Teaching Formulaic Sequences Through Song Using Online Resources
Formulaic sequences are defined as words commonly used together to signify a holistic meaning. They are an aspect of vocabulary that is less commonly taught in the English as a second language (ESL) classroom. Popular songs, in particular, often contain frequently used formulaic sequences. In addition to providing authentic material, songs can enhance motivation and improve vocabulary recall. However, there is a need to identify songs containing common formulaic sequences and to develop more materials to teach formulaic sequences. In order to fill these gaps, I describe several effective ways of teaching high frequency formulaic sequences and teaching vocabulary through songs suggested in the second language acquisition research literature. Then, I provide a list of songs matched to common formulaic sequences, as well as a list of recommended online resources students can use to access songs inside and outside the classroom. Possible uses for these materials are discussed.
Listen to the Grammar: A Focus on Modal Verbs in English
Grammar instruction typically consists of explanations followed by practice. Traditionally, grammar practice has relied heavily on written production in the form of exercises such as gap-fills and sentence transformations. In contrast to this emphasis on output, many second language acquisition (SLA) researchers emphasize the importance of input to enhance second language (L2) acquisition. The present paper explores the idea of using oral input (i.e., listening) in the teaching of modal verbs. Part I of this capping project provides a synthesis of SLA theory relating to input, form-meaning connections, and types of listening. It provides the rationale for including listening in L2 grammar instruction and focuses on form-focused listening for the purpose of practice. Part II offers a rationale for the focus on modal verbs as the target structure. This section includes an evaluation of listening activities in current ESL grammar textbooks, guidelines for developing form-focused listening practice activities, and presentation of five examples of activities that aim to push L2 learners to process both the form and meaning of modal verbs. Final reflections highlight the challenges and the rewards of developing and using form-focused listening practice activities.
Building Digital Skills for Intermediate ESL Learners
The rapid growth of technology affords innovative approaches as well as necessitates new skills in English language learning and teaching. As ubiquitous products of participatory culture, Internet memes are transferable multimodal units carrying ideas as well as cultural notions that are proliferating through social media. Owing to their increasingly important and influential role in contemporary society, memes hold great potential in the 21st-century language classroom given their infectious nature and authentic presentation. Nevertheless, there are gaps in connecting the theory and the implementation of memes in the classroom, especially for teaching intermediate and low students. In response to such needs, I explored the beneficial use of memes in enhancing students’ digital skills and in developing their linguistic and intercultural competence. Then, by situating Internet memes in the social semiotics framework, I proposed a detailed guide for examining and selecting appropriate memes for use in the English language classroom together with a digital skills’ level of difficulty chart exclusively for memes. In order to harness the potential of Internet memes in teaching ESL, I also provided a set of recommendations for incorporating memes for the purpose of building digital skills, including a number of tasks designed for teaching intermediate and low level ESL learners based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, 2012) framework and some helpful resources for exploring memes for ESL instructors, learners, as well as curriculum developers.
Incorporating Intercultural Communicate Competencies into the Mainstream Elementary Social Studies Classroom
Canadian society is increasingly represented by individuals who contribute diverse cultural
perspectives. There is a recognized need for Canadians to demonstrate intercultural communicative competence (ICC) when communicating in culturally diverse settings that include workplaces, communities, and educational contexts. ICC research in education has included both adult English as a second language and children’s foreign language classroom contexts. Teachers in mainstream Canadian schools are continuing to see increased diversity in their students; however, ICC literature that supports teachers in dealing with these dynamic shifts in their classroom cultures, specifically in K-12 environments, is scarce. Teachers are at the forefront of providing students who are coming to Canada with appropriate instruction, not only in language, but in all aspects of communication, to ensure their success in society. This paper serves to investigate (1) how teachers can support ESL learners in developing intercultural communicative competence in division two (Grades 4 - 6), mainstream Social Studies classrooms; and (2) how ESL students are best prepared to become active, global citizens in their communities by aligning specific intercultural communicative competencies, skills, and attitudes with the Social Studies curriculum. The theoretical frameworks and practical suggestions offered for ICC in elementary EFL and adult ESL classrooms have been adapted to provide classroom strategies and lesson plans for division two social studies classrooms.
Teaching Listening to Adult ESL Literacy Learners: Best Practices for Literacy Instructors
Listening is a vital source of input for adult literacy learners (ALL) in the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program who are faced with learning literacy skills and the English language simultaneously. Yet, listening can cause learners a great deal of anxiety and instructors considerable uncertainty due to its hidden and transient nature. Therefore, the purpose of this research project is to inform ALL literacy listening instruction and to contribute to the professional development of LINC literacy teachers. In this project, I bridged the fields of second-language (L2) listening and adult English as a second language (ESL) literacy instruction, by examining current literature for L2 listening and literacy. Then, I synthesized the literature to yield a valuable list of best practices, which support the needs and strengths of ALL and low-proficiency listeners. The resultant best practices suggest that instructors should shift away from a commonly-used comprehension approach to adopt a more holistic metacognitive instructional approach to listening embedded with crucial bottom-up (BU) processing perception activities. Based on Vandergrift and Goh’s (2012) metacognitive pedagogical sequence (MPS), the best practices align with the whole-part-whole method of literacy instruction and with the LINC program’s ESL for ALL (CCLB, 2016) document. This project will assist LINC literacy instructors, especially those who are new or unfamiliar with the process-oriented approach to listening, by providing details in the appendices on how to use the MPS and BU listening activities. I also offer recommendations for further listening research to benefit ALL.
Clarifying the Passive Voice for ESL Instructors and Students
Learning the passive voice in English is a challenge for many ESL learners. In this paper, after presenting information about the form, meaning, and use of the passive voice, I explore why English as a second language (ESL) learners have significant difficulty mastering it. A review of the research of Hinkel, (2002), Ju (2000), Master (1991) and Yip (1995), reveals that confusion about the role of agents in English sentences seems to create the largest range of problems for learners. In order to determine to what extent this agent issue and other passive-related concepts are addressed by pedagogical resources, I survey seven grammar textbooks and determine that they do not adequately address the issues identified in the passive acquisition research. This missing information would benefit ESL students, but students and teachers may be intimidated by the metalinguistic terminology used by grammarians and linguists. I therefore offer teachers a general rule for passive construction using only three terms: subject, verb, and object. Then, using a fourth term (agent), I present a schema of four sentence types showing how passive construction can be clarified using the simplest possible language.
A Spoonful of Humor Helps the Grammar Go Down
Language play is a common feature of daily life but rarely an explicit part of the second language classroom. Researchers have shown how language play is a mark of linguistic proficiency, can develop sociolinguistic knowledge, and can facilitate lexical, semantic and grammatical acquisition of a second language (Broner & Tarone, 2001; Carter & McCarthy, 2004; Lucas, 2005; Pomerantz & Bell, 2007; Tocalli-Beller & Swain, 2007). This project brings together research in two areas: language play and second language grammar instruction. Grammar instruction has been divided into three categories: input enhancement, metalinguistic explanation, and practice (Ranta & Lyster, 2018), while new insights from cognitive linguistics provide a foundation for instruction on multi-word verbs. Specifically, I explore how grammar activities that exploit ambiguity in puns can be used to deepen learners’ knowledge of multi- word verbs (i.e., phrasal and prepositional verbs). Three different activities are showcased, each using the same five phrasal verb puns but a different grammar technique. The goal of this paper is to provide a rationale for incorporating language play into ESL instruction and to provide instructors with sample materials based on puns that aim to promote noticing, develop metalinguistic knowledge, and provide transfer appropriate practice.
Learner Autonomy and Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA): Bridging the Gap between Theory and Implementation
Portfolio-based assessment has a relatively long history as an alternative assessment protocol for developing and facilitating learner autonomy (Hamp-Lyons & Condon, 2000; Little, 2005, 2007, 2013). However, portfolios are most useful when they serve a formative (assessment for learning) function, not a summative (assessment of learning) one (Fox, 2014). Learner autonomy is developed and facilitated when students set goals, self-assess, and reflect on their learning (Little, 2005). In 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) mandated that all Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) programs in Canada use Portfolio-based Language Assessment (PBLA) as their protocol for teaching and learning. However, despite several years of PBLA use, research suggests that the formative assessment potential of PBLA is not being realized (Fox, 2014; Mohammadian Haghighi, 2016; Ripley, 2012, 2018), particularly with low literacy and limited proficiency learners in English as a second language (ESL) contexts. I frame these challenges as a lack of recognition of the fundamental role of learner autonomy in LINC classrooms, and I draw on second language acquisition and assessment literature to suggest how teachers can better develop and support learner autonomy within the PBLA model.
An Analysis of the Metalanguage Used in ESL Textbook Explanations of the English Article System
This project sought to investigate the characteristics of the metalanguage used in four popular ESL textbook series. The purpose was to provide instructors with a practical understanding of how these series make use of terminology and the concepts to which they refer so that educators can make informed choices when deciding which textbooks to use in the classroom. The literature on the use of metalanguage in pedagogic contexts suggests that there is a relationship between teaching metalanguage and greater second language proficiency. The study reported here involved analyzing the grammatical terminology for English articles provided in 16 ESL textbooks and comparing it to the descriptions found in two authoritative grammar reference books. The findings reveal that textbooks vary significantly in the choice of grammar terminology used to denote the same concept. The findings also suggest that textbook authors may choose terms that are easier to learn, but are less precise or even invalid when explaining conceptually abstract or complex concepts. The implications are that teachers should carefully review the grammar explanations in their textbooks before incorporating them into classroom instruction, as the terminological orientation of the authors may not correspond with their own. Teachers also need to familiarize themeselves with the grammar system they are teaching by referring to authoritative linguistic or teacher reference grammars, so that they are prepared to explain unfamiliar concepts.
Approaches to Enhancing Listening Strategy Instruction in the English for Academic Purposes Classroom
Many instructors find listening a challenging skill to teach, and many learners lament that listening is the most difficult skill to acquire. Instructors often follow a classroom procedure of ‘listen, answer, check’, frequently referred to as the comprehension approach. Researchers have noted that this methodology is more akin to testing than teaching and does little to educate students on the processes involved in becoming competent listeners. In recent years, empirical evidence has highlighted the effectiveness of developing learners’ strategic listening abilities. Metacognitive listening strategies, in particular, have been demonstrated as powerful tools in improving students’ listening comprehension. While research has demonstrated their effectiveness, the prevalence of metacognitive instruction in textbooks has not been extensively investigated. In this study, I analyzed the extent to which metacognitive strategy instruction was incorporated in a listening textbook used in intermediate-level English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes at the University of Alberta’s English Language School. I developed a coding schema for identifying and assessing the percentage of metacognitive instructional activities in the text that focused on planning/prediction, monitoring comprehension, solving comprehension problems, and evaluating the approach and outcomes. The most prevalent strategy was planning/predicting, followed by monitoring comprehension, and then evaluating. The implications for ESL teachers and learners are discussed. Based on the results of the study, I designed materials and outlined suggestions for infusing strategy instruction into textbook listening activities.
Is it a Task? An Analysis of Communicative Activities in Integrated ESL Textbooks
It is widely observed that English as a Second Language (ESL) coursebooks still adopt a presentation-practice-production (PPP) approach to language learning despite theory and research in support of task-based language teaching (TBLT). Researchers often cite the lack of evidence for a PPP approach (e.g.., Skehan, 1998), but it still remains popular in the global English language teaching community. This study seeks to examine the degree to which tasks are being implemented in current commercially produced pedagogical materials that include the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Three popular North American ESL coursebooks were selected and their speaking activities analysed using criteria drawn from definitions of a task from the TBLT literature (Ellis, 2009). The results from this small sample suggest that ESL/EFL coursebooks contain a relatively high number of speaking activities that meet the criteria for a task, which may reflect widespread adoption of TBLT principles.
Understanding Compassion Fatigue and Promoting Resilience: Strategies for Adult ESL Literacy Instructors
This literature review explores the prevalence of compassion fatigue (CF) in three helping professions – nursing, social work, and education – to describe and consider its theoretical relevance for English as a second language (ESL) literacy instruction in Canada. CF, the “cost to caring” (Figley, 1995, p. 1) and associated coping strategies have been studied extensively in nursing and social work, but minimal attention has been given to their presence in and application for education, particularly in adult ESL literacy instruction. This review finds that the ESL literacy instruction context parallels those of nursing, social work, and other subareas of education with respect to the risk of CF and the efficacy of resilience strategies. Parallels exist in terms of practitioners’ exposure to others’ traumatic histories, their professional need to build relationships with others, and the need for the development of CF awareness-raising and resilience training opportunities. Although limited by a small sample size, this paper offers numerous implications and recommendations for further research and development and includes a workshop tailored to the needs of ESL professionals who work with literacy or refugee students.
ESL Instructor Knowledge and Beliefs: Moving Toward Indigenization
Instructor knowledge and beliefs are important for implementing educational policy changes like Indigenization. Much depends on instructors for the implementation of an Indigenous strategy, yet there is little in the English as a second language (ESL) literature that provides specific insight into the challenges and affordances of Indigenization from ESL instructors' perspectives. Rushing into change without planning for its implementation is identified as an obstacle to successful policy change (Brook, 1996). Conducting an instructor needs analysis is recommended prior to Indigenization to identify what ESL instructors' understandings about Indigenization; what ESL instructors' perceptions of and practices are in Indigenization; and, what challenges and affordances there are, from an ESL instructor perspective, to Indigenization. To explore these issues, a focus group was conducted with ESL instructors whose program is exploring Indigenization, and recommendations based on the results are offered for instructors, administrators and coordinators, and pre-service and TESL teacher training programs.
Addressing Barriers to Learning Caused by Psychological Trauma in Adult ESL Students: Applications for the Classroo
Refugees entering the Canadian adult ESL classroom may be experiencing the impact of psychological trauma or PTSD. These mental afflictions are associated with cognitive impairments that can hinder the language learning process. Consequently, it is important that ESL instructors become aware of the potential symptoms and implications of trauma and of strategies that can be used to address associated cognitive deficiencies. This study examined the associations between psychological trauma/PTSD, abnormalities in the brain, and cognitive impairment. An analysis was conducted of documents from academic and government organizations and of peer-reviewed articles selected from relevant journals. Psychological trauma and PTSD were found to be associated with impairment in attention and memory. Cognitive strategies that enhance these mental processes should be used and emphasized with refugee ESL students. Additionally, classroom management strategies and institutional supports to assist adult ESL students with histories of trauma should also be employed. This study describes strategies that can be applied in the adult ESL context to develop community, trust, safety, and confidence; mindfulness-based practices; and trauma-informed institutions.
Kathy (Kyoungsun) Kim
Language Assessment Practices in LINC Foundations Using ESL for Adult Literacy Learners (ALL)
The Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Foundations program recently designed and implemented both language and literacy instruction for adult English learners with limited years of interrupted schooling. Instructing English as a second language (ESL) literacy students poses a unique challenge as the instructors must assist learners in becoming autonomous and responsible learners while meeting the assessment requirements—a minimum of 16 task- based assessments and 16 skill-building activities per session—mandated by the LINC program protocol (i.e., Portfolio-Based Language Assessment [PBLA]). PBLA is grounded in assessment for learning (AFL: Wiliam, 2009) and in the Whole-Part-Whole (WPW) learning model (Swanson & Law, 1993). Despite the formative intentions of PBLA, challenges exist, primarily in the imbalance of formative and summative assessments and in the lack of student involvement in the development of working portfolios. In this paper, I review the benefits and challenges of the instructional approaches and theories that the LINC programs have attempted to implement. Overall, there is a need for more frequent and interactive communication and exchange of feedback between students and teachers. Therefore, I developed samples of summative and formative PBLA/LINC assessments based on the recently published ESL for Adult Literacy Learners (ALL) document. Elicited evidence of student understanding from skill-building activities can initiate frequent student-teacher feedback, to help the students be more successful when they attempt the final, task-based assessment. I conclude by emphasizing the importance of having students set goals for their language learning and then reflecting on their work, as these efforts can help students develop greater responsibility for their own learning.
‘Is it okay if I work alone?’: Encouraging Peer-to-Peer Cooperativeness to Improve Oral Production in an ESL Classroom
Collaboration among learners is a key principle of communicative language teaching. However, simply asking students to work together does not always result in language involvement, and this approach can jeopardize the learning outcomes of a lesson. The purpose of this paper is to identify the benefits of peer interaction, and factors that have been found to influence the success of collaboration. Additionally, a set of research articles are summarized to illustrate different ways that peer collaboration has been implemented and evaluated in classroom settings. Topics include peer teaching, peer feedback, peer exam preparation, and peer assessment. These studies inform a list of pedagogical recommendations for adult ESL instructors as to how peer collaboration can be incorporated into classroom tasks. Such collaboration can create an environment of mutual assistance and promote students’ oral proficiency.
