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Keynote Speakers

Morning Keynote Speaker Friday, June 9th, 2017

Dr. Tracey Derwing

University of Alberta

derwingDr. Tracey Derwing is a professor emeritus of TESL (Educational Psychology) at the University of Alberta, and an Adjunct Professor in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University. With Murray Munro, she has extensively researched L2 fluency and pronunciation, especially the relationships among intelligibility, comprehensibility, and accent. In 2015, they co-published Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research, a comprehensive examination of pronunciation research with relevance for the classroom. Tracey has also investigated native speakers’ speech modifications for L2 speakers, and interventions to enhance native speakers’ comprehension of L2 accented speech. Recently, she conducted workplace studies involving pragmatics and pronunciation. As a director of The Prairie Metropolis Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration for eleven years, Tracey has a strong interest in factors contributing to successful social integration of newcomers, most notably, the development of strong oral communication skills. She served as a consultant for The City of Edmonton in the development of strategies to attract and retain more newcomers, and she was commissioned by the federal government for several documents on L2 learning. Tracey also organized two conferences for civil servants to help them understand newcomers’ linguistic challenges.  For more information, please consult her website at

Presentation: "The Ins and Outs of ESL in Canada: How the Past Can Inform the Future"

For some people, nothing sounds duller than the word ‘history.’  And yet history can be fascinating; it can afford us a chance to see the world through others’ eyes, and in comparing historical events with the current state of affairs, we can sometimes perceive our realities in a new light.  In this presentation, some intriguing (yes, intriguing!) landmarks in the history of ESL in Canada will be chronicled, including classroom conditions for learners and teachers, and immigration patterns, language policies, funding, curriculum choices, standards, and advocacy. These issues are the lifeblood of our field and go back further than many people recognize. They are all influenced by personalities, ethics, and circumstances.  In 1899, Frontier College started sending labourer-teachers to work camps, where they taught not only literacy but ESL to immigrant workers in mines and railroads. A century ago, handbooks were developed for instructors of “new Canadians.” Since those early days, Canada has developed the most comprehensive system of adult ESL training in the world, and has produced internationally recognized research on second language acquisition. At the heart of all this is the relationship between the teacher and the learner.  In looking back, we can see how far we have come, and also get some sense of where the future will take us.

Afternoon Keynote Speaker Friday, June 9th, 2017

Dr. Charles Boberg

McGill University

Dr. Charles Boberg is Associate Professor of Linguistics at boberg in Montreal, Canada. Prof. Boberg received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Alberta (1986) and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania (1997). He is a co-author, with William Labov and Sharon Ash, of the Atlas of North American English: Phonetics, Phonology and Sound Change (Mouton de Gruyter, 2006) and the author of The English Language in Canada: Status, History and Comparative Analysis (Cambridge University Press, 2010). His current research focuses on variation and change in the vocabulary and phonetics of Canadian English, as well as on accent variation in North American film and television.

Presentation: "The Evolution and Modern Features of Standard Canadian English: A Comparative Perspective"

Teachers of English as a Second Language are well aware of the different standards of English that serve as targets for L2 acquisition around the world, particularly those associated with “standard” British and American English. Modern patterns of mobility and global communications make these standards more accessible to students than ever before, which creates a challenge for ESL teachers in countries like Canada: students should be made aware of how local standards differ from international standards so that they can make informed choices in their speech and writing and, more broadly, in their adopted social identities. This talk will examine the Canadian standard in both vocabulary and pronunciation: how it evolved historically, how it distinguishes Canadian from other types of English, how it is changing and how it varies across the country.

