10 months ago

Word TravELS 011 July - December 2017

ELS Instructors ELS at

ELS Instructors ELS at ATESL W hen you see our English Language School (ELS) instructors in front of a room talking to a group of people, it is usually because they are teaching students whose aim is to learn English and hone their Academic English skills. Now picture this: instead of students, our instructors are now standing in front of a room full of their peers—instructors and researchers from other institutions—and are about to deliver a presentation. Pressure? Perhaps. But pressure can also be accompanied by pleasure; pleasure gained from the satisfaction of delivering great presentations. Such was the case at the ATESL 2017 Conference — Expanding Possibilities: Diversity and Innovation, where a team of ELS instructors and researchers had the opportunity to present their work and share their views with their peers. “Team ELS” included: Dr. Yvonne Breckinridge - EAP Instructor, Extension Dr. Jennifer Foote - Assistant Professor, Extension Dr. Martin Guardado - Associate Professor and Academic Advisor, Extension Justine Light - EAP Instructor, Extension, and Adjunct Professor, TESL Program, Faculty of Education Nayar Lopez - EAP Instructor, Extension Anne Merritt - Curriculum Developer and Instructor, Extension “The ATESL conference is a great opportunity to share the work that ELS is doing with colleagues from around the province and beyond,” comments Justine. “Our sessions ranged on topics from task-based language teaching, teaching intercultural communicative competence to pronunciation and graduate EAP. All [ELS] presentations were very well attended. We are doing really good work here and it is a positive thing to let others know about it.” Justine, along with Martin and Nayar, presented “Task-based language teaching: A sampler of classroom ready task CLB 7-9” at the conference. Commenting on a different session, Anne offers, “Martin and I gave a presentation titled ‘Poutine or Pipelines? Choosing Canadian Cultural Content for Visiting Students.’ Our goal was to explain the design process of our Introduction to Canadian Culture Course, which has been delivered to several groups of short-term visiting students.” W o r d T r a v E L S | 10

Each year, in addition to long-term degree-seeking full-time students, ELS receives hundreds of students who participate in the “English Language and Cultural Seminar” (ELCS), a short-term full-time intensive language training and cultural experience program. Anne continues, “The goal for the course was to give students the information and tools they need to optimize their time in Canada, not simply to teach them facts about Canada that they can learn in a guidebook. To build this course, we looked at students’ situations and itineraries in Canada and spoke to our own teachers and programming and homestay coordinators to identify relevant gaps of knowledge that could impede engagement or cause confusion or misunderstanding for our students. “In the presentation, we presented one lesson from the course, Canadian English, which addressed a common student question (‘Do you use British or American English?’) and discussed two significant features of Canadian English, ‘sorry’ and ‘eh.’” The fact that the presentations were received positively underscores that Canadian cultural content is on the minds of teachers who want to give their students lessons contextualised to their experiences in Canada. The weeks leading up to the conference was a very busy period for all our presenters, who had to split their days between teaching/researching and preparing for the conference. Was all the hard work worth it? Justine’s comments seem to suggest so. “I particularly enjoyed presenting with my teaching colleagues, Nayar and Yvonne, and the conference gave us a chance to reflect on our work and accomplishments. The nicest feedback we got was when a university professor told us we were so enthusiastic about our class it made her wish she was teaching at ELS, too. Thanks to ELS for supporting our travel and professional development.” Unbeknownst to Justine at the time, upon spotting our Tweets during the conference, one of Yvonne’s former students promptly responded, “Taking this prep course (EAP 550*) is much more relevant and effective than asking candidates to take the GRE.” Great efforts and well-received presentations. Good job, Team ELS! The ATESL 2017 Conference took place on October 20 and 21 in Calgary. *EAP 550 is an intensive course designed to build the language skills necessary for students to be effective, independent participants in graduate studies at an English language university. Course content focuses on developing the advanced reading, writing and speaking skills required in graduate school. Coursework assignments reflect the demands of graduate level study. W o r d T r a v E L S | 11