Full Program

Schedule at a Glance Schedule by Room Number
9:30 – 10:30 – Concurrent Sessions A
Assessment as and for Learning in Academic Writing

Corey Harvey, Paula Kristmanson and Chantal Lafargue

Room 107

Writing is a complex task that involves multiple interwoven skills. Teaching writing for both real-world and academic contexts can be challenging and sometimes tedious, especially if the focus is put solely on conventions (grammar, spelling, punctuation). Because second and additional language writers need to become proficient in text organization, idea development, word choice, sentence fluency, as well as conventions, using a varied approach to the teaching and assessment of writing is key.

In this session, presenters will share a validated writing rubric grounded in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the Traits of Writing and show how it has been used and adapted for formative assessment purposes. In addition to providing some background on formative assessment and the rubric’s development, presenters will share assessment as and for learning tasks aimed at supporting EAL learners to become proficient and capable writers.

Corey Harvey, Paula Kristmanson and Chantal Lafargue are members of the TESL NB board and part of an active community of EAL educators in NB. They have been collaborators on research and curriculum projects related to assessment as and for learning and have taught in high school and adult contexts.

Truth and Reconciliation in the EAL classroom: What can EAL professionals do to engage and prepare?

Sandra Murdock, Alfred Woolley and Lydia Mans

Room 206

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation commission’s calls to action on education and immigration there is a need for EAL classrooms to include the diverse history and presence of Indigenous Peoples. As instructors who are non-indigenous, it can be challenging to know where to start and how to include information accurately.

This presentation will share what has been done in our EAL classrooms with guest speakers, lessons plans, and community visits. It will then share how we collaborate with people in the Indigenous community to build our classroom materials. Finally, it will share what resources we have found helpful to build our efficacy as Instructors to engage in this topic. The latter half of our presentation will be a roundtable discussion and sharing time around the question: What can EAL professionals do to engage and prepare for including Truth and Reconciliation in their classrooms.

Sandra Murdock (EAL instructor), Alfred Woolley (EAL Instructor) and Lydia Mans (Curriculum Developer) work at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. They have many years of experience teaching both face-to-face and online classes. They are currently involved in exploring how to Indigenize EAL classes at ISANS.

Diagramming Cognitive and Sociolinguistic Thresholds: Moulding Matriarchal Matrices

Simon Moll

Room 207


Attuned observation of facial and physical response, eliciting self-correcting from incomplete utterances, and decoding interlanguage are elements of the real time work performed by language teachers to assess and influence student progression. As predictive text, facial recognition, speech to text, and other forms of automated language analysis continue to augment and transform both online and offline ecosystems, this living data set is increasingly being incorporated into the AI corpus. What does this mean and how can we understand sovereignty as teachers and learners within such powerful frames?

As a case study, this presentation focuses on cognitive and sociolinguistic aspects of teaching ‘conjunctions’ as an example of a threshold learning method transferable in both offline and online teaching. Additionally, we will examine the colonial complexity of historical and contemporary frames in English teaching across Turtle Island at the threshold of decolonization.

Simon Moll is interested in social justice and curriculum and teaches EAL online and offline from Mi’kmaki.

Exploring Tutela 3.0 PBLA Resources and Webinars

Diane Ramanathan

Room 213

This session will introduce new and experienced Tutela users to the many PBLA resources and webinars, demonstrate how to access them as well as share their own.

Features covered in this session include Collections, Resources, Groups, and Events and Webinars.

Diane has been a Community Coordinator for Tutela since 2012. She is also a regular user of Tutela resources and webinars for PD in her role as an online LINC Home Study instructor with TCET and TESL professor at Algonquin College.

11:00 – 12:00 – Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable 1:

Pronunciation and accent modification: Principles to guide our practice

Sandra Powell

Room 107

Recently, teaching pronunciation has become a hot topic. Most PD seems to focus on how to teach. Now we need to think about the desired outcomes, and the implications of our classroom practices.

This roundtable will begin with a whole-group discussion, then we will split into smaller groups focusing on one of these issues. Each group will recommend guidelines for teachers, curriculum developers, and schools to consider in approaching how to teach pronunciation

Sandra Powell teaches in the M.Ed. program in Curriculum Studies: TESL specialization at Saint Mary’s and Mount Saint Vincent Universities. She has no answers, only questions, for this roundtable discussion.

Roundtable 2:

Toonies, Terry Fox and Tim Hortons

Amanda Vassallo

Room 206

What aspects of Canadian culture should we teach our students?

Discussion points:

  • What aspects of Canadian culture do we teach?
  • How do we handle sensitive topics in Canadian history and present day?
  • How do we teach religious holidays?

Amanda Vassallo is a literacy instructor at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS). Before joining ISANS in 2016, she worked at the International Language Institute where she taught for four years. Amanda specializes in low-level language training and student activities. Before completing her CELTA in 2012, she obtained a degree in Communication Studies from Cape Breton University.

Roundtable 3:

Triangulating Technology, Teaching, and Language

Tony Rusinak

Room 207

Emojis, camera translations, predictive-text, auto-correct, avatars, and cloud collaboration – the list goes on and on. Technology is not only changing how we communicate but changing our conceptions of what language actually is. As we grapple with the pace of change and the power technology offers us to communicate, how do we fit this into our ESL classroom? This roundtable will explore how TESL NS members currently incorporate technology into language classes, define how technology is changing our idea of what English is, and put forward best practices as we leap into the TESL future.

In the spirit of the session, participants are encouraged to bring their devices and put their ideas into practice.

Tony Rusinak’s roles include ESL instructor, IELTS professional, communications coordinator for TESL Nova Scotia, and immigration expert for international students. Tony has experience working in ten countries spanning four continents. He is currently enrolled in a Master’s of Education technology at MUN and instructs English for Academic Purposes at Dalhousie University.

Roundtable 4:

Understanding the learner in an English language classroom

Shazia Awan

Room 213

As English language educators, we emphasize concepts of student-centredness, student autonomy, engagement, participation, putting the focus on the learner and shifting the pedagogy from the teacher to the learner. However, despite the fact that the notion of student-centeredness has been around for more than a century now, up until recently, researchers have maintained that in reality, this approach is not being put in practice.

In this round table, we, as English language practitioners, will discuss and share current practices of how we understand students in our classrooms, and in our small groups, we will discuss this issue by bringing workable ideas related to understanding the leaner in our classrooms.

Dr. Shazia Awan is currently working with Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, teaching EAP and academic writing and presentation skills to international students. She has extensive experience of teaching English internationally and in Canada. Shazia’s research focuses on CPD, international ELT teachers and ELLs in an L1 context.

1:30 – 2:30 – Concurrent Sessions B
Professional Development: The Station Rotation

Jennifer Palmer and Arleigh Hood

Room 107

Delivering professional development can be a challenge as instructors have different needs, challenges, and learning preferences. It is time to rethink the idea of the one size fits all approach to PD. We need to move away from the techniques used in the past and toward those closer aligned with the PBLA principles involving collaboration, dialogue and reflection.

Learning stations have been used with great success in both the public school classes and in the EAL classroom as a student centered approach that delivers high impact learning. Using learning stations to deliver Professional Development allows the facilitators to meet the different needs and challenges of the staff, as well as, provide time for dialogue and reflection in a small group setting.

In this interactive workshop, we will present the benefits of stations, and participants will have the opportunity to cycle through different stations to experience professional development learning centers first-hand.

Jennifer Palmer and Arleigh Hood are both Head Instructors and PBLA Leads at ISANS. They have a combined 35 years of experience teaching EAL learners in 5 different countries. Arleigh is an avid drummer, and Jennifer is a Disney enthusiast.

Approaching Prepositions from the Right Angle

Gerry Russo, PhD

Room 206

The aim of this presentation is to offer a framework for understanding, explaining and practicing prepositions using the example of “on,” and contrasting it with “in” and “at.” Practical and entertaining classroom activities for any level will be introduced, exploring questions such as: Why do prepositions (and phrasal verbs, for that matter) seem to make little sense, or appear to defy logic? How can we be in the street and on the street at the same time? When are we at the corner of the street or on the corner? By approaching prepositions as indicators of relative position and placing ourselves within our natural, physical environment, a systematic world view emerges that can help to clarify preposition use and meaning, and ultimately reveal something about language and thought.

Gerry Russo is an instructor of EAP at Dalhousie University’s College of Continuing Education. He holds a doctorate in applied linguistics and is particularly keen on things like figurative language, phrasal verbs and root metaphor.

The Importance of Executive Function Skills and Writing

Amanda Marshall

Room 207

Executive Function (EF) skills are responsible for goal-setting, processing and evaluating information, understanding cause and effect, making inferences, and for logic (Bradley-Ruder 2008). We often only consider the importance of EF when talking about learning and acquisition, but they are also inherent in every act of writing (Marshall 2017).

This session will examine EF, the connection to writing, and opportunities for further development of EF skills in post-secondary writers.

Amanda Marshall (CTESL, M.Ed.) is a seasoned Adult Education professional with a background in EAL, Educational Psychology, and program development/administration. Amanda is currently the Writing Centre Project Coordinator for the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).

