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Useful Toolkit for teachers in Quebec

According to the pedagogical implications for vocabulary learning, factors

affecting vocabulary learning, and general teaching ESL approaches to go along with

QEP listed above, here is a useful toolkit for teachers in Quebec to help students to be

successful in their English learning.

a) Promote self-teaching: Collect some more useful sources related to vocabulary

learning and plan to incorporate them into lesson plans and students’ homework to

promote self-teaching and self-learning among students. Learners need to self-

initiate their own interests so that they can learn a great deal during their own

exploration (Mitra, 2010). In the first week of the school year, a lab time is

definitely necessary for learners to get familiar with some useful online tools for

vocabulary learning. To help them initiate their own self-teaching motivation, and

keep them self-teaching, a goal is necessary. Teachers need to arrange an online

language exchange with a class of students/ learners in another place, such as

Ontario, who are learning French as a second language with the same level as your

students’ English levels. This lab time language exchange will take place in the

end of the first semester. With this goal in their minds, they know what they do in

class or at home will lead them towards this goal. On top of this, learners also need

something to help their own self-teaching by using the available online tools

presented in class, e.g. dialogue journal weekly, biweekly or monthly, depending

on students’ language levels. Students will do this regularly throughout the

semester. Students can complete their journals by texts, audios, videos, animations

etc. Their work can be short or long, again depending on their language levels.

b) Educational Adaptation and Differentiation: after my internships, I realized that it

would be very difficult for a teacher to get by the whole school year without any

differentiation in class. It is also useful to apply RtI, a “multi-tiered intervention

strategy”, including layers of instruction that increase in intensity, such as

decreasing in group size and increasing in amount of instruction (p58, Vaugn &

Bos, 2012, Ch3). To make it happen, a pre-assessment before the instruction or

lesson needs to be conducted. Proper anchor activities and various types of inputs,

such as visual and kinesthetic inputs are also necessary. After differentiating

students according to their readiness and interests, teachers should then assign

them to different activities and proper instructional inputs in order to ensure their

better learning. With the inclusive education in most classes in Quebec, the in class

instructional strategies for students’ needs would be modified accordingly, known

as educational adaptations. For example, a syllabus/ outline/ checklist/ written

direction would be offered to students to clarify requirements for assignments, and

their workload could be broken down into smaller more manageable parts due to

some students’ lack of organization, which echoes Vygotsky’s proximal zone of

development. Extra visual cues, extended time for work completion and constant

reminders should be offered as well. According to Piaget’s constructivism,

students’ construct the information they acquire with schemes; therefore, students

need to be part of the learning process. If every teacher could offer these similar

strategies to every single student for their learning, we would have fewer students

who would need extra intervention. For example, eye-contact, clarification of

directions, visual cues for comprehension and completion of tasks, pre-writing or

pre-reading strategy offering, the assistance or support for developing compound

sentences or logical progression, consistent review of learnt vocabulary and clear

directions, procedures and expectations to students should all be the norm in any

regular classroom.

c) Dyslexia and reading strategies: since this project is related to vocabulary teaching

through reading, the special needs for students with dyslexia should be separately

addressed. Dyslexia is considered a reading difficulty. Students with dyslexia may

have more difficulty in their L2 learning (Woolley, 2010). They should receive

effective instruction from culturally and linguistically sensitive teachers. Woolley

has suggested to include instruction partially in students’ L1 during assessment if

it is possible. Extra reading training should also be offered. More details are

described below.

d) Reading training: L2 reading should be challenging for not only the students with

dyslexia, but also other regular students. Teachers should therefore incorporate

appropriate and suitable pedagogical procedures for reading training. For example,

in order to read well, students should feel the prosody first, in other words, read

fluently (Vaugn & Bos, 2012, Ch8). I am sure it will help ESL learners a lot in

their reading skills, therefore we need to teach students metacognitive strategy,

such as reciprocal teaching (Palincsar, 1986) for reading comprehension in the

second language teaching environments.

e) Vocabulary differentiation exercises: Since students’ English levels vary in this

class, the from-the-ground-up teaching approach, teaching vocabulary and then

sentence patterns, may bore many students. Therefore, teachers can offer a variety

of information and questions to prompt students’ participation with up-to-date

relevant videos and photos as well as animated facial expression and body

language. However, in order to encourage every student to participate, the focus of

the activities is relatively simple, so the students with lower English levels do not

feel stressed, and the students with higher English levels will not feel bored

because of the various information and questions. Teachers can incorporate

technology, such as animated slide shows, students’ own experience and the

teacher’s own experience together with the learning objectives. Hands-on activities

can always come in handy. In the ‘Say and touch game’, for example, one of the

students in their seats calls out loud a name of a newly learnt vocabulary word,

another student goes and reads a sheet with words and numbers on it and then

clicks the right number on the board to reveal the word. Drawing during

explanation can also help students to build the imagery concept and lexical

expression. After students say the words, teachers should also repeat the words

many times, in order to give immediate feedback for students’ pronunciation and

to increase the repetitive rate of the words. Teacher should also repeatedly use

vocabulary in different forms and situations (listening, speaking and reading in

class, and writing as homework). Sufficient wait time and proper pause are also

crucial for students’ information digestion. They are also necessary for a big class,

so the information can be delivered appropriately.

