Lessons you can watch online


Sandy Millin

For a lot of teachers, it can be hard to find the time or the opportunity to observe and learn from other teachers’ lessons. If that’s you, hopefully you’ll find these videos useful.

I’ve divided them into loose categories, with a sentence or two to help you decide which are the most relevant to you. Within the categories, they’re just in the order I found them! I’d like to thank the many people who’ve sent me links to these videos over the years (though unfortunately I can’t remember exactly who sent me what!)

Please feel free to tell me about other videos I may have missed in the comments, as well as any broken links. I’d particularly appreciate any VYL, YL or teen videos that may be out there, though I know they may be hard to find.

P.S. I’ll admit that I haven’t watched all of these from start…

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Review of Classroom Community Builders: Activities for the First Day & Beyond


ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections

It’s September (already!?) and lots of people are starting new terms and school years. It’s a good time to think about icebreakers and also consider stepping away from the same old first day of class ideas. I find it very easy to get stuck with such activities but also feel rewarded when I try something new or return to something I haven’t done in a while. The new book, Classroom Community Builders: Activities for the First Day & Beyond by Walton Burns from Alphabet Publishing could be a useful one for teachers in the same situation. Please find my review of the book below below. 

I should mention, in the interests of full disclosure, Walton sent me an advance copy of his book and asked me for comments. He is also a nice guy, a passionate educator, and a fellow Nutmegger. 

walton book.jpg

I once worked in a language academy where first day…

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Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries; Spread the Word; The Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries Blog



Word of the Month


Lee Blaylock Food StylistHave you ever found yourself in a restaurant or café, having made your choice but facing the embarrassment of not knowing how to pronounce it? Menus in English are often peppered withwords borrowed from different languages; after all, just like our language, our cuisine draws oninfluences from throughout the world. And like the food itself, the words have become anglicizedas our prowess in foreign languages falls a little short of our multilingual neighbours.

To the chagrin (or bemusement) of Italian speakers, ordering a panini is far from the only time we misuse foreign food words. An example soon to be added to OALD online in this category is biscotti – but the Oxford English Corpus quotes ‘I grabbed a latté and a biscotti’, a faux pasnot uncommon among native English speakers. Both biscotti and panini are plural nouns in the original Italian, but even English plurals can be a source of inaccuracies, and can be found with a scattering of decorative apostrophes on menus and signs, so it is hardly surprising that we stumble over asking for bruschetta – is it /bruˈʃetə/ or /bruˈsketə/? You’re less likely to be understood in English-speaking countries if you pronounce it correctly, /bruˈsketə/. And what’s worse, you risk looking rather pedantic.

And this risk isn’t limited to ordering food – perhaps at your next coffee klatch with friends you might stumble over what to drink, too. If you search for latte in OALD, it will redirect you to caffè latte, which would be understood in Italy. But in English-speaking countries it has become the norm to ask for a latte (pronounced by most /ˈlɑːteɪ/), which might confuse an Italian. Why would a fully-grown adult just be ordering milk? But not only this; sometimes we go even further in our attempts to be exotic, adding superfluities such as the accent you might have noticed sneaking in above (‘I grabbed a latté…’).

Ironically, we seem to think this lends more authenticity to a foreign word. Here’s another example from the Oxford English Corpus:

There’s a salsa bar of sorts from which you can choose your heat, from mild to habañero. The place feels authentic.

Well, perhaps it feels authentic to those who don’t know that Habanero has no tilde – but maybe the confusion comes from the similarity to jalapeños, which, like fajitas and tacos, English speakers make a good stab at pronouncing authentically. Having taught modern foreign languages to secondary school students, I became more aware of this rather endearing tendency to pop an accent on a word to make it seem less like an English word whose translation has been guessed at. Or we go to the other extreme and treat foreign borrowings as English, such as adding the regular ending to make the French past participle sauté an English one, to make sautéed potatoes.

And speaking of confusion, a recent TV cookery competition in the UK sparked debate (even anger) over the pronunciation of chorizo, with the sausage being pronounced in three different ways: /ʃəˈriːzəʊ/, /tʃəˈriːtsəʊ/ (perhaps because people think it’s Italian?) and /tʃəˈriːθəʊ/. We seem to be able to pronounce churros, so why not the /tʃ/ of chorizo?

But perhaps we shouldn’t worry that languages are not really our forte: the English language is a melting pot of words borrowed and tweaked from others throughout the centuries, why stop adding to the mix now?

(Incidentallyforte comes from French, so why do we pronounce it as though it were Italian?!)

Isabel Tate is Dictionaries Assistant in the ELT Dictionaries department at Oxford University Press. Learning languages is her forte and, when not sipping lattes and baking lasagnes, she has taught languages in the UK, France and Italy, and biscotti-making in Peru.

How the California roll, Hawaiian pizza and the Bloody Caesar were invented in Canada

Articles, Uncategorized


How the California roll, Hawaiian pizza and the Bloody Caesar were invented in Canada

Want to get patriotic this weekend? When it comes to food, the options are more than poutine and Nanaimo bars

By Sophia Harris, CBC News Posted: Jul 02, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 02, 2017 5:00 AM ET

Believe it or not, the California roll was created in Canada.

Believe it or not, the California roll was created in Canada. (David Donnelly/CBC)

When it comes to notable foods, Canada can lay claim to more than just poutine, Nanaimo bars and those sugar-coated BeaverTails.

Thanks to our diverse culture, this country is also the birthplace of some other famous fare that may surprise you.

The California roll

When Hidekazu Tojo emigrated from Japan to Vancouver in 1971, sushi was not on the menu. The 67-year-old chef says that most people didn’t eat raw fish and thought seaweed belonged in the ocean.

“‘Oh, seaweed, eww, yuck.’ People said that,” recalls Tojo.

Determined to make sushi appealing to the locals, the chef opted for more palatable fillers, such as cooked crabmeat and avocado. To conceal the offending dried seaweed, he rolled the sushi so the rice was on the outside.

“We called it the inside-out roll,” says Tojo. “This was breaking Japanese tradition.”

The year was 1974.

Hidekazu Tojo

Vancouver chef Hidekazu Tojo decided to hide the seaweed inside his sushi so his customers would find it more palatable. (Tojo’s)

Tojo’s creation became a huge hit and was eventually dubbed the “California roll.” He’s unsure how his creation got its official name, suspecting it has something to do with the fact avocados grow in California.

Today, the California roll is a standard menu item at sushi restaurants around the world. It typically contains avocado, crab or imitation crab, and cucumber.

Tojo is still working as a chef and now owns his own restaurant, Tojo’s, in downtown Vancouver.

He’s bittersweet about the popularity of his inside-out creation; he’s glad people are embracing Japanese food — but uneasy with the fact that everyone copied his invention.

“Great chefs never copy, I believe that,” says Tojo. “But today, everybody copies. No respect.”

And while the California roll is now a household name, Tojo’s is decidedly less so. “They don’t know who did it. That’s a shame,” he says.

Hawaiian pizza

Hawaiian pizza

Sam Panopoulos said he was inspired by a can of pineapple on his shelf when he created Hawaiian pizza. (CBC)

When Sam Panopoulos emigrated from Greece to Canada in 1954, pizza was an oddity. “Pizza wasn’t in Canada — nowhere,” he told CBC Radio’s As It Happens in February.

At the time, the food was available in Detroit and was slowly making its way to neighbouring Windsor, Ont., not far from Chatham, Ont., the small town where Panopoulos had settled and opened a restaurant.

When visiting Windsor, he dined on pizza and decided to try making it at home. “Those days, the main thing was mushrooms, bacon and pepperoni. There was nothing else going on the pizza,” said Panopoulos.

Sam Panopoulos Hawaiian pizza inventor

Sam Panopoulos said when he first served up Hawaiian pizza, no one liked it. But then it caught on and restaurant customers ‘went crazy’ for the food. (Panopoulos family)

Inspired by a can of pineapple on his shelf, he took a chance and tossed the fruit on his pizza. The year was 1962.

“Nobody liked it at first,” said Panopoulos. “Those days nobody was mixing sweets and sours and all that. It was plain, plain food.”

But eventually the pineapple-topped pizza took off and his restaurant customers “went crazy” for the food. “Everybody wants it,” he said.

Today, his creation, known as Hawaiian pizza, is served at pizza restaurants around the world. Yet Panopoulos — who died last month at the age of 82 — always remained humble about his invention.

“He was very modest about it,” says his son, Bill Panopoulos, who lives in London, Ont. “He enjoyed telling the story if you would ask him, but he wasn’t seeking fame.”

After his death, media outlets around the world, from the BBC to gossip site TMZ, noted the passing of the inventor of Hawaiian pizza.

The Bloody Caesar

Bloody Caesars

The Bloody Caesar was invented by Calgary’s Walter Chell in 1969. It continues to be a popular Canadian cocktail. (Shutterstock / Jeff Wasserman)

The Bloody Caesar cocktail is so popular, it may surprise some Canadians that it was invented here — yet is actually not well-known outside the country.

It all began in 1969, when Italian immigrant Walter Chell was working as a beverage manager at the Westin Hotel in Calgary. He decided to mix up a new drink for the hotel’s new restaurant.

Chell combined tomato juice, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce, spices and vodka, the story goes. He named the concoction simply “Caesar.”

But that bloody part? He offered the drink to a British guest sitting at the bar.

“The British gentleman said, ‘This is a bloody good Caesar,’ and that’s how the Bloody Caesar came to be,” says Chell’s granddaughter, Sheena Parker.

Mott's Clamato ad Walter Chell

Chell sold his recipe to Mott’s and became a spokesperson for its Clamato drink. (Mott’s)

The cocktail became such a hit that the U.S.-based company Mott’s bought Chell’s recipe, says Parker. The company also signed him on as a spokesperson for its product: Mott’s Clamato — a clam and tomato juice drink that can be used to make a Caesar.

“He was the poster child for the [Clamato] drink for a number of years,” says Parker.

Chell died in 1997 at age 71.

Today, the Bloody Caesar is served at most Canadian bars. According to the Mott’s Clamato website, Parliament declared the Caesar Canada’s official cocktail in 2009.

While Chell wasn’t alive to witness it, Parker says he never would have expected such a designation for his drink.

“He would always say he preferred a nice glass of red wine over a Bloody Caesar,” she says. “He was a humble man and not one to self-promote any achievements.”

But she does think it’s fitting to remember innovators like Chell for Canada’s 150th birthday.

“When you think of Canada, you think of everybody that’s come from somewhere to create their mark and create a better life,” says Parker. “He certainly did that and it was just nice that he was able to leave a little bit a legacy for others to enjoy.”

Introduction to Workplace Communication Skills




Human beings need social contacts. That’s how people learn. They learn by relating themselves with others in social contexts directly or indirectly.


People make mistakes: communication breakdowns; the mismatch between the speaker’s intention and the listener’s interpretation; emotional involvement instead of investigating the core issue; assumptions with no grounds; the absence of the collaborating stage to define and adjust boundaries in the particular context of two or more parties


No matter what personality types or working styles they have, professionals need to be flexible working alone, collaborating, and socializing at work anyway.




Building up flexibility in thinking, interpreting, behaving, and reflecting in the context


Core Skills:


Agreeing and Disagreeing; Compromising; Negotiating


Basic Principals:


  1. We only consider behaviors including the language people use, not the people – In Canada, everybody has a story. All of our colleagues we meet have different backgrounds even if they come from the same culture. We cannot judge anybody by their appearance, skin color, accent or gestures because we can never know what family culture they experienced or what their personal background was like. We all come from different asteroids which others have never been to, so to speak, every single person is a different asteroid. Therefore, we can only discuss what appears to be a fact or facts in the particular context. No more than that is expected to be discussed in this book.


  1. Power and distance are considered – We are talking about ESL schools and institutions. When immigrant adults are considered whether as ESL learners or ESL instructors, ‘Power’ is an inevitable factor in the context because many immigrant professionals come from power-dominated. ‘Distance’ is one of the most important values that is expected to be observed by Canadians.


  1. We cannot control other people’s behaviors, however, we can still request others to stop their inappropriate behaviors at work. It is not inappropriate to ask my coworkers to change their behaviors because I DO feel uncomfortable with them. Two things to remember about this point: (1) Others can always reject or refuse my requests; (2) let us check in with ourselves beforehand asking questions as ‘Self-Reflection Questionnaire’ (next page).


