An extensive and growing body of research affirms the value of using students’ home language (L1) in both second language (L2) and content learning in the classroom. In spite of this, instructional policy and practice continue to operate as though English-only approaches are axiomatic and essentially common sense. This article appeals for action at the classroom and program levels to close the gap between research and practice in relation to the use of home language in learning. This shift aligns with a move toward rejecting deficit narratives that focus on what students are lacking rather than what they bring to the classroom. If we recognize that our students possess rich cultural and experiential funds of knowledge, we must also begin to value the language(s) in which that knowledge is encoded. Continue Reading →
This Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) funded adult ESL Literacy Project of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is in the midst of piloting a new delivery model of adult ESL Literacy instruction based on the 2016 ESL for Adult Literacy Learners (ESL for ALL) document. The Literacy Researcher guided four team members through intensive ESL Literacy training in the first year of the project. Now, these instructors are running specialized classes that target specific learning strategies ESL Literacy learners need in order to be successful participants in their classes, with PBLA and in their daily lives.
Our TESL Ontario Conference poster presented the learning strategy of highlighting specific information required to answer WH-questions. Continue Reading →
Lexical Bundles (LBs) —defined by Wood (2015) as “combinations of three or more words which are identified in a corpus of natural language” (p. 45) —play a key role in the comprehension and construction of academic language (Biber & Barbieri, 2007). Despite their importance, LBs are weakly presented in second language (L2) materials (Wood & Appel, 2014). Studies show that L2 learners may misuse LBs in their production (Pérez-Llantada, 2014). With the aim of informing L2 pedagogy in the university context, this corpus study uses WordSmith Tools 6.0 (Scott, 2007) to identify 59 items that represent the most frequently occurring LBs in eight Computer Science introductory textbooks. Utilizing the functional taxonomy, suggested in Biber et al. (2004), Continue Reading →
It is the final days of school, and students are getting ready for their final project. Dressed in business attire and with professionally designed posters in-hand, they march into the largest Ryerson building on Yonge St. and are about to complete their final assignment of the school year. They are nervous, yet they are ready to face their future peers, professors, and other community members.
Ryerson’s Real Institute (RRI) EAP program has recently completed its 6th year and like many programs, there are certain challenges that were faced. The program is an academic preparation program for English language learners, which runs for 8 months. The goal is to prepare students linguistically for their post-secondary studies. Like many programs, Continue Reading →
This is my last issue as editor of TESL Ontario’s Contact magazine. My heartfelt thanks go out to all our readers. You are literally the raison d’être of the magazine. And of course, all the writers who have contributed their ideas and research are its life force. It has been my pleasure to connect these two groups, to put you, if I may, in contact.
In 2012, I took over the editorship from Tania Pattison, who served as editor for a year after the untimely death of Clayton Graves in 2010. Clayton was editor for seven years before that. I am grateful to them and to the other editors who went before for their vision and stewardship. Continue Reading →
In our Technical Trades Program (TCP), we were challenged with designing and creating student books and interactive Learning Objects (LOs) for our foundation students. The foundation program trains English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students in trade-specific terminology and provides hands-on workshops. It is essentially a bridging program designed to prepare trainees for their programs, which consist of Process Operations, Mechanical Technician Program, Electrical Technician Program, and Instrumentation, all including a common Safety component. The majority of our students are male Qatari nationals whose first language is Arabic.
The first challenge was to find materials that motivated our students and that were at our students’ language level, which was CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) A1 Breakthrough or beginner. Continue Reading →
There is a longstanding criticism that academic research is not sufficiently utilized in language teaching. This so-called gap between research and practice is well documented. For example, Borg’s (2009) study with English language teachers from 13 countries identified a low level of research utilization. Many teachers participating in Borg’s study reported that a lack of time, inaccessibility of published research, and a lack of practical relevance of research results were among the key reasons why they did not turn to academic research for professional learning and development. Borg concluded that research utilization by teachers was a rarity in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). Since the time of Borg’s study, we have seen many initiatives to make research more accessible to teachers. Continue Reading →
The French language in Canada has historical roots extending back to the 1600’s. Today, many Canadians are French speakers. In fact, nearly 12% of Canadians speak only French, and nearly 18% of Canadians speak both English and French (Statistics Canada, 2017). In Ontario, where the current study was conducted, 622,415 Francophones comprise 4.7% of the population (Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario, 2016). The current project examining the language practices of adult Francophones takes place in this minority language context.
This project examined lexical borrowing and code switching among ten adult Francophones in the Toronto, Ontario region. In-depth individual interviews were conducted during which the participants were asked to tell a story or describe an activity of personal interest. Continue Reading →
The number of international migrants (people living outside their country of birth) reached 258 million in 2017. That is more than 3% of the earth’s population (United Nations General Assembly International Migration and Development, 2018). Who are these 258 million? How and why have they left their homelands behind? Did they depart for faraway places voluntarily or under duress? North(ern) America has been host to 22% of those international migrants, meaning that as many as 56 million people have had to learn—or are still learning—English when settling into their new lives in Canada or the U.S.
At this point, it would be good to remind ourselves that many of the migrants who have arrived on North American shores, Continue Reading →
Imagine you were an international student, studying at an educational institution in China, with very limited spoken Chinese. How might you feel, trying frantically to understand a completely foreign language; if you were voiceless, unable to communicate something you were desperate to say; if you were also all alone, far away from home?
In the age of globalization, it is common practice for Canadian educational institutions to recruit international ESL students (Zhang & Beck, 2014). The biggest group of international students in Canada is from China (Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2017). But how do Chinese international students actually experience education in Canada? The term “acculturation” refers to the psychological adaptation process that immigrants go through when settling in a new country (Smith & Continue Reading →
This study consists of two parts. The first part is the report of two experiments carried out to see the effect of a shared first language (L1) on second language (L2) intelligibility. The concern of the investigation was specifically pronunciation and phonological factors. The second part deals with pronunciation errors of Mandarin and Vietnamese speakers that are motivated by their respective phonological systems, thus providing help with designing pronunciation teaching materials.
The study was started with the following research question: Do English learners understand each other better in English when they share the same first language? This L1 effect is sometimes referred to as Interlanguage Speech Intelligibility Benefit (Bent & Bradlow 2003) and it is not a new question, Continue Reading →
Listening is the skill that most of our students feel the least confident about and the least control over in terms of what they can do to improve. It is also the skill that is the most widely used, both in academic and non-academic contexts. For these reasons, we owe it to our students to show them how to become successful English language listeners.
Second-language listening is difficult for several reasons, most of which stem from the differences between oral and written channels (Brown, 2011). These include perception problems, issues of memory and attention, and strategy choice.
Perception problems arise because speech is fast and transient; utterances are spoken quickly, and they disappear. We don’t pause to separate speech into distinct words; Continue Reading →