2016 Spring Conference Program

Session Descriptions

Session slides and handouts are available for download under each session’s description.

Concurrent sessions  A                                       10:00-11:00            Patterson Hall 2nd Floor

“It’s all about the words!”


Paul-Emile Chiasson


Room 213



“It’s all about the words!” is a fun and interactive workshop about the acquisition of academic vocabulary by our language learners in our schools and in classes offered by settlement service providers. Based on the work of Dr. Robert Marzaon (Vocabulary expert in the US), participants will actively learn how to enhance the mastery of academic vocabulary so essential to learning in various teaching contexts. With the influx of Syrian students in our schools, Marzano 6 steps process provides us with an engaging and fun way for students (English Language Learners and domestic students), of all levels of ability to understand and increase mastery of important vocabulary. All this and having fun at the same time!
Dr. Paul-Emile Chiasson is the Education and TESL Coordinator at UNB Saint John. For many years he has delivered professional development across NB, in China and Bangladesh on the acquisition of English as an additional language via content. His particular area of research in recent years has focused on effective strategies for teachers assisting language learners in the acquisition of essential academic vocabulary.

Click here to download slides



Brushing up on the basics – Affective Filters


Ayesha Mushtaq


Room 216



The process of language learning and teaching is not only language specific but is also closely connected to affective variants. These variants include emotions, feelings, behaviors and attitudes that individuals bring to the learning environment, and the effect these have on the learning process. Affect plays an important role in the way information is encoded in the brain and subsequently used. Successful use of affective filters can bring greater benefits for the literacy and beginner level ESL students. Hence, it is imperative for ESL teachers and facilitators to pay attention to internal mechanisms and social interactions in an adult ESL classroom.
In this session, participants will get to know how it feels to be a learner in a second language classroom through USL (Urdu as a Second Language) simulation and experience firsthand how affect plays a role in the language learning process.
As an ESL/EAP educator, Ayesha Mushtaq has been involved in teaching, assessment and curriculum development for the past thirteen years. She has piloted university courses at St Mary’s University and Dalhousie University. Her major interests are curriculum development, political linguistics and linguistic manipulation.

Click here to download slides.



Recognition of Culture Shock: Seeing its Effects in Others


Gerry Russo


Room 207



The effects of radical change in one’s living condition can be dramatic if not debilitating, as in the case of uprooting oneself and settling in a new cultural context. Despite the obvious challenges of this seismic event, we might not be aware of the toll that relocation can take as we busy ourselves with daily matters. Becoming aware of the stages of culture shock and recognizing how it manifests itself in our own behaviour is a step toward healing.
The activities in this workshop revolve around a short Irish film on YouTube, “Yu Ming is Ainm Dom.” By tracing the experiences of the protagonist, the character’s ups and downs and ultimate success, learners are exposed to the notion of culture shock, its stages and the rewarding, positive outcome that settlement in a new cultural and linguistic context can bring.
Gerry Russo is an instructor of English for academic purposes at Dalhousie University’s College of Continuing Education. He holds a doctorate in applied linguistics and is particularly interested in figurative language and root metaphor.

Click here to download slides.


Using Community Resources to Help Learners Learn, Integrate and Thrive


Lyla Hage & Lydia Mans


Room 206


Learning English isn’t just about classrooms, handouts and textbooks. There are a tremendous number of resources in our community that can provide authentic real-world learning opportunities. By incorporating community resources in our classroom, we are able to help our students learn English, integrate into the community, and ultimately help them thrive in their daily life.
In this lively and interactive session, the presenters will share their experiences and efforts to engage their learners in their local community by taking their clients on class outings, as well as bringing guest speakers and presenters into the classroom to talk about relevant and timely topics. Participants will hear about the numerous fun and successful class outings and guest speakers that integrate learners into the community, the related language tasks and outcomes, and the classroom activities related to each. Workshop participants will be given an opportunity to brainstorm and share ideas about activities that would work with their learners in their own communities and ways to connect those activities with measureable and relevant outcomes.
Lyla Hage has been an EAL instructor for the past 7 years. She is currently teaching a variety of Community Language and Labour Market Language classes at ISANS. Lydia Mans has been teaching English for the past 9 years. She is currently teaching online classes and Evening classes at ISANS.

Click here to download presentation handouts.

Click here to download presentation slides.

Concurrent sessions  B                                   1:30-2:30                     Patterson Hall 2nd Floor

TESL Teaching Methods for Specific Purposes



Natalie Burgoyne & fellow ECSL Instructors


Room 206



This session will consist of six to eight very short, information-rich presentations, each by a different teacher. The theme is TESL with a focus on teaching methods for specific language points or personal philosophies on teaching. The presentations will follow Japanese Pecha Ku Cha style. This means presenters have a maximum of 20 clear, poignant slides which they will present in only six minutes. The intention is to be brief, be brilliant, and be gone. Titles of the presentations brought forward thus far include Bringing your APA A-Game, Make it New. Make it Strange, and Boost Class Energy with Games. This session will be a wonderful opportunity for attendees to gather tips on a variety of topics over a short period.
Natalie Burgoyne, Charlene Rockwell, Don Reider, Katie Christie, and Eric Levy are all language instructors at ECSL. Their experience includes English for communication and business, general skills, and EAP.

Click here to download slides.



Speak Arabic! A language learning experience


Muhammad Elhabibi with Bob Doherty and Jennifer Huizen


Room 213



With many Syrian refugees coming to Nova Scotia, the need for community support of their English language learning is great. Imagine how difficult it is to navigate a new society in a new language. But imagine how welcomed you would feel as a refugee if someone in your community made the effort to speak to you, even just a few words or a greeting, in your native tongue!
In this workshop, you’ll experience a short lesson in Modern Standard Arabic, learning some useful conversation. This will be followed by a discussion from both a teacher’s and a learner’s perspective: What is it like to live in a second language? What is it like to start learning a new language as a complete beginner? What are your best tips for successful language learning? How can you support refugees in their language learning and in your community?
Muhammad Elhabibi, currently an ESL support specialist at Saint Mary’s University, has extensive experience in teaching English in academic settings in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. This year, he designed and taught an Arabic language course offered to the community through The Language Centre, SMU.

Bob Doherty is an information access and privacy consultant and a lawyer who is part of a church group sponsoring a new Syrian family coming to Nova Scotia.  Jennifer Huizen is a freelance journalist focused on the environment who has always wanted to learn Arabic but never had the chance. She hopes to someday use the language to better understand and report on foreign environmental issues.

Click below to download slides and handouts:


Working with low-level EAL learners



Angela Seitz and Mira Shehu


Room 207



This interactive workshop will focus on helping community volunteers instruct low-level EAL learners with hands-on activities and group collaboration. The objectives of the session are to identify common assumptions about and expectations of low-level EAL learners, compare these to recommended teaching practices for working with such learners and provide easily-accessible resources for community volunteers. Through group dialogue, we will examine how volunteers can work with learners to identify language needs and develop meaningful materials. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss how they can modify real-life resources as well as appropriately communicate with low-level learners at all levels of instruction. They will also leave the workshop with a list of curriculum ideas and resources suitable for one-on-one and in-class teaching. This workshop is ideal for new and experienced EAL volunteers as well as EAL professionals who are interested in incorporating volunteers into their classrooms.
Mira Shehu has taught LINC for 15 years, including five years teaching EAL literacy. She has co-presented at an ARAISA conference. Angela Seitz has taught EAL for six years in LINC and EAP and has a Master of Education in TESL. Mira and Angela are currently working at ISANS.

Click here to download slides. 


Intercultural Transition and Adaptation


Oksana Shkurska


Room 216



One of the challenges of moving to a new country is adjusting to a different culture. Culture shock and the difficulties of cultural adaptation may be the main reasons for cultural marginalization and social withdrawal. This interactive workshop will explain the challenges of acculturation process and demonstrate the ways of developing intercultural sensitivity and coping with acculturative stress in new cultural environment.


Dr. Oksana Shkurska has been teaching in multicultural classrooms in and outside Canada for more than 14 years. Her research interests are in the field of sociolinguistics, and they include barriers to effective interpersonal communication and the issues of intercultural communication. She regularly delivers her research results at conferences throughout Canada and abroad. She has been with Dalhousie University for almost four years, teaching English for Academic Purposes at the College of Continuing Education and Intercultural Communication within the Certificate of Intercultural Communication program at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.


