Friday, June 30, 2017

Do your ESL/EFL students need to learn how to apply for jobs? Let's have a Mock Job Fair!

You need to prepare your ESL/EFL students to seek employment and you would like to offer more real-life opportunities for your students to practice. Let me share an amazing project you can do in your language school, college or university to achieve this goal.

My coordinator Jennifer Loewen created an amazing project in which beginning and intermediate students can play the role of either employees or employers. It is a "Mock Job Fair" where all the groups meet and interact. All the steps are carefully presented and practiced with the students in class and all the participants (teachers and students) can assess all the phases of the project.

If you have beginning students - they will be the employees. They learn how to read and understand job advertisements, where to look for jobs, how to apply for positions and how to answer interview questions.

If you have intermediate and advanced students - they will be the employers. They decide what kind of business the class wants to open (hair salon, bar, restaurant, daycare, coffee shop, etc.) and they learn how to create job advertisements, application forms, job interview questions and posters for the job fair. All the intermediate and advanced classes open a different company and "hire" for various positions.

I had the opportunity to prepare my students for both roles and they got very excited to learn about all the steps of the project. I am also very happy because some students became more confident and applied for real jobs after our project and guess what?.... They got the jobs!

Some students' impressions about the project: it improved their confidence, they learned a lot of contextualized vocabulary, and learned about how to apply for positions in Canada. Even though it was a mock job fair, almost everybody felt it was like a real one. Some even got a bit nervous during their job interviews!

You can see some pictures of my students' participation in two fairs below:

Beauty Centre - Winbeauty

Coffee Shop - Golden Cup

If you teach in Canada, you can find all the details for this project in Tutela  . If not, I can send you all the files, just let me know your email in the comments.

Do you have job fairs like these too? Please share your ideas in the comments. Thanks a million!

Friday, June 23, 2017

When students teach - An amazing experience - Part 2

After my students' short presentations, they had opportunities to improve and to reflect about their own presentations. They also provided constructive feedback to their classmates. These are very meaningful ways the Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) suggests that ESL teachers work with adults in Canada. I believe these activities encourage students to become more autonomous and this behaviour can be transferred to their workplace in Canada as well.

As my students decided to study about travel this term, I asked them to create tour packages that could be "sold". In order for them to "market" their packages, I asked them to prepare 20-minute presentations with information about the destination, including landmarks, attractions, accommodations, places to eat, among other things. I was happy that even some students who were not very familiar with digital technology were able to use Power Point and Prezi very well.

Every class, one or two students presented their tour packages and everybody was very excited to "travel" to amazing places around the globe. My students were very committed, creative, and passionate about showing amazing pictures, giving excellent suggestions, and sharing great stories. Some students went so far as to bring typical food ingredients for us to try some recipes at home! Rice paper, Vietnamese coffee, chocolate, Indian food, and Guatemalan desserts were some of the treats offered after some presentations!

Credit: Olga Krouguer

My students presented about these cities:
Jing - Singapore
Nina - Tel-aviv, Israel
Amy - Ho Chi Minh City - Former Saigon, Vietnam
Angelica - Churchill, Canada
Tong - Beijing, China
Vicky - Manchester, England
Olga - Jerusalem, Israel
Kate - Kiev, Ukraine
Li - Istanbul, Turkey
Gagandeep - London, England
Monica - Tikal and Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
M'Hamed - Casablanca and Marrakesh, Morocco
Mohammad - Sylhet, Bangladesh
Mohsina - The Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Bing - Stuttgart, Germany
Tina - New York, The US
Debbie - Palawan, The Philippines

Their feedback was excellent and many students mentioned that they had learned a lot about many places and also about how to give great presentations. It was very interesting to see how my students developed their presentation skills with this project because even my shyest students were able to shine!

We concluded our project by writing a letter to our best friends. This letter would accompany a small box with some souvenirs from our trip. It was a great opportunity for my students to practice informal writing and to remember the amazing places they had visited. I have learned so much from them and I am going to give more opportunities for my future students to present and share their expertise too.

Do you encourage your students to present?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

When students teach - An amazing experience - Part 1

One of my students asked me to let them give class presentations this session. I admit I sometimes avoided doing this kind of classroom activity because I do know many people fear giving presentations in front of other people. Instead, I have been asking students to give small group presentations and they have been doing a very good job.

As I always try to personalize my classes as much as I can, I decided to give it a try. Since my students are in a Canadian Language Benchmark 7/8 class, they are expected to give presentations up to 20 minutes long. Of course, some students felt uncomfortable when I suggested we would have this kind of presentation. Some of them mentioned nervousness and other negative feelings. I told them I would guide them through the whole process until they felt comfortable to do so. We would learn how to use Power Point, how to make effective presentations, and other aspects of presentations. After that, they all agreed to try.

We started this process by watching and discussing some videos about effective presentations and how to overcome the fear of public speaking. They took notes and discussed them in small groups. I even prepared a reading assessment using an article about tips to give effective presentations.

We have also been spending some time in our computer lab creating our Power Point presentations. The students are looking for the content of their presentations as well as pictures to illustrate them. As one of our themes for the session is "Travel", I encouraged them to pretend they are salespeople and they are supposed to sell tour packages to a destination anywhere in the world. They have to present about the place, its landmarks, attractions, two places to stay there, two places to eat some typical food, and any other interesting things they can mention to try to sell the package.

In order to prepare for the long presentation, I thought it would be a good idea to give my students the opportunity to make a short presentation about any topic they thought would be relevant for newcomers to Canada. I told them to be creative and to follow the tips we had been discussing.

I am very happy to let you know that I was very surprised and amazed by the results of the activity. They were simply brilliant! Even though I hadn't requested the use of Power Point, most of them used it and put a lot of effort to prepare them. I was also very proud of the topics they chose to present. I have learned so much from them!

Let me share the topics I have learned about:

-"Meet up" app
-"Think Dirty" app
- Benefits and risks of using credit cards in Canada.
- Manitoba Health Card coverage
- The Best Medicine
- How to use the Leisure Guide
- Guatemala
- India
- Sun protection
- Manitoba Driver's License
- Entry Program
- Public Transportation in Winnipeg
- The Cadets program in Winnipeg
- How to make your own yogurt
- How to make a calling card
- Cancer causing foods
- The senses and food products

For each presentation I wrote comments and gave suggestions for improvement. I also asked them to write a reflection and self-assessment about their presentations and asked them what they would like to do to improve them.

I can tell you that I was not expecting a lot from them since it was just a practice exercise, but I felt very happy and proud of them. They showed me that they have a lot of expertise and that I should let my students do this more often.

I am glad my students learned a lot from each other and they are even changing some habits because of all the learning that has been taking place in our classes. I couldn't be happier! I was also very impressed with some students who told me they were very nervous and scared of speaking in public but they did great! I can't wait for their long presentations!

Do you encourage your students to present? Please share your experiences!

Image result for meet up app                                                         Image result for think dirty app                                           

Friday, April 7, 2017

Using technology to connect and learn English together - Winnipeg, Belém and Altamira

I had a wonderful teaching experience with my teacher friends Derek Shettler and Shanne Szabados here in Winnipeg last Friday. We invited Professor Gilberto Araujo, from Altamira, and the undergraduate student and research assistant Jean Roberto Silva, from Belém to coordinate students from two campuses of the Universidade Federal do Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon.

This initiative aimed to help students to get to know other students to practice English and interact using social networks. The purpose of this first meeting was to get them to know each other and learn information about their cultures. If this project continues, we are going to have specific topics for each session.

We decided to use Facebook Messenger since this is the most popular social network among the students. They added each other as friends so they could chat.

We could see that the students enjoyed the experience of chatting with people from different countries and from various backgrounds. Some of them even shared pictures and exchanged information about cultural aspects of their home countries.

As it was our first meeting, we faced a few challenges. The first one was the number of participants here and there. So we decided to put our students in pairs here to chat with a student in Brazil. The second challenge was that it was not very easy for some of the students to find their partners on Facebook. As there are many people with similar names, we spent some minutes trying to figure out who the right person was. The third challenge was that some students forgot their passwords because most students access their Facebook profiles using a smartphone app. The last challenge was that some students could not add people as friends because of privacy settings. Anyway, I will pay closer attention to these aspects next time.

Despite all these challenges, I have reasons to believe it was a very enriching experience for all the students here in Canada and in Brazil.

Students in Belém - Universidade Federal do Pará

Students in Winnipeg 

Me, Derek, and Shanne

Students in Winnipeg

I would like to thank Derek, Shanne, Gilberto and Jean for making this meeting possible. I hope we can do it again soon. :-)


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Connecting Brazilian Amazon and Winnipeg students - an experience

I believe we can practice English a lot by talking with people. That is why I have been putting my students in contact with people from many different countries since the year 2000.

My students have exchanged postcards, letters, emails and more recently they have been "Skyping" and "Facebook Messengering". Even though there are many challenges to make these projects work, the results are usually very positive because the students can practice and learn not only language, but culture as well.

One of the ideas I had was to ask my ESL students here in Winnipeg, Canada, to chat with undergraduate students in the Brazilian Amazon, where I come from. Professor Sadie Morhy kindly accepted the invitation to join the project. She is teaching English in Soure, a small city located in Marajo Island, in the mouth of the Amazon River..

My students used their smartphones and the wi-fi of our school but Sadie had to take her students to an Internet cafe because the university computer lab does not have enough computers for all the students.

Despite some challenges due to the slow internet connection and other issues, our students were able to chat and practice English.

Let me share some of my students' reflections about the experience:

"It was a great opportunity to practice speaking and listening. We will keep in touch."
"We built a bridge from winter to summer and got new friends."
"It is a pleasure to meet a new person."
"I could feel their tropical feeling."
"I am interested in knowing more about people from other countries."

All the students really enjoyed the experience and they hope they can continue with activities like this.

Sadie Morhy and her students

My students and me

I would like to thank my students, Professor Sadie Morhy and her students for the wonderful experience! Thanks a million! :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Supporting LGBT2SQ+ students in my ESL classes

Last week, I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a very enriching session about how to support people from the LGBT2SQ+ community in my ESL classes. As I did not know how to address this topic in my classes, I had never talked about it with my students.

I am glad I started learning about it in a great session and I would like to share some ideas with you.

I am going to:

- Put a rainbow sticker in my class door to show I support and welcome everybody.

- Start including gender neutral nouns and pronouns in my talks so everyone feels comfortable talking about themselves.

- Include the stories of the LGBT2SQ+ in my classes.

- Ask students what their preferred names and pronouns are and use them.

- Intervene immediately if I observe offensive comments or behaviours.

- Put these posters in my class.

I thank the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg, Canada for the materials and ideas! Visit them at 

Do you have any ideas how to support the LGBT2SQ+ students in your ESL/EFL classes?

See you!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

From an EFL teacher to an ESL/EAL teacher: the experience

I still remember the day when I read the chapter of an applied linguistics book about the difference between teaching EFL and ESL during my bachelor's degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Brazil in the 90s.

I was really curious to see a teacher teaching basic English to people from different countries and different languages in the same classroom. How could she/he communicate if there was no lingua franca?

I thought this could be a real challenge because whenever I needed to explain something more complex to my level 1 or 2 students in Brazil, I used our native language and everything was fine.
But how could a teacher do that without using the students' native language?

So, after many years, I could experience this challenge.

As my husband was admitted to a PhD program in Winnipeg, we moved here in 2014.

After I got my Canadian certification to teach English as a Second language, I started looking for jobs and soon I got a position to teach ESL/EAL to adult immigrants in a college. I also started studying the Canadian Language Benchmarks and I loved reading this document!

I started teaching Canadian Language Benchmark 3 and I got so happy I could finally experience teaching English to people from different countries! I was so anxious, happy, curious, and excited at the same time! Even though I have been teaching English for more than 20 years, it seemed to me I had almost no experience at all.

Would my students understand me? Would they like my classes? What if they could not understand my accent? What if they wanted a native speaker as a teacher? What if? What if... I also felt anxious to speak English with my coworkers. Would they accept me as a teacher like them? Anyway, I faced my fears and started working.

I also love the fact that the teachers create their own materials! Yes, it is time consuming, but we can personalize the classes in order to meet our students' needs.

What about my students?

I could not believe my eyes when I faced people from various countries from Asia, Africa, and South America in the same class. Even though we were from different places, it seemed we did share the same culture: the culture of peace and understanding.

Did I teach? Maybe, but in fact, I believe my students taught me. I learned I don't need to speak their native languages in order to communicate with them.

I just added love and Paulo Freire's ideas to my everyday classes to help them learn. I also tried to create a community so we could help and support each other.

I also loved to work with my coworkers! We did great projects together: secret pen pals and field trips. I learned a lot from them! From Canadian history and culture to idioms and local expressions, eh?

I feel that my job is really meaningful here and I enjoy every minute of it!

I can`t wait to meet them again in September!