June 12 #CdnELTChat Summary: Indigenous Education in #ELT



On June 12th, we were very fortunate to have Sharon Jarvis (@romans1v17 ) join #CdnELTchat as a special guest moderator to discuss Indigenous Education in #ELT.  Thank-you so much to Sharon and the many participants who chatted about the following questions and more:

Q1: Why is awareness of Canada’s Indigenous peoples important for those learning to speak English in Canada? 

Q2: What does it mean to add an Indigenous perspective to our classes? 

Q3. June is Indigenous book month. What books by Indigenous authors have you read? What books by Indigenous authors have you used with your students? 

Q4: What are some resources that we can use as teachers to educate ourselves in our own path to reconciliation? 

Q5: How can Indigenous issues and perspectives be taught by non-indigenous people who don’t have the lived experience of indigenous people? 

Q6: How can we introduce, honour, and follow the recommendations of the TRC in our language classes? #CdnELTchat

Q7: What is one action you will take as a result of your participation in this chat?

To read all the tweets on this topic, follow the complete discussion HERE.  

We have also collated the invaluable resources that were shared during the chat in a Google Doc below. This is meant to be an OER (Open Educational Resource), so please click HERE to contribute.

New to #CdnELTchat?

If you have never participated in #CdnELTchat before, go to www.lincchat.ca for more information. #CdnELTchat is self-directed PD, so you determine the level of your involvement. #CdnELTchats usually occur every other Tuesday, with occasional exceptions. Feel free to use the #CdnELTchat hashtag between chats to share thoughts and links with others. If you have any have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL or @EALStories#CdnELTchat is on hiatus for the summer. What topics would you like to see discussed next year, September to June? Add your ideas HERE. Have a wonderful summer!


Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students.  

Twitter: @jennifermchow

May 15 #CdnELTChat Summary: Learning Language Through Reading Fiction


Nathan Hall (@nathanghall) tweeted that when he and Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL) started #LINCchat in 2015, their goal was “to help connect and support LINC instructors from across Canada.” They did that and more. Over the years, #LINCchat has connected English Language instructors across Canada and beyond, so it was time to be more inclusive. 

On May 15th, #LINCchat became #CdnELTchat so that we could include everyone in the #CdnELT landscape. Thank-you to all those who participated in our first #CdnELTChat  about “Language learning through Reading Fiction”: @seburnt, @robshpprd, @AliceSKim, @Fain75, and @capontedehannaModerators, @EALStories and @jennifermchow kept the conversation moving.

Please find a summary of this chat below. To read it, hover over the Twitter bird under the questions in the image below. The interactive image was made with Canva and ThingLink, using images from Open Clipart.

To read all the tweets on this topic, follow the complete discussion HERE.  

New to #CdnELTchat?

If you have never participated in #CdnELTchat before, go to www.lincchat.ca for more information. #CdnELTchat is self-directed PD, so you determine the level of your involvement. #CdnELTchats usually occur every other Tuesday, with occasional exceptions. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL or @EALstories a tweet. Feel free to use the #CdnELTchat hashtag between chats to share thoughts and links with others.


Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students.  

Twitter: @jennifermchow

May 5 #LINCchat Summary: Why we all need a #PLN in #ELT


On May 5, the members of the #LINCchat team gathered at @UBCVantage  on the beautiful @UBC Point Grey ‏campus, located on the traditional , ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@LINCInstructor), and Bonnie Nicholas (@EALStories) were there in person, while Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL) skyped in from Toronto – you can see her on the laptop screen!

This chat on a special day and time was held as part of the #edtechjam at the @bcteal #BCTEAL18 conference. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat in person, participated in the online chat, lurked, replied, retweeted, liked, and followed up on the conversation. We had participants from several provinces in Canada, as well as the U.S. and even overseas, proving the power of Twitter to connect.

This was the final chat using the now-retired #LINCchat hashtag; we are now using #CdnELTchat.  This change was made because we wanted to make sure that people understand that we discuss topics that are relevant and interesting to everyone working in #CdnELT, not just people working in LINC.

