2019 Fall Conference Program

Conference Schedule

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Friday, Nov. 16 @ Dalhousie University Club

7:30-10:30pm Talent Show/Open Mic
This is a showcase our many talented members, whether it be an acoustic sing-a-long, a stand-up comedy act, or juggling bowling balls.Acts will be 15 minutes, and limited to a total of 10 for the evening. To be included in the lineup, contact tonyrusinak@gmail.comThis event will feature a cash bar and light snacks will be provided.

Saturday, Nov. 16 @ Mona Campbell Building, Dalhousie University

8:30-9:00 am Registration and Welcome

Book display will be available all day at the Mona Campbell building 2nd floor.

9:00-10:00 am Keynote & Concurrent Sessions A

Concurrent Sessions:

10:15-11:15 am Keynote & Concurrent Sessions B

Concurrent Sessions:

11:30 am-12:30 pm Keynote & Concurrent Sessions C

Concurrent Sessions:

12:30-2:00 pm  Lunch [Dalhousie University Club] TESL NS AGM
2:00-3:00 pm Keynote & Concurrent Sessions D

Concurrent Sessions:

3:15-4:15 pm Concurrent Sessions E

4:15pm onwards Closing remarks, book draw and Post-Conference Social

Keynotes and Concurrent Session Descriptions

Return to main conference info page.

Exploring Teaching and Learning in English for Academic Purposes

The practice of teaching and learning EAP may look quite different across different settings in Nova Scotia and around the world. Are there unique aspects of EAP pedagogy which unite these diverse contexts? Does preparing students for their future degree program in English necessitate a different approach to teaching and learning, or is EAP simply an extension of general English teaching? In this talk, we discuss whether there is a ‘signature pedagogy’ (Shulman 2005) for English for Academic Purposes. Through an exploration of a variety of current approaches to good teaching practices, participants will be invited to reflect on these questions and their own EAP practice in light of the diversity of pedagogies in the field.

Jennifer J. MacDonald is Head Teacher of ESL Programs at Dalhousie University. She is also a doctoral candidate at the UCL Institute of Education. Her research interests lie at the intersection of EAP, internationalization of higher education, and critical applied linguistics, with a focus on the Canadian context. She has recently co-authored an EAP writing textbook with Oxford University Press entitled Academic Inquiry 1, Sentences and Paragraphs. Find Jennifer online at @Jen_Mac_Donald or jennifermacdonald.ca .  

Kate Morrison comes from Cape Breton and has been a language lover since her first French class in grade school and became a licensed French Immersion teacher early on in her career graduating with a B.Ed. from St. FX University. However, her interest in travel guided her to Turkey, where she spent most of her career as an EAP (English for Academic Purposes) instructor. While teaching there, she received her training in CELTA and DELTA within the EAP context. She continued her training in EAP by completing her Certificate in TEAP – Teaching English for Academic Purposes- from The Norwich Institute of Language Education (NILE). Kate is working on her MA from NILE in Professional Development in Language Education.  She is currently working as the Academic Services Manager and CELTA Tutor at Saint Mary’s University Language Centre-TLC. 

Breath – the essential gesture

Sometimes the most important messages don’t take linguistic forms. So, let’s fall out of language and into eros, the sensuousness of breath, of breath as a way of touching and being touched by changes in consciousness, thoughts and feelings, our own as well as those of others. This presentation/roundtable will give participants an opportunity to tune in to the emotional breath, rhythm and phrasing, and how intonation and punctuation can be taught as functions of breath.

Don Rieder is a clown, dancer, storyteller, director, and author. He has toured internationally and is a master teacher whose credits include the Cirque du Soleil, The National Circus School in Montreal, The National Theatre School of Canada, and residencies at numerous American and Canadian universities. He has been an EAL instructor at East Coast Language College in Halifax for nearly a decade.

Engaging Learners in the Assessment Process (PBLA)

This session is part of the Professional Learning Sessions series developed by the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB). This session explores a variety of strategies to engage learners in the assessment process and improving learner achievement within a Portfolio Based Language Assessment classroom. Supporting learner to engage in the assessment process is at the heart of Assessment for Learning (AfL).The topic Engaging Peers in the Assessment Process will be addressed through key questions. How will you develop the learners understanding of the criteria for the task?
What are two ways you could use learners as instructional supports for one another – providing explanations and/or as informed observers? How could you activate learners as owners of their learning through reflection or self-assessment activities? The workshop is based on Integrating CLB Assessment: Unit 6-Engaging Learners in the Assessment Process.

Learning Intents:

  • Review Assessment for Learning strategies and how they promote learner engagement.
  • Explore ways of using peers as instructional resources in the classroom
  • Supporting learners to be self-aware and reflective

Keywords: CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy; PBLA , Integrating CLB assessment

Ryan O’Shea has a Masters in Education from the University of New Brunswick (thesis focus learners’ perspectives of PBLA). He has over 12 years of experience teaching LINC, including over 8 years working with PBLA as a Lead Teacher and a Regional Coach focusing on supporting and training Lead Teachers and developing multi-level module plans.

What is the Age of Migration, and what does it mean for us?

The world has opened up, with exciting new opportunities for each of us: we are travelling, studying, learning, visiting, relocating as never before. But not all of us move and cross borders in the same way. Dr. Nourpanah will discuss what the Age of Migration looks like for different social classes, and why we all need to care about why and how movements are taking place with such extraordinary rapidity.

Shiva Nourpanah is Provincial Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, and a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph. She is also Adjunct Faculty at the Department of International Development Studies, Saint Mary’s University and School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University. Her areas of research include refugee and immigration affairs and gender-based violence. Formerly, she worked for eight years for the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees office in Iran. She has published work on the ethics of refugee aid, women’s human rights in refugee aid, and the experiences of settlement and integration of refugees in Halifax. Currently, she is researching the role of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in refugee claims, and the experiences of foreign women in Transition Houses.  She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Halifax Refugee Clinic since 2011.

 Navigating Citizenship and Politics in the Classroom

What role do teachers have in navigating contentious political issues in the context of an EAP? Discussion plays a big part in every class and as students move into higher levels the topics get more nuanced and sometimes contentious. How we navigate political issues in classroom settings ultimately comes back to citizenship, that of the teacher and that of the student. I explore this idea through a lesson plan centered on an intersecting identities chart that was introduced from a session at the American Field Service Conference in Montreal on identity. Through this, students will be made more aware of their positions and privileges as well as those of people from other countries and backgrounds; the idea being that they would approach discussions with a more open mind. In this session I will offer examples of issues that have been problematic for student in my own classes for context. I will then ask participants to chart their own identity wheels and compare those to my own students to as we delve into our own citizenships, how we approach contentious political issues as instructors, and how we can help students do so moving forward.

Keywords: CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy: EAP

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, David Taplin has been an EAL instructor since August 2018 and began teaching at East Coast Language College in May of 2019. His interests in ESL centers around knowledge exchange and global citizenship.

Student Success: The Key to Student Retention

Student retention is one of the most important topics in higher education today because every stakeholder from parents to policy makers looks at student retention to measure a school’s performance. The ESL industry is not exempt from this, and schools are now looking for unique and innovative ways to keep their students happy and their classes full. Using East Coast Language College as a case study, we will look at the barriers to student success, discuss the vital roles teachers and administrators play in ensuring retention, progression, and completion, and explore effective practices ESL schools can implement to foster a culture of success that enables students to realize their full academic potential.

Keywords: CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy: Student success, retention, advising, achievement

Katie Christie has been at East Coast Language College for almost six years and is presently the Manager of Academic Services and Teacher Training Programs. She is also the university/college advisor and is a member of the Student Success Team.

 Survey Results:  Professional Standards for the TESL Sector in Canada

The presenter will share the results of the survey and subsequent analysis on teacher professional standards in English language teaching in Canada.  The survey results provide rich, multi-layered insight into the perceptions of teacher professional standards in Canada.  The data can be used to inform decisions about future research, and the ongoing development and implementation of teacher professional standards.

Dianne Tyers has 29 years of experience in the English language education sector, as a teacher, teacher educator, manager, program developer, program evaluator and researcher.  Dianne has worked across Canada and globally on both short-term and long-term projects, for both public and private sector organizations.  Dianne has a PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, an MBA from the Ivey School of Business, Western University, and a Masters of Arts in Applied Linguistics from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.  Dianne owns Advance Consulting for Education, Inc, a leading provider of English language teacher training.  And last but certainly not least, Dianne is the new Dean, College of Continuing Education at Dalhousie University.

The Synonym Trap: Synonyms make lousy definitions

This session will explore the intricacies of understanding and describing meaning through various semantic analysis activities designed to highlight the difficulties faced by both language learners and instructors alike. Using the principles of Natural Semantic Metalanguage, participants will take part in an interactive examination and discussion of the underlying core meanings of words by focusing on the differences between synonyms. Through this discussion, we will explore and challenge our ability to analyze, understand and describe meaning effectively, and in this way provide a platform for better understanding of what it really means to know ‘the meaning’ of a word in any language.

Kris Mitchell holds an MA in Applied Linguistics and is currently teaching EAP at Dalhousie University. He has been teaching in the ESL/EAP fields for over 10 years, both overseas in Korea and here in Nova Scotia. His areas of interest include syntax, intercultural communication and semantic analysis

 (Socio-) Cultural Perspectives on the Learning and Teaching of English as a Second/Foreign Language

This panel endeavors to shed light on the diverse (socio-) cultural aspects pertaining to the ESL/EFL profession. It broaches controversies such as the socially constructed opposition between native speaker teachers and non-native speaker teachers of English (NEST vs. NNEST), or the role of the teacher in furthering inclusivity and challenging monolithic notions of culture. Another focus area will be the issue of an inner-circle bias leading to the exclusion of World Englishes in many ESL/EFL classrooms. The presentations will be held on a theoretical and experiential basis.

1.      Non-native speaker teachers in ESL/EFL – professional challenges. Ashima Sharma (India)

There is a long-standing debate in ESL/EFL over native English speaker teachers (NEST) and non-native English speaker teachers (NNEST). During this session, we will explore the professional challenges faced by the NNESTs regardless of their qualifications and expertise. I have lived in the Middle East for over a decade and have ventured through many job posting websites that have reserved an array of opportunities for NESTs. Such job openings are a forbidden territory for the NNESTs for the sole reason that they do not belong to the countries where English is the first language. Where NNESTs are hired, their salaries are inequitable. In this session, we will take various aspects into account as we investigate the challenges and controversies tied to this issue.

2.      Discussing the differences in salary of native and non-native English-speaking teachers. Fanfan Li (China)

Within English language teaching, native-speakerism is invested with the typical feature that native teachers represent a Western culture, from which spring the ideal teachers who are believed to possess a high level English language proficiency as well as excellent English language teaching skills. The non-native speaking teachers have hitherto been at an unfair disadvantage in competing with native speakers for high salary in the school where I worked before. There is a hierarchy existing in our school’s salary system. At the top is the native speaker teacher, irrespective of degree or experience, followed by the non-native teacher with any Western academic background, and finally the local non-native teacher at the bottom even if highly qualified. This phenomenon can be interpreted as a de facto recognition that a teacher’s nationality or the country where a teacher has studied is viewed as the overarching standard when setting salary criteria. In order to establish an equal and fair salary system, it is vital to incorporate more comprehensive assessment criteria based on the teachers’ performance and qualification.

3.      Incorporating World Englishes into the ESL/EFL classroom. Yuya Kurata (Japan)

Most Japanese people tend to consider English as only coming from the so-called inner circle (Kachru 1992). I personally tried to learn inner-circle English, but it is challenging for EFL learners to live up to those lofty standards. Nowadays, through the mobility of people and new technology there are a lot of opportunities to communicate with people who speak English either as their first language or as a lingua franca. What is more, the notion of World Englishes has emerged. Using technology such as YouTube, Skype, and Podcasts can help to expose learners to a variety of Englishes. World Englishes in the ESL/EFL classroom may foster open-mindedness in students and give them a sense pride and confidence.

4.      Language of inclusion and intercultural competence in the ESL/EFL classroom. Diana Isabel Torres Goñi (Mexico)

ESL/EFL teachers tend to be the first point of contact for learners coming into a new community, and as such have a responsibility of recognizing the different identities of the learners and providing them with the necessary intercultural and linguistic competence to evolve within the community they now belong to. A short review of course books used by language teachers shows a preference for gendered and heteronormative texts, which leads me to think that the weight of developing the inclusive language needed for developing in Canadian culture rests upon the teacher’s shoulder, but how does a teacher approach such a task? Through the presentation of different traditional materials and discussion tasks, I hope to continue the discussion of the role of the teacher in developing a learner’s understanding of the value of inclusivity in Canadian culture and how to foster it in learners. How does a teacher give the learner the language to relay their own identity and understand others’ identities within the Canadian culture?

Ashima Sharma, Fanfan Li, Yuya Kurata and Diana Isabel Torres Goñi  are all currently enrolled in Saint Mary’s University’s International Master’s in Teaching English (IMTE) Program.

Counterfeit Discussion, and How to Avoid It
Do you have students who dominate discussions? Are you concerned that not every voice is being heard? Do you grapple with how to assign grades for participation? Every class has a discussion element, and often those elements are part of the grading scheme. Therefore, it is crucial that these discussions be equitable, inclusive, and dynamic. In this session, I will present four methods for facilitating authentic discussion from the work of adult educator Dr. Stephen Brookfield (University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) and my experiences using them in an EAL classroom. Facilitating effective discussion is crucial to English language instruction, so any developments in methodology will provide crucial information for practitioners.

Keywords: CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy: Classroom Management, Speaking Skills, Discussion Techniques
Rachael Bethune has been an EAL instructor at East Coast Language College for four years, and she is currently enrolled in the Master of Adult Education program at St. Francis Xavier University. Her research interests include migration studies and inclusive pedagogy.

 Creating Fair Boundaries for Both Student and Self Care
In this roundtable discussion, educators will be encouraged to share their experiences relating to the boundaries created between themselves and learners both inside and outside the classroom. Discussion about boundaries will span from how much information about themselves educators share with learners (and vice versa) to topics as simple as how quickly (and if) educators respond to learners’ emails on their days off. Having the opportunity to hear about what feels fair in this regard to peers in the industry is sure to enlighten and help inform future practice.

Keywords:  CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy; Boundaries; Self Care; Burnout; Fairness; Student Care
Natalie Burgoyne is an EAP Instructor at Dalhousie University with international teaching experience in both Taiwan and Hong Kong. She has completed her Master of Education in TESOL at Mount Saint Vincent University, and her current area of interest for professional development is the psychology of teaching and learning.


Your roots are showing! A conceptual approach to academic words, idioms and phrasal verbs

Who likes memorizing lists of words and definitions? Okay, but even if you do, consider this: be they “separable phrasal verbs,” “AWL sublist 2 headwords,” or “common idioms,” lists of terms and other expressions are often lacking something that holds them together, other than part of speech, some grammatical similarity or the fact that they appear in the same text. Identifying a conceptual root that connects families of meaning can offer a delicious coherence that learners will eat up. How we connect the dots between such weighty terms as “on my mind,” “support,” and “put up with” can help learners build a conceptual base, priming them to interpret related expressions that they may encounter, and giving a nudge toward production and creativity.

Keywords: CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy; Vocabulary; ESL; EAP

Gerry Russo is an EAP instructor at Dalhousie University. His interests lie restlessly – and are deeply rooted in – figurative language, and the connection between meaning and experience in the physical and social worlds. I intend to present examples of word lists and underlying concepts, provide a bit of theoretical background and report on some recent research. Then it might get a bit ‘workshoppy’.

 Addressing Learning Disabilities in the EAL classroom (Roundtable)

How does dyslexia affect additional language acquisition? Let’s talk about dyslexia and strategies for helping our students who may be struggling with it.

Keywords: CLB 1-4; EAP; Literacy; All learners

Melissa Taylor teaches international students at Dalhousie and assess newcomers at Lens. After taking an online class in Teaching English as an Additional Language to Students with Dyslexia, I have adapted my handouts, board work, and pace.

The Reality of a VR Class (Roundtable)

This session would be a presentation/roundtable hybrid, with a brief learning opportunity of using Virtual or Augmented reality tools in the classroom, followed by some play-testing with equipment provided by the facilitator. Finding ways to consistently engage our students in the classroom is a worthwhile endeavour. Without vaporizing your wallet, you too can introduce the learning benefits of a technology -enabled classroom.

Keywords: VR, virtual reality, virtual tours, technology-enabled

Toby Ali is both a language and dance instructor, having taught in SE Asia and Europe. At ISANS, he has taught literacy and is currently facilitating a higher level, blended class.

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