Dear EAL Professionals,
In follow up to last month's announcement about the National Online Conference for EAL/ESL Professionals taking place in January, 2014, we have prepared a pre-conference survey. We want to know what is important to you in the world of EAL/ESL, so that the conference can be as valuable as possible to your particular context.
The link to the pre-conference survey will be available here later this week, and it should only take about 7 minutes to complete.
English Online Conference Page!
Additionally, we published the Conference Page on our website this past week. Here, you can find links to the survey, Advisory Committee, and eventually to the Registration process, Call for Presentations, and the Conference Planning Blog, coming soon!
In other Professional Development news, English Online's webinar series continued in June with Julie Bell's presentation on Cultural Factors that Impact Listening Skills. The presentation was very enlightening and practical - Thank you very much Julie! English Online also presented a short timeline of our conference preparations in the last 30 minutes of the webinar. If you missed it, the webinar is available and is a great resource to share with colleagues and coworkers - click the link below to watch. For handouts from the webinar, please visit Manitoba EAL group on Tutela.ca (or, Click Here!).
- British Council Webinar:
- Coaching and Mentoring skills for ELT. (June 25th, 5:30am CDT) Free webinar hosted by Loraine Kennedy. Click here to learn more.
- The eLearning Guild Webinar:
- Performance Support Works! (June 26th, 12:00 pm CDT) Free webinar on Performance support hosted by Bob Mosher. Click here to learn more.
- Summer Course:
EOSMOOC13 (July 1 - Aug 31) is an online course for language learners. Direct your students to this independent study course so they can keep improving their language over the summer. Or, better yet, follow along and facilitate them for yourself, to learn and hone your online language teaching skills in an emerging, open course design. Click here to learn more.
Cultural Awareness in EAL/ESL Teaching
For teachers in an ESL/EAL context, some of the cultural issues that language learners face may not always be so apparent. These differences can come from deeply seated origins such as educational systems the learner was brought up in, the religion of their country, and even the characteristics of their mother language itself. Awareness of the factors that affect language use and learning will go a long way in making them less disruptive.
Characteristics to Consider
- Culture is not only ethnic. Culture is attached to any group or community that can be considered in and of itself. Consider an online community's culture. Consider the culture of teenagers, or of Language Professionals in Canada. What norms do they each assume?
- Definitions of what we often think of as simple ideas differ from culture to culture. Effective Listening, Pausing, Intonation, Classroom Etiquette, Formal Tone; Speech Volume; and a countless list of other concepts may all mean different things to different cultures.
- When cultural differences increase, the potential for miscommunication increases. Learners may often 'shut down' if the gap is too wide.
Strategies to Try
- Connecting to people as an individual is important. Let them talk about their home, their personal life, their own interests and struggles, to the extent they feel comfortable.
- Pay attention to Listening strategies and the Metacognitive strategies as a priority when cultural differences are perceived to be high.
- Be explicit about cultural differences and learning strategies.
- Listen to audio of a language you minimally or do not understand. Pay attention to things like intonation, speed, pausing, and your own patience for listening.
- Read up on the cultures of your students! Learn a lot and Teach by Example.
Activities to Use
There are many online resources and lesson plans for both professional development and for in-class use. Here are a few based around Cultural Awareness:
A very simple ice breaker activity for introducing the topic of Cultural Differences. It could probably be adapted and supplemented in many ways, to suit many student levels.
An scenario test for language teachers that can be useful as a self-test or an in-class activity for higher level students.
And another one by Judie Haynes on Gestures, that could be used in the classroom.
Great lesson plans about Canadian culture from ESL Canada created by five TESL Ontario Certified teachers.ESL corner by OCASI - another great source of information about life in Canada with audio files and online activities for ESL learners.
Learn Culture to Teach Culture!
English Online Team
Have questions, suggestions or comments?
Contact Glen at