All posts by Brett Reynolds

Language is the key

She sets out in search of a better life
From her country of birth to her country of choice
Leaving behind her loved ones and her daily bread
“Do you even know what lies ahead?”
Asks that scared little voice in her head
But on she marches with a hopeful heart and a determined tread

It’s like breathing for the first time, again; her first lungful of Canadian air
A place more vast than she had imagined, more beautiful than she could bear
New language, new culture and a new country
A chance to make a new life, equal and free

But building that life is easier dreamed than done
There are so many doors,  Continue Reading →


Editor’s note

In the last issue we took a quick look at cognitive linguistics. This time, Jackie Nenchin introduces us to systemic functional linguistics (SFL). Elizabeth O’Dowd then shows us how one MATESOL program that teaches SFL is updating their curriculum, considering the growth of English as a world language. If revamping your program sounds good, and you think you have the management skills to do it, Kara Mac Donald and Ketty Reppert have some hints about how to become a program administrator.

Continuing with the least-you-should-know series about other languages, John Steckley provides a gentle introduction to the Ojibwa language. This also inspired our cover image “Learning” by Ojibwa artist Benjamin Chee Chee.

Our remaining articles are from Alina Filip, who describes dynamic writing assessment,  Continue Reading →

Editor's Note

Beyond tradition: Using systemic functional linguistics in ESL teaching and teacher preparation


This paper1 examines some uses of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) in teacher preparation and offers some ideas and activities for ESL classrooms. The paper begins with a rationale for the use of SFL in teacher training and language teaching, followed by a description of Hallidayan systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and its application to pedagogy, as represented by the work of Rose, Martin, Butt, Lock, and others. It examines certain aspects of grammar from an SFL perspective and provides an example of a project that was completed by teacher learners, including related activities for the classroom.

As an ESL teacher and teacher trainer, I have always been certain of the inadequacy of the traditional understanding of English grammar as a set of rules to be memorized and subsequently applied.  Continue Reading →


Teaching, methodology, and English as an international language: Lessons for one MATESOL program

Our small university in northern New England has a 60-year tradition of preparing students to teach English in the USA and around the world. For several decades, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has been our stated approach, while we acknowledge that the term itself is rather loosely defined and is perhaps best seen as a methodological umbrella that reflects several key cognitive, affective, and linguistic principles such as student-centered instruction, relevant and comprehensible input, balancing accuracy with fluency, and integration of productive and receptive skills. The CLT approach has allowed for flexibility of teacher styles and adjustments to the perceived needs of our students, both native (NS) and non-native (NNS) English speakers. However, in recent years we have realized that those needs are shifting in a direction that claims English as an International Language,  Continue Reading →