Explaining the Meaning of Modal Verbs: An Analysis of ESL Grammar Textbooks
In this capping project, I have aimed to examine explanations of the meanings of four English modal verbs: can, may, must and should in intermediate level English as a second language (ESL) grammars. Teaching English modals to second language (L2) learners is a pedagogically challenging task because of the complexity of these important grammatical forms. The paper begins with an overview of the meanings expressed by can, may, must and should in three linguistic reference grammar books and in seven reference grammars for teachers. This is followed by the results of an analysis of the explanations for these four modals in seven intermediate level grammar textbooks for ESL learners. The results of the analysis show similarities and differences across the textbooks with respect to the terminology used to describe the meaning of these modals. Based on this analysis, several teaching suggestions are presented for the effective explanation of modals to intermediate level ESL students.
Bridging Learner and Instructor Beliefs: A Task-based Module for Learning about Second Language Acquisition
Learner beliefs about the principles of the instructional approach of their classroom may not align with those of their instructors. Analyses of learner beliefs reveal discrepancies and confusion around the topics of interaction, grammar instruction, and feedback (Loewen et al., 2009; Schulz, 2001) These are critical components of task-based language teaching (TBLT) widely used in adult ESL classrooms in Canada. Since conflicting beliefs can impede learning success, learners may benefit from the opportunity to analyse their beliefs in light of empirical evidence. This paper introduces a module on the topic of second language learning that has been created to bridge learner and instructor beliefs about TBLT through the analysis of second language acquisition (SLA) research. The module provides 10 task-based lessons, balanced across language skills, which are designed for learners at the intermediate level. Learners begin by reviewing and evaluating the source of their beliefs. Simplified texts about SLA findings are then introduced to help learners understand the research that supports TBLT principles. The module culminates in a debate in which learners are asked to synthesize experiential and empirical support for their beliefs about language learning. The goal is to exploit the content of SLA in task-based lessons so that students can derive the language benefits of engaging in tasks on previously unexplored topics. At the same time, it is hoped that the tasks will encourage learners to critically reflect upon their beliefs about their own language learning.
Supporting Teachers to Recognize and Incorporate an Ethno-Relative Perspective
Within Alberta, the scope of pedagogical expectations for K-12 teachers is officially widening to include language, and cultural and global citizenship teaching across subject areas, reflecting a shift to an ethno-relative perspective, in which many behaviours, attitudes, and skills are viewed as culturally bound. Thus, to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population, teachers will need to demonstrate and practice intercultural competence (IC) in the classroom. What has yet to be addressed in the literature is how teachers will be supported in meeting new expectations. This capping project offers recommendations, grounded in theory and research, with illustrative examples, to support teachers at the secondary level in coming to know and incorporate an ethno-relative perspective within their teaching practice.
Canadian Short Stories to Teach Language and Culture to Advanced Adult ESL Learners
Using authentic literature to develop learners’ linguistic skills and intercultural communicative competence is fundamental for ESL learners who live in a Canadian multicultural society. The purpose of this study was to explore the use of Canadian short stories in the ESL classroom as a means to develop learners’ linguistic competence and intercultural communicative competence (ICC). An extensive review of the literature related to developing ESL learners’ language proficiency and their intercultural communicative competence was conducted. A list of research informed criteria was generated to assist ESL instructors in selecting short stories that can be used to promote the development of both linguistic and ICC competence. Ten multicultural Canadian short stories were selected for inclusion in the project and each met the linguistic and cultural criteria. A set of research-informed tasks for teaching short stories to upper-intermediate and advanced ESL learners that attend to the linguistic and cultural dimensions were also developed. A number of pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading tasks were created for one short story, Borders by Thomas King, to serve as an example illustrating how to integrate language and culture using interactive text and reader response processes.
Community Programming for Adult ESL Learners
The development of communicative competence for Canadian immigrants requires a community-based response. Language proficiency can facilitate the integration process by enhancing social and economic opportunities for immigrants, increasing their capital. In addressing these concerns, community programming (English as a second language [ESL]- specific and broader community/mainstream) and volunteering within Edmonton were explored as feasible opportunities for learners to access in their settlement and integration process. This guide will assist service providers to refer adult ESL learners to opportunities within the community based on three needs: ESL instruction, greater interaction opportunities with proficient speakers, and/or more acculturation/integration opportunities. The programs listed in the guide are accessible, free or of low cost, and offered by community-based organizations. Community organizations and established ESL schools that have been catalogued in A Directory of ESL/EAL Programs and Services in Selected Urban Centres in Alberta for the period of April 2016-August 2016 (LARCC, 2016) have been excluded. Community leagues have been excluded, as well, but they are recognized as institutions that offer the same potential benefits as the community recreation centres, community adult learning centres, public libraries, and immigrant serving agencies that have been incorporated into the guide. The programs that these organizations offer are opportunities that may be accessed by adult ESL learners to develop communicative competence, supplement classroom learning, or encourage integration.
Enhanced Vocabulary Use in ESL Speaking Activities
This study explored the theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings that can promote vocabulary learning in speaking activities. It aimed to identify in the literature the speaking activities and design features that have been found to be enhance lexical acquisition. The vocabulary-enhancing speaking activities examined in this study were discussions, information transfer, role plays, retelling, and formal presentations. To determine the extent to which commercially produced ESL teaching materials used researched-informed activities that purported to develop the acquisition of active vocabulary, five adult ESL listening and speaking textbooks were surveyed for speaking activity types and design features that promoted vocabulary use. The results indicated that only a few speaking activities in the texts included these design features. Also, it was observed that the textbooks relied heavily on one type of activity, discussions. Role plays and formal presentations were less frequent, while information transfer, information gap, and retelling activities represented less than 1% of the total number of the speaking activities. A research-informed example of how to enhance a speaking activity from one of the texts for vocabulary use was provided.
An Analysis of Present Perfect Timelines in ESL Textbooks
Grammar timelines usually consist of a horizontal line and various dots, crosses, and dotted lines
that indicate the temporal and aspectual meanings of verbs. Timelines are used as a pedagogical tool in English as a Second Language (ESL) grammar instruction that, coupled with communicative activities, has been shown to contribute to successful second language learning (Norris & Ortega, 2000). To date, relatively little literature exists that addresses the characteristics of effective timelines. In this paper, I focus on timelines for the present perfect tense-aspect form (e.g., I have lived here since 1987). The discussion begins with a review of how authoritative grammars describe the various meanings of the present perfect, as well as current theories on using graphics for learning. This literature review informed the creation of an analytic protocol that was applied to the evaluation of three popular ESL grammar textbooks’ timeline depictions of the present perfect. Results of this analysis indicate that several key features of the form’s meaning are frequently not represented. Based on this analysis, three timeline alternatives are discussed in terms of their potential effectiveness.
Supporting ESL Literacy Students with Learning Difficulties
Many adult newcomers to Canada are non- or low-literate due to having had no, little or interrupted educations. Although Canada supports their transition into Canadian society in part through the provision of language instruction, not all English literacy learners experience satisfactory levels of success. Instructors sometimes suspect learners of having learning disabilities, yet assessment of non- and low-literate adult English learners is problematic, as is differentiating between intrinsic limitations and emotional and behavioural disorders that may affect learning. Studies have been conducted to discern how to support juvenile English as a second language (ESL) literacy learners with learning disabilities as well as literate post- secondary ESL learners, but adult literacy learners with learning difficulties comprise a neglected demographic. Practical teaching strategies and resources designed specifically for adult English literacy learners with learning difficulties are needed. Classroom adjustments, Individualized Educational Programs, metacognitive strategy instruction, multisensory instruction, Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies, and phonological awareness training are strategies likely to support this group. Professional development for ESL instructors must be provided to raise awareness and provide the tools necessary to support struggling adult ESL literacy learners who may not be in positions to advocate for themselves. Repositories for teaching strategies and adult-appropriate resources must be developed and made available for instructors and administrators, and responsibility must be delegated and taken to ensure that all struggling adult ESL literacy learners receive the same level of academic support as other Canadians to enhance their potential as new Canadians.
Using Web Resources to Enhance L2 Listening Comprehension
The purpose of this project was to identify the most common challenges that English as a second language (ESL) learners face when developing listening comprehension skills, to ascertain some possible cause of these challenges, and to report on ways in which freely available Internet resources can be used to improve learners’ aural processing. In particular, I explored the materials and modes of presentation recommended in the second language acquisition literature to develop intermediate-level learners’ comprehension of real-life authentic language listening and the methodological approaches that address learners’ listening problems most efficiently. I also provide recommendations for instructors to help students become independent learners through employing technology for extensive listening. A list of criteria for evaluation and selection of web-based listening materials and an annotated list of Internet websites where instructors can find free high quality recordings for classroom practice or recommend for students’ independent learning are included.
Individualizing Grammar Instruction: Mission Possible?
Adult ESL instruction in Canada has adopted a communicative approach to second language
teaching. The role of grammar in communicative methods, including task-based language teaching, was often neglected. However, research has shown that some focus on form is necessary for learner interlanguage development to occur (e.g., White, Spada, Lightbown, & Ranta, 1991). It has been well established that learners' ability to benefit from grammar instruction depends on their individual characteristics, especially language learning aptitude. This article presents an overview of research that investigates the relationship of aptitude with second language grammar acquisition. It starts with a discussion of different conceptualizations of the construct of language aptitude and its role in mediating the effectiveness of grammar instruction. This is followed by a review of aptitude-by-treatment interaction research aimed at identifying optimal methods of teaching grammar and factors that can mitigate aptitude effects. Suggestions are offered for addressing learners' aptitudinal differences during form-focused instruction within task-based language teaching.
Analysis of Vocabulary Frequency in ESL Textbooks
Vocabulary is an important component of language acquisition. Vocabulary is also an inseparable part of reading, which is a necessary skill for every English as a second language (ESL) learner. In this study, four textbooks from two popular (ESL) textbook series and CLB reading materials from CLB Support Kit (CCLB, 2012b) were assessed for vocabulary coverage and consistency of vocabulary use. Forty reading passages and eight CLB exemplars from the CLB Support Kit were analyzed using Vocabprofile in the Compleat Lexical Tutor (Cobb, n. d.) at different Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels (CLB 5-7, CLB 6-9, CLB 6-7, and CLB 8-9). Comparisons were then made to determine vocabulary frequency distribution across textbook series and two publishers. Raw and mean numbers and percentages of tokens, word types, and word families were used to describe vocabulary coverage of each textbook. Lexical variation was also determined and compared between CLB levels, publishers and CLB exemplars. Findings showed that lexical variation and text coverage were consistent across publishers; however, results were not consistent when compared with CLB exemplars. Results suggested that publishers should take into consideration CLB guidelines and exemplars in textbook development to provide level-appropriate reading resources.
Incorporating Self-Assessment into EAP Writing Instruction
The purpose of this project was to explore effective ways in which self-assessment (SA) can be incorporated into English for Academic Purposes (EAP) writing instruction. Due to the lack of practical applications of SA in English as a second language (ESL) or EAP writing classes, I searched the second language acquisition literature for rationale to support the use of SA in language learning and for research-informed practices for integrating SA into EAP writing instruction. Based on the literature, I developed a list of commonly-cited classroom SA tools and several templates that instructors can easily adapt for different types of writing assignments. Finally, to demonstrate how SA can be used in ESL writing instruction, I selected chapter one from a popular ESL/EAP textbook, Learning English for Academic Purposes (LEAP), to illustrate best practices for implementing SA activities in several writing lessons. This project provides some useful suggestions for integrating SA into EAP writing materials and may contribute to a better understanding of SA procedures instructors can implement in their classes to enhance ESL/EAP learners’ writing skills.
Developing Language Support Materials for LING 101: Using the Adjunct Model
International students face many language-related challenges when they participate in academic
lectures with their native speaker classmates. Especially in listening comprehension, unknown vocabulary, the speed of a lecturer’s presentation and lack of strategy training impede second language learners’ comprehension of academic lectures. Scholars have recommended various solutions to address these problems including academic / technical vocabulary teaching, auditory word recognition, instruction of listening strategies and adjunct model language support. Based on the literature review of the adjunct model of content and language integration, I designed language support materials derived from the content of an introductory course in linguistics for the benefit of undergraduate visiting students from Asia. The materials were designed to be used in optional tutorial sessions over a ten-week period during the term in which students were registered in an introductory linguistics course. Discussion of the development of the materials highlights the tension between content and language learning. The paper concludes with some suggestions for future use of these materials by adjunct instructors.
Integrating Grammar into a CLB Lesson
Implementing grammar into a task-based lesson can be challenging for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) instructors. The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), mandatory in all LINC programs, use a task-based approach to language instruction in which students demonstrate their proficiency by carrying out specific language tasks. Research has demonstrated the importance of integrating focus on form into L2 instruction; however, also according to the research, teachers are not sure how to implement grammar instruction into a task-based language teaching (TBLT). As Ellis (2009) stated, a main reason for which TBLT is criticized, is teachers’ resistance to accepting the fact that there is more than one approach to TBLT and, consistently, more than one approach to grammar teaching in TBLT. This paper presents a literature review about options for teaching grammar both implicitly and explicitly in a task-based approach. It focuses on sequencing grammar structure within well known in literature frameworks created by Ellis (2009), Nunan (2004) and Willis and Willis (2007). It is followed by sample CLB-based lesson plans which integrate grammar instruction in different cycles of task-based language teaching.
Fluency-Enhancing Activities in EFL Textbooks
In this study, five integrated skills student textbooks used to teach English as a foreign language (EFL) in the Middle East were examined. The texts are of intermediate level and were published between 1998 and 2008. The textbooks were analyzed to determine the extent to which they included research-informed activities that purported to develop learners’ oral fluency. The findings indicated that these textbooks rely heavily on one type of activity: the free production communicative activity. Role plays, formulaic sequences, task repetitions, and pre-planning were not well represented in the textbooks surveyed. Five examples illustrate how to supplement the free production activities by utilizing additional techniques to help EFL teachers facilitate their learners’ oral fluency.
Product Versus Process Approaches to Listening Instruction
Second language (L2) acquisition research indicates that listening is a challenging skill for both teachers to teach and learners to acquire. L2 teachers tend to rely on a product-oriented approach that centres upon learners’ ability to answer comprehension questions, but this approach does little to help learners develop their listening competence. To address this issue, researchers have suggested various alternative approaches and techniques to teaching listening that are more process-oriented. I examined the listening content in six popular intermediate adult ESL textbooks to determine to what extent the listening activities in these books were product-oriented, to what extent they were process-oriented, and which specific approaches were most and least common. A coding schema was developed to categorize the listening activities into ten activity types: testing listening comprehension or decoding skills, segmental bottom-up activities, suprasegmental bottom-up activities, planning/prediction, monitoring comprehension, solving comprehension problems, evaluating approach and outcomes, “other”, speaking/reading/writing follow-up activities, and grammar/vocabulary/pronunciation follow up activities. These activity types represented either the product-oriented approach (which tests listening comprehension or decoding skills), or process-oriented approaches (which provide instructions on how comprehension can be reached, or guide learners through the process towards comprehension), or follow-up activities. I found high frequencies of the product-oriented approach in every textbook and much lower frequencies of process-oriented approaches. Planning/prediction were the most common activity types, while bottom-up activities, such as those that helped learners identify a word in a recorded passage through understanding word parts, occurred minimally in the textbooks. The implications for ESL textbook writers and teachers are discussed.
Using Video Excerpts to Teach Pragmatics in ESL Classrooms
English as a second language (ESL) learners may have some difficulties integrating into society due to a lack of knowledge and production of appropriate pragmatics use. Therefore, the inclusion of pragmatics instruction is critical for ESL learners, but there are many challenges associated with instructors teaching pragmatics and learners acquiring pragmatics. The objective of the present study was to explore effective ways in which ESL instructors can use video excerpts taken from television situational comedies to teach pragmatics to adult learners with intermediate English proficiency. The sitcom used in this study is entitled How I Met Your Mother. I chose video excerpts for teaching pragmatics from a number of season one episodes and evaluated them using a sitcom selection checklist I developed for this study. I have also provided an example of how to assign a Canadian Language Benchmark level to a video excerpt using a benchmarking table. In addition, I used suggestions based on Tomlinson’s (2011, 2013b) principles for materials development to create previewing, viewing, and postviewing activities and a sample lesson plan. Finally, I discuss the challenges and implications for ESL instructors planning to use video excerpts as pragmatics teaching resources.
