Steps to English Proficiency

A review of the framework and its writing continua
Abstract

Given the current increased presence of English Language Learners (ELLs) in our Ontario elementary and secondary classrooms, teachers are faced with a challenging task of assessing each student’s language ability, placing students in suitable programs, and tracking progress. The Steps To English Proficiency is a tool developed by the Ministry of Education, team of educators, and experts in assessment and content that will support classroom teachers to make appropriate decisions and continue to track their students’ performance in order to make the most suitable choices for their students. This article will specifically review the writing portion of the framework and hopes to provide insight to teachers who may be interested to adopt this framework by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of this framework.  Continue Reading →

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Language on the Orient Express: A Guide to Mandarin for English Teachers

Foreigners living in 1920s Shanghai apparently counselled new arrivals that “those who learn Chinese go mad” (Kane, 2006, p. 17). Certainly there has been a long tradition of outsiders looking on the Chinese language as a confusing mass of chicken-scratch writing and syncopated bursts of rhyming syllables. In turn, Chinese people themselves were often portrayed by Westerners as aloof, inscrutable and incomprehensible to outsiders. The reasons for surmounting such racist representations are pressing for both English- speaking students of Chinese and teachers of English to Chinese, particularly in light of the crucial role China will play on the global stage in the twenty-first century. With this in mind, this article provides a general overview of Mandarin Chinese geared towards teachers and students who have had limited exposure to the language.  Continue Reading →

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Supporting Blended Learning in an EFL Teaching Environment

Supporting blended learning at a college with a face-to-face classroom model can be a challenge, particularly in an EFL learning environment. Faculty need clear guidelines about the institutional definition of blended learning, a strong sense of why they should “blend” technology and face-to-face methods, as well as the know-how for tools and resources amongst a range of other considerations. In order to better support faculty, our Learning Technologies team offered a Blended Learning Workshop Pilot Series to support a culture of learning starting with basic technology tools and resources freely available to faculty. The following describes how we went about creating and delivering the series, and provides insights into what we learned from the experience and feedback from faculty.

Blended Learning

We have decided to use the definition from the University of Central Florida’s Blended Learning Toolkit for the purposes of our pilot series,  Continue Reading →

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Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in a Disciplinary Context

Critical thinking (CT) is a fundamental defining concept of a Western university education (Barnett, 1997) and it lies “at the heart of EAP” (de Chazal, 2014, p. 12). However, there is  a  discrepancy  between  the  findings  of  several  experimental  studies  that  show  CT to be particularly suited to a content or theme-based approach, and how it is currently conceptualized  and  taught  in  many  English  for  Academic  Purposes  (EAP)  programs. Some EAP foundation programs tend to regard it as a discrete transferrable skill- one not necessarily embedded within a particular theme or subject.

This article aims to answer one question: how can CT best be taught to EFL/EAP students? It will argue that integrating the teaching of CT within a discipline or subject is particularly effective for EFL learners.  Continue Reading →

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Linc Field Trips in the Post-Funding World: Five Changes

Arms laden with Food Basics groceries, we trudged south west across snowy Victoria Park Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East and took shelter kitty corner in the iconic Johnny’s Burgers in Scarborough before heading for Round Two of grocery shopping, a multicultural one at Hong Tai Supermarket.

Just one of dozens of field trips in recent years to places far and near to help my students not only to learn and use the language but also to settle in their new home of Canada. Looking back, it’s hard not to notice how different field trips have become in the post- funding world. Gone are end-to-end, fully paid for rides in yellow school buses and padded seats to subsidized tourist destinations up the CN Tower or over at the zoo.  Continue Reading →

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Viva La Lingua Franca: On the Art of the Apology

My father is a fan of an Italian-dubbed, German soap opera called Tempesta D’Amore, saga television at its very best. Set in a five-star hotel with characters who cheat, lie, and connive like cousins at a Trump family-reunion picnic, it would occasionally pull me into the vortex of daytime viewing, spending the entire episode trying to figure out the Byzantine plotlines of complicated relationships.

“I don’t get who these people are.”

“They brother and sister-in-law,” my father would explain, “but his wife, her sister, was die. Now she’s love him and she’s pretends she sick so he’s no leave.”

“But why is she ‘remembering blood’? I don’t get what they’re arguing about.”

“They was kill and bury somesbody together.”

“I can’t believe you called this a ‘family’ show.”

In the end,  Continue Reading →

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