Developing Targeted Technology Standards for Avenue language instructors, programs, and learners: an initiative of New Language Solutions

Allan, J., Healey, D., Hubbard, P., Kessler, G., McBride, R., Rajabi, S., and Sturm, M. (2024) Developing Targeted Technology Standards for Avenue language instructors, programs, and learners: an initiative of New Language Solutions. TESL Ontario Contact Magazine, 50 (1) 16-30.

Authors of this report in TESL Ontario’s Spring 2024 Contact magazine provide insight to New Language Solutions’ (NLS) approach to developing technology standards specifically targeted to instructors in Canada’s settlement language sector and that will be integrated into NLS’s online teacher training and leadership training. It describes the ongoing activities related to the standards that are intended to create a culture of continuous improvement around technology in learning environments. This includes regular reviews and updates of the standards as needed.

The report gives examples of the collaborative, online process the team used to trim the language in the standards and the performance indicators so they are as direct and clear as possible. The report links to a request form for the full set of standards but it also gives a brief overview of the seven standards along with a fuller example of “Standard 4, about digital literacy and digital citizenship for yourself and your learners.”.

The report outlines the evaluation process the standards followed, lays out the plan that will integrate the standards in instructor training and microcredentials, with the aim of sector-wide, consistent, deep understanding of the standards; and emphasizes ongoing initiatives that will generate data about the impact of the standards on programs.

A list of references is followed by a sample vignette that describes an instructor’s thoughts and experiences as she incorporates the standards into her instruction.

Building ESL Learners’ Digital Literacy Skills Using Internet Memes

Nguyen, N., Chambers, W., & Abbott, M. Building ESL Learners’ Digital Literacy Skills Using Internet Memes. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada, 39(1), 83-103.

This article examines and describes how internet memes can be used to support and enhance ESL learners’ digital skills. Internet memes are humourous and engaging ideas, images, and phrases that spread from person to person through online sharing, particularly on social media. (Here is a link to a short, clear explanation of memes: The Now- What is a Meme?)

Having provided a general introduction to memes and a description of popular internet memes the authors examine memes in the context of language learning in relation to the Digital Literacies Framework for Language Learning developed by Mark Pegrum and colleagues (Digital Literacies Revisited). This framework outlines the essential digital skills which language learners need to participate in a digital society, and focuses on four competencies, the ability to communicate; use information; collaborate; and re-design or create new meanings.

Based on this framework the authors provide a Meme Selection and Implementation Guide for ESL instructors. They also provide  an Exemplar Meme Task  for use with Intermediate ESL learners (CLBs 5-8; Common European Framework (CEFR) B1-2)  intended to support the development of language and digital literacy skills and which has also been piloted in a CLB 5 LINC class as part of a module on Canadian workplace culture

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Strengthening Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada: Learning from Experiences in Saskatoon

Nadia Maqbool. “Strengthening Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada: Learning from Experiences in Saskatoon” M.Ed. Thesis. University of Saskatchewan, 2022.

This M.Ed. thesis from the University of Saskatchewan documents a very recent study examining the learning needs of new ESL LINC instructors as they begin their teaching careers.

The research questions focussed on what is expected of these instructors in their workplaces, the challenges they encounter and the supports they need. Using a qualitative research methodology, the researcher surveyed new ESL LINC instructors in Saskatoon to arrive at a clearer understanding of their experiences, and to identify potential actions to improve the overall orientation, training, and ongoing professional development process for ESL LINC instructors.

In general, these instructors indicated a need for more support and guidance in understanding the LINC system, the CLB and PBLA, and a need for more robust technical support in LINC programs, and enhanced support in the effective use of technology for online, blended, and remote teaching and learning.

Participants identified concerns about their unfamiliarity with digital technologies, lack of experience in online teaching, and the ongoing challenges of confronting technical issues in virtual classrooms. In addition, participants expressed concerns about the challenges of online and blended learning environments in working with learners at CLB Levels 1-4, and concurrent issues in supporting learners who may not have sufficient familiarity with digital technologies and have ongoing needs for technical supports.

Based on participant responses, the study includes recommendations for practices that could enhance the experience of new ESL LINC instructors, including assigning mentors to new instructors, providing clear instructions on online and blended learning, and a thorough orientation to software and applications in use in LINC classrooms.

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