No-one will dispute that language learning is to a large extent a matter of mastering myriads of words and phrases and that it therefore relies heavily on memory. Many pedagogy- minded applied linguists concur that a word or phrase is more likely to be remembered if the learner consciously “engages” with it in one way or another (Schmitt, 2008). This, then, raises the question of what kinds of cognitive engagement with lexical items are relatively fruitful, and how teachers (or materials writers) can prompt students to give these a try. This article considers a handful of proposals for stimulating engagement with words and phrases that are in broad agreement with a school of thought known as Cognitive Linguistics.
Cognitive Linguistics (CL) emerged in the 1980s as an alternative to the then dominant Chomskyan-style descriptions of language, Continue Reading →
The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program-General (CELPIP-G) Test aims to assess the general English language functional proficiency of individuals for adapting to life in Canada. The distinctiveness of the CELPIP-G Test, in contrast to other leading proficiency tests in the industry, arises from its design and use for Canadian immigration purposes. Apart from IELTS (International English Language Testing System), it is the only test that is accepted by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for permanent resident and citizenship purposes (“Citizenship and Immigration Canada”, n.d.). In addition, the test uses the English variety spoken in Canada. Accordingly, it exposes individuals to Canadian English rather than other varieties of English used in other proficiency tests. Using Bachman and Palmer’s qualities of tests (1996) as a framework, Continue Reading →
Interactive functions and reports of anxiety
We report here on research we undertook to examine the entrance tests for applicants to second-language teaching programs in either English or French. In particular, we were interested in examining the speaking portion of this test, a one-on-one telephone interview. Individual one-on-one interviews are still the most common method of assessing speaking for high stakes contexts such as these (Luoma, 2004), and they are often conducted by telephone for cost and time savings.
This oral interview task follows a standard format, consisting of a warm-up, two separate tasks (a role play with the interviewer and a single long turn discussing an opinion on an issue), and a wind-down. The complete interview lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Continue Reading →
A review of the framework and its writing continua
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →