2017 Spring Conference Program

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Schedule at a Glance

9:15-9:45 Registration Patterson Hall 1st floor foyer  

The publishers’ display will be open all day.



Turn in your filled-in conference evaluation form to participate in the Book Draw!!

9:45-10:00 Welcome and announcements Patterson Hall 1st floor Common Room
10:00-11:00 Concurrent session A Patterson Hall 2nd and 3rd floors
11:00-11:15 Nutrition break Patterson Hall 1st floor foyer
11:15-12:15 Roundtable Discussions Patterson Hall 2nd and 3rd floors
12:15-1:15 Lunch buffet KCIC Garden Room
1:15-2:15 Concurrent session B Patterson Hall 2nd floor
2:15-2:30 Coffee Break Patterson Hall 1st floor Common Room
2:30-3:30 Concurrent session C Patterson Hall 2nd floor
3:30 Book Draw Patterson Hall 1st floor Common Room

Click here to register for the conference!

Session Descriptions

Concurrent sessions  A       10:00-11:00            Patterson Hall 2nd and 3rd  Floor
Empowering Literacy and Emergent Language Learners through Daily Classroom Activities

Nicki Kim and Vanessa Lent

Room 206

Our presentation will outline the most effective daily routine activity strategies that work with every literacy classroom and tutoring practice. These strategies empower adult literacy (no or limited/interrupted education in L1) and emergent learners to transfer EAL classroom learning to real life skills. We will focus on showcasing how a handful of good working routine activities can incorporate essential literacy strategies and build transferable learning skills for the target learners. Following up on the presenters’ last TESL NS Spring conference: ‘Best Practices for Adapting Authentic / Life Skills Materials in the Classroom’ segment, participants will take away practical teaching tips powered by a few simple assistive tools suggestions from the ISANS literacy classrooms.

Nicki J. Kim has a CELTA certificate and an M.Ed in TESL Curriculum Studies from MSVU. She has over 10 years of teaching adult learners and, she is currently teaching EAL Literacy program at ISANS in Halifax. Her main interests are exploring learner autonomy with specific focus on emergent EAL learners and incorporating digitally assisted language learning in EAL.

Vanessa Lent holds a PhD in English from Dalhousie University and an M.Ed in Curriculum Studies from MSVU. She teaches adult EAL at 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.

Worth a Conversation: The Role of Language Counselling in Language Education

Erin McDonald and Darlene MacInnis

Room 308

Language Counselling can range from a thoughtful, timely question to an in-depth conversation. Its role is to assist adult immigrant learners to identify their learning needs and interests in order to attach and re-attach to language programs and, in turn, improve the programs available to them.  By taking the time to discuss the unique goals of learners, learners are given opportunities to better understand the options available to them while feeling validated and language providers learn how to improve programming to ensure it is relevant to the learners’ changing needs and interests.  Through a series of case studies, we’ll share our insights and learning from our clients about why language counselling is worth our time.
Erin McDonald is the Owner and Director of Programs and Services at Language Assessment Services of NS Ltd. She has been working in the area of adult education in the settlement field in various capacities since 1998 and specifically in the area of language assessment since 2004.Darlene MacInnis has worked in the Employment and Bridging Unit at ISANS for 16 years and Language Assessment Services of Nova Scotia for 8 years. She is a certified CLBPT, CLBLA, ELTPA and CELBAN assessor. These experiences have provided her with some insights into intrinsic and extrinsic motivators related to English language acquisition as well as employment action plans and labour market demands.
Planner or Performer – A Look at Curriculum Design

Sarah Sampara

Room 316

Are you interested in curriculum development? Do you wonder what it takes to develop curriculum successfully? In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore skills necessary to effective curriculum development. We’ll discuss how these skills can affect the type of curriculum you produce. We’ll also look at the curriculum design process. We’ll evaluate the steps of effective curriculum design and identify some common pitfalls in the curriculum design process. Finally, we’ll review simulated curriculum development examples and discuss how to proceed with the initial stages of planning its development.
Sarah Sampara is an online EAL instructor. During her 12 years at ISANS, she has taught a variety of classes and developed a variety of curricula. For the last 9 years, her focus has been online learning and curriculum development.
Prepositional phrases: From the heart with pleasure for a better world!

Sandra Powell

Room 320

To a language learner, preposition usage in English can seem to be completely arbitrary and unpredictable. English is particularly rich in prepositions compared to many languages, and the meanings conveyed by prepositions are subtle and difficult to define. Beyond the territory of prepositions of time and place, we often resort to teaching preposition usage as simple memorization of combinations of vocabulary items.
In this workshop we will identify some predictable meanings of prepositions and explore a few classroom activities to extend your learners’ ability to use prepositional phrases to express meaning.Sandra Powell teaches in the M.Ed. Curriculum (TESL) program at Saint Mary’s University and Mount Saint Vincent University. She also teaches from time to time in the intensive English program at The Language Centre, Saint Mary’s University. This spring, she volunteered with the Conversation Circle at Mount Saint Vincent University.
Roundtable Discussions    11:15-12:15              Patterson Hall 2nd and 3rd floors
Discussion 1

Natalie Burgoyne

Room 206

 EAP: How teaching techniques in EAP classrooms prepare/ ill-prepare students for authentic university classes
Discussion 2

Kris Mitchell

Room 308

 Semantic Theory – Does how we talk about ‘meaning’ in the classroom matter? How can we approach teaching ‘meaning’?
Discussion 3

Jennifer MacDonald

Room 316

Helping EAP students move from ‘Language Learners’ to ‘Language Users’.

What formal and informal factors influence EAP students’ movement from ‘language learner’ to ‘language user’? What role do EAP teachers play in this shift?

Discussion 4

Setsu Kawahara

Room 320

 Literacy and Low Level Learners: What are the unique EAL challenges? How do we support our learners *and* each other?
Concurrent sessions B                 1:15-2:15                              Patterson Hall 2nd Floor
Sexism in ESL

Charlene Rockwell

Room 206

This session will provide a forum to examine the challenges ESL professionals face when dealing with sexism by using real scenarios to prompt conversation. Discussions in small groups will focus on ways to deal with and/or prevent these situations from both individual and organizational perspectives. Participants are encouraged to share their own experiences if they feel comfortable doing so. With permission, information gathered from this session will provide the basis for further focused study.
Charlene Rockwell began her TESL career in Italy by teaching English through theatre to children and teenagers. She spent a few years teaching English in Taiwan before earning her Master of Education in TESL from MSVU in 2015. She currently teaches EAP at East Coast School of Languages.
Supporting our Students’ Writing Development with a Personal Touch

Sarah Devanney and Nick Veinot

Room 308

After spending hours adding written feedback to essay draft work, teachers often still need to arrange 1:1 conferencing with students to help them make the best use of this feedback. With limited class time, this can be a real challenge. In an effort to make editing advice more accessible for our students, we’ve been experimenting with audio comments in addition to in-text written comments through the use of the D2L Assignment Grader App. Audio comments give corrective feedback a personal touch, enabling teachers to better explain a particular grammar point or offer a holistic comment on an aspect of a student’s work. During the presentation we will discuss our students’ response to this new method of feedback, as well as our views on its impact. We invite you to come and explore how audio comments can be used to improve corrective feedback for your students.

Sara Devanney teaches Communications to EAL newcomers in the Adult Learning Program (high school diploma) at the Nova Scotia Community College. Sara has been teaching and developing curriculum for 20 years.

Nick Veinot currently teaches EAL Communications to newcomers in the Adult Learning Program at the Nova Scotia Community College. He has taught in a variety of EFL, EAP, EAL and TESL contexts for the past 15 years.

Experience-based learning as a class

Anthony Caldwell

Room 320

Community integration. Learner autonomy. Task-based learning. Real-world relevance. Teamwork. These are the terms we all, as EAL Instructors, keep in mind while planning our lessons on a weekly and monthly basis. Sometimes compromises seem inevitable as we try to satisfy as many of these requirements as possible. One way we have found to be effective in satisfying all of these requirements is to use a variant of the language experience approach (LEA). LEA was originally developed to improve reading amongst newcomer learners by collecting and presenting their own stories as a source of material for the language classroom. The experiences can be individual or can be experienced as a class together. In this presentation, I will present one case in which we applied this theory in practice in a low-level class of refugee newcomers, from the class experiential outing through to assessment.
Anthony Caldwell has been an EAL instructor since 1999. He worked for years on developing task-based teaching modules for corporate clients in Japan. Since 2014, he has been working at ISANS in Halifax as an EAL instructor for newcomers to Canada.
Concurrent sessions C                 2:30-3:30                                   Patterson Hall 2nd Floor
Reading Early, Reading Often in the EAL Literacy Classroom

Arleigh Hood

Room 206

Reading early and reading often is the backbone of the EAL Literacy program at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS).  Our mandatory reading list ensures repeated and spiraled exposure to learners at all of our EAL Literacy levels. These stories connect to our themes and allow easy scaffolding of sight words, vocabulary words, grammar and phonics. Learners develop critical thinking skills through the use of stories with plot, such as Romeo and Juliet. By using stories from day one at the Foundation level in our EAL Literacy classes, we have seen first-hand what the research shows to be true: reading improves cognitive skills.
In this interactive workshop, we will compare the skills and cognition of good readers and poor readers, as well as demonstrate our reading routine.Arleigh Hood is a Head Instructor at ISANS, specializing in EAL Literacy. She has redeveloped the on-line EAL Literacy training course, and has delivered workshops and seminars around Atlantic Canada on learning strategies. She holds an M.Ed in TESL.
TESOL 2.0 Convention: Highlights from the Largest Event in ESL

Tony Rusinak



Room 308

The largest professional organization for ESLTs held its 2017 international convention and English language Expo in Seattle this March. The TESOL Convention was a gathering of more than 6000 members from 160 countries consisting of academics, researchers, administrators, industry experts, and teachers. With enough presentations, workshops, exhibits, keynotes, symposiums, and special events to fill a 260 page program guide, the amount of ideas coming out of this convention was overwhelming.  This session will outline highlights from the TESOL Convention. Some of the noteworthy observations range from current trends in ELT industry, the ELTs place in the 21st century, second language learning and cultural awareness, hot topics from other TESL affiliate organizations, and Continuous Professional Development.

Tony Rusinak | DELTA | RCIC | TESL NS Communications | ECSL | IELTS has spent the last 15 years teaching in Japan, Taiwan, China, Ethiopia, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, and his hometown of Halifax. His focus areas are teacher training, EAP, and Canadian immigration support for international students.

Tips, tricks and techniques for bottom-up grammar instruction with a top-down goal.

Kris Mitchell

Room 316

In this talk, I am hoping to share with you a few of my favorite grammar instruction lessons/mini-lessons, tricks, and techniques. Over the last 11 years, it has been my goal to try and bring grammar instruction into my classroom in a meaningful way. I have always felt that grammar instruction, especially bottom-up, sometimes gets left behind for obvious reasons. It is time consuming, and often frustrating or boring, and can feel ineffective or inadequate (too little, too late) in programs with shorter levels/semesters and a more skills or task based instructional approach. The talk will cover a variety of grammar topics ranging from ways to integrate grammar more seamlessly into your regular class, and the use of broad techniques such as substitution, units of meaning, noticing and minimal pairs, to more specific teaching points involving aspects in grammar such as auxiliaries, determiners and noun phrases.

Kris Mitchell currently works as an EAP instructor at Dalhousie University. He has 11 years of experience in the ESL/EAP classroom, including 4 years teaching ESL in South Korea, and holds a Masters in Applied Linguistics. His main areas of interest include Semantics, Critical Period Theories and Grammar Instruction.

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