Teaching Culture in the Academic English Classroom
According to Byram (1997), “teaching for linguistic competence cannot be separated from teaching for intercultural competence” (p. 22). This paper introduces intercultural communicative competence (ICC) as a necessary skill for learners to develop in the Canadian English for academic purposes (EAP) classroom. ICC refers to “the knowledge, motivation and skills needed to interact effectively and appropriately with members of different cultures” (Wiseman, 2003, p. 192). An extensive review of the research literature on ICC and the approaches that have been used to develop students' ICC in the ESL classroom was conducted. Implications for ICC development in the Canadian EAP classroom were identified from this literature. An EAP-related task for each of the seven strands of the ICC model presented in the ATESL Adult ESL Curriculum Framework (2011) is also provided. These strands require learners to: analyze everyday behaviours in Canadian cultures and compare and contrast these with their own; compare and contrast differences and similarities in values and beliefs in their own cultures and in Canadian cultures; recognize cultural stereotypes-favourable and discriminatory and describe how they impact their own and others' behaviour; identify culturally-determined behaviour patterns; analyze and describe diversity in Canadian cultures; identify and describe the significance of cultural images and symbols in Canadian cultures and their own and examine their own cultural adjustment process and the personal balance that must be struck between acculturation and preserving their own cultures (Chambers, Gnida, Messaros, Ilott, & Dawson, 2011, p. S7-10).
Teaching Comprehension of Implied Meaning
The objective of this capping project is to examine how the comprehension of implied meaning (irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and understatement) can be taught through audio and visual media. In this paper, I explore how irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and understatement are conveyed in natural conversations; identify research-based teaching strategies for improving students’ comprehension of irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and understatement; and recommend resources for exemplifying irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and understatement. Social and workplace scenarios and media relevant to intermediate ESL learners’ needs have been selected to create activities for teaching implicature. The audio and visual media include two audiobooks, a set of educational videos, and a feature film suitable for learners at Canadian Language Benchmarks 6-8 levels. These audio and visual materials have been selected because they contain examples of irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and understatement; have meaningful content, and will be motivating for learners. This project is intended to increase instructors’ understanding of the benefits of explicit instruction for improving students’ comprehension of irony, metaphor, hyperbole, and understatement.
Teaching and Learning Articles in ESL
English article use is one of the most difficult aspects of English grammar for both teachers and learners of English as a second language (ESL). A teacher in Yamada and Matsuura’s (1982) study claimed that his students used articles “almost randomly” (p. 50) while some researchers (e.g., Dulay, Burt & Krashen, 1982; Swan, 2005) are convinced that the attempt to teach articles to ESL learners is a futile one. However, Master (1990, 2002) maintains that English article use has a system that is both teachable and learnable. He and other researchers (e.g., Butler, 2002; White, 2009, 2010) have proposed various pedagogical approaches for the teaching and learning of the English article system in ESL. In this paper I link research on English articles and English article acquisition to ESL pedagogy. I outline the form, meaning, and use characteristics of English articles, the difficulties associated with their acquisition, and guidelines suggested by the experts for teaching the article system to ESL students. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.39561
Linking Grammar to CLB-Based Materials: Theory to Practice
This study investigates the treatment of grammar explanations and exercises in Canadian Snapshots, Raising Issues textbook, written for the adult English as a second language learner in Canada. Second language acquisition research has well established that learners require not only input, but also interaction and focus on form during communicative language lessons (Ellis, 2012; Spada & Lightbown, 2008). The question now is no longer if form-focused instruction should be included but where and how the inclusion is most effective in integrating grammar instruction within task-based lessons (Spada & Lightbown, 2008). All of the focus on grammar targets, explanations, and accompanying exercises in the Canadian Snapshots, Raising Issues student book and student workbook were systematically analyzed and coded based on three qualitatively determined categories: pedagogical language rules, type of production, and use of contextual supports. The results showed that accurate grammatical explanations and meta-language were consistently provided. However, there was a lack in demarcation (explanations of when to use or not to use a grammatical item), open-ended production and adequate contextualization and integration of the grammar. Based on these results, it appears that a discrepancy exists between current grammar teaching theories and the types of grammar focus and practice exercises in this particular ESL textbook. Implications for classroom instruction are discussed. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.39563
Film as a Source of Authentic Material in Teaching ESL Writing
The objective of this paper is to examine how language acquisition can be most effectively maximized through film as the visual medium. This project explores ways of using modern Hollywood movies in the ESL classroom as a means of developing the writing skills of ESL learners. To my knowledge, no previous studies have focused on the relevance of the linguistic material and content of authentic video resources to a certain writing proficiency level outlined by Canadian Language Benchmarks competency indicators. Particularly, the benefits of using films are analyzed within the framework of CLB 6-8 writing requirements including both language proficiency and competence profiles. CLB 6 to CLB 8 proficiency has been chosen for this project because language requirements at these levels assume an expanded range of vocabulary, grammar, and rhetorical conventions. The movies have been selected based on linguistic and non-linguistic criteria relevant for the specific environment of the ESL classroom. Some recommendations regarding movie selection are suggested to instructors. Based on these criteria, a number of classroom writing activities have been created (3 to 5 for each film). Finally, the study encompasses films that were released in the last decade and have not yet been in the spotlight of pedagogical attention. The language, cultural context, and pragmatics in these films can be motivating for learners due to their current and meaningful content. This study may contribute to a better understanding of benefits of authentic language use in the ESL classroom. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.38869
ESL Learner Attitudes Toward Sexual Minority Identities
The intersection among language, culture and sexuality is complex. Attitudes toward sexual minorities are culturally embedded, and English as a second language (ESL) learners in Canada not only require linguistic skills to navigate their new environment, but they also need information relevant to cultural norms and the laws that govern the people. It is widely assumed that ESL learners hold conservative attitudes toward sexual minorities, which is not surprising given the political and religious status of gay rights around the world. Using a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews, the current study explores ESL learner attitudes toward sexual minorities and their rights, and examines factors that may contribute to the formation of these attitudes. Although the findings suggest that attitudes are mixed, ESL students in this sample, particularly international students, hold quite positive views toward sexual minorities. Additionally, the study reveals that personal interaction with sexual minorities, knowledge of Canadian law, and immigration status are correlated with attitudes toward this population.
Analysis of Tasks and Activities in ESL Pronunciation Books
In this study, 16 English as a second language (ESL) pronunciation textbooks were examined. Accompanying audio CDs were excluded from the research. Twelve texts were beginner through advanced-level student books and four were teachers’ manuals. All of the textbooks were published after 2004. The student texts were analyzed to determine the extent to which activities were communicative, contextualized, and spiraled. Instructional foci were examined for percentages of activities related to perception, production, segmental, and suprasegmental features. Findings suggested that percentages varied greatly between textbooks and across individual series. The teachers’ manuals were reviewed for teaching tips, instructions, and pedagogical content. Results indicated that a broad array of information was imparted. Some manuals provided helpful teaching tips, explicit instructions, and pedagogical rationale for activities while others offered limited advice and reminders for instructors to monitor their learners’ pronunciation. Given that many ESL educators lack formal training in pronunciation, tables summarizing the findings in this study and an annotated bibliography were created to assist ESL instructors when choosing pronunciation-specific textbooks. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.38868
How Does Video Captioning Improve Listening Comprehension?
The question, ‘How does video captioning improve listening comprehension (LC)?’ is discussed from the perspective of the value captioned video brings to the adult English as a second language (ESL) learner and from how they can be effectively used in the ESL classroom. Listening comprehension is a multifaceted construct made up of and influenced by numerous factors. Captions and subtitles can vary in quality and only through judicious use will they maximize language proficiency for the language learner (LL). The idea that captioned video improves listening comprehension is presented through numerous studies that indicate the benefits and pitfalls of caption use. The major elements that influence listening comprehension when using captioned video include learning strategies and proficiency level, caption type, and video type. Each factor is discussed and the means to manage them is described.
Using NFB Shorts in the ESL Classroom
Integration of authentic material into the English as a second language (ESL) classroom is fundamental to language acquisition and progression through the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). This study is an evaluation of National Film Board (NFB) short films (shorts) for the ESL classroom specifically focused on CLB 1 to 5. The purpose was the creation of a teachers’ guide for the development and improvement of learners’ listening skills and for promotion of post-viewing discussions. The evaluation considered production date, length of the short, theme related to learner engagement, the language utilized, and the relationship to the learners’ CLB competency areas. Results indicated that twelve shorts met the established criteria. Analyses revealed that these shorts will require varying degrees of scaffolding, and as expected, the shorts chosen for CLB 1 to 2 will require additional scaffolding. Pre- and post-viewing activities are suggested for each of the shorts.
The Feedback on Feedback: Has Research Influenced Pedagogy?
Corrective feedback (CF) has been simply defined as ‘responses to learner’s utterances containing an error’ (Ellis 2006, p. 28). For this report, second language acquisition (SLA) research was reviewed for evidence-based findings on oral corrective feedback in the classroom setting and compared with current pedagogical discourse represented in textbooks for teachers of English as a second language (ESL). A content analysis of 31 teacher education textbooks revealed themed statements and suggestions on oral corrective feedback with ESL learners. The amount of text dedicated to the direct instruction of CF within each guide, as well as the number of cited SLA references, were quantified. The guides were then examined for their references to the six types of oral corrective feedback outlined by Lyster and Ranta (1997). The results of these data, coupled with a qualitative analysis of several other themes related to CF, are presented.
Mentoring for instructors of adult ESL
Although there has been extensive research conducted on mentoring new instructors in the K-12 system, in English as a foreign language (EFL) and teaching practicum contexts, there is a gap in the research from the Canadian English as a second language (ESL) perspective on mentoring instructors teaching adults. Three online surveys covering the mentee, mentor and administrator perspectives were developed to solicit Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) listserv participants’ opinions about mentor program elements and procedures, benefits, challenges, needed supports, and recommendations regarding who should receive mentoring and when. In this study, findings showed that the elements of, procedures for, and benefits of mentoring were rated very important by most respondents, thus supporting some of the K-12 mentoring literature (e.g., Daresh, 2003; Sweeny, 2008). Also, while the mentees, mentors, and administrators provided similar responses regarding the challenges, needed supports, and recommendations for mentoring, I identified slightly different tendencies on a few of these factors (e.g., guidance in planning lessons, the challenges of matching participants and of defining the role of administrators, the need for mentor training, and whether mentees should receive mentoring). Therefore, developers of mentoring programs for adult ESL instructors should consider the perspectives of all three groups and enlist their help as the developers design and implement a program for their context. A list of recommendations for mentoring is provided. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.37594
ESL students’ attitudes about their accents and implications for instructors
This study explores the relationship between accent, identity, and sense of belonging for adult ESL immigrants to Canada. Forty-two adult immigrant ESL students at a post-secondary institution in western Canada participated in a survey about their attitudes towards their accents, the value they attribute to their first language and first culture, and how their accents affect their identities and sense of belonging in Canada. Eighty-one percent indicated that they would like to sound like a native speaker if possible, but in response to another question, 25% said they would not be happy to be mistaken as native speakers (NSs). The majority (67%) said they would feel more Canadian if they sounded like a NS. They reported valuing both their first culture and Canadian culture, demonstrating a pattern of ‘integration’ in Berry’s (2005) acculturation styles. Participants’ sense of belonging was modest. This may be attributed to their relatively short average time in Canada: 2.5 years. Overall, attitudes were found to be more complex than some research has suggested. Implications are discussed in terms of L2 users’ intelligibility, and instructional materials in the ESL classroom.
How well do popular adult ESL materials provide pragmatic knowledge learning opportunities?
In this study, an evaluation of English as a second language (ESL) textbooks was conducted. Thirty textbooks used in several Edmonton programs intended for students at the intermediate ESL proficiency level were examined to determine their pragmatic content. Findings suggest that ESL instructors cannot rely on textbooks to provide adequate pragmatic content. If ESL teachers want to facilitate the pragmatic competence of their students, they need to develop and/or find supplementary materials. An annotated bibliography and a reference list of resources were created to assist ESL instructors in accessing additional resources for each identified pragmatic knowledge content category. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.37597
The use of portable e-readers in an ESL extensive reading program
Portable electronic devices are generally untapped reading tools that have the potential to produce beneficial results in English as a Second Language (ESL) extensive reading programs. However, few guidelines are available to assist instructors in using these tools, as there is a lack of research conducted with learners in an ESL context. The purposes of this project were to determine the impact of using portable e-readers for extensive reading on ESL learners’ reading attitudes, behaviours and skills, and to ascertain the learners’ and instructor’s satisfaction with the use of the Sony e-readers and the extensive reading program. All students (n = 21) in one ESL reading and writing Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 class at NorQuest College participated in this study. Data were gathered over eight weeks through a pre-study questionnaire in paper-form, student reading logs, instructor observation, and a post-study questionnaire via SurveyMonkey®. Data obtained from the pre- and post-questionnaires and the weekly reading logs were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics; data gathered from the observation field notes were coded using thematic analysis. The results show that the participants were overall highly satisfied with the extensive e-reading program and the use of e-readers. The extensive e-reading program was considered clearly defined and enjoyable, but limited in the selection of e-books. The e-readers were viewed as being portable and environmentally friendly when compared with reading paper-based books. Participants felt the use of e-readers enhanced their enjoyment and increased their frequency and volume of reading. However, participants thought they made the lowest gains in comprehension, felt restricted by not using Wi-Fi, and experienced difficulties reading in dark places. An instructor’s general guide for using e-readers in extensive e-reading programs based upon the results is included.
Inductive consciousness-raising tasks: Learning the meaning and use of the present perfect
How to teach grammar within the communicative language classroom has been an issue of concern for many educators ever since it has become apparent that simply providing comprehensible input does not ensure high levels of grammatical accuracy (Harley, Allen, Cummins, & Swain, 1990; Lightbown & Spada, 1994). Second language acquisition (SLA) research provides evidence of the benefits of different types of form-focused instruction (FFI) combined with communicative activities (e.g., Norris & Ortega, 2000; Spada, 1997, 2011). One of the newer techniques for teaching grammar is the consciousness-raising (CR) task (Fotos & Ellis, 1991). Despite their potential, CR tasks are not generally found to be among grammar textbook activities. This quasi-experimental study compared learning gains of those who were exposed to an inductive CR task (n = 10) and those who received a traditional teacher-fronted (TF) lesson (n = 9) in an adult English as a second language (ESL) context. Participants’ ages ranged from 23-69; two of them were men, the other seventeen were women. They came from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds but all had a Canadian Language Benchmark score of 6. Participants were taught the resultative meaning and use of the present perfect tense-aspect form in both treatments. Pre- to post-test gains showed that both groups increased in their grammatical accuracy of the present perfect. The primary implication of this study is that CR tasks should be added to ESL grammar textbooks and to ESL instructors’ repertoires of teaching strategies in order to provide students with a wider range of effective ways to learn grammar. http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.37591
Teaching listening effectively in ESL classrooms
Listening skills play a critical role in language learning, providing the aural input needed to develop other language skills (Krashen, 1985). In many language classrooms, however, Vandergrift and Goh (2012) have found that listening often receives the least attention from both teachers and instructional materials; these authors maintain that even when listening is the focus of a lesson, the activities intended to develop listening skills often merely test them. Fortunately, researchers have studied many factors which influence second language (L2) listening comprehension and have reported on their efficacy. In this paper I highlight the promising trends identified by L2 listening research and then discuss current practices instructors use to teach listening skills in adult English as a second language (ESL) classes in Edmonton, based on survey data and three focus group interviews. Next, I identify gaps between research and practice and provide recommendations of evidence-based principles. Finally, I offer examples of ESL classroom activities to develop effective listening skills.
The use of “Discover Canada” in LINC classrooms
This study assesses the use of the Discover Canada: Rights and responsibilities of citizenship study guide for Canadian citizenship (CIC, 2011). The research reported here explored whether, to what extent, and for what purposes English as a second language (ESL) instructors in Alberta use the Discover Canada Study Guide as a resource for teaching citizenship concepts (history, rights, responsibilities, law, etc.) in federally-funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classrooms. The results of an online survey, as well as an assessment of the readability of the guide itself, are discussed. Recommendations are made for future use of the Guide in ESL instruction, and modifications are recommended to make the Study Guide a more effective resource for ESL learners.
A case study exploring perceptions of paraphrasing
Plagiarism is a wide-spread concern at institutions of higher learning. University students are told to “avoid plagiarism” and paraphrase source information. Their written work, however, often contains a form of plagiarism called “patchwriting”, defined by Howard (1996) as “[copying] from a source text and then [deleting] some words, [altering] grammatical structures, or [plugging] in one-for-one synonym substitutes” (p. 233). Patchwriting is a developmental stage, and it reflects unfamiliarity with disciplinary citation practices. Complicating matters is that the paraphrasing perceptions of instructors’ and students’ in different academic fields can vary (Roig, 1999, 2001; Shi, 2012). Two surveys (one for instructors, one for students) were developed to explore the following questions: To what extent do university teachers of second-year classes and their students at a large western-Canadian academic institution have the same ideas about paraphrasing, and why? And what can help university students learn how to paraphrase better? Nine university instructors teaching second-year courses, along with 66 of their students, took part in the study. Similar to findings in Roig (1999, 2001) and Deckert (1993), an analysis of instructors’ and students’ responses revealed variations in perceptions of acceptable paraphrasing, especially for the patchwriting examples. No significant differences in Plagiarism Knowledge Survey scores were noted between Arts instructors and students, or between students in different faculties. Participants responded favorably to the possibility of enrolling in a paraphrasing workshop offered by the university or an online course, echoing recommendations made by other researchers.