f) Reading material selection: In order to make sure vocabulary repetition and

recycling happen, teachers should carefully select appropriate in-class and home

reading material to assure the focused vocabulary repetitively appears in students’

reading.

g) Exploring the bilingual instructions on the packages of products sold in Canada:

Among Lightbown’s ten generalizations (Lightbown & Spada, 1995),

interlanguage interests me the most. When we learn a language, whether an L1 or

L2, our minds or brains tend to categorize the input and build a language process

system (a ‘systematic interlanguage’). I was amazed by seeing my own children

learning their first language and undergoing a similar learning process as my own

second language learning. (It is difficult to compare my first language learning

with theirs, since it took place a long time ago.) The categorization helps us

understand the world and the language in this case. Before we accept or internalize

a piece of new information, it interacts with our old knowledge first and then finds

a suitable place in our minds or brains. This can therefore explain both the

intralingual errors and interlingual errors that a child or an adult makes during their

L1 or L2 learning. I think a teacher can thus well use students’ previous

knowledge on L1 and other old existing knowledge to help them acquire their L2.

For example, although the students in Canada speak different languages, the bigger

environment around them is the same. Students can learn to ‘use information’ in

their community for their own L2 learning by making good use of the bilingual

information offered everywhere in Canada, which also satisfies the broad area of

learning in QEP, ‘citizenship and community life’ and ‘media literacy’; the cross-

curricular competences, ‘use information’ and ‘use information and

communication technologies’.

h) Offer both lexical and imagery explanation for vocabulary: According to Paivio’s

dual coding approach (Paivio, 1990), our memory performance is mediated by

linguistic process as well as an imagery model of thought. Teachers can offer

photos, real objects or videos during vocabulary explanation to help learners build

a clear structure of the vocabulary in their minds.

i) Digital and audio books: Most digital books can be displayed on Kindle Reader. It

comes with an immediate digital dictionary, which can make reading more

pleasant. Many digital books also come with an audio version to allow learners to

work on their pronunciation. Learners can become familiar with the vocabulary

both through written and audio inputs.

j) Strategies /process teaching: Teachers should also teach appropriate strategies or

learning processes to cooperate with learnersdifferent intelligences, attitudes,

ages and motivations.

k) Proper websites selection: For exploding online authentic information, a basic

critical media literacy lesson should be offered. As a second language learner

myself, I use a variety of online tools, such as google translator, Reverso,

imTranslator, and YouTube, to help me learn. For building the connection between

students and teachers through technology, GoFormative, Kahoot, and VideoAnt

are some websites for students to work on at home. The relationship between the

students and teachers mostly starts from learning experience sharing. Also, since

“children learn by modeling.” (p167, Agne, 1999), it is our responsibility to

present some make-life-easier learning tools that we have been using or exploring,

and to have our students engaged. The interaction between students and the

teachers will increase. Our positive attitude towards continuing learning will pass

to our students and students can keep learning on their own through the convenient

technology even after they graduate from school. Overall, school is not the only

time and place that learning happens.

l) Assessment: Teachers should design different assessments to meet various student

needs in inclusive education for better educational adaptation. We may need to

offer different evaluations, observational or descriptive, in different situations,

formal or informal, in order to diminish studentstext anxiety issues and to

consider students’ multi-intelligences and learning difficulties. There are also

different purposes for our assessments. 1) Assessments as influence on cognitive

processing. Students’ expectations about the kinds of tasks they will need to

perform and the questions they will need to answer will influence whether they

memorize isolated facts or strive to learn a meaningful, integrated body of

information. (Shepard, 2000) 2) Assessments as learning experiences. Assessment

can further strengthen students’ vocabulary acquisition. Assessments should

include different instruments to be more compatible with students’ ability levels

and needs. For example, multiple choice can be a good choice for testing students’

knowledge on a specific word, but may not ideal for testing students’ skill on

putting the word to use.

m) A sense of community: Students achieve at higher levels in the classroom when

they have a sense of community that is when they have shared goals and are

respectful and supportive of one another’s efforts. (McMillan et al, 2011).