Philippa Parks, our guest blogger this week, is an associate professor and teacher educator in ESL at the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec. She is also the Quebec National Representative of the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT). Her research looks at how language teachers form their professional identity during teacher education, particularly how they build self-efficacy and resilience.
This blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.
I thought teaching would be easy. It was something I was passionate about and something I had done for most of my life in one form or another, as a babysitter, as a swimming instructor, as a summer camp counselor. So, when I got my first contract as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in a French high school in Montreal in the late 1990s, I had no idea how hard it would be.
I have a question for all you language teachers out there – have you tried experimenting with translanguaging pedagogy in your classroom? How about code-meshing or code-mixing? Maybe a plurilingual approach?
For the first time this year I took on the responsibility of teaching a course in French, my L3. While in the past I have taught courses in Greek and in English -my L1 and L2 respectively- at the primary, secondary, and tertiary level, I must admit that this year’s experience was different in many ways. First of all, while I taught the course through French, the course was actually about Greek. Let me explain. The course is entitled Grec moderne and it is addressed to absolute beginners who wish to learn modern Greek. The course is offered by a French-language university, which in my case meant that the language of instruction was a mixture of French and Greek. As I clarified to my students from day one, my plan was to start by using a combination of French and some Greek, and gradually transition to using more and more Greek. Indeed, while we did not reach a ‘Greek-only’ state (perhaps we will in the next term!), I’d say that each week both my students and I consistently used the target language more and more. Seeing their progress in such short time was very rewarding, and I made sure to highlight their success and acknowledge the difficulty of the task they had undertaken.
Several months ago, I had thought about writing a post in defense of the physical classroom. It seems that right now is the perfect time to write this post. We are all practicing social-distancing and many governments have closed schools. As administrators, teachers, and students grapple with moving their classrooms to the virtual realm, we might like to reflect on how this (temporary?) relocation will change our perspectives on what a classroom really is.
This week’s blog post includes a linked audio file. Just click on the link below if you would like to hear the post read aloud. Scroll down to read the text.
Our guest blogger this week is Shakina Rajendram, a teacher educator and researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Shakina’s research focuses on preparing teachers to support plurilingual learners in K-12 classrooms through multiliteracies, collaborative learning, and translanguaging.
“Good morning, students. My name is Shakina, and I’m here to learn Tamil from you.” 35 faces stared back at me, with looks of confusion and slight amusement in their eyes. A few students stole quick glances at the daily schedule plastered on a notice board at the back of the classroom. It was their English period now, and they were expecting to meet their new English teacher for the year. So, who was this person at the front of the classroom asking to learn Tamil from them, then? A few students muttered something to each other under their breaths. I continued, “I’m brand new to your school, and my Tamil isn’t very good. I heard that you’re all Tamil language experts, and I would love for you to be my teachers this year.” A few students chuckled quietly, but still, no one responded to me. I gathered up all the courage in me and said something in the little Tamil I knew, “நான் தமிழ் கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சம் தெரியும்” (I know Tamil, a little little). Laughter erupted all across the room. “Teacher, எப்படி இல்லை!” (Teacher, that’s not how you say it!). I smiled. This was going to be the start of a beautiful plurilingual journey together.