Schwabl, K., Rossiter, M. J., & Abbott, M. L. (2013). University students’ and instructors’ paraphrasing and citation knowledge and practices. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 59(3), 401-419.
Instructors’ perceptions of intercultural communicative competence in the ESL classroom
The importance of an intercultural orientation to language training has been reflected in both the applied linguistics literature and relevant curriculum frameworks, such as the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001) and the ATESL Adult ESL Curriculum Framework (Chambers et al., 2011). However, there has been little research on instructors’ views of this approach and its application to the ESL classroom. This paper reports on an investigation into the beliefs and reported practices of English as a second language instructors in Alberta relating to intercultural communicative competence (ICC). Seventy instructors participated in an online survey. Respondents generally indicated a strong belief in the relevance and value of incorporating ICC into their teaching; however, instructors’ reported classroom practices revealed that culture was addressed in varying degrees and ICC was not systematically taught. The findings suggest that an increase in instructor training, suitable materials development, and research into effective methods for the pedagogical application of ICC in the language learning classroom are needed.
Teaching vocabulary: ESL instructors’ beliefs and practices
This study investigates the beliefs and classroom practices of English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors in regard to teaching English vocabulary to their adult students. Thirty anonymous ESL instructors responded to an online questionnaire composed of 11 subsections on the topic of ESL vocabulary: teaching techniques, learning strategies, dictionaries, aspects of word knowledge, grouping vocabulary, repetition, corpora and frequency lists, formulaic sequences, assessment, extra questions, and instructor interests. The questionnaire responses were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics. This study reports on those findings, focusing on how instructor beliefs corresponded to self-reported instructor classroom practices. Seven potential gaps between teacher beliefs/practices and current research findings are identified in regards to: vocabulary assessment, general vocabulary learning statistics, explicit vocabulary teaching, grouping of vocabulary, extensive reading, dictionary use and training, and vocabulary learning computer programs. As well, the top five instructor interests in regard to vocabulary learning and teaching are reported.
Implementing portfolio-based language assessment in Edmonton LINC programs: Benefits and challenges
Portfolios in education are collections of student work assembled over a period of time. They have the potential to promote reflection, build autonomy, and provide a broad representation of student ability. While previous research has examined the benefits and challenges of portfolio-based assessment, research into the use of portfolios in second language education, particularly outside of the European context, has been limited. The goal of this study was to explore the benefits and challenges of implementing portfolio-based language assessment (PBLA) within the context of Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) programs. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with four LINC instructors who were involved in a PBLA pilot project at four separate LINC delivery sites in Edmonton, Alberta. Similar interviews were conducted with a representative of Citizenship and Immigration Canada who was involved in thepilot project, as well as a developer of the PBLA model. PBLA was found to support task-based instruction and increase instructors’ use of the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Challenges related to training, use of the PBLA resources, and the ability of programs to integrate PBLA into existing curricula were also identified.
Ripley, D. (2012). Implementing portfolio-based language assessment in LINC programs: Benefits and challenges. TESL Canada Journal, 30(1), 69-86.
Factors affecting refugee youths’ academic success: A review of the literature
Refugee adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 have complex educational and settlement needs that differ significantly from those of their younger siblings, parents and other adult refugees. Efforts are made within the K-12 and post-secondary systems to provide English language instruction, literacy programming, and settlement support, with the result that many immigrant and refugee adolescents achieve their academic goals. Many refugee students who arrive in Canada as adolescents, however, continue to lag behind Canadian-born classmates in acquiring a high school diploma. This literature review examines factors that influence the academic success of ESL refugee youth attending Canadian high schools. The review provides ESL instructors and program planners with selective, thematic citations related to the needs of refugee youth in North America; examines the contributing factors aiding or limiting their K-12 academic success; posits a framework for examining the interaction of home, school, and community influence; and postulates about future research and programming oriented to specific sub-groups within the refugee ESL population.
Holistically Supporting Refugee and Immigrant Youth in Education: An Interdisciplinary Literature Review for Educators
This review provides a holistic re-conceptualization and synthesis of the growing body of literature dealing with the needs and realities of refugee and immigrant youth. The objective is to not only provide a research agenda for future investigations by educational researchers, but, more importantly, to encourage educators to consider research from a variety of disciplines when contemplating the support of refugee and immigrant youth across a variety of educational settings. The review argues that in order to effectively support refugee and immigrant youth, educators must seek to understand the research implications and considerations from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, second language acquisition, medicine and psychiatry, and family studies. A synthesis of key ideas from those fields is followed by an examination of evidence-based recommendations for K-12 teachers and administrators, including examples of recent educational innovations.
Is There a Match Between Adult ESL Literacy Instructors’ Needs and Published Materials?
Although there has been much research done on second language acquisition (SLA) with adults learning English as a second language (ESL), most of this research has been conducted with learners who are literate in their first language. As a result, many of the commercially published ESL materials have been created for learners who are already literate in their first language and are not appropriate for use with adult ESL literacy students. The purpose of this study was to identify the pedagogical resources being used by adult ESL literacy instructors in Edmonton and to determine whether commercially published materials are meeting their resource needs. Four adult ESL literacy (LINC pre-benchmark) instructors completed a questionnaire about the resources used in their classroom, their opinions about the usefulness of these resources, and their education and ESL teaching experience. All four instructors were individually interviewed to further explore what gaps exist in their classroom resources and how they are filling these gaps. The results showed that all of the instructors identified a lack of appropriate published materials and the necessity to either modify published materials or to create their own materials suitable for use with adult ESL literacy learners.
The English as a Second Language Needs of Temporary Foreign Workers in Alberta
In recent years, the province of Alberta, Canada, has experienced exponential growth in the number of temporary foreign workers (FTWs). Although FTWs have the same work rights as permanent residents and Canadian citizens, these rights are not always acknowledged; TFWs are subject to exploitation by recruiters and employers. TFWs with low English language skills can have limited access to information about their new communities and their rights as workers. Previous research has exposed the flaws of the temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) and the experiences of TFWs, but little is know about the ESL needs of TFWs in Alberta. This study explores the regulation of English language skills, the English language proficiency levels of TFWs and reasons for acquiring English language training (ELT), the accessibility of ELT in terms of options and barriers, and the role of the employer in facilitating or encouraging access to ELT. This study also addresses the extent to which the ESL needs of TFWs are currently being met. Ten employees of immigrant-serving agencies and Community Adult Learning Councils completed questionnaires and/or participated in interviews and one provincial government representative was interviewed. Participants worked directly with TFWs or the TFWP and were chosen to represent rural areas, small and large cities in Alberta. The data presented very diverse results, but suggest overall that the ESL needs of TFWs are not being met. Further research should be conducted to gain a greater understanding of how the ESL needs of TFWs could better be met.
Lokhorst, J. (2011). The English as a second language needs of temporary foreign workers in Alberta. Prairie Metropolis Centre Working Paper Series (WP11-03). Retrieved from http://www.ualberta.ca/~pcerii/WorkingPapers/Working%20papers%20from%20June,%202009/Working%20Paper,%2003-11Paper%5B1%5D.pdf
Munro, Barbara Jill
Mentoring Teachers: Accommodated Science Assessment for English Language Learners (ELLs)
This mixed method study investigated the extent to which a seven-week mentoring project would help two junior high school science teachers to feel more confident and successful in their abilities to use accommodated assessment (AA) strategies to support the English language learners (ELLs) in their classes, and consequently to increase their ability to assess more accurately the curricular competence of ELLs. The participants completed pre- and post-study surveys and participated in weekly mentoring sessions on the use of AA strategies. Debriefing was routinely carried out the following week. Results showed that both participants benefited from the mentoring project and felt an increased level of familiarity and comfort in implementing the AA strategies. In addition, participants indicated an interest in continuing to work with the researcher to further enhance their ability to use AA measures after the formal study ended. More pilot projects that focus on the impact of mentoring programs on the integration of AA practices in other curricular areas are needed as ELLs make up a significant percentage of the students in regular school classes.
Munro, B. J., Abbott, M. L., & Rossiter, M. J. (2013). Getting to the science: Helping English language learners show what they know. Alberta Science Education Journal, 42(3), 34-43.
Munro, B. J., Abbott, M. L., & Rossiter, M. J. (2013). Mentoring for success: Accommodation strategies for ELLs. Canadian Journal of Action Research, 14(2), 22-38.
Munro, B. J., Abbott, M. L., & Rossiter, M. J. (2013, September). Getting to the science: Helping English language learners show what they know. Accent, 21(1), 7-16. Reprinted from Alberta Science Education Journal, 42(3), 34-43.
Brose, Anne Marie
More Than Just Surviving – Thriving: International ESL Students’ Perceptions of What is Needed for Successful Adjustment
The debilitating effect that adjustment challenges can have on international English as a second language (ESL) students’ capacity to learn English and to cope is well documented. Given the need to involve students in creating effective interventions, and based on a literature review and two previously piloted surveys on the topic, an online questionnaire was developed to determine what information and program activities international ESL students perceive would help them to adjust successfully to life and studies in Edmonton, and whether they would attend these activities. A majority of the 99 students who completed the questionnaire rated all the information and activities as useful, reported a willingness to attend them all and felt that doing so would help them to improve their English. The three most popular activities which almost ninety percent of students were willing to attend were study buddy/mentor, meetings with students from the same culture to discuss adjustment strategies, and an orientation session. Activities judged most useful were the former two and an international students’ club.
Pragmatics in the ESL Classroom
Although the focus in ESL classrooms has traditionally been on skills such as reading, writing, grammar, listening and speaking, there is a need to expand the “priority skills” to include pragmatic ability. There is a growing body of research about pragmatics, however it is not clear whether this research is utilized in the classroom. Recent studies have explored the place of pragmatics in Master’s level teacher training programs and found that pragmatics does not have a well-defined place in the curriculum (Vasques & Sharpless, 2009). This study is a preliminary look at the role pragmatics plays in two Canadian ESL programs. A survey of twelve instructors was carried out to determine how important they think pragmatics is, how they incorporate pragmatic topics into the classroom, and the challenges they encounter in doing so. Their answer suggest that although some pragmatic elements are reflected in ESL classrooms, there are neglected areas and areas that need further exploration.
The Effect of Age and Exposure in the Development of L2 Accent Perception
This study explored the effect of age and exposure on the perception of foreign accented speech. Students of different ages (nine years old and fifteen years old) listened to short sentences read by Cantonese speakers, answered them as either true or false, and rated them for ease of comprehension (comprehensibility) and degree of accentedness. A language background questionnaire was used to determine the extent of students’ exposure to foreign accented speech. Overall, there were differences in actual ability to understand the utterances, with older listeners performing better than younger listeners, but no significant differences emerged in the comprehensibility and accentedness ratings. Exposure did not significantly affect either listeners’ ability to understand or their perceptions of comprehensibility and accentedness. The implications of this study for research on the development of accent perception are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.
Recognition of Pragmatic Versus Grammatical Errors in a L2
Communication breakdown occurs every day, and this is particularly evident when the speaker is using a second language (L2). Communicating effectively is not just a matter of grammatical competence, but also on pragmatic competence. In other words, if L2 students are able to produce flawless, syntactically complex sentences, does this imply that they are able to tactfully give a suggestion? It appears that the ability to write or speak in grammatically correct sentences does not guarantee pragmatic competence. Bardovi-Harlig and Dörnyei (1998) examined L2 learners’ ability to recognize grammatical and pragmatic errors. They focused on the differences between English as a second language (ESL) learners in the U.S., and English as a foreign language (EFL) learners in Hungary. The results showed that EFL learners consistently identified and ranked grammatical errors as more serious than pragmatic errors, whereas ESL learners showed the opposite pattern, ranking pragmatic errors more severly than grammatical ones. My goal was to carry out a partial replication of Bardovi-Harlig and Dörnyei’s study by examining whether Canadian ESL students (N=48) recognize pragmatic violations with greater accuracy than they do grammatical errors, and whether or not they perceive pragmatic violations to be more serous than grammatical errors. The results of the study show that Advanced II students at MacEwan University recognize pragmatic errors with more accuracy, and pragmatic violations are viewed as more serious.
The Mother Tongue as a Resource: Teacher Perspectives from the Multilingual ESL Classroom
This paper highlights the responses of teachers of English as a second language (ESL) in Alberta (n=158) to an anonymous Internet questionnaire about their views on the judicious use of the mother tongue in the multilingual classroom. Research has shown that first language (L1) use enhances learning and the classroom environment in classes with a shared mother tongue, but is rarely considered in a multilingual setting. Teachers in adult ESL were asked about the role of the L1 in second language instruction, the benefits and potential problems for the student, and the implications for the classroom. Characteristics that appeared to affect views on the L1 included the teacher’s level of education and the proficiency level of the class. Responses strongly acknowledged the role of L1 in second language acquisition, and indicated L2 use could benefit the student. However, some teachers were hesitant to allow L1 use in the their classroom for many reasons, including English-only policies and lack of training and materials for L1 activities.
The Newspaper: A Formidable Vehicle for ESL Learning?
Many educators use authentic texts to promote second language learning. One such authentic text is the newspaper, and this project addresses the question of whether newspaper activities facilitate second language learning, aiding learners to advance from Canadian Language Benchmark 5 to CLB 6. In this paper, I review the literature on reading instruction, discuss the relevance of Krashen’s (2003) Comprehension and Skill-Building Hypotheses, and determine which English language skills (listening, speaking, reading, or writing) are promoted by 20different newspaper activities. An analysis was conducted to determine the skills each activity focused on and how useful they were in developing those skills. The results suggest that newspaper activities can be useful in facilitating a push from CLB 5 to CLB 6 , and are especially useful for improving reading and speaking. However, educators must choose, depending on the focus they wish to pursue, the activity that best suits the purpose, as very few activities promote the development of all four skills.
Are ESL Students Using Facebook?
Many international students come to Canada to improve their English language proficiency and develop friendships with Canadians and other international students. However, gaining access to host nationals (i.e. Canadians) is not an easy task for most English as second language (ESL) learners. Factors such as language proficiency may hamper students’ ability to build relationships with English speakers, which in turns contributes negatively to linguistic development and psychological well-being. How can we help ESL students interact outside of class? A possibility is to use a social networking site such as Facebook. The present study surveyed students about their use of Facebook and whether its use is associated with social connections with host nationals. Results from 125 international students at the University of Alberta show that the majority of students are using Facebook. Correlation analyses suggest weak associations between 1) Facebook use and social connections with the local community and 2) Facebook use and self-assessed language proficiency, with the strongest relationship being to oral proficiency. Simply possessing a Facebook account alone is unlikely to increase social connectedness with host nationals. Suggestions for language teachers on integrating Facebook into their classes are provided.
Lee, K., & Ranta, L. (in press). Facebook: Facilitating social access and language acquisition for international students. TESL Canada Journal, 31(2).
Pragmatics in the Workplace: The Job Interview
To facilitate effective intercultural communication in the workplace – in this case, the high stakes discourse of the job interview – it is critical to understand the pragmatic difficulties that can occur. Using authentic questions, employment recruiters, native-speaker and non native-speaker candidates participated in video-taped mock job interviews. The interviews were examined for pragmatic difficulties, transcribed, and used to prepare candidates for follow-up video-taped interviews. Expert instructors watched the videos and rated the randomized first and second interviews on an inventory of specific pragmatic skills. Their ratings were analyzed for the candidates’ progress and patterns of pragmatic difficulties. The candidates showed marked improvement in their second interviews, demonstrating that the method used provided an opportunity for the development of pragmatic competence. Implications for ESL programs, instructors, TESL and EWP are discussed.
Louw, K. J., Derwing, T. M., & Abbott, M. L. (2010). Teaching pragmatics to L2 learners for the workplace: The job interview. Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(5), 739-758. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.66.5.739
Investigating the Role of English Language Classes for Seniors
Many immigrant seniors arrive in Canada without knowing English or French. Learning one of the official languages facilitates integration into Canada and influences the general health and well-being of immigrant seniors. This research investigated the role of English as a second language (ESL) classes for seniors by considering the contribution of these classes to the well-being of the participants, the desired outcomes of these classes, and the methods by which older adult language learners are assessed. A qualitative study using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) was conducted by interviewing five instructors and four older adult learners at an ESL institution in Edmonton. Results demonstrated the importance of ESL classes for older adult learners, especially the social, intellectual, and independence building benefits.