Concurrent sessions C                                   2:45-3:45                      Patterson Hall 2nd Floor

Art-integrated learning in EAP


Anthony Lowney


Room 216



A lesson plan is presented in which an artwork (here Marc Chagall’s I and the Village) is the focus of an inquiry-based language lesson.
This talk/workshop explores the use of inquiry-based learning in the second language classroom. The session shows how, guided by inquiry-based questions from the instructor, and through a set of activities including drawing, discussion and writing, students gain enhanced observation and story-telling skill through examination of an artwork: an example of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).
Anthony Lowney lives in Wolfville and is a tutor with Open Acadia’s English Language Programs. He has taught EAP at universities in Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Click here to download handouts.

Click here to download slides.


Chat, Predictive text, and Emojis: Implications for the ESL Class


Tony Rusinak and Lauren McKenzie
Room 213



Personal electronic device use by students in ESL class is a contentious issue. Perceived as everything from a total distraction to the ultimate communication aid, their place in our classes is a complex and ever-changing debate. Recent research into Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) shows that the use of email, text and chat offers students opportunity to more freely express themselves. Additionally, rapid communicative software developments using emoticons and predictive text are proving to be increasingly more effective and more common. These developments are challenging both the way we communicate and how we express ourselves.
This session is intended to provide an overview of popular technologies used for CMC and the language of text-speak, chat, and emojis. The latter half of the session will focus on practical application of CMC in the ESL classroom.
Tony Rusinak, East Coast School of Languages (RCIC, DELTA) has been teaching ESL for over 15 years. He has experience in Japan, Taiwan, China, Ireland, Ethiopia, Spain, Mexico, and his hometown, Halifax. His current focus is on EAP curriculum development, IELTS assessment, and immigration matters for international students.  Lauren McKenzie has been teaching in Halifax for 10 years with a focus on academic writing for English language learners. Currently at ECSL in Halifax, she’s also a member at large with TESL NS.



Encouraging learner autonomy through the acquisition of life skills in literacy and emergent language learners


Vanessa Lent and Nicki J. Kim


Room 207



This interactive workshop will outline the current learner profile of Nova Scotia’s emergent language learners, including recent refugee population, through the lens of the Canadian Language Benchmarks and contextualize the learning challenges of this diverse group. We will offer practical advice on how teachers and volunteers can meet the needs of these learners by making the acquisition of life skills a central part of curriculum and material development. Taking the example of the personalized booklets as a central classroom tool, we will present theories, strategies, and practical advice on how to create material that is easily adaptable to each student’s unique learning needs.
Vanessa Lent holds a PhD in English from Dalhousie University and an M.Ed in Curriculum Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University. She teaches adult EAL at the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) and her research interests include curriculum development for literacy learners; life-writing and identity in EAL learners; and constructions of nationhood and citizenship in both official documents and literary production.
Nicki J. Kim has a CELTA certificate and an M.Ed in TESL Curriculum Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University. She has taught English as a foreign language and has developed educational curricula in South Korea and the USA. Currently she is teaching English as an additional language at ISANS in Halifax. Her main interests are exploring learner autonomy with specific focus on foundation EAL learners and incorporating digitally assisted language learning in second language acquisition.


Task-Based Approach to Language Learning


Rebecca Martin-Fraser & Julianna Sherriff




Room 206

We believe in promoting learner autonomy in adult language learning. In the “real world,” we are not present to help our learners in challenging situations, but the content of our lessons is. When the content and delivery of our lessons is meaningful and memorable, students are more likely to remember and use the language successfully.
Task-based learning involves three stages: the pre-task activity, the during-task options and the post-task activities. By using this approach, students are given the opportunity to use realia to learn about Canadian culture and real life situations. It is essential for immigrants to communicate effectively in their communities to survive, thus they see the immediate benefits from this manner of learning.
In this presentation, we will offer advantages to using this approach, present developed activities currently being used by language instructors and provide you with hands on practical knowledge.Rebecca Martin-Fraser has been an EAL instructor for the past 12 years. She is currently teaching English for Specific Purposes and online courses at ISANS. Julianna Sherriff has been an EAL instructor for the past 9 years. She is currently an intake coordinator and EAL instructor teaching English in the Workplace.Link for resources: www.language.caClick here to download slides.
%d bloggers like this: