Hear from the Experts
Throughout the year, we interview the experts about hot topics in the Literacy field! Tune in to hear tips, tricks, relatable experiences and maybe learn a helpful teaching strategy or two…
Posted January 11, 2022
A special thank you to Golshid Pourviseh, Susie Dong and Afra Shirazi from the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association Pebbles in the Sand program for graciously taking part in this videocast.
Fiona Lowes is the Learning Support Specialist at Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. She supports struggling English Language Learners enrolled in LINC and ESL programs both at CIWA and in the Calgary area. She provides learning strategies to students, teaching strategies to teachers and will refer students to CIWA and external services should they need additional support. She enjoys working with a wide variety of abilities and loves the diversity of her job.
She moved to Calgary from London, England in 2014. Before transitioning to the world of adult ESL, Fiona was an elementary school teacher for ten years. She holds a BA in Spanish, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, and a Masters Certificate in Languages and Diversity. She loves spending time in the great outdoors, dabbling in art and walking her Cardigan Corgi called Betty.
- 00:17 Introduction
- 02:38 Transferable skills from experience teaching primary school
- 04:05 The importance of proper pace and repetition
- 04:38 Types of clients Fiona works with and supports she provides
- 06:36 Common gaps seen in clients (including organizational and time management skills)
- 08:58 What a typical session looks like
- 11:45 How assessment is undertaken and what is assessed
- 13:13 Example activities and interventions
- 16:44 Using hand-strengthening exercises for fine motor skill development
- 17:30 Example supports provided to instructors
- 21:34 Why do you do what you do?
Jean Campbell has a passion for helping ESL literacy learners and literacy teachers excel. She is the Literacy Coordinator for the Saskatoon Open Door Society where she has taught LINC literacy-designated classes for 19 years. She has a Master’s Degree in TESOL and wrote and teaches the U of S CerTESL course Literacy in TESL.
- 00:51 Jean’s Bio
- 01:55 What is Modified Functional Grammar?
- 05:56 Using “who”/”what/”do” with Foundational learners as opposed to metalanguage such as “subject” and “verb”
- 10:20 Characteristics of literacy learners that make using metalanguage difficult
- 13:33 “Learning language is like driving a car”
- 15:02 Oral language always comes first
- 19:00 The specific metalanguage terms to use at Foundation Literacy vs. 1L vs. 2L
- 20:32 Are all sentence types introduced this way? What to do about “It is…”
- 23:40 The need for consistent, concrete, relevant and level-appropriate language
- 25:01 Tools and resources for Modified Functional Grammar (incl. how to use a word-wall chart)
- 29:22 Reasons for selectively limiting vocabulary and the importance of repetition and reinforcement
- 33:45 Other benefits of using Modified Functional Grammar with literacy learners (including how it can be used with multi-level classes)
- 40:43 Why do you do what you do?
Andrea Echelberger is the ESL Training Coordinator at Literacy Minnesota where she conducts professional development trainings and develops resources for teachers and ESL volunteer tutors throughout Minnesota and surrounding states.
Before she became a professional trainer, Andrea spent ten years working with refugees and immigrants from around the world in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also served as an English Language Fellow for two years in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Andrea holds a MA in ESL from Hamline University and an ABE Teaching License from the University of Minnesota.
Throughout her time as an English language teacher and educator, Andrea has researched and written about pronunciation with a focus on literacy level learners, and led extensive professional development on the topic, including the development of the Pronunciation Study Circle Facilitator’s Guide in partnership with ATLAS and Hamline University in 2017, leading sessions on pronunciation instruction at TESOL, COABE, LINCS, and a variety of state conferences.
- New American Horizons: Teaching ESL to Adults: Classroom Approaches in Action
These videos feature Andrea demonstrating the Language Experience Approach mentioned in the podcast episode.
- 01:19 Andrea’s Bio
- 03:29 The benefits of the Language Experience Approach (LEA)
- 12:10 Why pronunciation is important for literacy learners
- 17:28 Teaching suprasegmentals and thinking outside of individual sounds
- 18:56 Key features of pronunciation to focus on and “Pronunciation Myths”
- 20:06 How learners feel about pronunication instruction
- 21:24 Andrea’s #1 thing to keep in mind
- 23:35 The Relative Functional Load Principle and how it applies to choices regarding what features to focus on
- 25:53 The importance of word stress and why teaching it has such high returns
- 35:53 The challenges of integrating pronunciation instruction
- 38:33 What are “voice quality settings”? Why are they important? How can we teach them? (including individual sounds and consonant clusters)
- 46:43 Motivation and avoiding empty praise
- 50:23 Recommended materials and research
- 56:00 Why do you do what you do?
Celestina Akinkunmi holds an MSc in Public Policy and Management from the University of London and currently works as the Settlement and Integration Manager at the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association. She has over 8 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector and her work speaks to community engagement and development related to Canada’s diversified newcomer population.
Celestina manages a large portfolio with 13 ongoing programs and several short term (2 year) projects at CIWA. She recently finished the Health Literacy Partnership Project and is currently working on The Pursuit of Happiness for Immigrant Senior Retirees project.
Celestina regularly shares her work with multiple audiences including students, government officials and community members. She is a humanitarian at heart and her passion and determination to help people is what informs her work in the non-profit sector. She holds her Christian faith very dearly and enjoys spending time with her 3 children and husband. She enjoys reading and has a passion for cooking and decorating.
- CIWA Health Literacy Resources
- Training Video & Teacher’s Guidebook
- My Health Passport, My Language Card, Next Steps Notepad & Health Videos
- 00:44 Introduction
- 02:33 Rationale for CIWA Health Literacy Partnership Project
- 05:01 Partners involved in the project
- 07:21 Challenges faced in the project
- 12:35 The importance of groundwork to the project
- 14:02 How this resource can be used in the classroom
- 15:41 Using “My Health Passport”, “My Language Card” and “Next Steps Notepad”
- 18:16 “What Happens” health videos in multiple languages
- 21:25 Plans to add more languages
- 23:34 Where you can find the resource
- 25:05 Feedback on the project
- 27:30 Why do you do what you do?
- 30:04 Thank you and outro
Vanessa Lent holds an MEd in Curriculum Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University. She has worked at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) for over five years as an instructor and curriculum developer. Current research interests include applications of Universal Design for Learning to literacy curriculum design; increasing EAL learner autonomy through life-writing; and constructions of citizenship in Canadian textual production.
- 00:20 Introduction
- 02:20 Background of the ISANS Literacy Curriculum Project
- 04:00 What does curriculum design for literacy learners look like?
- 06:10 The importance of collaboration
- 07:45 The importance of learning strategies for learner autonomy
- 10:32 Components of the ISANS Literacy Curriculum (checklists, progressions and more)
- 15:45 Developing learner autonomy as a guiding principle
- 18:45 Why have 3 different streams for 1L learners?
- 23:55 Using the literacy curriculum within PBLA
- 26:00 Different streams for literacy learners
- 30:45 Teaching learning strategies using “I can…” statements
- 40:30 Accessing the ISANS literacy curriculum on Tutela
- 42:40 A resource for teachers for developing Literacy Resources
- 43:10 Teaching literacy learners online (developing digital literacy skills and learning strategies)
- 48:28 Where to begin using the ISANS literacy curriculum and how to choose learning strategies
- 53:20 Why do you do what you do?
- 59:55 Upcoming Teaching EAL Literacy Learners (TELLs) course information for instructors (delivered by Vanessa online through ISANS)
Lauren Hebert holds a Master’s degree in TESL from the University of Alberta. She has a background in linguistics, having worked in a research lab studying psycholinguistics and language development. She is also an instructor of a TESL diploma course with ACE education, and recently began teaching a specialized reading course for literacy learners. Lauren is currently a CLB 1L teacher with ECSD LINC in Edmonton.
- 00:52 Introduction
- 03:00 How to break down reading into manageable parts
- 05:57 The Whole-Part-Whole approach for teaching literacy learners
- 08:20 Focusing on specific language features (Individual words and sounds)
- 13:41 What is decoding?
- 16:20 Pre-requisite skills for decoding
- 21:42 Phonics, Phonemic Awareness and Phonemes
- 30:50 Vowels vs. Consonants (what’s happening in our mouths)
- 38:56 Integrating decoding skills into the classroom and progression (where to begin)
- 49:40 Why do you do what you do?
Donna and Jeremy are joined by Emily Albertsen (B.A.H., M.A.), an author, instructor, researcher, writer and editor with 15 years experience in the adult ESL Literacy classroom. She is one of the writers and editors of Learning for Life: An ESL Literacy Handbook and A Practical Guide to Teaching ESL Literacy and also provided content for ESL for ALL by the Canadian Language Benchmarks.
- 00:45 Introduction
- 04:05 How do we teach literacy leaners to read?
- 05:18 Framework of literacy skills
- 07:52 “Reading is not a natural process”
- 08:22 Creating a safe and supportive classroom environment
- 14:19 “Oral language has to come first”
- 22:23 Making things explicit, assumptions we make and “being present”
- 28:02 The importance of teaching reading comprehension from the very beginning
- 38:00 Creating relatable stories for learners & using the Language Experience Approach
- 44:33 Independent vs. instructional vs. frustration levels in reading
- 48:58 Managing cognitive load when teaching reading
- 54:10 Advice for new literacy instructors
- 56:42 Why do you do what you do?
This is the first episode of the TIES Literacy Centre of Expertise Podcast. Your host Jeremy Wilson (Literacy Centre of Expertise Assistant) is joined by Donna Clarke (Literacy Centre of Expertise Lead), Jana Ciobanu (TIES LINC Program Manager) and Richard LeBlanc (TIES Director of Language and Childcare Programs) to discuss the Literacy Centre of Expertise and its mission, goals and initiatives for the future.