Learners’ Stories in the ESL Classroom
While there is considerable research into literature and second language learning, there has been less investigation into the use of learners’ personal stories in the English as a second language (ESL) classroom. Following Wajnryb’s (2003) categorizations of story as genre, as language learning and as the creation of what she called a “storied classroom”, this preliminary study is an attempt to draw a connection between research and practice. Following a review of the literature, five ESL instructors and ten adult ESL learners were interviewed about the ways, benefits and challenges of incorporating personal stories into the L2 classroom. The results showed that this group of instructors and ESL learners perceived that story had a positive effect on the language learning.
Nicholas, B., Rossiter, M. J., & Abbott, M. L. (2011). Learners’ stories in the ESL classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 67(2), 247-268. doi:10.3138/cmlr.67.2.247
(3rd most-read CMLR article in 2011)
Schiff, Sari S.
The Power of Ethnic Literature to Foster Cultural Awareness of Diversity Among Pre-Service Teachers
This paper offers a rationale for a proposal that the guided use of ethnic literature can provide preservice teachers with a vicarious intercultural experience which can foster empathy for the diversity in today’s classrooms. Diverse linguistic and cultural needs of learners in Canada require more culturally informed pedagogy in both schools and teacher training programs. Interwoven with the challenges of training preservice teachers for cultural diversity is a need to examine implicit beliefs and attitudes surrounding issues of race, ethnicity, culture, and identity. The fluidity of cultural identity must be considered for both individuals and societies. While immersion in other cultures provides an insider perspective for development of empathy, accessing this insider view of a culture invites innovative approaches to global awareness. This paper proposes ethnic literature as one means of bridging the culture gap. A literature review considers the power of reading, multicultural perspectives of diversity in literature, how literature fits into the curriculum, and studies which model the use of ethnic literature in the classroom, with special attention to studies involving preservice teachers. A selection of 18 books that explore the identity of their ethnic authors is presented and one novel is analyzed in depth to illustrate the potential for informed reading. Suggestions for how to exploit the learning potential of ethnic literature are provided.
English as a Second Language Students’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Master Teaching
English as a second language (ESL) students and their teachers differ with regard to their perceptions about effective teaching behaviours. Discrepancies between expectations of students and teachers have been found to be detrimental to learning (e.g., Schulz, 2001). This study was inspired by Buskist and his colleagues’ (2002) research on undergraduate students’ and their professors’ perceptions of master teachers. Seventy-five ESL students and twenty-three teachers from Edmonton, Alberta, were surveyed to investigate whether their teaching ideals differed. Students from various cultural backgrounds seemed to favour affective teacher characteristics over those that focused on intellectual outcomes. Teachers placed more importance on characteristics based on teaching outcomes. Cultural differences between Chinese and Somali students in this respect are also discussed; Chinese students’ viewpoints more closely resemble their teachers’ perspectives than do those of Somalis. The significant differences between the respective groups highlight the need to reflect upon and discuss the rationale for instructors’ teaching characteristics.
Developing Learner Autonomy in the ESL Classroom
This study investigated how students in a multicultural, Canadian English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom practice independent language learning and whether the students’ language learning practices and beliefs are reflective of a Western approach to autonomous language learning. The subjects in the study were 86 learners (36 males, 50 females) of English enrolled in a Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Program of a college in Edmonton, Alberta. The group consisted of learners from 28 different countries with the language proficiency of between Canadian Language Benchmarks 4 (CLB 4) and 6 (CLB 6). Their ages ranged from 18 to over 45. A questionnaire was administered to determine learners’ beliefs about language learning and the language learning activities that they regularly engaged in outside of the classroom. The author discusses the beliefs and strategies reported by the participants in relation to the literature on autonomy, and implications for the development of learner autonomy in the ESL classroom.
Teachers’ and Students’ Preferences for Error Correction
The focus of the second language acquisition (SLA) research on feedback has been almost exclusively on the cognitive impact of teachers’ responses to learner error and has neglected the affective impact. This article discussed the findings of a questionnaire administered to 31 ESL students and two EFL teachers at two adult education institutions. The questionnaire investigated 1) ESL students’ beliefs on the most effective methods for correcting grammatical errors; 2) ESL students affective response to different methods of error correction; 3) perceptions of teachers concerning error correction methods and how they compare with the affective responses of students; and 4) whether ESL students rate error correction methods similarly if they are judging the cognitive versus the affective impact of feedback.
The results indicated a mismatch between teacher and student responses regarding teachers’ error correction methods and students’ affective responses. Students favored elicitation, recast and metalinguistic error correction methods, both cognitively and affectively. Students disliked clarification request, disapproval, and repetition techniques, both cognitively and affectively. Teachers need to take the time to evaluate the learners’ needs, both cognitively and affectively, for successful language learning.
Small Talk in ESL Nursing Textbooks
As the number of internationally –educated nurses (IENs) attempting to gain employment in Canada continues to increase, the need has arisen for ESL nurse appropriate course materials in the form of nursing/healthcare-oriented English for specific purposes textbooks. Materials writers have attempted to address this need with the development of textbooks designed for just such a program. Despite the increasing availability of textbooks, English language oral communication skills continue to be a barrier to the successful integration of these nurses into the Canadian healthcare system. One of the specific communication skills that has been identified in a variety of needs analyses as a challenge to IENs is small talk and its use within a healthcare setting. Therefore, an analysis of five ESL healthcare textbooks was carried out to determine the extent of small talk present. It was found that small talk content varied considerably from book to book with some books having very little small talk content and others offering considerably more. The study suggested while some materials writers may value small talk and its role within a healthcare environment, other people are yet unaware of its importance. Teachers are largely responsible for filling the gap.
The Erasure of Sexual Identity in the LINC Classroom
ESL instructors in the federally funded program of Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) are charged with the complex task of teaching both English and citizenship values to adult immigrants. The recent legalization of same –sex marriage implies that a gay and lesbian presence is not only an acknowledged fact Canadian life, but that gay rights are now entrenched in the Canadian value system. This context led to the questions of if, how, and why teachers do or do not address sexual diversity in the classroom. To explore these questions, a survey questionnaire and semi-structured interview were carried out with Alberta LINC teachers to explore their perceptions of sexual diversity in relation to their teaching. A lack of supporting resources, and concerns with stirring up controversy, appear to discourage teachers from broaching the subject of sexual diversity with their students. Nor do students bring up the issue. The findings point to a language learning environment that is characterized by the invisibility of the issue itself. Various redresses are suggested: in the classroom, teachers can utilize an inquiry approach that focuses on learner identity and learner autonomy; writers and publishers can produce materials that address sexual as well as cultural/ethnic diversity; and teacher training programs can revise syllabi and teaching approaches to include queer/gay considerations in core TESL classes.
Dumas, J. (2010). Sexual identity and the LINC classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(4), 607-627. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.66.4.607
“Does that Work for You?” Analysis of Reciprocal Information Gap Task
This study examines a reciprocal oral information gap task designed to elicit targeted grammar structures with English as a second language (ESL) adult learners. It also examines additional language features that arise during task completion. The discourse of five pairs of high beginner ESL learners and five pairs of native speakers (NSs) of English was audio-recorded during task completion and subsequently analysed. Findings show that while it is possible to elicit some targeted language features by careful task design, it is more difficult to predict additional language features that may arise. Such tasks should be piloted with NSs before asking learners to complete them, because the language that NSs use in task completion may be more useful than that targeted.
Using Children’s Literature to Teach Culture in the Adult ESL Classroom
The current report explores the idea of using children’s literatures as a tool for facilitating the learning of culture in the Adult English as a Second Language Classroom (EFL). To serve this goal, I attempt to define cultural and determine a framework for viewing culture and studying it in the language. Advocates for the use of children’s literature in adult language classrooms state that it is a good source of cultural information presented in language that is accessible to language learners, while detractors raise concerns that adult learners may not be interested in reading works written for children. Seven LINC teachers were surveyed to determine their views on the use of children’s literature in adult ESL classrooms. Results suggest hat children’s literature may be useful in LINC classrooms, particularly for teaching about Canadian culture.
Teaching EAP Students How to Write with Academic Integrity
Many English for Academic Purposes (EAP) teachers view plagiarism as a serious offence and are concerned with how they can teach students the necessary skills to write with academic integrity. This paper investigates why students plagiarize and then presents guidelines of the skills that need to be taught to EAP students who wish to attend an academic institution in North America. The author supports the use of authentic academic texts and writing assignments to better prepare the students for writing university-level papers. She also maintains that academic integrity should be taught early in academic writing courses and the skills should be practiced throughout the course using authentic academic writing assignments. Students should have many opportunities to practice the concepts in an authentic manner. Six EAP textbooks are evaluated to determine if they meet the guidelines. Finally, some resources are provided to assist instructors to teach the concepts of writing an academic paper with integrity.
Strengthening the Form-Meaning Connection in Grammar Instruction
This study aims to provide an alternative activity to the traditional written-based practice grammar exercises, such as fill-in-the-blank. It compares the immediate learning effects of a grammar activity that is designed, based on second language acquisition (SLA) theory (Ellis, 1995; VanPatten, 2002). In addition, this study investigates the effects of the research-based activity on the development of the form-meaning connection in ESL learners’ grammatical knowledge compared to a traditional written-based practice grammar exercise. It also examines the attitudes of the ESL learners towards English grammar, the research-based grammar task, and the traditional written-based practice grammar exercise. The 52 participants recruited in this study were from a local ESL education institution; 23 completed the traditional written-based practice grammar exercises as the comparison group; 29 completed the alternative grammar task based on SLA research. The instruments used to collect data included an attitudes towards English grammar questionnaire, a task evaluation questionnaire, and pre and post tests of their knowledge of tense and aspect rules. The results indicate that the ESL students felt as positively towards the alternative grammar task as they did towards the traditional exercises. Improvements in the form-meaning connection of the target verb forms were observed for both groups.
The Influence of a Culturally Sensitive Workshop on the Involvement of Arab Mothers in their Children’s Schooling
The purpose of this paper is to develop and investigate the value of a culturally sensitive workshop aimed at overcoming unique cultural barriers which limit the involvement of Arab mothers in their ESL children’s schooling. In the paper I explore current successful parental involvement practices to provide the basis and rationale for a parental involvement workshop. The literature selected for review addresses the influence of parental involvement on student achievement, identifies research dealing with unique challenges facing Arab mothers’ school involvement in Canada, and examines characteristics of effective parental involvement practices highlighting examples of ways highly involved minority parents sustain parental involvement. Based on the literature review, a workshop was developed to provide Arab mothers with culturally sensitive strategies to facilitate their school involvement. The workshop was delivered to and evaluated by 10 Arab mothers who have ESL school aged children. These women were enrolled in beginner and intermediate ESL classes at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers in Edmonton. Therefore the workshop was presented in Arabic. The purpose of this project is to identify successful and not so successful strategies for facilitating Arab mothers’ involvement in their children’s schooling.
Exploring the Relationship between Willingness to Communicate and Students’ Perceived Oral Fluency during Studying Abroad
Recent research has shown the positive effects study-abroad experiences can have on oral fluency (e.g., Segalowitz & Freed, 2004). Several factors have been found to influence students’ improvement in oral fluency while studying abroad, two of which are willingness to communicate (WTC) and language contact in English. This is a study of five Korean international students participating in a study abroad program at the University of Alberta. It explores the relationships between Korean students’ self-reported WTC scores and their self-perceived oral fluency ratings and between their WTC and amount of exposure to English. In addition, interview data provided information about factors that affected the students’ WTC, exposure to English, and perception of their oral fluency as well as their perception of improvement in oral fluency. A significant correlation was found between learners’ self- reported WTC and their self-perceived oral fluency and a moderate correlation between their WTC and their total amount of exposure to English. Moreover, all five participants perceived their oral fluency to have improved during their study abroad experience. Some factors that were found to influence students’ WTC were state communicative self-confidence and the desire to communicate with a specific person, topics, interlocutors, interpersonal motivation and intergroup motivation. For exposure to English, lack of contact with native speakers and a limited social network were the main factors. Topics, interlocutors, translation of Korean to English, lack of automaticity were found to affect their perceptions of oral fluency. Based on these findings, it is suggested that ESL teachers need to support learners directly or indirectly in developing their self-confidence, WTC and oral fluency.
Waugh, Erin H.
Teaching Grammar within the Canadian Language Benchmarks: A Study of Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices
The Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000: Theoretical Framework states that within a communicative language teaching approach, teachers alone are responsible for integrating “meaningful and pedagogically effective” grammar instructions (p. 27). Given the complexity of teaching grammar, this is likely to be a challenge for most teachers. This study investigates ESL teachers’ beliefs and practices concerning grammar and the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). Thirty-two participants recruited form several CLB-focused post-secondary institutions answered narrow and open-ended questions concerning their beliefs about teaching, their confidence and knowledge of the CLB, how they integrated grammar into the communicative language teaching and their opinions on several grammar teaching tasks. The results revealed that teachers’ consider form-focused instruction to be important but struggle with the integration of grammar into a communicative language teaching framework like the CLB because of such factors as lack of materials and professional development, limited technical knowledge and opportunities for collaboration.
Reading Topics for Adult Immigrant English as a Second Language Learners: How to Get Them Hooked
Second language learners benefit from engaging in extensive reading (ER), that is, reading a large quantity of (target) language texts for pleasure, general information or global understanding outside of course requirements (Day & Bamford, 1998). Researchers emphasize that ER materials must be interesting (Hinkel, 2005), although there is very little research in this area. This study investigated which topics adult Immigrant learners (n=99) of English as a second language find most interesting. A Reading Topic Interest Questionnaire was designed and administered during class time over a one-week period. The results show that these participants were most interested in reading about freedom, business, nature, war, crime, and surviving difficult situations. Learner variables such as gender and time spent in Canada were related to reading topic choices. The major factors affecting topic choices were pleasure, desire to gain specific knowledge, feelings aroused from text, personal identification with the story, and reading for/because of children.
Effects of Cloze-Talks on Grammatical Accuracy in Adult ESL Writing
This study is modeled on Morris and Tremblay’s (2002) classroom research which used a listening cloze passage followed by small group discussions as a consciousness-raising task. The focus was on whether “cloze-talks” would lead to improved verbal and nominal morphology, in greater accuracy with definite and indefinite articles, and in increased word counts on written compositions. The six-week quasi-experimental study involved 14 intermediate and 26 advanced level adult ESL students in a western Canadian institution. It was found that the intermediate level students but not the advanced students improved their accuracy in verbal and nominal morphology as compared to the comparison groups and that the word counts for both experimental groups were better than for the comparison groups. Further research is required to determine whether cloze-talks can also help advanced students with these aspects of L2 acquisition.
Japanese Students’ Contact with Native English Speakers during a Study Abroad Experience
Every year, many Japanese university students go abroad to study English hoping to form a close bond with native speakers of that language. Many participate in organized study abroad programs such as the Visiting Students Certificate Program (VSCP) at the University of Alberta. This type of program typically offers students a year-long sojourn experience as a student at a local university. However, studies by Takayama (2000), Schram and Lauver (1988), and Sodowsky and Plake (1992) show that it is difficult for study abroad students to establish contact with local students. This paper explores some factors that hinder Japanese students from accessing native speakers. The data was collected by questionnaire and in an oral interview among Japanese university students who were taking part in the VSCP program in 2006. Some implications for both future students hoping to study abroad and educators in charge of sojourn programs are included.
“I Prefer to Take from the Teacher”: ESL Students’ Comprehension of Grammar Charts
This study investigates students’ comprehension of grammar charts in adult ESL textbooks. According to research on text processing, comprehensibility of such charts is dependent on students having the skills to interpret the graphic organization, linguistic features and typographic features employed by the author (Lesikin, 2000). Two comparable charts featuring English articles were analyzed according to these features. Think-aloud protocols and retrospective interview were used with two groups of 9 and 10 intermediate-level ESL students in order to gauge their understanding of the content of one of the assigned charts. The results showed that many of the students had difficulty comprehending the charts without support. Several factors affecting student comprehension were identified, including layout, quantity of text, metalanguage, unfamiliar vocabulary and symbols. Based on these results, it would appear that a discrepancy exists between what textbook authors and teachers assume students know about the use of charts and what they actually know. Implications for the classroom are discussed.
Survey of Assessment Practices in General ESL Programs in Alberta
General adult ESL programs in Alberta are not subject to provincial or national standards but are developed to meet local needs. Their assessment practices are as individual as the programs. Surveying program coordinators of six large ESL programs in three Alberta cities, representing approximately 1,000 ESL students, this study explores what tests and assessments ESL students in Alberta generally encounter. The study also reports on the degree of professional preparation of the teachers who carry out assessment, and on the priorities for good assessment identified by program coordinators. The results suggest that assessment practices are diverse, with in-class teacher-made assessment being the most common form. Teachers may be in need of further professional development in view of the preference within programs for task-based assessment based on curriculum objectives. Several program coordinators indicated that assessment was a concern and was under review or redevelopment, and that their goal in assessment was practical, fair, task-based, curriculum-based tests that would help their students move ahead to further study or employment.
Alkhalaf, Khalid K.
The Comprehension of Hedges and Boosters in Academic Texts by Arabic Speaking EFL Students
Understanding the use and interpretation of hedging devices seems to pose serious problems to advanced level students of English as a second language. As a consequence, their writing often appears to be dry, overconfident, and lacking effective argumentation. The problem lies in the fact that students tend to give the same weight to what is factual and what is not factual. In this present study, I have examined advanced EFL Arabic students' attention to the presence of hedges and boosters in an academic text and their understanding of these features. The results of this study show that the degree of awareness of hedges and boosters was generally low among the study participants, with the exception of modal auxiliary verbs and boosters (fact and always) in an academic text. Moreover, the results show that participants tended to notice boosters more than hedges. The results of this present study draw attention to the need for greater emphasis on lexical verbs, modal adjectives, adverbial forms, and modal nouns as alternative ways of expressing the epistemic modality that native speakers of English use.
Monolingual or Bilingual: Which Dictionary is Best for Which Level?
This quasi-experimental study compared the effectiveness of monolingual dictionaries and bilingual dictionaries on reading comprehension and vocabulary learning for students at two levels of language proficiency – lower intermediate and advanced. Twenty-five students in an intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) program at a Canadian university participated in the 3-phase study. The students (a) completed a dictionary use survey, (b) did Nation’s A Vocabulary Levels Test and a target word pretest, (c) read a text and answered comprehension questions with access to an English –English monolingual dictionary, and then read a second text and answered comprehension questions with access to a bilingual dictionary. A vocabulary posttest was administered following the readings. For each participant, the reading comprehension scores from the monolingual condition were compared with those from the bilingual conditions, and the vocabulary gain-scores from the monolingual condition were compared with the gain scores from the bilingual condition. None of the results were statistically significant but a trend showing superior performance on the comprehension questions in the bilingual dictionary condition was noted. No proficiency level effect was observed.
Baker, Sheila E.
Computer-Based Vocabulary Expansion in Adult ESL Programs: Exploring the Lexical Tutor
Computer technology provides new possibilities for improving the effectiveness of second language instruction. The study investigated obstacles to integrating computer-based language learning techniques into English as a second language (ESL) instruction of adults. The sample consisted of five ESL teachers who interacted with eight electronic activities of the Compleat Lexical Tutor website (http://www.lextutor.ca) that utilizes technology-enhanced, instructional methods primarily for vocabulary development. After completing a questionnaire, the participants explored this website through a lesson plan creation task. Based on the observed difficulties experienced by the participants while using the Lexical Tutor, a tutorial was designed to introduce new users of the website to its features. The participants tested and evaluated the tutorial, which led to revisions of its elements. Although most teachers had not been aware of the untapped potential of LexTutor, all participants enjoyed discovering effective ways to integrate technology-enhanced activities in their classroom and expressed interest in adapting them for material development in their own lessons.
L2 Reading Parameters in Literacy Tutor Training Handbooks
Literacy instruction in Alberta relies on volunteer tutors who received brief training and are often given a handbook to guide them. But how well do these handbooks prepare tutors to deal with ESL learners? This paper examines to what extend literacy tutor-training handbooks incorporate parameters recommended for second language reading instruction. The handbooks were assessed according to criteria set out for elements of ESL vocabulary development, metacognitive awareness, and reading rate development. The criteria met in each resource were evaluated based on the extent to which they acted as a guide for reading tutors and tutor trainers who work with adult ESL learners literate in their first language. Recommendations have been made as to how training handbooks available to reading tutors in Alberta can be modified to better facilitate the reading development of ESL learners.
Do Adult Immigrants Discriminate against Each Other in Edmonton ESL Classrooms?
The goals of this study were to determine whether a select group of English as a second language (ESL) teachers have witnessed ethnic/cultural, or gender discrimination in their classes in the past year. The negative effects of discrimination are discussed in order to stress the importance of dealing with such incidents between students. The study explored what some ESL teachers in Edmonton witnessed to understand how they dealt with incidents of discriminations. The study also explored what Canadian values are being taught in ESL classrooms in Edmonton because understanding societal norms has been shown to improve integration and societal inclusion. This study finds that some ESL teachers witness incidents of discrimination in their classrooms and describes different methods the teachers use to deal with such incidents. The study also finds that teachers teach Canadian cultural values to their students and outlines what values the students are particularly interested in.
Adapting Instruction for ESL Students Enrolled in a Health Care Aide Program
Content area teachers are often faced with the challenge of how to adapt their lessons for English as a second language students, who are increasingly making up a great percentage of their classes. This is the case particularly in adult vocational education. Although content-based instruction has been advocated for these students, few guidelines are given on lesson planning (Eskey, 1992; Stewart, Sagliano, & Sagliano, 2002). The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP model), a form of content-based instruction, is presented as one response to this problem. This paper provides background information on the SIOP model, a description of its components, and a sample of a Health Care Aide lesson plan illustrating the application of the SIOP framework.
Reading Differences between Native Speakers and Language Learners: An Eye-Movement Study
Many eye-movement studies have provided invaluable insights into the cognitive processes involved in reading. Unfortunately, very few of those studies have examined reading in a second language. In this paper, I examine the differences between eye-movements in native English speakers and English language learners with two distinct first language orthographies. Eye-movement data, collected during the reading of an English passage from native English speakers, were compared with equivalent data from Arabic- and Mandarin- speaking English as a second language learners. The eye-movement data provided clear evidence of processing differences between native speakers and language learners. The global measures utilized did not identify differences between the language learner groups. Further research, utilizing more focused measures, is needed to examine the role of other variables, including first language orthography and language proficiency, which affect language learner reading.
Foote, Jennifer A.
ESL Students’ Perceptions of their Own Recorded Speech
This study was conducted to investigate how non-native speakers (NNSs) of English hear their own recorded speech. Learners were asked to indicate their opinions of their own accentedness both before and after listening to recordings of their own voices. They were also asked to make judgments of their own recorded speech using a paired comparison method. Their scores were then compared with native speaker Likert scale ratings of the same recordings. The results showed that NNSs' opinions of their own accents are not likely to change after hearing their own recorded speech. It was also found that the native speaker and NNS scores did not correlate significantly. Pedagogical implications, including the need for perceptual training for English as a second language (ESL) students, are discussed.
Teaching Collocation Activities in English for Academic Purposes
Several scholars have noted importance of collocation in knowing a word (see Bahns & Eldaw, 1993; Nation, 1990; Taylor, 1990; Wray; 2002). This paper illustrates how the activities suggested in the literature on collocation can be applied to an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) text. The focus of this project was limited to verb plus noun combinations that co-occur within a three word span of either a noun or a verb, have some degree of exclusiveness, and are not expected to be found together. Ten collocation activities are described, each followed by an example exercise that could be used in an EAP lesson based on a reading text.
A Guide to Using Webcomics for Language Learning
The World Wide Web has many resources to offer language teachers. One such resource is the proliferation of webcomics available, often for free, to anyone with Internet access. Webcomics are authentic texts whose meaning is scaffolded by graphics and whose motivating power derives from a combination of ease of reading and pleasure in reading. These comics cover a range of genres, from the amusing to the serious, and can be sued in a wide range of activities from beginning to the most advanced level of literacy. This paper addresses, at a general level, the nature of webcomics and provides answers to the questions of what webcomics are, how they are useful for language learning and teaching, which of their features are exploitable, how to evaluate webcomics, how to find them and how to use them in language learning activities.
Using Consciousness-Raising Tasks for Low Proficiency ESL Learners
Much research has been done on the impact of form-focused instruction on second language (L2) grammatical development (Spada, 1997). One type of activity used in form-focused instruction is the consciousness-raising task, where students deepen and consolidate their grammar knowledge as they collaborate on solving linguistic problems and co-construct language (Dickins & Woods, 1998; Fotos & Ellis, 1991). Research has shown that this type of task enhances L2 development (White & Ranta, 2002). Most studies on collaboration involve learners of intermediate to advanced proficiency level (Kowal & Swain, 1994; Storch, 1997, 1998a, 1999, 2002; Swain, 1997; Swain & Lapkin, 1998). This study, involving low proficiency ESL learners from an Edmonton ESL institution, investigates whether collaboration on different types of consciousness-raising tasks (multiple choice, sentence reconstruction, cloze) leads to greater uptake, and thus higher accuracy than individual completion of tasks. It also examines which types of consciousness-raising task led to the highest degree of accuracy for the beginner level. Furthermore, the quality of beginner ESL learners’ interaction as well as their attitude toward collaboration on consciousness-raising tasks are analyzed. The results show that collaboration had a positive effect on overall accuracy and therefore may lead to L2 acquisition. In this study the sentence reconstruction and cloze task were the most effective for low proficiency ESL learners.
How Extensive Is It? An Examination of the Current Practices and Beliefs of ESL Teachers Regarding Extensive Reading
Extensive reading in second and foreign language studies has been shown to have a significant impact on vocabulary development, writing proficiency, academic achievement, and oral proficiency. This study examines teacher cognitions about extensive reading and extensive reading classroom practices of teachers of adult English as a second language (ESL ) students. Twenty-two teachers participated in this survey. The results revealed that although the teachers encouraged students to read extensively outside of the classroom, only 50% of the ESL teachers used extensive reading as an in-class tool. The findings also indicted a lack of awareness by teachers regarding the purpose and use of extensive reading, suggesting that teachers need to increase their knowledge of the full benefits of extensive reading and broaden their view of the applicability of extensive reading.
English as the Language of Scientific Research: The International Graduate Student Perspective
The role of English as the primary international language of science and research creates serious difficulties for researchers from non-Anglophone countries, including the reality that research is increasingly overlooked unless it is published in English. Learning academic English is becoming an unavoidable reality for graduate students who wish to publish research that is noticed by the international research community. Yet there is, to date, very little data about the views of international graduate students attending universities in Anglophone countries regarding English as an International language of Science (EILS) and writing research papers in English. This paper presents the results of an online questionnaire about the attitudes and perceived needs of 57 international graduate students who currently attend a major Canadian university. Among other findings, the results indicated that a majority of respondents expect most of their professional publications to be in English and did not harbor strong resentment about English filling the recognized need for an international lingua franca of science and research. The respondents did, however, largely agree that the prevalence of English has caused a power imbalance among researchers that should be corrected, and that journals should edit articles submitted by researchers from non-English speaking countries rather than reject them due to nonstandard writing. In addition, nearly all respondents agreed that universities should offer editing services for researchers and students whose first language is not English. Implications for provision of services for international graduate students are discussed, including the recommendation that universities consider re-examining their current degree of academic support for international students.
Afghan Parents’ Participation in their Children’s Schooling in Canada
In an attempt to understand the views of parental participation in the Afghan culture, a focus group interview was conducted. Ten Afghan mothers participated to share their past and present literacy experiences, views of Canadian schools, views of barriers to participation and views of success for their children’s future. The findings report that Afghan parents operate with a different definition of parental participation. The paper focuses on recommendations in the literature encouraging schools to critically evaluate parents’ home involvement to find ways to make them feel valued and important in their children’s school life. School -based and community-based organizations are asked to examine the diverse nature of the community around the school in designing family literacy and parent education programs.
English as a Second Language Learners with Learning Disabilities: Strategies for Instructions and Strategies for Learning
Learning and teaching strategies can assist adult learners of English as a second language (ESL) to succeed academically even though they may have learning disabilities. This paper presents background on learning disabilities, a brief review of the literature concerning ESL learners with learning disabilities, and descriptions of learning strategies and instructional strategies that are effective for both ESL and learning disabled students. Even if teachers are uncertain that a learning disability is the underlying cause of a learning difficulty, they can still increase the likelihood of students' achieving academic success by using these strategies.
Harasymuk, Patrece A.
Long Distance Relationships: Delivering an Effective Online Writing Course for Advanced ESL Learners
For over a decade, the number of distance writing courses in English as a second language (ESL) has been increasing dramatically. While such courses may never be as effective as traditional face-to-face instruction, they will continue to serve a wide sector of students who cannot easily access classroom-based courses. For this reason, it is necessary to ensure that Web-based courses provide adequate opportunities for students to engage in process writing, receive detailed feedback from online instructors, and collaborate with other students by means of synchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC). This paper aims to provide an introduction to teaching ESL writing courses online and offers some practical ideas for teachers and course developers who are new to the area.
English as a Second Language Teachers’ Confidence about Teaching Grammar
This project reports the results of a quantitative study investigating the relationship between English as a second language (ESL) teachers' confidence about teaching grammar and their teaching experience, second language proficiency and teacher education. The 54 participants, who were all ESL teachers with adult students in Alberta, completed a questionnaire reporting their confidence about three elements of teaching grammar. These elements were all defined as parts of Ellis' (2001) form-focused instruction model and include providing planned explanations, providing spontaneous explanations and designing grammar practice tasks. The findings indicate that differences in ESL teachers' confidence about specific elements of grammar teaching are significantly positively correlated (r = .35 to .46) with amount and type of teaching experience, degree of second language proficiency and language teacher education. The results provide confirmation of the factors previously identified in small-scale studies of teacher cognition (Borg, 2001). Implications for teacher pedagogical training in the teaching of English grammar are discussed in terms of the integration of courses focused on the technical and practical knowledge required by teachers.
Great Expectations: Community Participation and Francophone Immigrants’ Expectations, Experiences, and Beliefs
Francophone immigrants of African and Caribbean origin are settling in predominantly Anglophone areas of Canada because of federal government initiatives to strengthen shrinking official language communities. As a consequence, they face the challenging process of deciding whether to move toward full participation in Anglophone and/or Francophone communities. Twelve Francophone immigrants studying English as a second language (ESL) in Edmonton, Alberta were interviewed about their expectations, experiences and beliefs as official language minority newcomers. The relationship between their expectations prior to arrival and their experiences upon arrival resulted in an adjustment in their beliefs regarding language use, status, and benefits, which determined the degree of effort that these newcomers exerted to join either community. Discussion of these findings focuses on factors, such as information dissemination and opportunities for meaningful contact, which influence the successful integration of newcomers into host communities.
The Challenge of Promoting Speaking Fluency in English as a Foreign Language Instruction in China
The teaching of speaking fluency is gaining much attention in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instruction in China nowadays. However, I have not found any empirical studies on fluency teaching in the EFL context in China in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) literature. The present study reviews what is known about second language (L2) fluency and a few psychological learning mechanisms that might explain the development of fluency, including the mental processes underlying the contrast between automatic and controlled processing (Schmidt, 1992), the notions of automaticity and automatization (DeKeyser, 2001; Segalowitz, 2003), and the learning mechanisms such as Logan's instance theory (Logan, 1988) and the theory of transfer-appropriate learning (Segalowitz & Gatbonton, 1995). I describe the background of Chinese EFL instruction and explore the possibility of integrating self-designed fluency building activities into classroom teaching. These activities are expected to serve as a starting point for a pedagogy of speaking fluency which combines the understanding of the theories and their application to second language instruction. The study concludes with some suggestions for further research into speaking fluency and its teaching that may be helpful for language teachers and learners.
English 101 Instructor’s Perceptions Regarding ESL Students’ Critical Thinking Skills
This investigation analyzed perceptions regarding ESL students' critical thinking skills within the context of a first year University course in the English Department at the University of Alberta. Three instructors were interview in regards to their definition of critical thinking. The instructors were also asked to identify and comment on the development and transfer of critical thinking skills and to describe teaching strategies used within their classrooms. The study was undertaken in order to fill the gap of information about expectations and conventions regarding critical thinking in this largely mandatory and heavily subscribed first year course. The study concluded that EAP instructors can better prepare students for English 101 by providing practice opportunities in critical reading, encouraging the use of precise language in the formulation of thesis statements and topic sentences and discussion and offering examples of academic conventions within the North American university context.
Ringuette, Nicole F.
Advising International Graduate Students to Maximize their Language Learning Autonomy
International graduate students face many obstacles when studying and living exclusively in a target language. As such, this study reports on the needs of 3 female international graduate students who had not lived in an English speaking country for more than 2 years. Gathering data from two semi-structured interviews and three surveys that examine student exposure, learning beliefs, and perceived skills, this study investigates the kinds of advice needed to help develop greater language-learning autonomy. Provided with ongoing support, the participants maintained contact through weekly correspondence over a one-month period and reflected on their language goals and related progress. In addition, this study explores the perceived value of a 'language-learning advisor.' All three participants benefited from the advice offered and agreed that such an advising service would be an asset to any university. This study concludes that a 'language-learning advisor' provides needed support and the opportunity to develop autonomy in the ESL context.
L1 Reading in Family Literacy Programs
This study profiles how four local family literacy programs regard L1 reading and the specific ways in which L1 reading is encouraged or promoted. The investigation found that all of the literacy practitioners interviewed were aware of the transfer in L1 reading skills to L2 reading abilities. Consequently, the programs tried to encourage L1 reading through a variety of measures. In spite of this, none of the practitioners felt that the program participants were aware of this skill transfer. The study suggests that regardless of whether or not ESL learners recognize this transfer, whether reading takes place in the L1 is a most important issue because of its contribution to the learner's English reading abilities.
Teachers’ Perceptions of Factors that Influence Seniors’ L2 Acquisition
Despite the growing need for English as a second language (ESL) classes for seniors in Canada, relatively little has been written about teaching methods for this learner group. This study is concerned with teachers' perceptions of factors that influence second language acquisition (SLA) for seniors and how teachers modify their lessons to assist seniors in SLA. Data from 53 senior students, 50 to 86 years old, and 4 experienced teachers was collected. The teachers' perceptions of students in their classrooms revealed that the affective factors (motivation and attitude), previous educational experience (number of years of education and number of languages studied) and physical factors (health and memory) had influenced SLA for seniors. Teacher interviews showed how awareness of these factors helped them to modify their lessons by creating a positive learning environment, providing practical tasks taught in a gradual progression using repetition, while dealing with health and memory problems and encouraging students to actively negotiate their curriculum.
The Beliefs and Experiences of Chinese Language Learners
The project consisted of a literature review in the areas of beliefs about language learning, the educational context in China, and Chinese EFL students' beliefs about language learning. Excerpts from interviews with ten Chinese learners of English collected by Ranta (in preparation) supplemented the literature review. The interview data were analyzed with regard to beliefs about how languages are learned, how languages should be taught, and learning experiences that may have contributed to these beliefs. I discussed the implications of the findings for Western teachers of English as a foreign language in China.
Integrating Volunteering into the Adult Immigrant Second Language Experience
The purpose of this study was to investigate the volunteering experiences of adult immigrant second language learners within an English-speaking organization and explore how they contributed to their communicative language development and social integration in the target culture. Data was gathered in a two-phase design. In the first part of the study, 55 adult immigrant students enrolled in an intensive English as a second language (ESL) program, were surveyed to determine whether they had volunteer experience; questions covered general background, language background and experience within an English-speaking volunteer agency. In the second phase, follow-up interviews were conducted with eight students who had had volunteer experience. Results indicated that more than half of the participants considered their volunteering experience to be a beneficial strategy for improving their oral communicative skills, as well as giving them insight into Canadian culture. Type of placement and respective volunteer duties were associated with the success of volunteerism for participants. Recommendations for integrating volunteering are provided, as well as an accompanying volunteer manual for ESL students.
Dudley, L. (2007). Integrating volunteering into the adult immigrant second language experience. Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(4), 539-561. doi: 10.1353/cml.2007.0021
The Use of Computer-mediated Communication in Foreign Language Courses
Computer-mediated communication (CMC), for example, email and discussion boards, can connect language learners with remote native speakers in an unprecedented way, potentially creating a paradigm shift in foreign language (FL) education (Sotillo, 2000). An email survey was conducted at a large university to ascertain whether FL instructors used CMC to increase their students' contact with native speakers of a target language. Of the survey recipients that responded, few used CMC for these purposes. I found teachers were willing to learn more about using CMC and computer-assisted language learning in general, but they cited several institutional reasons that hindered them from doing so. Those who integrated CMC into their teaching found its main benefit was the improvement of students' affect towards learning a language. While CMC may be a useful new tool for some purposes, its learning benefits remain to be proven worth the investment of institutional resources and teacher time and effort before it can be more fully integrated into FL curricula.
Ko, Young Mi
"Goose Dad" and "Eagle Mom": Korean Parents’ Perceptions about Second Language Acquisition as Sojourners in Canada
This exploratory study examined Korean mothers' motivation for bringing their children to schools in Edmonton, Canada, with a focus on their beliefs on second language acquisition (SLA), their satisfaction with their children's performance in both English and school, and their perceived difficulty in returning their children to Korean schools. Data were collected through self-report questionnaires and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 4 Korean mothers who were visiting Edmonton for between 6 months and 2 years. Results revealed that Korean mothers have uniform beliefs about SLA. They believe that younger children are better language learners, and their satisfaction corresponded with their beliefs. Their awareness of reverse culture shock varied, as did their preparation for minimizing it. Results were interpreted from various theoretical perspectives, and specific parental roles were suggested for future Korean students in Canada.
Understanding the Recertification Process for Foreign-Trained K-12 Teachers in Alberta
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the process of certification for foreign-trained teachers. Information from publicly accessible-documents was compiled to outline the process that foreign-trained teachers must undergo. This study also examined the experiences of foreign-trained teachers as they attempt to recertify in Alberta. Open-ended interviews were conducted with three foreign-trained teachers and an Education Counsellor at an immigrant-serving agency. The experiences of these participants are outlined, and recommendations are made based on their experiences. A booklet designed for foreign-trained K-12 teachers is appended to this study.
Luikham, Melody A.
The Host Families' Perspective
Eleven host families were interviewed regarding the challenges and the benefits of hosting international students in their homes. Their motivation for hosting, how they interacted with the homestay students, and their advice regarding hosting are presented. They also gave their opinions regarding the homestay program and support received throughout their hosting experience. Host families stated that cultural enrichment, companionship, and extra income were some of the benefits. Most challenges involved food; access and use of telephone, computers, and television; and cross-cultural misunderstandings. The majority of the families found that the support they received was excellent, and that they were well informed of the possible challenges that awaited them. Students' experiences outside of the classroom have a bearing on their interaction, self-confidence, and motivation to learn a language within the classroom. By being aware of the different environments that their students are involved in outside of the classroom, teachers can understand their students better.
Giving Students a Fighting Chance: Pragmatics in the Language Classroom
This paper presents an overview of research in the area of pragmatics in language teaching and provides suggestions for developing students' pragmatic awareness. This paper also examines the potential use of the pragmatic discourse completion task (DCT) as a springboard for discussion in the second language (L2) classroom. A description of a DCT used within a study involving advanced L2 learners at the University of Alberta (Ranta, in preparation) is provided. In order to give language learners a fighting chance outside the classroom, teachers must provide them with consciousness-raising opportunities for developing pragmatic awareness. By attending to pragmatic factors in L2 situations, students will be better able to make informed choices in negotiating effective communication.
McLean, T. (2004). Giving students a fighting chance: Pragmatics in the language classroom. TESL Canada Journal, 21(2), 72-92.
University Administered Programs and Student Groups as Linguistic and Cultural Resources for International Students
International students often express difficulty in finding suitable venues in which to meet and interact with host nationals. This study attempts to identify suitable student groups for international students at the University of Alberta, to compile these groups into a database, and to evaluate these groups as social and linguistic resources. A peer program and a host national pairing program were also evaluated. Programs and student groups were evaluated through guided interviews of program and group representatives and participating international students. Results suggest that these venues may not be good social or linguistic resources due to the low frequency of social activities in the programs, and the difficulty of joining a student group.
Building an Online Evaluation for the TESL Practicum
The faculty of the TESL program in the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta, wished to set up a program website and to make it accessible through various search engines. They also wanted to add an important functionality to the site, information collecting. The TESL program has two Practicum courses, EDPY 497 and EDPY 597, in which students are assigned to cooperating institutions. At the end of the Practicum, the coordinating teacher in the cooperating institute writes a final evaluation for the student teacher and sends it directly to the course coordinator in the TESL program. The faculty decided to have the process online, so that it is easy for cooperating teachers to enter the site and fill in the forms online.
To realize this goal, online database transactions have to be performed. To set up a site with database administration functionality is the core of this project. The development of this site could also be replicated for other information-collecting applications for educational purposes. Online survey and testing are be two of the later applications that could be built, based on the implementation of this project.
Using Poetry in the ESL Class
The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the value of poetry in ESL instruction, and to provide guidelines and resources to help teachers incorporate poetry into their classes. A rationale for using poetry can be found in both intuitive ideas and in second language acquisition theory—especially in notions about the affective domain. One very useful aspect of poetry is its adaptability to a wide variety of activity types, which can accommodate many learning style preferences. One focus of this project is a synthesis and classification of activities involving poetry, presented in a framework of Multiple Intelligence Theory. An example using guidelines and suggestions about how a specific poem -"Jabberwocky"- could be used to accommodate the different learning preferences is included. Since this project is intended to help teachers use poetry more often and effectively, an annotated listing of sources of materials and resources, especially those available on the Internet, is included.
Capune, Anne M.
Benchmarking Film and Literature Content for Use with Stage II of the Canadian Language Benchmarks
This project report discusses the benchmarking of film and literature content for use with stage II of the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). The film and literature content, however, would not be used for English as a Second Language (ESL) students to learn about film or literary criticism. Instead the content would provide material for task creation and development to fulfill the CLB proficiency requirements, specifically through task-based instruction. The project mainly involved selecting and then attempting to benchmark two Penguin graded readers (with accompanying films) for CLB levels 7 and 8. Since the Penguin readers were already graded, there was an expectation that an equivalency could be found using the CLB. A search in the literature for a method or model on how to benchmark such content for use with the CLB proved unsuccessful. Consequently, several methods were used to attempt to find and confirm the benchmark level of the two Penguin readers. Ultimately, the methods attempted also proved fruitless. The difficulty of trying to benchmark resources suggested that more research is needed, as well as education and assistance for ESL instructors using the CLB. It was also implied that, in the future, a valid and reliable method for benchmarking materials might become necessary in programs that ESL students attend for credit or for employment assessment. A selected list of resources (books, articles, and web sites) accompanies the report as an appendix.
Changarathil, Robin A.
A Workshop on Web-Based Activities and Language Learning
I have designed an online workshop to help ESL teachers become more comfortable conducting web-based activities in their classes. The workshop serves as a follow up to Scott's (2001) paper, which recommends a change to both the frequency and type of computer training that ESL teachers in Alberta currently receive. It is argued that a constructivist approach is a very effective way to provide teacher training that relates to the integration of technology into teaching. The workshop is composed of three activities (a scavenger hunt, subject sampler, and web quest) that participants carry out in order to understand how the same type of activities can be used to promote language learning. The present paper will inform the potential workshop trainer how these web-based activities can facilitate (a) the learning of the teacher trainees during the workshop, and (b) the language learning of students during their regular ESL classes. Additional benefits of the workshop will also be discussed.
Conquest, Jeffrey P.
Authenticity in ESL Textbooks
This paper examines the nature and role of authenticity in ESL materials by looking at the theoretical assumptions behind the use of the term authenticity, and at how the term is used in current literature and in selected textbooks. The notions of genuineness, naturalness and relevance in ESL materials are explored. A synthesis of the predominant uses of the term authenticity is made, as is an evaluation of the level and types of authenticity of selected textbooks that are currently in use in Edmonton ESL institutions. This evaluation builds on D. Garinger's 1999 work, ESL Textbook Evaluation.
Myhre, Peter J.
Dealing with Disruptive Learner Behavior in the Adult ESL Classroom
This purpose of this study was to articulate the experiences of adult ESL instructors with regard to disruptive learner behavior, as well as their approaches towards classroom management. Seven ESL instructors and one ESL administrator were interviewed as to what types of disruptive learner behavior they have encountered in the classroom, how they have dealt with that behavior, and what proactive strategies they have generally used in the classroom to prevent problem behavior from arising or escalating. All of the participants in the study had experienced similar problems with disruptive behavior and offered similar suggestions for dealing with that behavior. The examples of the disruptive learner behavior provided have been grouped around two general themes: problems between learners and problems between the learners and the instructor. Suggestions for dealing with those problems included keeping tabs on behavior, stopping inappropriate behavior early, documenting problems, communicating with other instructors, talking to the learners privately, and helping the learners establish realistic expectations. Strategies offered for becoming proactive in the classroom included knowing the material, knowing the learners, being professional, and empowering the students. The paper ends with a recommendation that classroom management issues be made an important component of the TESL methodology course at the University of Alberta.
Josey, Shelley J.
Into the Research Jungle... an Adventure in Classroom-based Research on Metaphor Competency
A research journey is documented through a study of metaphor knowledge in second language learners of English. Learners at low intermediate and advanced levels were tested to find out when metaphor knowledge is exhibited and if there is a necessity for metaphor competence to be taught explicitly and separately. These issues were determined through administration of a 25 item multiple choice test initially, and later an improved 20 item multiple choice test. The results indicated that metaphor knowledge increased with increased proficiency in English. It was recommended that metaphors be taught as an awareness-raising technique that would simultaneously increase vocabulary. Also, the study, narrated in the context of a jungle metaphor, provided cautionary advice regarding the difficulties presented in conducting authentic research with deadlines.
Portfolio Assessment in Adult ESL Classrooms
This project is to introduce the use of portfolio assessment in adult English as a second language (ESL) classrooms. A portfolio is an assembled collection of samples of a student's work accumulated over a period of time. Students are encouraged to make decisions about their work and play an active role in the evolution of their portfolios. In this project I examined current published accounts of the use of portfolio assessment. The study begins with definitions of portfolios, followed by descriptions of the various types, and an examination of their strengths and weaknesses. Questions and concerns regarding the use of portfolios are discussed followed by suggestions in the implementation, development, and assessment of portfolios. Finally, samples of evaluation sheets and suggested materials to incorporate into a student's portfolio are also included in this project.
Breitkreutz, Judith A.
Corrective Feedback in an ESL Writing Class – A Matter of Choice: A Classroom-Based Research Project
This paper describes a classroom-based research study into students' preferences for corrective feedback of written work in the English as a second language classroom and their progress in writing proficiency. Adult ESL students enrolled in a part-time, non-credit writing course at a city college were surveyed for their preferences in receiving corrective feedback on writing assignments. For the eight weeks following, their written assignments were corrected according to their stated preferences. Changes in scores from a pre-course writing task to a post-course task were measured and compared with a control group. It was hypothesized that students who received feedback according to their preferences would make fewer errors on the post-course writing task. The quantitative results indicated that only the treatment group changed significantly from the pre course to the post course assessment. However, the change was not in the anticipated direction; the group receiving their preferred type of feedback made significantly more errors on the post course measure. The qualitative evidence suggested that the experience of being consulted about method of error correction was very positive for the treatment group and contributed to their sense that their writing proficiency benefited.
Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition: A Review of the Literature
This project reviews the growing body of literature on second language vocabulary acquisition (SLVA). The objective is to better understand the process of SLVA and the conditions under which second language (L2) vocabulary can best be taught and learned. Four approaches to SLVA are examined: 1) explicit or direct teaching; 2) incidental or indirect learning through reading (and the effect of variables such as strategy use): 3) enhanced reading-based vocabulary development (i.e. thematic reading, textual enhancements, and reading plus activities/instruction); and 4) systematic vocabulary teaching (i.e. Nation, 1994, Nation & Newton, 1997). Research shows L2 vocabulary acquisition to be an extremely complex process, with many questions remaining unanswered. However, the general consensus which emerges is that both explicit and incidental learning are necessary to successful acquisition, and should be seen as complementary (e.g. Schmitt, 2000). Recommendations for teachers include: teaching the most important (frequent) words first, presenting words using a variety of techniques, recycling vocabulary in different meaningful contexts, encouraging reading in both "normal" (authentic) and enhanced conditions, and making learners aware of strategies that may be used to facilitate acquisition.
Some Obstacles to Adjustment and Coping Strategies of International Students at the University of Alberta
In light of the rhetoric of campus internationalization, this paper reports on a study of some common obstacles to adjustment international students at the University of Alberta encounter, and some coping strategies they employ. In particular, it looks at adjustment issues relating to socio-cultural factors, access to information and academics. While previous research at the University of Alberta has provided a quantitative analysis of related issues, the current study takes a qualitative approach. Although a questionnaire was used to gather data from 19 students, this study relies most heavily on information collected from a subset of the larger sample in two focus group discussions. The following themes were identified in the analysis of the questionnaire data and the focus group discussions: there is a common perception among international students that they are discriminated against by members of the university community and by the host community outside the university; academically, international students find writing especially difficult; support systems offered by the university are generally underutilized; international students most often rely on each other for developing coping strategies. The discussion concludes with recommendations concerning how international students at this University may be better served.
Thomson, R. I. (2004). Buyer beware: Professional preparation and TESL certificate programs in Canada. TESL Canada Journal, Special Issue(4), 40-57.
Scott, Shirley A.
Instructor Computer Training and Computer Use in the Adult ESL Classroom
Forty-two English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors of adult ESL students, from four different educational institutions, were asked to provide personal background information, which included information on their computer training, and to give their opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of using computers, software packages and the Internet with their students. Interviews with one person from each institution were conducted to obtain the administrations' opinions as to the advantages and disadvantages of including computers in their English language programs. A review of the literature examines instructor computer literacy training, and the advantages and disadvantages of using computers, software and the Internet in ESL classrooms. This results of this study suggest that although both instructors and employers indicate that instructor computer literacy levels are a concern, no proactive measures to increase training are being taken.