Morning Keynote Speaker Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Dr. Murray Munro

Simon Fraser University

murray-munro-headshotDr. Murray Munro completed his Ph.D. under the supervision of Terrance Nearey. He was also a SSHRC Post-doctoral Fellow in James Flege’s speech lab at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. His chief area of interest is Applied Phonetics, with a focus on the perception and production of speech by second language learners. Together with his colleague Tracey Derwing (University of Alberta), he carries out research on speech intelligibility, fluency, foreign accent, and oral language development in Canadian immigrants. Their work has been extensively supported by SSHRC and has appeared in such journals as Applied Linguistics, Journal of Phonetics, Language and Speech, Language Learning, Speech Communication, and Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

Presentation: "Accents in Canada: Diversity and Adaptation in a Kaleidoscopic Context"

Linguists tend to describe Canadian English as relatively uniform, at least in terms of regional variation in our speech patterns. Indeed, most of us doubt our ability to distinguish a native Ontarian from an Albertan or British Columbian on the basis of pronunciation alone. On the world scene, we are portrayed as rather linguistically dull; our speech is assumed to be barely, if at all, distinct from that of most Americans. Focusing on “English as it is spoken in Canada” however, provides insight into the ever-increasing variability in speech that we encounter in our day-to-day interactions. In our highly urbanized, multicultural society, we may hear the accents of indigenous peoples, the Quebec French accents of many of our politicians, the subtle pronunciation influences left behind by past generations of immigrants from the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and, most noticeable of all, the accents of recent arrivals. Perceptual research shows that people are remarkably sensitive to differences in accent, such as those that mark a speaker as a Francophone from Quebec or an immigrant from China. Yet people can readily adjust to this variation. Our culture has not, of course, eradicated prejudicial attitudes or behaviour, including discrimination on the basis of accent. But evidence shows that “sounding different” is not synonymous with “failing to communicate.” Provided that Canadians maintain good will and openness, our linguistic future promises to be both complex and fascinating.

Featured Speakers

Teaching English for Academic Purposes Featured Speaker

Julia Williams

Renison University College

williamsJulia Williams (B.A., B.Ed. and M.P.A.) is the Director of English Language Studies at Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo. She has taught additional languages for over 25 years at secondary schools, colleges, and universities. She is the author of Learning English for Academic Purposes (2005), and more recently LEAP Advanced: Reading and Writing (2013), and LEAP: Reading and Writing (2012), all published by Pearson. Currently teaching courses in second language acquisition (SLA), teaching methodology, and testing and assessment, Julia is passionate about translating second language acquisition theory into effective pedagogy and teaching materials. She is also fascinated by the nexus of theory, administration, teaching, and culture.

Presentation: "EAP SWOT"

In this presentation, we’ll use the well-known business practice of SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to consider the state of English for Academic Purposes teaching in Canada. Throughout the presentation, we’ll ‘tour’ current EAP-relevant theory and consider how the theory relates to our teaching, curriculum, and program planning. Inevitably, in the light of our SWOT analysis, we will reflect on the position of EAP programs within our academic institutions, and imagine what the future might bring.

Teaching English for Specific Purposes Featured Speaker

Dr. Geoff Lawrence

York University

lawrenceGeoff Lawrence (PhD) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at York University. His areas of research and teaching include: technology-mediated language teaching and learning; language teacher education; teacher beliefs; identity and language teaching/learning; English for academic and specific purposes; mixed methods research; intercultural communicative competence, pluralingualism and intercultural teaching/learning.


Presentation: "Concrete Strategies to Build Occupation-Specific Intercultural Communication Skills"

Given the inherently multicultural, multilingual nature of Canadian workplaces, English language teachers have a unique potential to develop intercultural, occupation-specific communication skills with their students in addition to linguistic competence. Adult learners often want to understand the influence of behaviours and workplace ‘norms’ on language use, as it can help inform context-specific communication strategies (Daniel, 2016). This presentation will outline a concrete pedagogical framework, based on developmental models of intercultural learning (Bennett, 2009; Byram, 1997), to help teachers facilitate effective culture-and-language learning strategies to help meet the communicative needs of continually shifting occupation-specific contexts.  This framework is based around working with a critically reflective insider’s perspective to culture-and-language learning.  Strategies will be shared that build on learner experience, deconstruct assumptions and that facilitate the learning of categories for cultural analysis that include language use, nonverbal behaviour, communication styles, cognitive styles and cultural values.  Activities to work with (and learn from!) intercultural miscommunication will be highlighted that help learners and teachers develop the skills to be effective culture-and-language learners.