As #LINCchat co-founder Nathan Hall (@nathanghall) said, “When @StanzaSL and I started #LINCchat back in September 2015, we had no idea what would happen with it. We just wanted to help connect and support LINC instructors from across Canada. Times change and I believe now is a good time to make the change to #cdnELTchat.”

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@EALstories) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #LINCchat as well as a member of the #LINCchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@LINCInstructor), and Nathan Hall (@nathanghall). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

How to join a Twitter chat


If you have been following this blog, you have probably noticed a number of posts with #LINCchat in the title. These posts are summaries of a bi-weekly Twitter chat for LINC instructors. This is when people can come together for one hour on Twitter to discuss a particular topic and share ideas and resources. It is an excellent way to connect with others working in settlement language and get the support you need to grow as an instructor or administrator.

For some of you, Twitter chats sound interesting, but you are not sure where to begin. Here are some ways in which you can participate without having to leave your house.

Get a Twitter account

While you don’t need a Twitter account to read what has been shared, you won’t be able to participate without one. Twitter is free and you don’t need a smartphone to use it. You can use any computer with internet access.

Make sure your account is not set to Private

When you set your account to Private, only those to whom you give permission will be able to read your tweets. This is tough in a chat since anyone can join. If you tweet, even with the proper hashtag, some people will be left out of your conversation.

Don’t forget the hashtag

When the time comes to start the chat, all you need to do to join is to tweet using the hashtag. Take #LINCchat for example. When the time comes to join the chat, the moderators will share questions and comments using #LINCchat in their tweets. You can answer those questions or give your own comments by tweeting with #LINCchat in the tweet. Be aware, make sure to leave a space before the # in #LINCchat, but there shouldn’t be a space between # and LINCchat. You can put the hashtag anywhere in the tweet. Here is an example:

Follow the hashtag and join the conversation

This is where the conversation happens. To follow a hashtag means to search a hashtag while the chat is happening. There are a few ways to do that.

Mobile app: The Twitter mobile app is not that great for Twitter chats, but it can be used as long as you follow a few steps.






This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tweetdeck: Often overlooked, Tweetdeck is a great tool for twitter chats. Tweetdeck is owned and run by Twitter, so you don’t need to register for anything since you already have an account. Simply go to https://tweetdeck.twitter.com and sign in with your Twitter account. Once you are there, here is what you can do to make it easier to chat.





This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is one of the reasons we have moderators.
  • Feel free to “lurk” (in other words, watch without tweeting) for a while to get the hang of things.
  • Don’t be afraid to only tweet once in a while. You don’t have to comment on everything. We realize new people might find the chats overwhelming at first.
  • Moderators will post questions using the Q+number format (ex. Q1). To help others know what you are answering, try to use the A+number format in reply (ex. A1). Here is an example:

  • Follow others who participate in the chat. This is a great way to build you personal learning network (PLN) with like-minded people.
  • Have fun!

Professional Self-Development for Teachers: Have a Plan, a Clear Intent, and a Way to Sustain



By Li-Shih Huang

[Article reprinted from the Fall 2015 BC TEAL Newsletter]

“The best professional development is participatory and connectivist.” — Lee Bessette

The invitation to contribute a piece about professional development in this issue could not have been more opportune. Since taking the position of an elected director of professional development for TESL Canada this July, I have noticed I am looking at the professional development of teachers with renewed interest and a different perspective. In my own work as an ELT professional on the one hand, and as a trainer of future ELT professionals on the other, my approach to professional development has been mainly through connecting at professional gatherings with like-minded researchers and practitioners who also have a strong interest in linking research to practice; engaging in practitioner research; attending webinars and conducting workshops; and devoting a portion of my writing to practitioners’ interests. But what about the majority of ELT professionals, who work in various institutions, schools, and cultural contexts where resources and opportunities might pose greater challenges for development?