Pragmatic Competence in a Second Language: The Case of Electronic Mail
In this paper, the nature of pragmatic competence is examined. Pragmatic competence involves the factors that make an utterance acceptable in some situations but not in others. Specifically, the pragmatic aspects of electronic mail (e-mail) in second language learning and teaching are discussed. A small data set of e-mail messages is then examined. From this, pedagogical implications relating to the use of e-mail in second language teaching are drawn.
Floden, Leanne D.
Field Trips in Edmonton for ESL: Free and Low Cost Ways to Learn in Edmonton
A major challenge facing English as a Second Language [ESL] instructors is to bring the language alive for students in a meaningful way. Drawing students in to engage in authentic use of the language can often be difficult in a classroom setting. The use of field trips as a teaching tool is one means of doing this. Field trips can be a great learning opportunity for ESL. The city of Edmonton is full of many great activities that would be beneficial to both students and instructors. Current published accounts of the use of field trips as a teaching tool are examined and a comprehensive listing of field trip sites in Edmonton including booking and transportation information is provided. Guidelines for using field trips and sample lesson plans are also offered.
Fredrickson, Norma J.
Perceptual Learning Styles and their Implications for Second Language Learners and Teachers
Preferences for auditory, visual (verbal and non-verbal) or haptic (kinesthetic and tactile) modes of perception are thought to influence the degree to which learners are able to make use of available information in the learning environment. In the second language classroom, the learning and teaching of a new language has traditionally relied heavily on auditory and visual/verbal methods of conveying information. However, research indicates that the ESL classroom is likely to contain all types of learners. Particularly when dealing with adults who are unaccustomed to a classroom learning environment or who are having difficulty in acquiring the new language, it is thought to be important to use materials and methods that accommodate different perceptual preferences. This paper reviews the literature on the application of perceptual learning style theory to second language acquisition and identifies the characteristics of the different perceptual styles. Secondly, it describes teaching techniques oriented to each learner style. Finally, a checklist is provided for the purpose of evaluating classroom texts in terms of their accommodation of each perceptual style.
Using the World Wide Web to Teach Culture in an English as a Foreign Language Classroom
This paper aims to examine the possibilities of using the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) for teaching culture in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts. Part I briefly presents the history of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), the Internet, and the advantages of using the WWW in a language classroom. Learners can access abundant authentic materials, obtain up-to-date cultural information, develop learner autonomy, build up collaboration by engaging in Web-based activities, and increase language proficiency. Part II provides eight activities designed to exploit these benefits and to teach EFL students about Canadian culture.
Form-focused Instruction: Implications for Grammar Textbooks
This paper examines the push for grammar teaching, known as form focused instruction (FFI), within the auspices of communicative language teaching. It outlines the research that was the impetus for FFI and examines the issues that surround FFI. It then outlines two different FFI teaching methods and goes on to examine grammar textbooks to see how well they incorporate the new theories of teaching grammar within Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). It concludes that although some newer textbooks are attempting to incorporate these theories, more needs to be done.
Millard, D. J. (2000). Form-focused instruction in communicative language teaching: Implications for grammar textbooks. TESL Canada Journal, 18(1), 47-57.
Music as an Educational Resource in the Adult ESL Classroom: Guidelines, Resources and Activities
The purpose of this paper is threefold: first, to identify how ESL teachers use music in their adult ESL classes; second, to determine why some teachers like to use it on a regular basis while others do not; and third, to develop a teacher’s guide for using music in adult ESL classes. The first section of this paper presents an analysis of the information obtained from two focus group interviews with ten ESL teachers from three institutions in the Edmonton area. One focus group interview was with five teachers who regularly use music in the classroom and the other group interview was with five teachers who do not regularly use music; regularly was defined in this study as once a week or more. The purpose of the interviews was to identify the most commonly used music resources and activities and to determine when and why the teachers felt it was appropriate to use or not to use these resources and activities. In the light of the information obtained in the interviews and in recognition of the value of music as an educational resource, the second half of this paper (a) proposes guidelines for selecting songs and using music in the classroom; (b) provides an overview of ESL music resource books and useful websites; and (c) summarizes a variety of music activity types and ways to use and, or develop music activities and materials.
Abbott, M. (2002). Using music to promote L2 learning among adult learners. TESOL Journal, 11(1), 10-17. doi: 10.1002/j.1949-3533.2002.tb00061.x
EFL and Culture in Arab Gulf Countries
Any study of a culture must look to the behavior and values of the majority to form its observations and theories; it would be a rare culture that has no exceptions. Valette (1977) contends that culture in the broad sense has two major components. One is anthropological or sociological culture: the attitudes, customs and daily activities of people, their ways of thinking, their values and their frames of reference. The other component of culture is the history of civilization. It includes geography, history, achievement in the sciences, the social sciences and the arts. The second component forms the framework for the first. It represents the heritage of a people and must be appreciated by the person who wishes to understand the new target culture as the first component.
EFL teachers should prepare themselves before going to live in another culture. Many facets of daily life are different in another culture, and EFL teachers should be able to understand and interpret unfamiliar cultural conventions and realia. They should be also sensitized to the existence of differences in daily life patterns between their own culture and the culture of the students.
“The Images of Us and Them” Cultural Content in Foreign –Published Grammar Textbooks
The purpose of this article was to research the cultural content of Russian-published English reference literature. Paradoxically, in trying to create the learning materials for the students of English, the authors of these texts focus on the values inherent in their own culture. Ethnocentrism and a high degree of generalizations about local values are reflected in the seemingly dry 1-2-sentence texts used for the study. The goal of the present research is not to give "modern recommendations" to non-English-speaking authors on how to write textbooks for students in their countries; rather, the intention is to help Canadian teachers working with the ESL learners to become more aware of the experiences, expectations, and views their students may bring to the classroom.
Chipouline, D. (2001). Through the looking glass: What ESL teachers can find in Russian-published reference books. TESL Canada Journal, 19(1), 17-33.
ESL Textbook Evaluation
This project has two main goals. Firstly, it provides teachers and administrators with techniques and models through which they can analyze any coursebook that they are considering selecting for their own program or class. Readers will be presented with a variety of checklists and guides which they can utilize as is or adapt for their particular situation.
The second goal is to use these techniques to evaluate the required textbooks currently being used in the major ESL programs in Edmonton including Alberta Vocational College, Grant McEwan Community College, and the Faculty of Extension. A caveat, these texts will be evaluated apart from the programs they are used in. Their effectiveness will not be measured against the particular institutions’ curricula, syllabi or course objectives, and this project in no way seeks to criticize program choices or advise administrators on their practices. Rather it should serve as a tool for language professionals to develop their skills of textbook evaluation.
Garinger, D. (2002). Textbook selection for the ESL classroom. ERIC Digest (EDO-FL-02-10). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics. Retrieved from
Perceptions and Problems of Adult Korean ESL Visa Students in Edmonton
There are two main purposes for this research. One purpose is to present the perception and problems of adult Korean English as a Second Language (ESL) visa students in Edmonton. The other purpose is to discuss the practical implications of the perceptions, and to make recommendations on how to deal with the problems.
The focus of this study is on ESL visa students. This refers to students who are in Canada primarily to study ESL, and are able to live and study in Canada because they possess either a visitor status or a student authorization from the immigration department of Canada. They do not include foreign students who are studying other subjects at post-secondary institutions.
The problems and perceptions focus on negative aspects of the students’ life in Canada. The reason for this is to help students in areas that are difficult or problematic for them. Therefore, the students’ positive perceptions of their life here are discussed only in relation to negative perceptions.
The implications and recommendations are primarily directed toward teachers of Korean ESL visa students. However, these recommendations can also be helpful for people in other positions who deal with these students. Sometimes, an administrator, a counselor, or a tutor may be in a better position to help them. This study identifies a wide variety of problems and perceptions. The purpose is to make the teacher aware of these issues, and to give some guidance on how to handle the problems. Thus, the implications and recommendations are not discussed in great detail. Each topic could, in fact, be the focus of its own separate research paper. It is my hope that this research can serve as a useful reference to some of the wide variety of problems that Korean visa students have.
The Use of Popular Songs in the ESL Classroom
The purpose of this research project is to promote the use of popular songs by synthesizing available materials and ideas into a single easy to use guide ready for classroom use. To limit redundancy, the remainder of this document will refer to popular songs as simply songs. This will include songs such as, If I had $1,000,000 by current popular artists the Barenaked Ladies or Hello Goodbye by older artists, the Beatles. Experience has shown that songs are effective teaching tools, far more than merely recreational activities. Having a resource that teachers can apply directly to their classrooms, hopefully, will encourage the use of songs in ESL.
Slomp, David H.
Professionalizing ATESL: An Examination of the Process
ATESL has been in the process of professionalizing the teaching of English as a second language for over ten years. In this paper I examine the process ATESL has gone through to date and I reflect on this process by comparing it to sociological theories of professionalization. To gather data on ATESL’s professionalization I examined numerous journal articles and interviewed three ATESL members (two were Past Presidents) and one government official. Their perspectives and insights establish a picture of, and a rationale for, the professionalization of ATESL. In this paper I argue that the professional organization must play an important role in supporting the drive to professionalize the teaching of ESL in Alberta. The professional organization must provide the vision and the lobbying power behind the professionalization process. Members of the profession, government and ESL providers must be lobbied concurrently if the drive to professionalize ATESL is to be successful. I end the paper by presenting recommendations to support ATESL's continued drive to professionalize ESL instruction in Alberta.
The Value of Peer Observation to College Teacher Effectiveness
The intention of this research is to offer support to the concept of peer observation as a valuable professional development tool we have within our institution.. Instructors are encouraged to upgrade their qualifications by attending university courses. To widen their experience and add to their professional expertise they could also easily visit the classroom next door, where different talents and techniques are being demonstrated. This would seem an effective way of increasing the quality of college teaching, which could be implemented at little cost of time or money. Peer observation offers insights into different aspects of delivery, and encourages self-evaluation. The benefits are numerous, both to the individual and the college.
In practice, other factors must be considered when contemplating a peer observation program. These would include such aspects as guidelines of procedure, the non-evaluative aspect, the self-assessed needs of individual instructors, strict confidentiality of feedback to the participating instructors, and general feedback given to the researcher to validate her original hypothesis. It is the task of the researcher to compile these guidelines, collect the written/oral feedback, then present the outcomes and recommendations for development of a formative peer observation program.
A Review of Popular, Low-Level Literature for Learners of English as a Second Language
It is generally accepted that reading for pleasure has the potential to improve the readings skills of both adults and children alike. For learners of second languages, reading for pleasure may also facilitate acquisition of the second language and an understanding of the cultures where that language is used. However, learners of second languages face many cognitive and social barriers when trying to comprehend a written text in the new language. The purpose of this project is to identify the characteristics of some of the most popular books read by students studying English as a second language (ESL) at an adult institution. These characteristics may provide insight into the effectiveness of pleasure reading materials in assisting ESL learners to improve their English reading abilities.
Language Learning Strategies
Increasing the emphasis on guiding English Second Language (ESL) learners to develop learning strategies would be valuable to both learners and teachers. At present, learning strategies are not well understood. Learning strategies may be defined as having specific study skills or techniques, the ability to be in control, or even just enjoying how to learn. According to O’Malley and Chamot (1990), “Strategies are the tools for active, self-directed involvement needed for developing second language (L2) communicative ability”. According to Oxford (1990), “Learning strategies are steps taken by students to enhance their own learning” (p. 1). The definition given by Oxford is in relation to what many researchers have described as the characteristics of a ‘good language learner’.
Early researchers tended to make lists of strategies and other features presumed to be essential for all ‘good L2 learners’. Rubin (1975) suggested that good L2 learners are willing and accurate guessers, have a strong drive to communicate, are uninhibited, are high risk takers, practice whenever they are given the opportunity, monitor their speech, and pay more attention to meaning. Although many of these characteristics have been accepted as features language learners should demonstrate, they do not necessarily indicate that learners without all these features cannot be good language learners. According to Oxford (1994), “Because of language anxiety, many potentially excellent L2 learners are naturally inhibited; they combat inhibition by using positive self-talk, by extensive use of practicing in private, and by putting themselves in situations where they have to participate communicatively” (p. 1). ESL instructors are well aware that characteristics of good language learners change from one student to another. Each individual language learner has his or her own style of learning based on cognitive capacity, personality, gender, culture, etc. In addition, the ESL instructor’s own style of learning is reflected in the way he or she teaches. This reflection may or may not be compatible to the students’ learning preferences. If there is no match, it is likely that both the instructor and learner must incorporate and use other tools (strategies) to match the gaps.
In this paper I will focus on the teachability of learning strategies from an ESL teacher’s perspective. To accommodate numerous student needs and styles, the teacher should extend his/her teaching style to match various learning styles. One way to accomplish this situation is to become aware of the student’s different learning styles and train oneself to involve various strategies in the curriculum.
Call To Learn: Using CALL for Language Learning
Educational technology in the form of computers, is becoming a significant part of school curriculum. Computers are being put to use in a variety of ways and in a variety of content areas. Second/foreign language learning has not been unaffected by this increase in the relevance of computers. Over the past thirty years, the term CALL, or computer assisted language learning, has been used to refer to a myriad of activities done through or by the computer. As well, CALL encompasses the assignment of different roles for the computer and the learner, and is characterized by a range of interaction types between the two. With the increasingly technological emphasis of many language learning environments and greater sophistication of technology available for use, it seems particularly appropriate to gain an awareness of where we have been and where we are going. While it is true that not every language classroom is technology-enhanced, nor do we foresee a time when the computer will take over the pedagogical functions of the teacher, the computer and its capabilities have the potential for changing the dynamics of language learning and improving its delivery.
This paper will discuss the following: What is CALL and what types of activities does it encompass? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using CALL? What student variables need to be taken into account? Assessing CALL needs and evaluating software; Types of software available; Integrating CALL into the language learning classroom.
The Cultural Adaptation of EFL Teachers in China
With the advent of the era of international communications, the boundaries between differing peoples and cultures are becoming increasingly indistinct. As the world hurtles towards internationalism, driven by a global economy and notions of world-wide unity, individuals attempting to operate in this milieu must strive to attain some measure of cross-cultural sensitivity and awareness. As borders continue to shrink, and diverse cultures come into increasing contact with one another, culture shock, and the stresses and changes it entails, are inevitable. However, some research has proven that such stresses and changes are not necessarily a divisive nor negative consequence of internationalism, but are, rather, a desirable and positive part of a global identity. By experiencing culture shock, individuals are encouraged to examine their own identity, vis a vis their own culture, as well as redefining themselves as members of their new, host environments. Thus personal self-awareness and understanding of diversity are simultaneously promoted. Obviously, the implications of culture shock for teachers embarking on a foreign post are particularly pressing, for how they learn to cope with this phenomenon is an important consideration in their adaptation.
The present study will attempt to aid teachers intent upon pursuing overseas careers by providing them with essential background information in the area of acculturation. The study will define both culture and culture shock, as well as provide a summary of current theory and research in this area. The study will then expand upon the existing knowledge base by collecting and interpreting data from six Canadian teachers who accepted postings in China for at least a six month period of time. The data will be used to offer recommendations to other foreign-bound teachers on how to deal with culture shock and what to expect as they embrace the culture and environment of their foreign posting. It is hoped that such advice will serve to ameliorate difficulties that foreign-bound Canadian teachers experience while abroad.
Using the Internet in the ESL Classroom
Use of the Internet in the ESL classroom is a relatively new area, and as such there is little written about it yet. There are only bits and pieces of information, all scattered about in different journals and on the World Wide Web. Here, I have attempted to compile the available information into a usable guide, aimed at those who have some computer knowledge, but who may not be aware of certain aspects of the Internet or its possible utilization in the classroom. This is a starting point for teachers who are not familiar with the Internet in this context. The activities listed are intended for teachers to develop, use and adapt, and hopefully they will act as catalysts to propagate original ideas.
I must also point out that the activities provided are only ideas to be exploited, and as such are not outlines in detail. Some of these activities were adapted from those I found on the Internet, while the others are my own creations. I apologize to those who may already have these ideas published or authored, however, more often than not educators will invent the same idea in parallel. When a teacher comes up with what he or she thinks is a terrific, original classroom activity, chances are someone somewhere else has already come up with exactly the same thing.
An Annotated Bibliography of Video Related ESL Materials and ESL Videos Available at the University of Alberta and Alberta Vocational College
This annotated bibliography was undertaken as a capping project to partially fulfil the requirements for a course-based MEd degree in the TESL program at the University of Alberta. The first section lists books, articles, videos, and dissertations that are available at or through the University of Alberta. Section two lists all the video and video-related resources available at the ESL library of Alberta Vocational College, Winnifred Stewart Campus and recommended video resources still held at AVC’s main library. Section three is by no means exhaustive but lists the best source for information and the best video-related ESL organization that I encountered in my search. It is my sincere hope that this bibliography will be a useful resource for student teachers in the ESL program at the University of Alberta and ESL teachers at AVC and other institutions.