  1. The boundary needs to be agreed by all participants in the context. An open conversation about the boundary needs to be set up before any assumptions can be unnecessarily involved in the context (often mingled with emotions and feelings). Again, it is not inappropriate to talk about boundaries with my coworkers. Oftentimes, boundary issues significantly affect problematic situations, that is, the core issue in problematic situations can often result from an unclear boundary or the mismatch of different boundaries participants have in mind. Let us peel this out of the ‘unspoken rules and expectations’.


  1. ‘I’ statements are used instead of ‘you should….’ ‘you didn’t….’ ‘you are….’ ‘you…..’. I can only change my behaviors. What I can do in any context is a choice to make. I would rather choose to make a right choice for myself and a better working relationship at work. I cannot force or impose anybody to understand me to change their behaviors. They have their choices to make. I am not responsible for other people’s behaviors or feelings but they Do have the responsibility for their own behaviors and their own feelings.


  1. I am responsible for my behaviors. My behavior is my choice and what I brought into the situation, not because somebody caused me to do a certain action as a result. Nobody can force or impose me to make a particular choice of an action in Canada because I am a free and independent individual. When I realize I made a mistake, I accept it and apologize for that behavior. It is okay to do so and nobody should judge me because of the mistake. People continuously learn and grow no matter how old they are.


  1. Feelings are out of the picture – Feelings at work need to be communicated appropriately which means calmly and in a reciprocal manner. Fairness should be abided by all parties in the context in Canada. Dominating a situation with a certain behavior coming from a single-sided view or perspective without an open conversation tackling the core issue may threaten the safety and security of the workplace: Discrimination and Workplace Harassment. Let us remember that I can acknowledge how I feel and how others feel, however, I am responsible for my feelings while others are responsible for their feelings just as I am responsible for my behaviors while others are responsible for their behaviors.


  1. Rewards – the greatest reward of making efforts into communicating better is (1) an excellent relationship with myself (2) good relationship with my colleagues and ultimately (3) my own personal happiness.



Then, why not try this out? Shall we?


Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation

Resources, Uncategorized

In 2017, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary. The following online resources must be useful to instructors in order to teach Canadian English and skills-integrated English language activities on this particular theme when the Wi-Fi is supported.

  1. Canadianism: 55 Canadianism you may not know or are using differently: https://geekdad.com/2013/12/55-canadianisms-1/ GeekDad offers this one page information about 55 Canadianism that can be asked with if the class is familiar. This webpage includes the information about different vocabulary used in the United States and in Canada. Writing up a short quiz for a warm-up activity would be a good idea.
  2. Ancestry Project: https://www.ancestryproject.ca/ Ancestry Project (Sharing Canadian Culture Creating Digital Stories) is a blog a team of two authors started writing in January 2017 celebrating Canada’s 150th Their courses and educational content will be continuously added throughout this year. For ESL instructors, Famous Canadians, Immigration Stories, Canadian Songs have been posted up until now.
  3. Chris Hadfield (YouTube videos): https://www.youtube.com/user/ColChrisHadfield/featured Christ Hadfield is the first Canadian astronaut to operate Canadarm, walk in space, and command the International Space Station. He also sings and records the videos of the songs that he writes and sings on YouTube. His videos can be good audial/visual materials for interactive or cooperative activities using songs, interviews, speeches or content-based lesson subjects.
  4. Canadian English, by Dane Jurcic (2003): http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/6362Jurcic2.htm This short article would be great for Stage 2 or 3 learners to learn Canadian Vocabulary, Canadian Pronunciation, Canadian Style and Syntax, and some more food for thought. It was written more than a decade ago but is still useful for ESL/EFL learners to learn which features in the English language make ‘Canadian’.
  5. Alone in Canada; 21 Ways to make it better; A self-help guide for single newcomers (PDF): https://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/Documents/english_alone_in_canada.pdf This is a kindly reminder that this resource can make a good reading material or for an activity as information gap, quiz, discussion points, presentation, or debate on the theme.
  6. Not to mention these two booklets:

          Discover Canada (PDF) http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/discover.pdf;

          Welcome to Canada (PDF) http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/welcome.pdf

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Book of the Week, Resources, Uncategorized

Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. It is the leading trend in distance education/open education and distance learning domain as a consequence of the openness movement. (Wikipedia)

The following resources are great examples of OER. With funding from Alberta Open Educational Resources, Bow Valley College and NorQuest College collaborated to create Open Educational Resources (OER) in the form of e-textbooks for both English language learners. They are designed to be facilitated by an instructor either in the form of an interactive e-textbook or of a printable textbook. The interactive e-textbook includes FREE audio, video, and interactive practice activities. The website provides absolutely in-class applicable Fillable PDFs (worksheets) under ‘Multimedia Files’. If it is too much learning for some, the textbook can be simply printed and used in class (downloadable and savable FREE).

  1.  In the Community: An Intermediate Integrated Skills Textbook (NorQuest College, 2016)

This CLB 5-6 appropriate integrated skills textbook consists of five chapters helping learners notice, learn, and practice English in their community: Reception, Respect, and Relationships; Requests and Responses; Permission, Prohibitions, and Obligations; Apologies and Excuses; Opinions, Clarifying, and Filtering. Each chapter includes four skill activities, intercultural skills, some important essential skills, discussion, reflection, and vocabulary list. It is highly recommended for ESL instructors. Check this out.

  1. In the Workplace: An Intermediate Integrated Skills Textbook (Bow Valley College, 2016)

This is also appropriate for CLB 5-6. It focuses on the workplace in Canada (Canadian workplace culture) and offers five objectives: Workplace Environment; Personal Management; Workplace Communications; Clients and Customers; Career Management. On top of all features mentioned above, Extension has been added to each chapter so that instructors can extend the lesson depending on her learners pace and needs.

Awesome e-textbooks!

Change isn’t easy but it is good (by Dan Stelter)

About, Uncategorized


by   @Possibility of Change

Instructors are human beings. They have their own life struggles and challenges. Profession is part of life. Life can get very messy.

I would like to research more on Reflective Methods and apply it to our day-to-day sharing life. Personally, journal writing is my favorite past-time activity and I enjoy reflections.

Happy professionals: I would like to be a happy person who is a professional; I would like to work with happy people who find ways to be content personally and professionally; I would like to build up the community where happy professionals share themselves and their stories.

Dan Stelter’s story shares how personal struggles can impact on our important areas of life as work, relationships, marriage, and performance in general. His specific actions to change his life style for a decade really speaks to me as a person.

Change isn’t easy but it is good for sure!

Conflict Resolution Case #1

Reflections, Uncategorized


Before: I am going into a situation where I need to resolve a conflict with a classroom instructor today. There has been a complaint from this instructor about administrative tasks she was asked to do. I will write the reflection tonight. Let’s see what happens.

One basic principle of my approach: One thing at a time. I do not speak about two things at the same time because there’s no point to discuss several things if not even one thing can be changed in the situation. Let’s focus on one thing now and another thing the next time. We don’t want to give distractions but want to see this one issue resolved.

After: Here’s what has happened (Situation) and what was done today (Resolution): (Step 1) what the facts were in the situation; (Step 2) how the feelings of the participants were; (Step 3) what the requests were; (Step 4) the consequences of the discussion; and (Step 5) the start date of the new implementation.

Situation: I am an ESL school manager in charge of several schools. I started working part time last year and have made fewer visits in each school in this new school year. So I had to frequently communicate with my instructors by email. I asked all instructors to send me the student information who request for the school letter in order to verify with their social workers if it was actually requested by them. I did not have any issues with other instructors but this particular instructor. First, the information she sent me was often incorrect. We emailed back and forth and the process got often delayed. Second, miscommunication often occurred: I ask question A and she gives answer B. The communication did not go anywhere to get the work done. Third, I changed my request thinking it would help the communication process easier. I asked her to send me the scanned image of the final letter. I told her I would fax it from my office. The next thing happened (problem) was, she called my supervisor and reported her that I was imposing her more work and she would request the union to take an action on managers including me. She phoned me, asked to stop my involvement in the process, and informed me that she got the complaint call from this instructor.