Growing a Technology Adoption Vision in the Desert

Darren Downing

Room 213

One of the most important tools to overcome barriers to technology integration is the development of a vision that addresses how to use technology to achieve educational goals. This presentation will first describe Ertmer’s (1999) shared vision framework which proposes a collaborative method to create a vision of how a new technology should be used in the classroom.

Following the presentation of Ertmer’s vision creation theory, I will present original research that describes how an educational technology vision for EFL bridge program classes was created and shared during the UAE’s mandated national iPad adoption program.

A vision was decreed by the Ministry of Education. However, this vision did not align well with the goals, objectives, and culture of the EFL classes in the three national universities. As a result, a new vision that seemed to align with Ertmer’s shared vision framework organically developed.

Darren Downing has an MA in TESOL/Linguistics from California State University of Fresno and is currently completing an EdD from the University of Calgary. Darren was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan and spent 13 years as a language instructor and coordinator in the UAE. He currently works for ISANS.

2:45 – 3:45 – Concurrent Sessions C
Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self-Assessment

Jennifer Tanudjaja

Room 107

The Canadian Language Benchmarks Online Self-Assessment (CLB-OSA) is a web-based, low stakes language assessment tool available to anyone with access to a computer and decent internet connection. The best part is that it is completely free!

The online assessment provides learners with the opportunity to assess their skills in Reading and Listening. Once the tests are completed, the learner receives an immediate benchmark range according to their performance. Available in both English and French, this application is available across Canada and internationally simply by logging in and registering as a user.

The presentation will include the following:
1) A brief overview of CLB-OSA
2) Purpose of the self-assessment tool
3) Intended users and appropriate uses of the self-assessment tool
4) Updates and new features of the assessment
5) An opportunity for participants to try out the assessment for themselves (attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops or tablets)

Jennifer Tanudjaja has worked in the ESL field since 1998 as an instructor, language assessor, teacher trainer, team leader and coordinator. With a B.A. in Modern Languages (French, English, Spanish) and certifications in CLBA, CLBA-LL, ELTPA, CLBPT, IELTS and MELA, Jennifer is currently the Manager of National OSA at TCET.

Let’s Do It Again! The Importance of Routine in the Literacy Classroom

Julie MacDonald and Laura MacKenzie

Room 206

While many EAL classes begin with a familiar warm-up, repetition and familiarity take on a more important role in the literacy classroom. Literacy learners benefit from a routine that is predictable and comfortable but scaffolded to challenge them over time. Most daily routines involve work on the calendar, everyday verbs, and sight words, among other topics.

We will give an overview of our own daily routines, with specific examples of materials and activities that help our learners gain confidence with basic language.

Julie MacDonald has been working with newcomers since 2013 and has two rabbits. Laura MacKenzie taught EAL in South Korean public schools, and now teaches two CLB 1L classes. They work at ISANS.

Linguistic Purism

Charlene Rockwell

Room 207

Language is power. Traditionally, language had been used as a means of limiting access to higher education, lucrative employment, and elevated social status. Even today, judgments are made based on how one speaks or writes.

This presentation will examine how linguistic purism manifests in English language learning, the impact it has on learners, as well as the responsibilities of instructors and evaluators.

Charlene Rockwell has been working in the ESL industry since 2005. After teaching in Italy and Taiwan, she earned her Masters in TESL. Since then, she has been teaching English for Academic Purposes at East Coast Language College and assessing candidates for various standardized English exams.

Accent and Communication: An SLP’s Perspective

Dr. Michael Kiefte and Catherine Sweet

Room 213

An accent is a natural, and, in most cases, predictable, phenomenon. It is a pattern of speech production rooted in the brain, borne out through motor responses, and is intimately connected to many social identities. An accent can cause communication breakdowns, whether with sound substitutions (e.g., “eats” for “it’s”) or rhythm shifts (e.g., “photoGRAPHer” for “phoTOGrapher”).

Speech and Language Pathologists typically work with people who have communication disorders. An accent is not a pathology, but because we are trained in coaching change in communication patterns, accent modification falls within our scope of practice. We serve those who are proficient (or near-proficient) in using the English language but still have difficulty being understood when speaking English.
This presentation is focused on research conducted with accented English language users and the basics of what accent modification involves at the Dalhousie Accent Clinic.

Dr. Michael Kiefte is a researcher and professor in phonetics and speech sciences at Dalhousie University. He oversees operation of the Accent Clinic and collaborates with staff there to develop evidence-based practice in accent training, a relatively new area of research in phonetics and speech-language pathology.
Catherine Sweet is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist in Canada and the United States. She has studied French, German, and Japanese, and knows that hearing and producing a non-native language’s sounds and rhythms can be a great challenge.