For any ELT professional interested in professional development, a quick Google search of terms like “teacher training,” “teacher education,” “teacher development,” “professional development,” and “professional self-development,” to list just a few, will turn up an overwhelming number of articles and resources and amount of information on professional development, both within the context of ELT and in the broader field of education. Recent articles, such as “Do- It-Yourself ELT Professional Development” (from TESOL Connections’ special issue dedicated to professional development), “3 Ways for Teachers to Use Social Networks for PD,” and “3 More Ideas for PD on Social Networks,” have appeared just in July of this year alone. The 2012 handbook put together by the British Council, although situated in the U.K. context, contains applicable ideas about a wide range of continuing professional development activities, including conferences, groups, magazines, materials, membership, mentoring, observations, reflection, training, workshops, and so on. Also, not a day goes by without mention on Twitter or Facebook of free or at-cost webinars, face-to-face workshops, or courses offered locally or across the globe. These sharings of highly practical tips about ways for practitioners to engage in professional self- development further highlight the need and importance of this aspect of our professional careers, no matter our career stage. Using social media such as Twitter, Google Hangouts, Facebook, webblogs, and the like to build PLNs (personal/professional/personalized learning networks), hold regular chats (common hashtags include #AusELT, #KELTChat, #ELTChat, #ELLChat, #LINCchat) moderated and participated in by practitioners, and create teacher inquiry groups has also become a great means for practitioners to connect professionally in ways that transcend time and geographical boundaries.

Take one of the most commonly chosen PD activities—attending a free webinar. If you have attended one of these webinars in the last six months, let’s sit back a moment and take stock of what you have been doing PD-wise. Ask: To what extent did the content have an impact on your own day-to-day teaching practices? How transferable, with or without the facilitator’s help, have been those insights, whether from research or real-world teaching, to your own teaching contexts? As synthesized by Avalos (2011), at the core of PD “is the understanding that professional development is about teachers learning, learning how to learn, and transforming their knowledge into practice for the benefit of their students’ growth” (p. 10; emphasis mine). The thing is, professional development, like anything worth pursuing in life, is personal and situated, complex and difficult to do well.

Rather than developing this piece as another article collecting a list of resources or ever-changing tools for PD (refer to the suggested open-access readings section for some recent coverage), I want instead to focus on a few personal reflections that have been percolating in my mind since they delve into the heart of issues about teachers’ professional self-development. In approaching my own professional development, I have asked myself: Do I have a PD plan that carefully considers what I get out of any PD activity in which I choose to participate? When I do decide to participate in a PD webinar or workshop, do I have a clear intent as to how the session will match my needs and, in turn, the follow-up action(s) I will need to take? Have I been able to sustain my PD endeavours consistently? If, like me, you have answered “no” to any one or all of these questions, then I invite you to read on.

1. What are the key modes of learning/PD in your plan? Help make your individualized plan more concrete with ingredients that meet your personal needs, career stage, and goals. Clearly, the multi-faceted, inter-related individual and contextual factors involved in PD mean that no single approach, method, or tool can determine what constitutes effective PD. Evaluate how each mode of learning helps you develop professionally, and be mindfully selective of tools that duplicate or serve the same or similar functions. Whether formal or informal, institution or teacher initiated, whether oriented to learning collaboratively or independently, each learning activity possesses affordances and constraints, and each takes place through different configurations of time, space, and people. What area of PD does the workshop attend to? Subject-matter knowledge related to English and language teaching? Pedagogical expertise? Self-awareness as a teacher? Understanding learners or curriculum and materials? Career advancement? (See Richards & Farrell, 2005, pp. 9-10; Farrell, 2014, pp. 18-19 for more.) The key is to figure out a combination of modes of learning or PD that will overcome relative constraints and create possibilities.

The following chart lists some examples:

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 8.25.39 PM

2. What do I hope to get out of a workshop I decide to attend? It’s important to attend workshops with a clear intent. Perhaps the most commonly chosen PD action is attending a one-time workshop, webinar, or conference to learn a new tool (or list of tools) or a new teaching method, but, as we all know well, impact beyond the session is often limited. Unless the tool or session is solving a specific problem that you can personally relate to in your teaching to make a difference to learner outcomes (Timperley, 2011), ownership of learning and subsumption and integration of what one has learned into one’s practical knowledge or teaching repertoire rarely occur. Upon reflection, is there one insight gained from attending the workshop that you could transfer to your own teaching and experiment with? If you are selecting from self-directed online workshops or courses, think about what you want to improve in your own classroom, and make a conscious effort to link what you are learning with practice through real-life experimenting that will help transform knowledge into practice. As Timperley (2011) put forward, for teachers to develop professionally requires a transformative, rather than an additive, change to teaching practice. Unlike teachers-in-training, for practicing professionals, Freeman’s questioning of how well a one-off workshop transfers still rings true more than two decades later: “Teaching is a social practice … where one cannot learn about it; one must learn through it” (Freeman, 1992, p. 16; emphasis mine). Individually and collectively working to examine our own practices, reflecting on outcomes, and articulating our experiences and learning to others can further provide the catalysis for transformative professional growth (Mezirow, 2000).

