2014 Spring Conference Abstracts and Bios

Full Conference Program

Suprasegmentals and Prosody in Every Language Classroom
Andrea Taylor & Sean Cavicchi 

In this presentation, we will discuss the big picture aspects of teaching pronunciation. We will explain why suprasegmentals and prosody are so important and the benefits of including them in every classroom’s curriculum, both for learners and instructors. We will look at practical and beneficial ways of how to incorporate suprasegmentals and prosody into classrooms, even where pronunciation is not currently part of the curriculum. Throughout this presentation, we will exhibit materials from an online course developed at Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS), Clear Speaking Online.Andrea Taylor has been teaching EAL since 1999, both abroad and in Canada. She has been with Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, since 2008. Andrea has taught both face to face and online at ISIS.Sean Cavicchi is an EAL instructor with Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been teaching English since 2003 in South Korea, Toronto and Halifax respectively, earning his Bachelor of Education degree in 2010.

Research in Development: Cultural Attitudes toward Grading Systems in EAP programs
Anna Maier & Sophie Paish 

The idea for this project transpired after each of us repeatedly experienced frustration due to the discrepancies between our students’ expectations of their grades and their actual level of achievement. This workshop focuses on the elementary stages of our research into cultural attitudes toward grading systems. We will discuss the concepts of cultural relativism, social norms, and education specific schemas.
There is currently very little literature published regarding this topic; therefore, it is our intention to do hands-on research in an attempt to find out whence our students’ high grade expectations spring.
This 60-minute workshop will delve into our ideas on this topic before tapping into your views and opinions regarding this matter.Anna Maier (M.Ed) has been teaching for several years. She taught abroad in South Korea, The Gambia and Canada.

Sophie Paish (M.Ed) has taught in Slovakia, Japan, Ontario and Nova Scotia in a variety of settings.

Providing language counselling (LC) helps learners identify their goals and establish realistic learning expectations.
Amanda Marshall
Learners are often required to balance many interdependent factors simultaneously. Because learners may need to “satisfy incongruent or even mutually exclusive goals” (Dornyei 2001, p. 132), determining a course of action for language learning can seem an insurmountable task. Providing language counselling (LC) helps learners identify their goals and establish realistic learning expectations.Using a client-centered approach and by acknowledging that a sense of direction, positive self-concept, and autonomy are important factors in one’s success, LC provides information, encouragement and the tools necessary to work with individuals on autonomous learning plans. By conducting a language and educational needs assessment and creating a learning plan, including identifying and outlining a hierarchy of education goals and needs, we can establish a realistic and accessible pathway for success. This is done by creating tangible, individualized learning “road-maps” for successful program navigation and goal achievement.This presentation will examine how LC is used to bridge knowledge gaps, increase awareness, promote autonomy and facilitate learner success.
Amanda Marshall has been working, studying and researching in the field of adult education and TESL for over 10 years. She completed her CTESL at Carleton University and her M.Ed in Educational Psychology from MSVU. Having taught EAL in private, academic and settlement organizations, she currently works at ISIS as the Labour Market Language Counsellor and Team Lead.
The impact of the excessive use of some electronic devices on conversational and analytical skills of ESL learners
Muhammad Elhabibi 

Technology is a theme through which education can be envisioned; so I am trying to answer the question(s): Can learners’ excessive use of electronic devices negatively impact their analytical thinking skills? OR how can teachers maintain a balance between the use of technology and students’ analytical thinking skills?
Inspired by different reasons ,either at work, everyday life or classroom situations I started to sense the consequences of this phenomenon , internationally and in Canadian educational contexts.
Sherry Turkle’s quote ” Why do we expect more from technology and less from ourselves?” was alarming, so I decided to start my research into this topic in an attempt to find an answer the aforementioned questions. Through narrative inquiry I tried to get responses from people who experienced situations where technology is excessively used.
My main concern is that negative effects could be created; learners may lose their analytical thinking skills and become fully dependent on electronic devices to replace their mental processes needed in learning.

Muhammad Elhabibi (MEd/TESL+ CELTA), an EAP/ESL instructor with significant experience teaching internationally and in two Canadian settings, Saudi Universities, MSVU and Lakehead University respectively. While working and studying at MSVU , he developed the EAP curriculum for international graduate students. Currently, he is working on another MA, thesis route at Lakehead University.

Adapting to Online Teaching

Carol Derby

This workshop will address the challenges facing instructors when they begin teaching online. It will explore online teaching styles and methods, how they differ from face-to-face teaching, and how to engage the learner in a meaningful way in a variety of contexts.

Carol Derby is the manager of Labour Market Language programs at Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS). She has over fifteen years experience in EAL and curriculum development, and currently manages face-to-face and online EAL classes. She has a MEd in adult education.

Mysterious verbs: Something strange is happened here!
Sandra Powell 

Have you ever wondered why some verbs seem to generate confusion, even for learners who generally have their verb tenses and active/passive voice under control? Ever wondered what grammar point needs review when your learners produce sentences like these?:
I was stolen my wallet; the situation suffered me a lot; everyone interests in popular cultureIn this workshop we will explore the semantic concept of thematic roles like Agent, Experiencer, Force, Theme, and Patient; look at how different verbs require different roles as their Subject in English; and identify some predictable patterns of difficulty with verbs that put an unusual thematic role in the Subject position. You’ll work on strategies for explaining these insights to learners, and examine some exercises and materials for focusing attention on these mysterious verbs.Sandra Powell teaches Pedagogical Grammar in the M.Ed. program offered jointly by Mount Saint Vincent and Saint Mary’s. She works with ELLs in the TESL Centre at Saint Mary’s. Sandra has been in the language teaching field for over 30 years, teaching in Japan, the United States, and Canada; in secondary schools, IEPs, language schools, and teacher education programs.

Language Anxiety: Is there such a thing?
Julie Sherriff 

Do we put enough thought into the level of anxiety experienced by other language learners when they enter our classrooms? People learning another language are said to suffer greater levels of anxiety then someone speaking their native language. The presenter will discuss the three types of anxiety, causes, effects and strategies.Language anxiety is said to have debilitating effects on language learners, yet we group all students together when discussing the effects. There are three types of anxiety: trait anxiety, state anxiety and situation-specific anxiety.Anxiety and its effects are increasingly being studied, yet it is well known that it is still a serious issue in the classroom.We can teach students strategies to overcome language anxiety. We can listen to students suggestions on lowering classroom anxiety. Finally, we can further educate ourselves and take language anxiety seriously by incorporating recommendations made by researchers.Julie Sherriff has a Masters in Curriculum Studies for TESL from MSVU. She taught EFL in Madrid in 2007 and currently teaches English in the Workplace (EWP) at ISIS. She has been with ISIS for over 5 years and has taught EWP, orientation and communications course for engineers, as well as completed curriculum development for pre-employment online programs.

Facilitated discussion:

What do you want from your professional association? What priorities should TESL Nova Scotia set for the next few years?

Mary Lou Harnish

The communicative approach to language teaching and a focus on bringing well thought-out oral arguments call for a reassessment of the texts used in a language classroom.
Ayesha Mushtaq 

The communicative approach to language teaching and a focus on bringing well thought-out oral arguments call for a reassessment of the texts used in a language classroom. Most textbooks used in the language classroom are based on topics which though provide academic validity to ESL lessons are nonetheless taught as closed products with a unilateral decoding formula aimed at checking comprehension and enriching vocabulary, leaving a lot of wanting in terms of critical thinking and expression of personal opinions. Thus, foreign language learners face the challenges of interpreting and analyzing texts which might clash with their understanding of the world. For a text to be more communicative and at par with current narratives of ESL teaching, we must look at texts which draw from the already existing schemas of knowledge that a student possesses at the same time allowing for expression, interpretation and exchange of meaning in class discussions as opposed to a mirroring of socially accepted judgements on prevalent issues of today.This demonstration will show how culturally relevant texts can strengthen the scaffolding of communicative language acquisition. Participants will go through the experience of a lesson based on a Fairy Tale to see how it can be employed both implicitly and explicitly to encourage communicative skills.As an ESL/EAP educator, Ayesha Mushtaq has been involved in teaching, assessment and curriculum development for the past ten years. She has piloted university courses at St Mary’s University and Dalhousie University. Her major interests are curriculum development, classroom management and critical thinking skills.

Walk an Hour in my Shoes
Meg Royal 

This is an interactive workshop for ESL teachers who have never learned a second language.The foundation of teaching is communication. If our students are not able to decode our message in such a way that our initial meaning is not understood, how are they to learn? One of the major challenges an ESL teacher faces is assuring that the student understands. Yet, how is this possible if we don’t understand the student? In this workshop, the participants will experience cross-cultural communications in a way that will expand their way of thinking when interacting with a classroom full of foreign students.The participants will take the place of a student, learning French as a foreign language. The objective is not for the participants to actually be able to speak the language, but rather for them to benefit from the learning experience. They will experience firsthand some of the difficulties their ESL students face when they sit in the classroom. This will give them the opportunity to evaluate their teaching methods from a new perspective and develop new ideas to communicate with their students.
A graduate of Bishop’s University, I have also completed a certificate in International Studies at Champlain College and the TESOL Certificate through Global Leadership College. I have travelled in the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia. My teaching experience has involved tutoring groups of college and university students, as well as supervising a student exchange project between colleges in Quebec and Jamaica. I am passionate about intercultural relations and teaching.

Getting discipline-specific in the general EAP classroom

Jennifer MacDonald

Despite the popularity of English for Specific Academic Purposes courses, many EAP teaching contexts are English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP). This talk will help instructors bridge this gap through practical ideas for resources and activities for the EGAP classroom that allow students to delve into the genres, vocabulary and literacies of their specific domains of study.

Jennifer MacDonald is Acting Head Teacher, ESL Programs, at Dalhousie University. She has taught in English in Quebec, Argentina, Slovakia and Spain and holds an MA in TESOL from the Institute of Education, University of London.  Her interests include materials development, sociocultural SLA and educational technology.  

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