As a grade-one teacher in a Toronto inner city elementary school for over 30 years, I have had the privilege of teaching a wide range of second language learners with a variety of different L1s. Most of these young learners were in the emergent writing stage. Emergent writing is a developmental stage of writing that all young L1 and L2 writers pass through. Emergent writers are beginning to understand that print carries a message and they may be familiar with many concepts about print simply from living in a print rich environment (Clay, 1988). These writers may use pictures, single letters to represent words, and inventive spelling to communicate their messages. Literacy acquisition in an L2 is a highly complex process, Continue Reading →
“Understand that there is always one clearly best answer. My goal is not to trick students or require them to make difficult judgments about two options that are nearly equally correct. My goal is to design questions that students who understand will answer correctly and students who do not understand will answer incorrectly.”
John A. Johnson (in Clay, 2001)
In a report completed for the Canadian government, Makosky (2008) indicated that, at the time of writing, exit test results from LINC programs across the country were “deemed to be subjective/situational and not comparable to any common standard,” with the result that “exit rating and feedback to newcomers may be inconsistent and the results not as portable as newcomers, Continue Reading →
“I want to speak English fluently.”
“I have to write reports in English.”
“I want to read English magazines, books and websites.”
“I’d like to understand movies in English.”
Whether expressed directly or indirectly, the need for fluency inherently exists within all of these commonly expressed goals and motivations for learning English. And, as teachers, we know that learners often have a number of obstacles to overcome to achieve them, whether they are learning in ESL contexts, such as Canada, or EFL contexts like Japan. Firstly, goals that students initially make may be unrealistic and are typically too vague, too big or long-term; and many students lack confidence in their English abilities, Continue Reading →
In my experience at many Asian conferences, some people in the audience laugh particularly loudly when they hear a native speaker of English saying something that might be funny. Strangely, they don’t laugh so loudly if a non-native speaker of English says the same thing. There may be multiple reasons but this one is for sure. They want to let other people know that they can understand what the native speaker is saying, and they are proud of themselves for being able to listen fluently.
Listening, unlike speaking, is usually an individual process. That is the reason why teachers give students a speaking or writing comprehension check after listening to a passage. Otherwise it is difficult to know to what extent their students comprehend. Continue Reading →
Certificate programs such as Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) have burgeoned in our globalized world. They are usually offered and/or accredited by reputable educational institutions, such as University of Cambridge, University College London, Michigan University, as well as sanctioned by government bodies (e.g., TESL Ontario and TESL Canada in Canada, National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) in Australia, New Zealand Qualification Authorities (NZQA) in New Zealand, & Accreditation UK in the United Kingdom). These accredited programs vary enormously in their design, ranging from short certificate courses to higher education degrees. The former have historically been known as teacher training courses, with the British ELT industry as a pioneer in the field, Continue Reading →
If you are a TESL Ontario member, you have a new designation to add to your name. The Ontario Certified English Language Teacher (OCELT) designation has been awarded to all TESL Ontario accredited members in good standing. It is intended to be a symbol of professionalism in adult language education. But what exactly does this mean for ESL teachers and their careers?
Professional licensure and any accompanying professional designations have two main purposes: first, those within the profession may be able to use them to extract economic rents (payment in excess of the minimum required to provide the service) by limiting the competition and increasing their perceived quality,1 and second, employers and consumers may be able to reduce search costs and risk. Continue Reading →
A one-day symposium on Teaching and Learning Vocabulary in Another Language was held at the University of Western Ontario on Friday 21st October 2016. Leading scholars and key researchers in the field of vocabulary studies discussed a wide range of second language (L2) vocabulary-related topics including (1) vocabulary learning through reading, (2) captioning and word learning, (3) corpus-based studies, and (4) phrasing aspects of language. In this report, we will summarize some key points from the symposium in order to provide teachers with up-to-date vocabulary research that can inform their teaching and make their teaching practice more effective and productive in L2 classrooms. In what follows, we will briefly review background knowledge relevant to the presentations and discuss pedagogical implications based on the presented studies. Continue Reading →
Instructors are no longer limited to pressing play on a VCR to show a video. With the advent of online streaming video, students can watch media independently of their peers on individual devices or workstations. This autonomous viewing experience involves navigation and audio controls. Online video technology has rapidly evolved to allow teachers and students more engaging features during a video viewing experience. These features are discussed in relation to enhancing the online video learning experience through various feature-rich websites.1
Online Video and Learning
Online video can enhance learning when the technology is cooperating. At its best, online video offers ubiquitous access to learning content through dedicated media hosts. Video sharing sites such as YouTube, institutional servers, and third party genre specific sources such as ESL video provide dependable streaming of millions of videos with a click of a button. Continue Reading →
Historica Canada is the largest independent charitable organization in Canada dedicated to promoting history, citizenship and identity. We examine the Canadian experience, past and present. We are dedicated to helping educators, by providing free, bilingual educational resources that are pedagogically relevant and curriculum based.
Historica Canada’s education resources are inspired by the historical thinking concepts developed by Peter Seixas and the Historical Thinking Project. These concepts aim to improve critical thinking in history education. The six concepts include Historical Significance, Primary Source Evidence, Taking Historical Perspectives, Change and Continuity, and Cause and Consequence.
Educational Resources: Methodology and Accessibility
With the rise of precarious employment in the teaching field, some teachers are interested in looking at ways to earn additional income. There are other reasons such as the desire for more creativity, an interest in learning new skills, or having more work-life balance. For me, it was the freedom to travel at any time of the year, not just school breaks. This workshop was developed in response to inquiries from teachers regarding my transition to teacherpreneur and the research that I conducted as part of this transition.
We discussed the following topics: why become a teacherpreneur; definitions of teacherpreneur; the difference between a freelancer and a teacherpreneur; and the top five ways teachers earn additional income. There was also a hands-on activity where small groups brainstormed a list of “teacher transferrable skills” to inspire teachers to think of themselves as more than just an ESL teacher. Continue Reading →
Cross-cultural competence in the ESL classroom
Our understanding of theories of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) and more speci cally teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) has traditionally been grounded in linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, and more recently in pragmatics and speech acts. I would like to argue that in order to do the most effective teaching of ESL, especially in light of the many recent newcomers to Canada, we must also have a stronger sense of the theories and best implementation of cross-cultural communication1.
How often have we been in a classroom, intent on being as helpful and constructive as we can, only to nd that some students are resistant or silent or respond in totally unexpected ways? Even when we fully intend to respect the diverse cultures of our students, Continue Reading →