Teaching Newcomers to Canada Featured Speaker

Joanne Pettis

Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks

Joanne Pettis is currently project co-lead with the CCLB for the national Portfolio-based Language Assessment (PBLA) initiative. Prior to this endeavour, she was the Coordinator of Adult EAL Curriculum Development and Implementation for Manitoba. In 2004, she developed and implemented the forerunner to PBLA, Collaborative Language Portfolio Assessment, in Manitoba EAL programs, including settlement-focused, EAP, ESP and workplace programs. Joanne is the author of the 2014 PBLA Guide for Teachers and Programs and was a contributing writer to the CLB 2012 and the CLB 2012 Support Kit. She was a co-author of the CLB 2000: Guide to Implementation and project officer for the development of the CLB 2000: ESL for Literacy.

Presentation: “PBLA in Your Classroom May Not Look Like PBLA in Mine”

PBLA provides teachers and learners with a principled and consistent approach to CLB-based language assessment in the classroom. Key features, such as Assessment for Learning (AfL) strategies as well as well-designed assessment tasks aligned to the CLB are fundamental to PBLA. However, PBLA is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  In this presentation, we’ll explore possibilities and practical strategies for shaping PBLA in your classroom while remaining true to PBLAs fundamental principles and protocols.

Teaching K-12 Students Featured Speaker

Dr. Clea Schmidt

University of Manitoba

Dr. Clea Schmidt is a Professor of Second Language Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.  She teaches courses in TESL foundations and methodology and leadership and teacher development in second language education. Research interests include systemic responses to learners and families for whom English is an Additional Language, and barriers to the integration of internationally educated teachers.

Presentation: "Current Issues in Teaching English Language Learners in K-12"

This presentation will consider findings from research involving English language learners (ELLs), ESL teachers, and families and how such evidence can and should be used to inform supports for ELLs in Canadian K-12 schools.  The following components will be addressed: current contexts of ELLs in Canadian K-12 schools (understanding the big picture); responsive classroom practices to support ELLs (examples from the field); programming at the school level (what do we know to be effective?); and policies for ELLs (from the margins to the centre).

Dr. Schmidt will share some of her own research findings in her work with ELLs, families, and teachers and offer concrete recommendations for action. Ample opportunity for attendee input will be provided, and attendees will be encouraged to develop action plans for advancing ELL programming and advocacy in their own contexts.

The Theory and Practice of English Language Teaching

Amy Abe

Norquest College

Amy Abe is an ESL instructor and curriculum developer with sixteen years in the field; she will have completed her TESL Master’s with the University of Alberta in 2017. Currently teaching with NorQuest College, Amy’s areas of interest include intercultural communicative competence (ICC) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP). One of her many project developments is the co-authorship of an online, interactive textbook, In the Community, that integrates language outcomes with ICC and workplace essential skills. Amy has participated in the development of NorQuest College’s Indigenous Strategy and is partnering with members of the College to explore Indigenization in language training.

Presentation: "ESL Instructor Attitudes and Beliefs: Moving Towards Indigenization"

The presenter shares the research results on what ESL instructors know or believe about Indigenous ways of knowing and how they feel as their program explores Indigenization in response to Truth and Reconciliation. Learning about ESL instructor attitudes and beliefs can help identify what challenges there might be when an Indigenization strategy is implemented, and, can identify what will facilitate and support curriculum changes or the integration of Indigenous content, perspectives, or ways of knowing.

Featured Panels

Teaching English to Newcomers Featured Panel

Enrica Piccardo, Yves St. Germain, Mourad Mardikian


Enrica Piccardo, PhD. Associate Professor with Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, and member the Centre for Educational Research in Languages and Literacies at the Ontario Institute for Studies Education.

