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.Continue reading
As the streetcar lurched toward George Brown College, I gazed at the familiar storefronts, churches, and coffee shops that lined the route. How could everything be the same when it felt so different? I was nervous, panicked even. After all, I hadn’t taught in-person for close to three years. I berated myself for checking off the box to teach on campus. Wasn’t it easier to stay enclosed in my basement lair? I rechecked the supplies in my backpack and pulled out the instructions sheet for the tenth time. Offices have moved here, photocopiers are now there; do this if you need to print something, do that to access the computer system. Ughh.Continue reading
We were three months into an online class and just past a spike of on-boarding new learners. At this point, and counting the newer learners, about half of the class relented to turning their cameras on. It was Monday and I had a new grey tie. I really wanted to show off my new necktie, so I wore – uncharacteristically – a black shirt.
Learners arrived and turned on their cameras, saying “Good morning. How was your weekend? Are you feeling any better?” and all that. One of the first was a lovely woman, a retired teacher and a dedicated student – one of those learners who is, besides punctual and respectful, eager to please and who quietly but assuredly defends the soundness of the instructor’s pedagogical choices. Let me call her Harmony.Continue reading
It’s been a little over a year since ESL campuses shut their doors. I can’t decide whether it has gone by slowly or quickly. In my personal life, the pandemic has lurched along, one depressing headline after another; endless days without family and friends. However, as a teacher I have been flying through the days by the seat of my pants!Continue reading
Fellow TESL Community, whether you’ve benefited from working with a professional coach or not, join me in raising a proverbial glass in honour of coaches.
In March 2020, like some, or even many of you, I found myself suddenly unemployed. The private language school I had taught at for the two years prior was unable to keep its doors open to welcome local and international English Language Learners due to the swift pandemic measures that came into effect that same month. My experience, sadly, was not unique.
Inspiration to Join the TESL Ontario Board
During the Ontario College strike in October 2017, I felt compelled to be more politically aware. Then, in October 2018, I attended the Canadian Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) Pan-Canadian Research Conference and I found the global and local initiatives to improve education truly inspiring. At my institution, I joined our Senate, Honorary Degree Committee, Local Executive Council, and became the Chair of the Academic Policy Committee. Being a driver of change is really hopeful and promising.Continue reading
One way to promote student engagement is by providing students with real-world hands-on learning experiences. An excellent way to do this is through student-produced video projects.
In 2008, Mary Anne Peters, Julianne Burgess, Elizabeth Sadler, and Zachary Arlow created the LINC for Youth Photography Project and LINC for Youth Video Project at Mohawk College to help newcomer youth learn English in a collaborative environment. The foundation of these unique classes is grounded in multiliteracies theory, youth culture, and technology. At the College, I teach in LINC Youth Video Project (LYVP) with my teaching partner, Emily Imbrogno, and media technician, Zachary Arlow. LYVP is targeted to newcomers ages 18-25, with Canadian Language Benchmarks 4-5. LYVP has students create video projects on topics connected to newcomer youth experiences and interests.Continue reading
It was a cold day in January, 2017. I was standing in front of a class of about twenty students from Panama who had come to Canada as part of the Panama Bilingue Program. I was trudging my way through my lesson, clicking through slide after slide of my rigorously-prepared Power Point presentation, when suddenly something happened that changed my outlook on teaching ESL forever: it started snowing.Continue reading
Last week, I read over my students’ poems and was reminded how much I love my job. As teachers, we need to savour these pleasures and summon them during the more tedious moments. My students, mostly from Asia, are in a year-long EAP foundation program at Ryerson University. I asked them to write a poem based on “Where I Am From,” by George Ella Lyon.
The scholastic objective was to get my students to explore their identities, but my personal objective was to learn more about their families, their ambitions, their countries…their lives. In class, we went through the author’s life, stanza by stanza. We examined the details, the imagery, and the metaphors. Then my students went home and wrote their own versions.Continue reading
“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” M. Proust
Travel is not new to me. Travel as a newly minted ESL teacher is.
I am in the middle of a month-long TESL internship in Poland, arranged through Algonquin College, as an optional extension to the TESL Program. Though culturally quite similar to Canada, I am plunked in a community where I do not speak or read the language. Continue reading