3. How do I sustain PD endeavours? Sustaining PD efforts is one of the greatest challenges in teachers’ professional self-development, especially while operating or competing against individual-, resource-, and context-related constraints. Look for inspiration within your unit and beyond by joining or forming professional learning networks tailored to your own needs or to shared needs and interests. PLNs are plentiful; the key is to find one where you feel a true sense of a community of learners (Rogoff, 1994), or a self-initiated, professional learning community with non-judgmental, shared support of each other’s professional development (Falk & Drayton, 2009; Kelly & Cherkowski, 2015) and where development is conceived “as transformation of participation rather than … either a product of transmission of knowledge from others or of acquisition or discovery of knowledge by oneself” (Rogoff, 1994, p. 209). Typically we board a bus because of where it is headed, but the path can often be unpredictable, and a change of direction can easily end a sense of belonging. If we get on a bus by first paying attention to who is on the bus, then the problem of fueling the bus to keep moving forward becomes less of an issue. Once you have carefully selected a network, take turns assuming a leadership role in your chosen network at the group, school, or association level, and find a framework for how and what the group wishes to develop in helping teachers come together to talk about and reflect on their work.

Taking the initiative to assume a leadership role in promoting a culture of professional inquiry will transform your own participation and empower you through empowering others. Many board members in our professional teaching associations are fine examples of practitioners who have taken on leadership roles to become agents of change. Within a professional learning community, one may draw on Reilly, Vartabedian, Felt, and Jenkins’s (2012) work about key principles that sustain a participatory culture: providing opportunities for (a) the exercise of creativity using a variety of tools, (b) co-learning where those involved pool their skills and knowledge, (c) heightened motivation and engagement through meaningful pedagogical experimentation, (d) learning that is deemed relevant to the interests of those involved, and (e) creation of a so-called “learning ecosystem”—that is, an “integrated learning system” that builds connections between home, school, community, and beyond (p. 5).

However one chooses to define “professional development” and what that entails (see Farrell, 2014), a teacher’s professional self-development becomes increasingly important at all stages of his or her teaching career. It’s a continuous and complex process, requiring the intellectual and emotional involvement of teachers both individually and collectively. Whichever mode(s) of learning teachers choose, depending on their needs and objectives, they must be willing to examine openly where they stand and actively pursue appropriate alternatives for change that are bound within a particular institutional culture that may or may not be conducive to learning. I echo Bessette’s statements that “the best professional development is participatory and connectivist,” and that it must be “driven by the needs and interests of those [participating] and allow for collaboration [among interactants] and beyond” (p. 3).

Whether you are at the receiving or giving end of a PD activity, an approach that is goal-oriented, purpose- driven, and people-centred will guide you through navigating the terrain of PD activities, resources, and tools available to you so that you can chart a course that suits your needs in any area or combination of PD areas, as first put forward by Richards and Farrell (2005).

What do you need to do, and to whom do you need to reach out to renew your PD endeavours? Do it now, and share your PD needs, discoveries, triumphs, and challenges here so that as members of our professional community, we can continue to energize one another and grow professionally.


Avalos, B. (2011). Teacher professional development in Teaching and Teacher Education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 10-20.

Bessette, L. (2015, June 30). Arrested (professional) development [Blog post]. Retrieved from: https://modernlearners.com/arrested-professional-development/

Falk, J. K., & Drayton, B. (Eds.). (2009). Creating and sustaining online professional learning communities. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Farrell, T. S. C. (2014). Reflective practice in ESL teacher development groups: From practices to principles. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freeman, D. (1992). Language teacher education, emerging discourse, and change in classroom practice. In J. Flowerdew, M. Brock, & S. Hsia (Eds.), Perspectives on language teacher education (pp. 1-21). Hong Kong: City Polytechnic of Hong Kong.

