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Pre-Conference Symposia

On Thursday, June 8th, our pre-conference symposia will give conference participants the chance to be immersed in one topic area for either a full day or a half day.  The morning and afternoon sessions are different and are independent of one another, allowing participants to attend in the morning, the afternoon or all day.  These intensive, interactive sessions focus on functional areas of English language teaching that are beyond the classroom.  All participants will receive a certificate at the end of the pre-conference symposia indicating which of the pre-conference symposia they attended. See the descriptions of the sessions in each symposium below.  The first two sessions in a topic area will be presented in the morning and the last two sessions in the afternoon.

Curriculum Design Symposium:

Participants will expand their theoretical knowledge of curriculum and course design as well as increase their practical skills in key stages of the curriculum and course design process. The four sessions in this symposium, in the order in which they are scheduled, are:

1.  Choose Your Style from Research-Backed Teaching Methodologies:  What do B.O.P.P.P.S., Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction, and Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction have in common? Participants will explore these, and other research-backed teaching methodologies as possible choices in the methodology step of their curriculum design process. The 90-minute session will include practice components for participants to try different styles to determine their own method for effective teaching.

2.  Designing Curriculum for an Online and Blended WorldDo you develop online or blended curriculum? Do you teach online or blended classes? Are you interested in learning more about online and blended education? In this three-hour interactive symposium, we’ll identify the stages of curriculum design and how they apply to these learning environments. We’ll also explore some online and blended classes created to demonstrate how the design process can be applied to any ESL-related curriculum.

3.  Where Do I Begin with Curriculum Indigenization?  Responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action requires new practices at every level of an organization.  Come and learn about an approach that NorQuest College is using to support indigenization of curriculum.  This interactive session will explore teaching and learning with an Indigenous Awareness lens and will provide opportunities to apply an indigenous perspective to current assignments and classroom activities from ESL courses at NorQuest College.

Teaching Intercultural Communication Symposium:

Participants will expand their theoretical understanding of culture and their practical skills in how to teach intercultural communication in different types of language courses including workplace language training, professional English, business English or English for Academic purposes. These sessions are provided by intercultural communication experts from Norquest College in Edmonton and Mohawk College in Hamilton.  The four sessions in this symposium, in the order in which they are scheduled, are:

  1. Concepts in Intercultural Competence:  What is Intercultural Competence?  How do we recognize and acquire it?  What is culture anyway, and how do cultures tend to differ, according to known frameworks?  This opening session will examine basic concepts in intercultural competence, with particular emphasis on their relevance to workplace and academic settings.  Topics include elements and dimensions of culture; their effect on our perceptions, norms and behaviours; and strategies for overcoming perceptual, intercultural and communication challenges.
  2. Intercultural Communication and Pragmatics:  What to do when the Unwritten Rules of Language Break Down?  What would you do if your student greeted you by saying “You are looking fat today”?  Research shows pragmatics errors lead to negative judgements about a speaker’s personality or moral character.  Considering newcomers often have limited socialization outside the classroom, it’s important that instructors turn situations like this into pragmatic opportunities, helping learners become successful intercultural communicators.  The presenters will share a framework and resources to teach pragmatics and intercultural communication in English language classrooms.
  3. In the Community: Interactive Online Educational Resource:  This is a hands-on interactive teaching and learning experience. You will be introduced to NorQuest College’s recently published Open Educational Resource (OER) entitled ‘In the Community’. The OER is a free, online, interactive language text that integrates intercultural communicative competence, workplace essential skills, and the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Facilitators will help you identify opportunities for this resource in your teaching contexts. Bring laptops to connect to Wi-Fi.
  4. Bringing an Intercultural Lens to Indigenous Awareness Learning in the ESL Classroom:  In this session participants will explore Indigenous Awareness learning in the ESL classroom through an intercultural lens.  Presenters will share practical intercultural strategies to hold space and facilitate Indigenous Awareness activites including the types of questions ESL learners tend to ask and experiences from working with Elders in language training.
Language Assessment Symposium:

In the morning Language Assessment Pre-Conference Symposium, participants will focus on language assessment for literacy level learners with an emphasis on the use of PBLA.  The three hour session is entitled How ESL Literacy Teachers Can Maximize ESL for ALL in a PBLA ContextThis symposium will introduce ESL Literacy teachers to the CCLB’s new resources: ESL for Adult Language Learners (ALL) and the ESL for ALL Support Kit. Participants will come away with an appreciation of the richness of the resources as well as practical strategies for using the resources to support teaching and PBLA in their classes.

