My MA seems to be finishing not with a bang, but a whimper.
I have been a student for many years now, and I always envisaged the final day; a moment where all exams would be passed, all grades would be given, and I’d leave campus for the last time marching onwards to begin my brilliant career. Instead, as my final months, weeks, and days of being a student draw to a close, I am beginning to realise how for many graduate students the delineation of work and school is far from clear. Instead of one following the other, they blend into each other making it hard to distinguish what we do for money, for the love of it, for knowledge, for interest or for simply attaining a qualification. Continue reading
A few weeks back I wrote about the experience of teaching ESL in Montréal, and I talked specifically about the challenge of what to call ourselves. Are we ESL teachers, or EFL teachers? I didn’t really arrive at a definitive answer to my question, although on my private social media account my friends and I all thought that ‘English as an additional language’ (EAL?) is a more inclusive term than either ESL or EFL and we wholeheartedly agreed that the rest of the world (and the entire ESL/EFL community) should follow in our example and adopt this new – better – acronym. Now that we have that puzzle solved, let’s talk about a different side of the prism that is teaching EAL (alas, I don’t think it will stick, so I’ll continue with ‘ESL’ – under duress) in Montréal: who/where do we teach (or not)? This question is on my mind lately as my 4th-year B.Ed. (TESL) students continue their final field experience and get closer to graduation. Next week, we’re going to do job interviews simulations and they are all thinking about where they can (or can’t) find employment. It tells an interesting story…
Eighteen months ago, I gave up teaching English full-time at a cégep to start my doctorate at McGill. Since then, I’ve been involved in the teacher education programs at McGill and have had the chance to work with undergraduate and graduate students preparing to become language teachers in Montréal and beyond. Recently, in a class with my 4th year B.Ed. (TESOL) students, we had a conversation about the political, cultural, and institutional factors that play a role in our teaching. Listening to these student teachers, brightly poised to enter the job market as English language teachers, I wondered: what’s it like to teach English in Montréal? The short answer is: it’s complicated. The long answer is… long. So, I’m going to explore this question over the course of my next few blog posts. In this instalment, I grapple with our nomenclature.