Note: This is the second in a series of articles focused on foundational skills needed in being an English language instructor.
I think I was about six when my mom decided we needed a piano. None of us played the piano, but somehow she convinced all of us that we needed one and she ‘voluntold’ my brother and me that we would be joining her in taking lessons.
A few weeks later, a brand new upright Baldwin arrived at our house and the three of us headed off to piano lessons from a friend of the family. I can’t say I was the best student, but I think I was better than my brother who promptly quit after about a month of lessons. My mom wasn’t that bad since she had a musical background, but things got too busy for her and she ended up quitting after a few months. That left me as the lone pianist in the family. Since everyone else was quitting, I thought I would give it a try. Sadly, someone had to justify the piano purchase, so I was told in no uncertain terms I was going to continue taking lessons.
Surprisingly, I eventually started to enjoy it and I ended up sticking with piano lessons into college and then again as an adult. I never was very good, but I was good enough. To add to my musical repertoire, I also took up the trumpet and eventually the French horn.
I don’t think I’ve played any of those instruments in the past decade, but what I learned from that time has stuck with me. I can see a lot of parallels between learning to play an instrument and learning another language, especially when it comes to error correction and feedback. Continue reading Correcting →
Photo by Mikey. Under CC by 2.0 licence.
Back in the summer of 2015, I started working for LISTN, an organization that supported LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) instructors in British Columbia. It was a short-term contract that involved finding ways of helping these teachers by finding and creating resources and providing face-to-face and online consultation and training. It was at this time that I had the idea of creating a Twitter chat for LINC instructors as a way of connecting teachers from all over Canada, especially those who work in areas with limited access to resources and training. I wanted it to be an online ‘staff room’ where teachers could come and meet another and share ideas and challenges in a safe, supportive environment.
I started putting the idea of #LINCchat together, but I knew I would need some help in getting this off the ground. It didn’t take me very long to come up with someone I knew who would be perfect for the task, Svetlana Lupasco. I met Svetlana in person in October 2013 at a conference, but we already had crossed paths on Twitter. She was teaching in a LINC program and was not afraid of a challenge, so I sent her a message, hoping she would join me on this journey. It didn’t take long to hear back with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Continue reading Following →
Note: For a while now, I’ve wanted to do a series of posts for TESL certificate students and recent graduates. This is the first of what I hope to be a series of articles focused on some foundational skills needed in being an English language instructor.
When I was nine, we got our first computer at home. My brother ordered a Sinclair ZX-80 from the UK and it was a beautiful thing. This thin, white masterpiece of British engineering had 1KB of RAM and no internal storage. Instead, it used cassette tapes for loading and saving programs, which could take up to an hour to load.
I loved it. I was determined to write my own programs and make my millions as a computer programmer. I read through the manual on Sinclair BASIC and played around with simple programs before setting off on my ambitious plan of writing a computer game I could sell. After thinking about it for while (probably 10 minutes), I settled on the name Tank Wars. I wasn’t sure of the details at that point, but I knew it would involve tanks moving around the screen and shooting at one another. Yeah. A winner for sure.
Fast-forward a few years later and Tank Wars still hadn’t gotten off of the ground. I had made some progress, but due to a number of issues, I just couldn’t make it work. Eventually I gave up. Thankfully, it wasn’t a complete loss. I learned a good deal about programming and realized it wasn’t the path for me. I also learned a whole lot about careful planning. Continue reading Questioning →