Yves Saint-Germain, is the Director, Language Policy, Francophone Communities and Performance Measurement, Integration Branch-FCRO, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Mourad Mardikian is the Manager, Language Training Unit, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

CLB Accomplishments: Flagging Challenges and Defining Opportunities

In this panel, Enrica Piccardo (OISE), Yves St. Germain (IRCC), Mourad Mardikian (MCIT) and moderator Anne Senior (CCLB) will lead an interactive discussion on the growth of the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), and opportunities and challenges that might arise from the possible expansion of the CLB into other contexts such as youth, employment and academia.

 Teaching English for Academic Purposes Featured Panel

Saskia Stille, Sandra Zappa-Hollman, Bruce Russell, Penny Kinnear, Tanya Missere-Mihas, Julia Williams

SFU UBC University of Toronto University of Waterloo

Saskia Stille is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, affiliated with the Centre for English Language Learning and Teaching Research at Simon Fraser University.  Her research focuses on language in education.

Sandra Zappa-Hollman is Assistant Professor and Academic English Program Director at Vantage College, University of British Columbia.  Her research interests include EAP, language socialization, and functional grammar.

Bruce Russell is Director (Academic) of the International Foundation Program at the University of Toronto.  His interests include content-based language assessment and curricula.  He is pursuing his PhD at OISE.

Penny Kinnear works in the Engineering Communication Program at the University of Toronto.  Her practice and research interests include developing engineering language, meaning-making in teams and engineering identity.

Tanya Missere-Mihas is the Director of non-degree programs and student affairs at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo.  She has expertise in organizational and strategic planning.

Julia Williams is the Director of English Language Studies at  Renison University College at the University of Waterloo.  She has taught additional languages for over 25 years and is the author of several EAP textbooks.

Language in the Canadian University: Report from a SSHRC Funded Consortium

This panel reports on the outcomes of a colloquium organized to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented in the incresing linguistic diversity of university student populations in Canada.  This SSHRC-funded event, attended by approximately 40 participants from across Canada, was organized by a steering committee of scholars and administrators from five Canadian universities.

Teaching English to Newcomers Featured Panel

Marian Holley, Zainab Abdel Gawad

Thames Valley District School Board

Marian Holley (MA TESOL) is a Professor of Assessment and Grammar at Fanshawe College and an ESL/LINC 3-6 Instructor with Thames Valley DSB in London. She taught EAP in several Ontario universities/colleges and in China.

Zainab Abdel-Gawad (Masters Adult Ed current) is a certified ESL/LINC Instructor teaching for nineteen years with Thames Valley DSB in London, Ontario. She was born and university-educated in Syria (English Literature).

Bombs to Books: Paving the Way for English Language Teachers and Syrian Refugees

With the resettlement of more than 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada, focusing existing English language programs more sharply to accommodate identified student needs is crucial. This presentation familiarizes educators with the cultural, educational, and linguistic backgrounds of Syrian refugees. A panel of English language colleagues and Syrian refugee learners will share a classroom-tested approach to prepare English language students to integrate into Canadian culture and the workplace.

The Theory and Practice of English Language Teaching Featured Panel

Cari-Anne Gotta, Elza Bruk

Selkirk College, Bow Valley College

Cari-Ann Roberts Gotta is the International Education School Chair at Selkirk College in B.C. She holds a Master’s in Adult Education, Adult Learning and Global Change from UBC and TESOL Diploma from VCC.

Elza Bruk is the Dean of the Centre for Excellence for Immigration and Intercultural Advancement at Bow Valley College.  The Centre provides language training to thousands of language learners whose language skills range from low literacy to highly proficient.  The Centre also offers career services including coaching, mentoring, and professional designation preparation to newcomers to Canada.  Elza holds a BA and B.Ed. from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s of Adult Education from the University of Toronto.

The Future of English Language Teaching in Canada

This panel discussion starts with a review of the findings of the 2017 Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession held in Athens, Greece in February 2017. There are summaries of the findings of the Summit’s themes:  Futurology, English in Multilingualism, Re-imaging English Competence and The Profession as a Change Agent.  The panel then continues with Canadian perspectives on these findings from leaders and stakeholders across Canada.

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