Kelley J., & Cherkowski, S. (2015). Collaboration, collegiality, and collective reflection: A case study of professional development for teachers. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 169. Retrieved from: https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cjeap/article/view/42876/30733

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformative: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Reilly, E., Jenkins, H., Felt, L. J., & Vartabedian, V. (2012). Shall we PLAY? Los Angeles, CA: Annenberg Innovation Lab at University of Southern California.

Richards, J.C. & Farrell, T.S.C (2005). Professional development for language teachers. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Rogoff, B. (1994). Developing understanding of the idea of communities of learners. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1(4), 209-229.

Timperley, H. (2011). Realizing the power of professional learning. New York, NY: Open University Press.

Suggested Open Access Readings on PD for ELT Professionals:

Breland, T. (2015, July 1). Do-it-yourself ELT professional development. TESOL Connections: Professional Development Special Issue, July 2015. Retrieved from http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolc/issues/2015-07-01/2.html

Crowley, B. (2014, December 31). 3 steps for building a professional learning network. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/12/31/3- steps-for-building-a-professional-learning.html

Davidson, G., Dunlop, F., Soriano, D. H., Kennedy, L., & Phillips, T. (2012). Going forward: Continuing professional development for English language teachers in the UK. The British Council. Retrieved from https://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development/cpd-managers/going-forward-managing-continuing-professional-development-english-language-teachers

Haynes, J. (2015, July 2). 3 ways for teachers to use social networks for PD [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.tesol.org/3-ways-for-teachers-to-use-social-networks-for-pd/

Haynes, J. (2015, July 16). 3 more ideas for PD on social networks [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.tesol.org/3-more-ideas-for-pd-on-social-networks/

Pascucci, A. (2015, July 1). 5 easy steps for creating an online PLN. TESOL Connections. Retrieved from http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolc/issues/2015-07-01/3.html

Wilden, S. (2012, Spring). What is your CPD plan? International House Journal. 32. Retrieved from http://ihjournal.com/what-is-your-cpd-plan-by-shaun-wilden

LiShihHuangDr. Li-Shih Huang, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, and Learning and Teaching Scholar-in-Residence, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Victoria. (Twitter: @AppLingProf)

June 13th #LINCchat Summary: Building Professional Learning Networks


It was a fast and fun-filled #LINCchat with veteran moderator, Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL) and guest moderator, Bonnie Jean Nicholas (@EALstories filling in for @nathanghall) guiding the conversation. At times it was hard to keep up, but the chat clearly confirmed the importance of “Building Professional Learning Networks”.

Much gratitude goes out to the following enthusiastic #LINCchat participants from B.C. to Taiwan and everywhere in between: @ram_diane, @theHungryHost, @FBieri, @DawnTorvik, @radvesna, @ambartosik, @thespreadingoak, @mattsajn, @gabyG_jolie, @seburnt, @ShawnaWiKo, @ESLlibrary, @CatherineEbert2, @motherchina, @milka_stupar, @tarabenwell and @jennifermchow.  Please accept my apologies if I missed you!

To read the summary, hover over the Twitter bird next to the subtopics (areas of professional learning, a professional learning network, professional learning as a daily routine, being a connected educator, continuing professional development, powerful moments in professional learning and engaging colleagues in online PD) in the image below. The interactive image was made with Canva and ThingLink.

To read all the tweets on this topic, follow the complete discussion here.

New to #LINCchat?

If you have never participated in #LINCchat before, go to www.lincchat.ca for more information. #LINCchats occur every other Tuesday, with the occasional Friday.  If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #LINCchat, please send @StanzaSL or @EALstories a tweet or post a message on Tutela. Our next #LINCchat on Digital Citizenship will be on June 27th. Feel free to use the #LINCchat hashtag between chats to share thoughts and links with others. Hope to “see” you on June 27th!

Jen Bio Pic Jennifer has been teaching in the LINC Program for more than 10 years. She loves using Twitter to stay connected as a mother, an educator and an active citizen. 
Twitter: @jennifermchow