Post CELTA/TESL Grad? Now What?

Last weekend, I took part in a 2 day online global professional development event that featured 40 teachers answering a pre-determined question.  This epic event was organized by Rob Howard and Dr. Nellie Deutsch from EFL Talks  

Each teacher had 10 minutes and a maximum of 10 slides to present his/her topic to ESL/EFL teachers who were logged in from around the world.    

Here is a summary of my 10 minute talk - What training do you recommend for Post CELTA grads?

There are many options such as DELTA, TESL Diploma, M. A. TESOL, or PhD. however I have provided a step by step approach. 

Step 1 - Identify what you really LOVE about teaching English

  • Linguistics?
  • SLA?
  • Adult learning?
  • Curriculum Development?

 (For me personally, I always loved writing lesson plans e.g. reading, researching, and going online to find the right clip art.  This is not surprising given the amount of freelance work I do now as a...

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How to Survive and Thrive as a New English Language Teacher

Are you a new ESL/EFL teacher working in your home country or abroad?  Do you still have questions about teaching English?  Do you often feel unprepared for the challenges in your new career?  

I know exactly how you feel!  Twenty years ago, I was in your shoes.  I had just graduated from a TESL program so I thought that I was ready for the classroom however I quickly discovered that I was unprepared for the complexity of language teaching.  I had so many questions but I was afraid to ask my more experienced colleagues!  I wasn’t sure how to continue to learn and grow as a new teacher.

Based on my own personal experience as a new teacher in 1995, as a TESL Trainer, and the experience of other new ESL/EFL teachers, completing a TESL program does not necessarily mean that we are all ready for the classroom. 

I love to share my “wisdom” from 20 years in the TESL trenches as an Instructional Coach to help new teachers improve...

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My Biggest Surprise as a New Freelancer

It has been almost two months since I left classroom teaching and ventured out on my own as a teacherpreneur.  I love being my own boss and feel that I definitely made the right decision.  I was interested in the Forbes article that predicts that “more than 40% of the U.S. workforce will be made up of freelance workers by the year 2020”.

The article provides some good questions to ask before launching oneself as a freelancer.  I do believe that I have the motivation to work on my own however I have made one crucial error.  Constantine Anastasakis, Senior Director of Business Development and Strategy for Fiverr (an online marketplace for freelancers) says that “one of the worst mistakes new freelancers can make is selling themselves short “. This means doing too much work for too...

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Is "i" the New "I"? - Part 2


Several weeks ago, I published/posted “Is “i” the New “I”?  I was so surprised to see more than 150 teachers (and even those who are not teachers) weigh in.  Here is the initial post followed by a summary of how teachers feel about the use of “i” by students learning English, as well as a few solutions that were posted.  Thank you for your comments.


Last week, I started teaching online courses for the winter semester including a university level academic writing course.  To my horror, it appears that "i" is quickly replacing "I".  Several emails that I received from students last week used the dreadful "i"!


"i enrolled late in the course so can i have an extension?"


When I see students use "i" instead of "I", it is like hearing finger nails on a blackboard.  What has happened?  I can only assume that texting language is the culprit.

 I reminded (or warned) students at the...

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Is "i" the New "I"?

A few weeks ago, I started teaching online courses for the winter semester including a university level academic writing course. To my horror, it appears that "i" is quickly replacing "I". Several emails that I received from students last week used the dreadful "i"!

Here is an example:

"i enrolled late in the course so can i have an extension?"

When I see students use "i" instead of "I", it is like hearing finger nails on a blackboard. What has happened? I can only assume that texting language is the culprit.

I reminded (or warned) students at the beginning of the course that I was an ESL teacher for 20 years so I rarely miss an error! I asked them not to use "i" for "I" but somehow it didn't seem to make much of a difference based on the emails I received over the weekend.

I have to say that the use of "i" is one of my writing pet peeves. I would love to hear from other teachers about how they are handling this.

