Category Archives: PBLA

Reflections on my practice in the PBLA Prescribed System

A circle with words related to the text - learning, students, PBLA, assessments, etc.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


Keep Things Organized – Tips for Organizing Google Drive

image source:

Organizing Google Drive for you and your students can be challenging. When assessments and assignments are assigned through Google Classroom, you may get lost in the mountain of documents. For your students – especially for those who aren’t tech savvy – it’s even more challenging. As we approach the end of the school year, here are a few lessons I’ve learned from online teaching about how organizing your Google Drive early saves you time and effort.

Continue reading

Focusing on Student Reflection

Do you encourage and provide opportunities for learner self-reflection in your classes? When and how often?   

I like to give students opportunities during the term (and of course PBLA prescribes it).  But it always seems especially pertinent as the year closes out – whether it is the end of the school year or the end of the calendar year. So, as 2021 comes to a close, I thought I’d share some self-reflection activities that I have used and that you might like to try in your classes. These are good for upper-intermediate and higher levels, including EAP. 

Continue reading


Quick Tips for Teaching Literacy – Part Three of Three

Colourful Letter Tiles
Photo by Surendran MP on Unsplash

Guest Contributor: Zainab Almutawali

In Part One and Part Two of this series I’ve talked about issues that may affect attendance for literacy learners, as well as some best practices I’ve picked up over the years.  In this post, I’ll pass along some more effective teaching practices for literacy learners and tips on PBLA.

Continue reading


Examining the 2019 PBLA Guidelines: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Instructors in the LINC program have been teaching within the framework of PBLA (portfolio-based language assessment) for a few years now with the most recent guidelines having been published in 2019. The 2019 PBLA Guidelines outline the history and rationale, address practical implementation, and conclude with a resource section. While some instructors have embraced its use and see its benefits, others continue to find that it impedes effective teaching and learning, consuming a lot of time both in and out of the classroom. Program costs, its impact on teachers’ time, and its accuracy in measuring student language proficiency are important elements when considering its effectiveness. In this blog, I consider “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in PBLA theory and practice. Continue reading


PBLA Assessments in Remote ESL Classes

Guest Contributor: Kasia Kasztenna

Student learning online study concept: Asian Young man sitting holding smartphone chatting in home for e-learning in educational technology by self
Image source:

Observing a student’s progress is an exhilarating moment in a teacher’s life. Creating, executing, and grading assignments however, constitutes the part of teaching that I enjoy the least. I invest a lot of time and effort in a fair and thorough examination of my students’ progress. Online English teaching has imposed new challenges, and opened new opportunities in assessing student progress. 

Based on my experience, how you apply PBLA assessments depends on whether you are using synchronous or asynchronous online teaching. PBLA assessments can be conducted with some modifications in both formats.   


Continue reading


Summary of the #PBLA in the Virtual Classroom discussion with Rabia Rashid

Image source: teslontario

Post by Rabia Rashid and Vanessa Nino

On February 26, 2021 in our #teslONchat, we discussed PBLA in the virtual classroom. Our guest moderator was Rabia Rashid (@ra2ns2002). Rabia has more than 20 years of experience in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). For five years Rabia has been teaching adults in the LINC and ESL settings. Currently, she is working full time with the Peel District School Board, she has a Masters of Education from the University of Toronto in Adult Education. As an educator, Rabia has taught learners of all ages, in the classroom and online. She is determined to change the mindset about teaching and learning in the evolving digital age, encouraging her students to use digital platforms for productive self-progression. She is a volunteer moderator with the TESL Ontario webinar team. You can also connect with Rabia through LinkedIn: Rabia Rashid – LINC/ESL Instructor – Peel District School Board

Continue reading

Perfect Timing:

I am currently part of the team working on Avenue, an online portal that is the right thing at the right time!  It has been a pleasure to work with an amazing team of Canadian educators, administrators and developers to create Avenue under the management of New Language Solutions charity.  This IRCC sponsored Avenue national learning repository for adult newcomers and language instructors launched in mid-August.  The majority of Avenue’s courses, learning activities, resources, and training are focused on fully online teaching and training.  Avenue is a timely solution for language and settlement instructors and students as LINC classes continue online. I consider Avenue the principle online resource for IRCC language instructors across Canada.

Continue reading



wooden clipboard with checklist lettering on paper isolated on white
Image source:

Many teachers who have questioned portfolio-based language assessment (PBLA) have been wrongly described as “resistors” by PBLA administrators (for a discussion, see Desyatova, 2020). The students in my classes are not resistors: They are keen observers who have seen something that has not been raised before about the portfolio.  In one particular class, my students have observed that the “culture of assessment” inherent in PBLA (Desyatova, 2020, p.11) has features reminiscent of their lives under rule by the former Soviet Union, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).        

Continue reading

The Outrageous Refuse of PBLA

image source: Stacey Vandenberg

If you work with PBLA, what does your program site do with the leftover Language Companion Binders?  What you are looking at in the picture are leftover PBLA binders at our location. Most are full of the quintessential “artifacts.”  We have tried to encourage students to take the binders with them when they leave the program, but the fact is that they are not wanted. Management and staff have discussed different strategies to facilitate binder departures, but so far most of our students just smile politely and say “no thank you” before exiting as fast as possible, lest we try to put it into their hands. Can you blame them? Who wants this huge awkward emblem of the past century filling shelf space at home, not to mention the weight when it is fully loaded?

Continue reading