Who are you? Really?

Path through green forest
Image source: bigstockphoto.com

Teaching grammar is a challenge. Making grammar fun is the real challenge, especially when deep questions about existence emerge during a lesson.

One of the things I do as an ESL instructor is to try to find a fun application for a grammatical point I am teaching.  Recently, I came up with a great idea for teaching punctuation.  After I finish teaching a class on punctuation, I ask the students to imagine that they are a punctuation mark and pick which one best defines them.  I prompt them to say: “If I were a punctuation mark, I would be…” This exercise is not only fun (there are a lot of giggles when I introduce this), but helps reinforce the students’ knowledge of the role of punctuation and use of the conditional.  Students say things like: “I would be a period because I like things to be clear and definite” or “I would be a question mark because I have a hard time just accepting things. I want to know why.”  Although I could usually predict what punctuation mark a student would select, there were times when I was completely flummoxed.  Usually, it was Continue reading

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Relax, Reflect, and Renew!

Morning cup of coffee with mountain background at sunrise
image source: www.bigstock.com

Hello fellow readers!

It has come to that time of year again when we take some time to reflect on our past year or past school term and fill our thoughts with hopeful new adventures in the classroom – after all of the marking is done that is!

THANK YOU again to you all for visiting the site each week or clicking on an intriguing title from the monthly emails. Comments have been steadily picking up, and your thoughts, comments, and questions mean so much to our bloggers who take the time to create posts that will be meaningful to the TESL community.

We will be taking a break from blogging until the New Year and will return with our next posts appearing January 1st and 4th. We hope that weekly visits to our blog will be on your New Year’s list! Maybe there is a topic or idea you would to explore in the new year – why not send us an email and see if one of our bloggers can speak to his/her experiences.

As always, if you have any suggestions, an interest in blogging, or comments, please go to our Contact Us page and send us an email.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Pragmatically Speaking

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

For the last 8 or 9 years I have been working in programs that deliver language instruction to adult newcomers who have language levels above CLB 7.  These people have high levels of education and have been professionally trained.  When I first started working with this demographic of students, I struggled with creating content that was relevant for my classes.  I found their language skills to be quite good, and I wondered what else I could offer them. 

Once I started to get to know them a little better, I came to understand that they were having difficulty obtaining employment.  This fact seemed counter intuitive to me because I know that Canada relies on immigration to sustain its workforce.  I had been taught that without immigration, Canada’s population would actually decline.  So, what exactly prevents them from getting a job? Continue reading

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Where are the videos?

Video. Concept icon. 3D image isolated on white
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Over the past months, I have been posting and providing professional development sessions on creating engaging and interactive learning experiences with video as the focus media.  Tools have included Edpuzzle, ESLVideo, Ted Ed Lessons, TubeChop and Zaption.

Searching for and finding suitable videos or animations takes time and effort.  Depending on your learning objectives, there are many videos or section of videos that may be beneficial. As with everything in education, one size does not fit all.  It takes imagination, discipline and creativity to create engaging learning objects that meet your instructional requirements.

The majority of feedback after my webinars and workshops has been focused on where to find suitable videos or animations. The annotated list below is a starting point for teachers to explore video resources: Continue reading

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Why I Blog for TESL Ontario

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I often get asked how I stay connected with the TESL community since I’m not always teaching. Blogging as a volunteer guest blogger for TESL Ontario is an avenue I chose to do just that. So, I thought I’d share what I love about blogging for TESL Ontario with you. Be warned, this may entice you to apply!

When I applied to become a TESL blogger, I was excited. When I got the call to be interviewed, I was nervous (but the good kind of nervous).  And when I found out that I was selected to be one of the bloggers, I did a happy dance, (luckily all of you didn’t have to witness it…I digress). Continue reading

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Application of Repetitive Reviewing Techniques

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

My learners struggle to retain vocabulary. The problem arises when I review the key words a week later, and my learners are unable to recall meanings. Hence, I decided to test the value of using a series of reviewing techniques in language teaching in order to endorse the assumption that the more stir created, the more likelihood that favourable learning results occur amongst lower level learners.

In exploring and determining the validity of this taxonomy, I used one of my Friday sessions on a current week’s themed vocabulary: college and classroom. As a result of this, I hoped to generate value by helping my learners increase their retention rate. My other key aim was to promote accountability in learning, and make students aware of the benefits of revision techniques by empowering my learners during the process. Thus, I divided the session into 4 separate segments.

Review Key Vocabulary

The first segment was reviewing the key vocabulary individually for 5 mins. in preparation for the activity. I used Continue reading

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If you supply teach – Enjoy it!

Supply teaching has its benefits for sure. I know. I did my share. Although the job is unpredictable, the experience is valuable. What is a day like? The phone rings and you answer. It’s 6:00 a.m. so you know that other than a family emergency, the person on the other side of the line is…Yes! You got it. It’s the school secretary asking if you are available.

What you do after this point will depend on your supplying experience – but my advice is to stay cool as a cucumber. If you are available, say yes.

First Things First

Ask if there is a lesson plan. Don’t count on it every time. If there is no plan, don’t sweat it. You have several choices: Continue reading

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See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’ve just come from giving a presentation with a wonderful group of teachers at the TESL Ontario Conference in Toronto. My presentation was on reflective practice and we were all sharing ideas on various ways teachers can reflect on their teaching.

One teacher suggested doing peer observations. I immediately saw looks of uneasiness on a few faces. I don’t blame them as  I too have had some bad experiences with peer observations, but I have also had many great ones. So, here are some suggestions on how you can, hopefully, have a positive experience with peer observations. Continue reading

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The Benefits of Bloom

image source: Google Images
image source: Google Images

We all know the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but is it really true? Art theorists and philosophers would answer “No, of course not!” and here I quote Dennis Dutton, famous art theorist who stated in his 2010 Ted Talk, “…it’s deep in our minds. It’s a gift handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors.” In other words, the experience of beauty is not subjective, but quite objective. There are clear guidelines or criteria to what constitutes beauty for all of us, based on our genetic pre-disposition. Continue reading

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Mission “I’m Possible” –  Even You Can Become a Secret Agent!

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Good Morning Mr./Mrs. Blog Reader.

Before you decide on which presentations to attend at the TESL Ontario Annual Conference, please read this:

There is an ongoing investigation concerning best practices, benefits and challenges related to virtual teamwork. A panel discussion exposing virtual teamwork will take place at the Sheraton Centre Hotel located at 123 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada at precisely 1:00 p.m., Friday,  November 13th, 2015. Participants will be given a writing instrument and asked to write questions on a piece of uncoated stock paper, with a vellum finish. They will then be instructed to slip the note into a Fedora, which may be a code name for something they are trying to “keep a lid on“. Discreetly do as they say.

Top agents from the TESL Ontario Blog Administration Team will be disclosing sensitive information. Who are they? What do they know? How do they do it, being geographically dispersed? What technology are they using to communicate? What makes this virtual team tick?   And most importantly, how can you use this information to design your own virtual team?    Continue reading

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