Step 1: the Facts

  • She was emailing me with her small cellphone. It was very inconvenient for her to type all numbers and names with those small buttons. That’s why there were many mistakes. Also, she was receiving so many emails not only from me and she sometimes missed my emails. She was not able to follow all my information (questions and clarifications) I was sending out to her. Therefore, the email communication wasn’t working for her.
  •  What I was informed about the verification procedure was not accurate. There has been a communication breakdown in our department. No orientation for a new staff member, no consistent instructions for managers to follow by the supervisor, no followup conversations or discussions when there is a staff change regarding one duty, that is, no consistent monitoring and guiding system for managers exists. Therefore, each manager practices differently in the field and this is not monitored.
  • This instructor did not know how to attach a scanned image to an email as an attachment even though she had a scanner. She could not comprehend the instructions that I gave regarding ‘scanning and attaching a file to an email’ at all. Her technical competency was way lower than the level of abilities that she believed and told she had which I did not know.
  • She actually had spent a lot of time lesson planning to follow the new system implemented by the government. I did not know how much effort she was putting into her lesson planning and documenting before I visited. I understood that today.
  • I learned about this instructor as a person today by talking with her for 1.5 hours. She is a person who remembers negative memories and feelings for a long time. For example, her anecdotes she was sharing today were all negative stories. One event she was explaining as if it happened yesterday was an event from 15 years ago. This person is not a happy person. This person would not let go of any negative emotions and rather brood on it over and over and years after another. This person can easily hold a grudge and try to make the other person pay back. She is aggressive. She can be very nasty gossiping or verbally dominating when arguing. She is not good with listening to the other unless the other person expresses the goal of the conversation is to maintain a good working relationship.

Step 2: Feelings

  • Compassionate: I was open. I was ready to listen. I decided to be compassionate before I went  into the conversation whatever she would talk about and however she would talk.
  • Focused: I decided to discuss the letter only but nothing else today. I expected she would bring up so many other complaints and she did. I brought her back to the letter issue till we agreed on how we would do from now on.
  • Frustrated: She was frustrated due to the workload.
  • Overwhelmed: She was overwhelmed by the new evaluation system implemented by the government.
  • Upset and angry: She was upset at the learners who were leaving the classroom for calls or washrooms during the class time. She yelled at them. A counselor visited a learner at the end of the class. She shouted at her too.
  • Embarrassed: When she shouted and yelled at her students, I showed indifference on my face by paying attention to other objects in the classroom because I felt embarrassed and did not want to address that today. However, I started the conversation with her by asking her “Why did you yell at them?” expressing my surprise at her inappropriate behavior. I will address this later.
  • Cooperative: She apologized for her anger at me and understood I did not mean to impose any more burden on her. I expressed my understanding of her overwhelming workload and gratitude for her effort into lesson planning and documenting. She asked for support and help. I offered her my reviewing her lesson plans and scheduled another visit next week to offer suggestions on more efficient lesson planning in her case.

Step 3: Fair Request

  • I asked her to issue the letters whenever necessary and she did not need to report that to me any more. [Reducing unnecessary administrative process]
  • I asked her to call the social workers if the learner shows poor attendance.
  • I will look into how to improve lesson planning procedure using an online program. Next week, I will bring my suggestions for her. At the end of this month, I will visit her class again in order to assist her to evaluate the learners when she will need to decide on promoting or retaining them.

Step 4: Consequences

  • She was heard and understood by her supervisor regarding her difficulties and negative emotions about her workload.
  • She understood I wanted to support her.
  • We will work toward the improvements in lesson planning and evaluation till the summer.
  • HOMEWORK: I now understand how she is. I need to build up strategies to leave the conversation when she leads the talk into a very negative direction. It may drag me because I am a good listener. She does not know when to stop her talk. I need to develop the strategies to interrupt a talk in order to change the subject.

Step 5: Date & Time of Implementation

  • Thursday April 6, 9:00 – 12:00


What a long day! I feel good though. I will share more cases. This reflection will help me develop more awareness and strategies in dealing with difficult situations. Thank you for the opportunity of learning, the universe!