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Why you Should Use a Super Hero Pose

As a teacher trainer, I have seen my fair share of nerves during practice teaching. Unfortunately a bad case of nerves can greatly affect not only one’s teaching performance but can affect one’s level of confidence entering a new profession.

If you have not watched Amy Cuddy’s TEDTalk – Your Body Language Shapes Who you Are – I highly recommend that you do, and as Amy’s suggest at the end of her talk, share this information with others who could benefit.

Have you ever noticed a person’s body language if they are feeling sad or nervous? People tend to hunch over and make themselves small. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself. Conversely, when we feel happy and confident, we stand taller and open up our bodies. Cuddy’s research reveals that not only does our body language affect others’ perceptions of us, but it also affects our brains and feelings as well.

Cuddy suggests...

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Teachers - How to Make your Students Feel at Home Faster

When I taught (EAP) English for Academic Purposes at a local college, I would start the first class with introductions.Classes traditionally started on the first Monday of the month.I was always amazed when a student would introduce him/herself to the class, and tell us that they just arrived in Canada on Saturday.They hadn’t even had time to recover from jetlag, let alone culture shock!

Interesting research in the area of social psychology suggests that there is an activity that helps students to adjust better.Research conducted with American students living in China reports that those who were treated to apple pie (as a reminder of home), tended to be more comfortable with local students more than those who received mango pudding, a Chinese dessert.

Another longer study looked at Chinese students living abroad.Students who were experiencing high levels of insecurity were asked to write about either a Hong Kong landmark such as Victoria Peak, or about symbols from the host...

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A Mother's Reflection on Poverty and Love

My son turned 18 on January 1. It is a milestone for him, and a good time for me to reflect on what it means to be a mother. Being a mom has provided me with so much joy, and has certainly helped me to be less selfish, more loving, fun and creative.

I had my son much later in life, so I had the opportunity to volunteer and work abroad for many years. In 1987, I sold all my possessions so that I could volunteer at an orphanage in Bangladesh. To say that this experience was life-changing is an under-statement. I was not prepared at all for the culture shock and poverty. Despite the challenges during my six month stay, I learned several powerful and meaningful life lessons that have stayed with me all these years.

The orphanage was located in Dhaka, the capital city.There were approximately 400 children and handfuls of staff including cooks, nurses, teachers and administrators. I was one of six volunteers. At least once per week, a young mother would show up at the locked gates holding...

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Six Reasons Why I Left the Best Job in the World

Last August, I wrote about “The Best Job in the World” – being an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher. I still believe that it is the best job however after 20 years of ESL classroom teaching, I have decided to end my career. You may be wondering why I would leave a career that I suggest is the best job so here are my six reasons:

1. Curiosity
Although I have developed as a teaching professional during the past two decades, there are so many other things that I would like to learn (including Spanish – see Costa Rica), and books that I would like to read (and not about language teaching, or course textbooks).

2. Contracts
My last full time teaching position was in Hong Kong which ended in 2007. This has meant the need to juggle many different positions, and contracts in order to earn a decent income. The plight of precarious employment is a serious issue in higher education. I believe that this creates stress which I would like to eliminate by being my own boss.

3. Conferences

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Who is Nav Bhatia and What does he Teach Us?

Teachers come in all shapes and sizes.They can also appear in the most unusual places, or when we least expect to meet one.

Last week, I attended a conference for internationally trained professionals in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Nav Bhatia was the Keynote Speaker. Although I am a Toronto Raptor’s fan, I didn’t really know much about Nav other than his being dubbed as "The Raptor’s Super Fan".

So who is Nav Bhatia?

Nav and his wife came to Canada more than 30 years ago. Like many newcomers to Canada, they struggled in the early years. They lived in a basement apartment near the Toronto airport, and worked “survival jobs”*. Fast forward to 2015. Nav now owns two Hyundai dealerships – one being the most successful dealership in all of Canada.

Nav would probably not see himself as a teacher however I learned many things from his inspirational talk. I believe that his “lessons” can be applied to all aspects of our lives. This is what I learned from Nav:

Lesson #1: Be Optimistic

Never lose hope...

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