The following blog post was written by Emily Albertsen, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.
Over 900 ELL instructors, coordinators, and service providers attended the Language Training Learning Event in Edmonton this February, including 24 people from Bow Valley College. The event was sponsored by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and hosted by ATESL and Norquest College. It brought together ELL practitioners from across the Prairie and Northern Territories (PNT) Region, which includes Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
The federal government invests $90 million in language instruction in the PNT region each year, reaching 75 organizations and 34,000 learners.
This event provided professional development for ELL practitioners in the region. The keynote speakers from IRCC, Yves Saint-Germain and John Biles, discussed language instruction, settlement, and the Pan-Canadian Language Strategy. There were more than 50 sessions which covered a wide range of topics, including PBLA, the CLBs, essential skills, task-based learning, trauma, LGBTQ+ learners, ESL literacy, and the inclusion of indigenous teaching in ELL classrooms.
The conference was held at the beautiful Shaw Conference Centre, built into the side of the ravine descending into the river valley. The food was excellent, the days were crisp and sunny, and we had many opportunities to meet with our colleagues from across the region.
Here are some reflections from Bow Valley College instructors and coordinators who attended the conference:
- “I always enjoy connecting with other ESL literacy teachers and this conference provided an excellent opportunity to do that. I learned about how other teachers and institutions are implementing PBLA creatively with literacy learners.” Katrina Derix-Langstraat
- “I learned that we need to start including indigenous contexts in our programs. For my level, there are many indigenous films that are perfect for CLB 3-4. Sensitivity and knowledge are both required before embarking on this, but there are plenty of resources including people at Bow Valley College. It was recommended that you weave this content as it fits into your curriculum.” Kim Macdonald
- “I got something out of every session that I attended. One thing that stuck with me was the session Images Play a Vital Role. The day after I got back, I put the ideas to use. I made a quick PowerPoint of images to help students with three short vowels (short a, o, and i). The images had a keyword, pictures of the keyword, and other images to help make the mechanics of the sound more concrete. For example, I used the image of snapping fingers to show a sound was short. The class liked the images and as we went through some listening and pronunciation practice, the image recall helped a lot.” Renee Pearson
- “The presentations were diverse, practical, and thought-provoking. What stood out for me, though, were the comments made by John Biles. It was useful to get the ‘big picture’ information in such detail and in very direct language.” Edi Casimirri
- “Being able to access sessions on trauma and teaching learners from the LGBTQ community reminded me that we don’t just teach English, we teach people.” Shannon Lu
- “I really appreciated the range of informative sessions offered and the opportunity to network with so many people from service-providing organizations across Western Canada.” Susan Hessel