ESL Rural Routes Newsletter

Fall 2021

Rural Routes Fall 2021

It has been a busy and satisfying start to the year for Rural Routes. We are seeing an encouraging number of bookings for workshops, mostly online, but a few CALPs are venturing to book in-person workshops as well. This is very good news for us as it suggests CALPs are successfully dealing with the challenges of offering ESL instruction in spite of the many difficulties in their way. From online to hybrid to limited face-to-face instruction and tutoring, CALPs continue to meet the needs in their communities, and Rural Routes continues to support their efforts.

At the recent annual conference of Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language, we heard from renowned ESL researcher and keynote Scott Thornbury, that we should be cautious not to put too much faith in this “new normal” everyone is talking about. There are disadvantages to online learning that may be particularly relevant to the CALPs. In recent surveys, students of all ages and nationalities have identified the presence of the teacher as one of the most important elements of their learning success. As well, many students simply prefer to learn in person for a number of different reasons. Finally, and most significantly for CALPs, we have to be aware of the inequity of access involved in online learning. Who are we excluding when we offer programming online? These are some of the reasons why online programming may never fully take the place of face-to-face programming and why the “new normal” may not be entirely new or entirely normal, but will be one plank in the structure of support CALPs build for their communities.

Soon, Alana, Jacky and I will be making our rounds with your hard copies of the ESL Tutor Training Handbook and the Multi-Level Handbook. We are looking forward to seeing you in person – at least those of you who are keeping office hours and are willing to have us stop by.

Dorte Weber

News from Rural Routes

Goodbye to Jacky Rivas

We are both sad and excited to announce that Jacky Rivas is moving into a new role with NorQuest College in the Colbourne Institute, where her unique skills and qualifications in the area of intercultural education, equity and diversity will be a great asset to the Institute. Jacky will continue to work with Rural Routes on a part time basis through this year, so you can continue to contact her for any ESL support you need. Alana Johnson and Dorte Weber will also be available to support ESL training and mentorship needs in central Alberta until we have a new advisor in place.

We wish Jacky great success in her new position and look forward to welcoming a new advisor in the new year.

Intercultural Communication Workshop Series – NEW

We are in the middle of re-developing the ever-popular Intercultural Communication workshop series to update and improve it. As part of the improvements, we are adding anti-racism content as well as explicitly including indigenous cultural perspectives. We hope these changes will make the workshop series more useful and relevant to our CALP partners across Alberta.

Continuing Work on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Anti-Racism

In 2021, we ran a series of Anti-Racism Talking Circles, where participants had an opportunity to share experiences and ask questions in a safe and supportive environment. As a result of conversations within the talking circles, we developed a new study group on Foundations of Concepts of Social Justice, which began on October 18. Interested? Sign up for it here:

Dates: Mondays - November 15 and 22
Location: Online
Duration: 6 weeks
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 pm
Cost: Free


Our Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls for Action

Within the boundaries of our mandate, we continue our work to respond to the calls for action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2018, we developed the Elders Speak video series, and in 2021, we re-developed our workshop on strategies for teaching reading and writing to include indigenous perspectives and teaching practices that are inclusive of indigenous learning styles. The updated Intercultural Communication workshop series will include indigenous cultural perspectives and experiences that will help our clients approach indigenous learners with improved understanding of their cultural perspectives and to give newcomers a more nuanced understanding of Canada’s first nations.

New Resource – Multi-Level Curriculum

As an English language instructor teaching a multi-level class, would you like some help planning differentiated lessons that engage all of your learners? If so, this resource was designed for you! You will find a brief introduction with an overview of the theory of teaching multi-level classes and ready-to-use lesson plans and materials. This resource consists of two components, an online interactive portion as well as a PDF handbook.

Websafe online portion

PDF Handbook

Learning English with CBC

Learning English with CBC is no longer being updated. Instead there is a new free app called Mauril. Try it out. Download the app to your phone and find out if it will help your learners.

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