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...
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:
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).
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.
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...
This year I am celebrating my 20th year as an ESL (English as a Second Language) Instructor. For seven of those years, I had the privilege of teaching in Hong Kong, SAR, China. Being a native speaker meant that there were unlimited opportunities for me to grow as a teaching professional. During the day, I taught English at a college, but I also taught listening and speaking at a university, developed an English course for financial professionals, and taught presentation skills to business people. All of these opportunities helped me immensely when I returned to Canada.
Living in Asia is also the perfect place for someone with wanderlust. The numbers of holidays per year exceeded what I was used to in North America so I took advantage of this. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Myanmar, Macau…just to name a few incredible places that I was able to visit. I also attended and presented at several TESL/TEFL conferences in the region. Penang, Malaysia was certainly a highlight and this...
In the last year, I have been trying to find ways to motivate my international students. Attaining the level of English required for post-secondary studies requires language learners to invest a significant amount of time and effort over a lengthy period. Research in the area of second language acquisition suggests that it takes between three to seven years to reach a level of language competency in order to study at a post-secondary level (Collier, 1987).
My quest to understand learner motivation lead me to research in the field of positive psychology. A non-cognitive trait known as “grit” can contribute to student motivation and lead to attaining language learning goals, achievement and success. In the field of positive psychology, GRIT is defined as “perseverance and passion for long term goals” (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007, p. 1087). Having grit means “working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure,...
When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three years ago, I started reading everything I could about the disease. I did find information that was useful for us however what I discovered both shocked and compelled me to take action as an ESL teacher.
What I learned is that immigrants from South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa have a 2 to 3 times greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than Western European or North American immigrant populations (Creatore, Moineddin, & Booth, 2010). When I thought of my ESL students, the majority were from these parts of the world. I felt that I needed to share this information with them.
The first thing I did was search the Internet for a lesson plan. ESL teachers often share resources so I thought that there had to be something already developed. Unfortunately I could not find anything that was appropriate for ESL learners and certainly nothing geared to intermediate level learners so I decided to develop my...
My son Andrew is the young man seated on the left, with the ear-to-ear grin. After 3 years as a camper at Camp Huronda, he is now a camp counsellor (or CDO – Chief Diabetes Officer). He is responsible for 4 to 6 young campers, all with type 1 diabetes, who will spend two weeks in the beautiful Huntsville area. If you haven’t heard of D-Camps or Camp Huronda, or know anything about type 1 diabetes, it is because this disease has not impacted your life as a parent, the life of your child (or children), and your entire family. The Canadian Diabetes Association generously funds D-camps across the country so that kids can have the opportunity to develop their self-esteem and provide experiences for their personal growth. Campers learn how to manage their life-threatening disease surrounded by experienced counsellors and medical staff while having fun and unlimited adventures.
I had no idea that D camps even existed before Andrew was diagnosed at age 13. I am grateful that kids like Andrew...
One of my part time jobs at a local college is to recruit internationally trained professionals for free language courses. During the summer months, I load up my car with flyers and drop them off at appropriate locations. A few weeks ago, I decided to drive to the local Gudrawa (Sikh temple). When I arrived, there were several cars in the driveway, and I could see a group of men inside. I turned the car around and headed back out. Yesterday, I tried again. This time the parking lot was empty. I drove by the large windows slowly to gaze inside. The coast was clear…or so I thought. I got out of my car and made my way to the door. I pressed my face against the window and to my surprise, a man who appeared to be praying, looked up. Oh no! I had been seen. He came to the door and I explained why I was there. While I was speaking, he was looking down at the flyers, and nodding his head. Our eyes did not meet. I thanked him for his time and just before I turned around, he looked up and...