat presenters.

Interested presenters can visit https://teslontario.formstack.com/forms/callforpresentations2024 for more information about the conference, this year’s theme, presentation requirements and to submit their proposals. All proposals should be received by June 10, 2024.

We can’t wait to see you in November!

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Student Engagement Strategies That Work

Image taken from: Big Stock Photo

As the day wears on, it’s not uncommon to see learners becoming unfocused, disengaged with classroom tasks, restless, noisy or silent. The most demotivating aspect of disinterested students is their unwillingness to learn. A Gallup student poll (2014) reports that nearly 50% of the learners were “either not engaged (28 percent) or actively disengaged (19 percent) in school” (Collier, 2015). 

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The Power of Storytelling

Photo by NiseriN http://www.photocreo.com/

Everyone loves a good story. For generations, people of all ages and backgrounds have entertained one other with their exploits and adventures, sometimes fanciful, sometimes not. Stories can be told over dinner, sung in a song, enacted on stage, painted on canvas, or printed in a book. They can be long, short, sad, uplifting, serious or funny. You don’t need much to create a story, other than a couple of ideas and a voice or pen and paper. And yet, for such a simple tool, its benefits are prolific.

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Getting to Know Each Other Better in the Language Classroom

Image from Padlet search engine “Team Work.”

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.

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AI in the Classroom: The New, New Normal?

In December of 2022, Cecilia Aponte-de-Hanna brought the discussion of artificial intelligence or “AI” to the TESL Ontario community with her post, AI in the Classroom: Love It or Hate It – It’s Here. Cecilia piqued our curiosity by showing us an example of a test text generation and suggested three ways that she was considering using AI with her lessons.   

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Active Learning With Mentimeter

“Active learning engages students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert” (Freeman et al., 2014).  

One tool that has made active learning more possible in my classes is Mentimeter. 

 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

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Daily Small Talk

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

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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Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Class through Critical Texts, Talks, and Tasks

I asked TESL Ontario educators to record their thoughts on the question “What are one or two ways that you incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in your teaching practice?” This post shares their recordings (see link below) and synthesizes their responses, which highlight the importance of infusing criticality in classroom texts, talks, and tasks. 

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How Practicing Self-Reflection Works for Both Teachers and Students

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Tseng Tzu said, “Every day I examine myself on three counts. In what I have undertaken on another’s behalf, have I failed to do my best? In my dealings with my friends have I failed to be trustworthy in what I say? Have I passed on to others anything that I have not tried out myself? (as cited in Confucius & Waley, 1938).

Self-reflection is an approach that allows you to have an opportunity to examine what you have done and what you can learn from your past. However, it is never an easy thing to do, as we are living in a fast-paced world full of “smart” devices. We may spot our mistakes and want to improve, but soon enough we will leave everything behind and move on to a new project. The problem is that we can never go anywhere without reflection. In this article, I am going to talk about how to take advantage of self-reflection to help us improve from both teacher and student perspectives.

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Ever just chat with your students?

I often hear students say they like any chance to have a casual conversation in English.  Literacy learners, however, are much more likely to avoid a conversation because they’re not confident enough to use the language yet. As ESL teachers, we prepare well-thought-out lessons that focus on grammar, composition, pronunciation, and structured activities, but we rarely foster a free flow of dialogue that encourages the students to just “use the language.”

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