TESL Toronto Conference 2013 has been a major step in my professional development. I'd like to thank all those who attended my presentation today and supported me with warm smiles, reassuring nods, kind words at the end, and the most important, genuine interest in my work. I'd like to express special gratitude to John Allan who has been there for me all along.
Below you will find the slides for my presentation and detailed notes.
Hello ladies and gentlemen: I am thrilled to present at TESL Toronto this year. My name is Svetlana and I am going to take you through an online course for ESL literacy learners that I have been working on for the past year. I am honored to present together with John Allan, who has been mentoring me all the way and due to his continuing encouragement and support I am here with you today.
I've been teaching ESL literacy at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office for the last three years. I have a class of 15 at the moment (which is a huge number for a literacy class). Majority of them are non literate in their first language (my students come from a variety of backgrounds) and have no computer skills at all. Obviously, age is a factor, and they all work at different pace. Some of them are scared of working on the computers (I had a case not so long ago, there was an elderly lady, who was shaking and telling me that she had never touched a computer before, and in fact we had to learn how to handle a mouse first, etc.), but others (especially younger ones) learn very fast and develop learner's autonomy in a couple of classes. Due to the continuous intake nature of our program I always have someone new who just arrived with no literacy skills.
One of the greatest challenges for me as a teacher is dealing with the continuous intake. At the literacy level, the gap between students who have learned the ABC's and mastered letter to sound recognition and started developing initial reading skills and those who just arrived as a result of the continuous intake and haven't had any exposure to the written text or schooling in general is humongous. As a teacher, I have been looking for solutions how to accommodate those students as fast as possible so they do not feel frustrated and are able to integrate smoothly. At the same time, it's very common that students who have some reading skills actually read more and those with reading difficulties read less, and therefore are left behind. In professional literature this phenomenon is coined as "Matthew Effect". I came up with two solutions to deal with these problems...