ESL Rural Routes Newsletter
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May 2020

News from Rural Routes

First of all a big shout-out to the CALPs and all who work there for the innovation, flexibility, adaptability and just hard work that have gone into supporting learners this spring! I have heard about so many truly innovative and just brilliant ways of delivering instruction.

At Rural Routes, we quickly developed a webinar to support online facilitation, which was very well received. We will continue our support for as long as people need it. NorQuest is also developing some more detailed webinars for online facilitation which will become available in the summer.

While we hope to be able to connect with everyone in person starting in September, we are ready to carry on with online professional development and with mentorship and other support by phone and email. Please get in touch if there is anything we can do for you.

Update on the Needs Assessment Pilot

The Needs Assessment Pilot took a bit of a hiatus in March to consider how to move forward with focus groups in the context of the pandemic. The decision is to go ahead with online meetings, knowing that there will be people we will not be able to reach in spite of our best efforts. Still, we expect to have enough information to produce some valuable data to help the participating CALPs plan for the future. Once the pilot is concluded and the reports made available to participating CALPs, the needs assessment tool will become available for all CALPs to use.

New Workshops

We continue to develop new content to support ESL providers. Here are some new workshops under development, and some that were recently completed.

If you have ideas for new workshops, please let us know.

Using Realia with English Language Learners

"Realia" is a term that refers to any real object we use to engage a learner and enhance their learning process.  Examples of realia include a bus schedule, flyer or cereal box.  During this workshop participants will learn how realia can enhance a lesson, and examples of ways to use realia with their learners.

Developing Vocabulary in ESL Learners

Intentional instruction time in vocabulary encourages learners to notice, focus on and link meaning to new vocabulary.  It also provides opportunities for learners to use new vocabulary in both spoken and written communication.  This workshop will look at ways we can provide intentional instruction time, tips to consider, as well as resources.

Classroom Management

During this workshop participants will have an opportunity to explore five factors that influence a well-managed classroom as well as apply techniques into their own practice.

Picture This: Using Pictures with English Language Learners

Pictures are one of the most common resources for teaching English language learners.  During this workshop, participants will learn about the benefits of using pictures to develop language skills.  Participants will also have an opportunity to explore activities and ideas for using pictures in tutorial sessions and classrooms.

LGBTQ+ in the EAL CLassroom

In this workshop, participants will gain an understanding of how to create a safe and welcoming learning environment and how to address LGBTQ2 issues in the classroom.  This workshop introduces concepts around equality and rights, appropriate vocabulary, and other basic information that supports best practices.

LINC Works

LINC Works is a huge curriculum and materials project for CLB 3-5 learners who need language for the workplace. It is developed with literacy ESL learners in mind. The resource contains all curriculum, materials, assessments, teacher resources, learners handouts, etc., for a range of workplace topics. Rural Routes has developed a guide to using this amazing resource, including ideas for how to adapt content for tutoring.

New Version of ESL Tutor Training with asynchronous self-study units.

We have re-designed ESL Tutor Training to be more practical and hands-on. We have broken it up into two separate workshops, as it was too long before. All participants will have access to a self-study moodle component for additional practice and extension. The moodle be accessible for about two months after a participant has completed the workshop.

New version of Task-Based Teaching

The new version is a bit more detailed, and features more practice and better explanations.

Coming in July:

  • New Handbook for Tutors 

  • New curriculum resource for teachers and tutors

  • Workshop: Parenting in Two Cultures

New Study Group: Grammar for Tutors and Teachers

We all know a grammar mistake when we see one, but do we always know WHY it is wrong? Can we explain it clearly to our learners and establish the rule?

We are running a new study group in June that focuses on grammar for tutors and teachers. This is not about how to teach grammar. It is about understanding the grammar of English better, with focus on the particular concerns that participants have. There will be a short presentation at each meeting, but the rest of the time will be about participants’ questions, ideas and suggestions.

The topics – so far – will be

Verb tenses, clauses and phrases, subject-verb agreement and pronoun reference, articles/determiners.

Dates: May 26, June 2, 9, 16, and 23.
Time: 9:30 am - 10:30am

Register here

Webinars in May and June

ESL Tutor Training

Event date: May 11, 2020, 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

This workshop orients new volunteer ESL tutors to their role, to the needs of their adult ESL learners, and to relevant materials available online.

Using Realia with English Language Learners

Event date: May 19, 2020, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

During this "lunch and learn" webinar, participants will discover how realia can enhance a lesson and explore ways to use realia with their learners.

Trauma Affected ESL learners

Event date: May 19, 2020, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

In this workshop, participants will learn to define trauma and examine the ways it impacts individuals and the ESL learning environment.

The Language Experience Approach

Event date: June 5, 2020, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

This workshop introduces participants to the method and teaches them how to incorporate the language experience approach into their ESL classes or tutoring. 

Picture This: Using Pictures with ESL Learners

Event date: June 8, 2020, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

During this workshop, participants will learn about the benefits of using pictures to develop language skills.

Introduction to the Canadian Language Benchmarks

Event date: June 9, 2020, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

In this workshop, participants will deepen their understanding of the Canadian Language Benchmarks as they learn how the CLB can help them determine learner proficiency, plan instruction, and assess learning.

In case you forgot how to register:

  1. Select an event on the Rural Routes website.

  2. Click to register. You will be taken to the online registration web page.

  3. Click the green button “Select a Class”.

  4. Select the webinar you want (usually there is only one option).

  5. Click "Register Now". This takes you to the Shopping Cart. (Don't worry, there is no cost associated with Rural Routes webinars)

  6. Click "Proceed to Checkout". This takes you to the login page for NorQuest.

  7. Use your username and password to log in and complete your registration.

  8. If you don't have a username yet, click "Create Profile", fill out the information. It will take you back to the shopping cart page.

  9. Click "Register".

  10. You will receive an email confirmation of your registration.

Thought of the day concerning online teaching: 


We have benefited enormously from having access to low cost, easy to use conferencing software to help us  reach learners and each other, staying in touch and continuing to teach. However, working from home is not risk free, and we should think about setting boundaries for ourselves and  helping our learners do likewise. We need to consider what we are showing when we turn on the camera. Are we revealing things we would rather not have strangers know about? This isn’t about your furry “co-worker” but more about the other people in your family, your children, and your privacy. Consider before turning on your camera who is going to be in the shot, what the background is, and if you are comfortable with your learners knowing this about you. Your learners, likewise, need to be aware of what they are sharing, not only with you but with everyone else on the conference call. I believe everyone should have the option of turning off their camera. We should be aware that not everyone is comfortable with others seeing inside their homes. While the camera helps the facilitator keep track of learners and their participation, it should be up to the individual learners to decide if they are comfortable with that. Do you agree? We could have a conversation on the portal.

As always, we are here for you. Call on us for information and support with your language learners, and stay safe!

Rural Routes Services are funded by Alberta Advanced Education (AAE) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Please direct comments to the Rural Routes team:

Dorte Weber - Associate Chair, Language Training

Jacky Rivas

Alana Johnson

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