The afternoon Language Assessment Pre-Conference Symposium is an exciting joint symposium between the Canadian Association of Language Assessment (CALA)  and TESL Canada on Corrective Feedback (CF) with presentations by CALA members Maria-Lourdes Lira-Gonzales (Universite du Quebec en Abitibi-Temiscamingue), Antonella Valeo and Khaled Barkaoui (York University) and Eva Kartchava (Carleton University).  A question that is often asked is whether to provide corrective feedback (CF) to English language learners or not.  This symposium aims to move discussions of CF behond this simple yes/no question by discussing, from multiple perspectives, the complexity of providing CF to English language learners and the implications of such complexity for practice.  Specifically, based on research and theory, we discuss (a) examples of English language teachers’ written CF practices and the effects of these practices on students’ revisions; (b) the role played by context and teachers’ beliefs concerning English language teaching and learning in their written feedback practices; and (c) questions and factors that teachers need to consider in order to effectively incorporate oral CF into their teaching practice.  Together, the presentations in this symposium demonstrate how giving CF is complex, context-dependent, and shaped by teachers’ beliefs, and that CF effectiveness depends on a variety of factors and considerations.  We then engage participants in discussions and activities to highlight the implications of the presentations for CF practices in the English language classroom.

Language Program Management Symposium:

Participants will learn and review key management and leadership principles as applied to language program management.  These sessions are for any language program management staff in funded programs, fee-paying programs and private sector programs.  The four sessions in this symposium, in the order in which they are scheduled, are:

1.  Current Trends in Leadership:  In this interactive session participants have the opportunity to learn about current trends in leadership research.  Participants will reflect on how those trends apply in their language program management contexts and to themselves personally given their management and leadership experience.

2.  Good Practices in Language Program Management:  What are good practices in language program management?  This symposium will review an existing settlement language program at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) to see how it has evolved to meet the divers needs of immigrant EAL learners.  This will be followed by a brief overview of how other language programs across the country are meeting their learners’ needs.  The goal is to explore and share good practices for developing and  managing language programs in different contexts.

3.  Understanding Your Customers’ Decision Journeys:  Marketing is not just the promotion of your English language program.  It is your entire English language program seen from the point of view of your customer—your students, their parents and other stakeholders.  Understanding why customers select your English language services , their Customer Decision Journey, is key to getting more customers.  In this session you will learn what the Customer Decision Journey is and how to uncover it from your past and existing customers.  Concepts will be illustrated using examples and short activities.

4.  Managing Change in Your Language Program:  Change is a constant reality in any organization, and language programs are no different.  Being able to effectively manage change, be it change driven by technology, geopolitical events, staffing movement or organizational restructuring, is central to the success of any manager.  In this session different frameworks and models for describing change and managing change are introduced.  Participants have the opportunity to apply these frameworks and models to their own change management experiences.

Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) Symposium:

Participants will explore key areas of classroom and program implementation of Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA).  The three sessions in this symposium, in the order in which they are scheduled, are:

  1. Understanding and Creating CLB-Aligned Assessment Tools for PBLA Language Assessment:  This three-hour hands-on workshop uses a simple planning tool to walk teachers step-by-step through creating productive and receptive assessments. Teachers will walk away better understanding how to choose and check for key CLB criteria for each skill area, create CLB-aligned comprehension questions or tasks for listening and reading, and set a measure of success.
  2. Embedding PBLA in Your Organization:  In this 90-minute workshop, we will help teachers and administrators understand the in’s and out’s of PBLA from multiple perspectives. We will also explore ways of embedding PBLA changes into programs and organizations to drive long-term student success. Assessment and evaluation isn’t new to adult education, and we can all find ways forward to help drive learning.
  3. PBLA: Moving Towards SustainabilityThis 90-minute session will introduce two initiatives underway to support PBLA sustainability:  the PBLA Practice Standards Framework (an accountability framework recently piloted in five sites across Canada) and PBLA Emerging Practice Guidelines (an electronic version of the PBLA Guidelines).  Participants will discuss the initiatives and strategies for stakeholder input and explore the role of teachers, administrators, and funding partners in working together to ensure a robust PBLA community of practice.
Teacher Education Symposium:

Participants will learn about the latest research trends in teacher education.  They will be given the opportunity to discuss how to adapt this current research for their own teacher education programs. The four sessions in this symposium, in the order in which they are scheduled, are:

  1. Identities and Imagination in Language Teacher Preparation:  This workshop highlights the importance of imagination in language teachers’ negotiation of their professional identities. The workshop will discuss two research projects examining teachers’ identities and the tools used in collecting teacher experiences including interviews, the creation of multimodal autobiographies using VoiceThread, and memes. Participants will be invited to envision possible scenarios where they could adapt these or similar tools to their own teacher education programs to have their trainees explore their own professional identities.
  2. Plurilingual Pedagogies in Language Teacher Education: Rethinking TESL/TESOL Programs:  With the emergence of a plurilingual paradigm shift in language teaching, questions concerning the extent to which language teacher education programs are effectively preparing language teachers to teach in our messy, heteroglossic, and multilingual world have assumed new and vital significance in the training and education of teachers. Every year, thousands of new English language teachers become qualified to teach in ever-increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse landscapes. However, despite the considerable number of TESL/TESOL certificate and diploma courses qualifying such teachers around the world, little is known about how these programs have adapted their pedagogy to meet the current reality of a plurilingual paradigm shift in language teaching. In this session, the underlying assumptions and theoretical underpinnings of monolingual and plurilingual approaches to language teaching will be analyzed and participants will have the opportunity to engage with current issues concerning plurilingualism in Language Teacher Education.
  3. Addressing Teachers’ Beliefs in Teacher Education Programs:  Drawing on their own educational backgrounds and life experiences, teachers have their own beliefs about teaching and learning, the usefulness of different classroom strategies, and even beliefs about their own abilities to perform various classroom functions, among others. Teachers’ beliefs are important as they can impact teachers’ planning, classroom practice, and even how they reflect on their teaching. Teachers’ beliefs are now identified as important elements to address in teacher education programs. This presentation draws on the results of over 100 studies of various language teacher education programs with respect to teacher beliefs. Drawing on this data, different program types, courses, philosophies, lengths, and even specific classroom activities are all discussed. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss these elements and also receive various activities/ideas that they can use in their own programs to address teachers’ beliefs.
  4. 21st Century Skills for New ESL Teachers:  Given the rise in precarious employment in the ELT field in Canada, it is important to prepare new TESL graduates with the 21st-century skills needed to participate and succeed in a changing landscape.  Skills such as creativity, leadership and initiative are important however understanding how to use these skills needs to be taught to best prepare new graduates to enter and remain in the profession.  Developing entrepreneurial-minded teachers may help in finding wide-ranging employment opportunities outside the traditional classroom as assessors, online instructors or materials writers.
IELTS Instructor Training Course:

IELTS British Council is offering a two day IELTS Instructor Training course on Wednesday, June 7th and Thursday, June 8th.  The course will run from 9am to 4:15pm each day.  At the end of the course, participants will receive a certificate from IELTS indicating their successful completion of the instructor training.   The cost of this two-day course includes a box lunch each day.

Graduate Symposium:

The full-day Graduate Symposium is designed specifically for students pursuing either a Master’s degree or PhD in English language teaching, applied linguistics, linguistics, educational technology and other related fields. The four sessions in this symposium, in the order in which they are scheduled, are:

1.  Writing Skills:  This session starts with a quick overview of writing skills required for publication in academic journals and poster creation skills required for poster sessions at conferences.  Each participant then shares a short prepared piece of writing in small groups of their peers and receives feedback. This session is with Dr. Stefan Rehm from the University of Waterloo.

2.  Getting Published:  This session starts with an overview of the publishing process used by most academic journals.  Key journals in English language teaching and related fields are identified.  And finally, the expectations of editors are discussed.  This session is with Dr. Paula Kristmanson from the University of New Brunswick.

3.  Presentation Skills:  This session starts with a quick overview of presentation skills.  Each participant then presents a short prepared presentation to small groups of their peers and receives feedback.  This session is with Judy Sillito, TESL Canada President.

4. Post-study Career Options:  This session provides an overview of career paths available to graduates with masters and PhD qualifications.  The discussion includes strategies on how to access these different career paths.  This session is with Dr. Saskia Stille from Simon Fraser University.

The graduate symposium is also an invaluable opportunity to network with your peers from other graduate programs across Canada.  To attend the Graduate Symposium you do not need to submit a presentation proposal.  However, you will be expected to bring a prepared presentation and a short piece of writing to the symposium to deliver to your peers and receive feedback.

Pre-Conference Symposia Registration


Symposia Half-Day Registration:  $70.00 plus HST

Symposia Full-Day Registration:  $140.00 plus HST

Graduate Symposium Registration:  $50.00 plus HST

2-day IELTS Instructor Training Course Registration:  $100.00 plus HST

*Note that these amounts are in addition to the conference registration fee.  You can attend the pre-conference symposia plus the conference or you can just attend the pre-conference symposia.

*Also note that the full day and half day symposia, the graduate symposium, and the IELTS Instructor Training Course registrations all include a box lunch.  Morning and afternoon food and coffee breaks are not included.

Note for International Attendees:  If you are not living in Canada and do not have a Canadian passport, you will need to verify which documents you need in order to come to Canada to attend the pre-conference symposia.  Check the following website for the documents you require:  If you require a visa, please allow sufficient time for your visa application process to be completed before the conference.  If you require a letter confirming that you will be attending the pre-conference symposia to submit with your visa application, please contact us at

TESL Canada Federation

376 Churchill Avenue N, Suite 208
Ottawa, ON, K1Z 5C3, Canada
403-538-7300 or 1-800-393-9199