Start Your Own ESL Business

If you do not have a permanent, year-round teaching contract in Ontario, I am sure that you have considered alternative careers or income streams from time to time. We all have our own reasons for our professional situations whether they are extrinsic or intrinsic.  As I see it, there are five paths forward for short-term, contract ESL instructors in our sector: 

Continue reading

Activity: Journal Writing

Image source:

When I started teaching online, it was clear to me almost immediately that I wanted to encourage my learners to write and that I wanted to see their writing on a regular basis. I had a CLB 7 Academic class, and I began rather naively and ambitiously. The assignment was straightforward:

You will have three journal topics a week. You will be given 15 minutes a day, three times a week, to write in your journal. You will be given a journal topic or you can write about whatever you want. 

Continue reading

AI in the Classroom: Love It or Hate It – It’s Here

Image source:

Learning never stops; this now includes both humans and Artificial Intelligence. As I type this blog post, I find myself either tabbing to accept the suggested word or ignoring the suggestion. Being prompted to type what auto-text thinks I should be writing can be annoying and, if I am not careful, I end up writing a word that I did not mean to write or, worse yet, pressing ‘send’ on a message or email with one or two unintended words. Although I appreciate its usefulness on some occasions, it irks me when I am given the wrong suggestion, as in the case of Grammarly’s use of double commas on a salutation (since when did adding a comma after ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ and before someone’s name become the grammar norm?)

Continue reading

Discussing the holiday season with students

Source: Provincial Archives of Alberta

When I look around my classroom, I see a mix of ethnicities from around the world. Each student has their own cultural traditions and special holidays, but they may also be curious to learn about some of the traditions we celebrate in Canada during the holiday season.

In Canada we celebrate several important holidays at the end of the year, including Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, Oktoberfest, Día de los Muertos, and Yee Peng. These are a few of the more commonly observed celebrations, however there are many more. Whatever the ‘reason for the season’, I try to be inclusive and recognize the diversity of our year-end celebrations when discussing the holiday season with students.

Continue reading
POST COMMENT Comments Off on Discussing the holiday season with students

TESL Teacher To TESL Ontario Intern

As I finished my TESL program at Conestoga College this academic year and was in the process of applying for my OCELT Certification at TESL Ontario, an email popped up from our program head about a summer opportunity with TESL Ontario. Fast-forward nine weeks and here I am, feeling deeply connected and grateful for this opportunity, not to mention highly impacted by this team of individuals. 

Continue reading
POST COMMENT Comments Off on TESL Teacher To TESL Ontario Intern

The Path to Employment through OCELT Certification

Written by Reza Mazloom-Farzaghy, Accreditation Services Manager, TESL Ontario

Equipped with OCELT (Ontario Certified English Language Teacher) certification, job seekers have access to employment opportunities across a broad spectrum of teaching sectors in Ontario and beyond.    

Continue reading

How much technology is too much?

Source: Quinn Dombrowski,

I have taught exclusively online for two and half years. During this time, the number of digital tools in my arsenal has skyrocketed. I have been consumed by technology. I used to feel sorry for “computer nerds” who squirrelled away in their basements, rarely coming up for air. And now I am one of them.

Continue reading

Daily Small Talk

Image source:

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.

Continue reading
POST COMMENT Comments Off on Daily Small Talk

Trauma in the Classroom (Part 2)

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

This blog is the second in a two-part series on trauma in the classroom. Part 1 discusses how teachers can better facilitate learning and provide support for students who have experienced trauma, such as refugees.  This segment focuses on vicarious trauma?

Vicarious trauma is a form of second-hand trauma. It is experienced by people in helping professions when they are deeply affected by their exposure to others’ trauma. The term was coined in 1995 by Laurie Pearlman and Karen Saakvitne, and originally was used to describe symptoms that clinicians experienced from working with clients with trauma experiences. Vicarious trauma has since been recognized in other fields. It can occur in various ways, such as listening to traumatic stories or viewing disturbing images. 

Continue reading
POST COMMENT Comments Off on Trauma in the Classroom (Part 2)