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Workshops Workshops cover a variety of subject areas and are adapted or customized for each community depending on the specific requests of each community.

Topic areas include grammar, pronunciation, ESL literacy, introduction to working with ESL learners, Hands-On Activities for working with ESL learners, intercultural diversity and the learner (this is an area that the Intercultural Division supports for Rural Routes). Workshops are offered in-person in each community and through web conferencing tools. Workshops can be as short as 2 hours or may run for 4-5 hours. Workshops may also be done in two parts depending on availability of consultant and coordinators/tutors. To book a workshop contact your Rural Routes Regional Advisors today!

We provide the following customizable and pre-planned workshop topics:


          Developing Vocabulary in ESL Learners (1 hour)
          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 webinar will look at ways instructors can provide intentional instruction time,                tips to consider, and resources.

          Picture This: Using Pictures with English Language Learners (1-2 hours)

          Pictures are one of the most common resources for teaching                                              English language learners. During this workshop, participants will
          learn about thebenefits 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.

          Using Realia with English Language Learners (1 hour)

“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 lunch and learn                                   participants will learn how realia can enhance a lesson, and examples
 of ways to use realia with their learners.     

Teaching by Theme (1 hour)

Do you teach using themes?  Would you like to start using themes in your        teaching?  Themes are topic areas such as health, food and nutrition, and financial literacy.  Participants in this webinar will look at what themes are, and explore topics related to specific themes, activities, as well as useful  resources.

Teaching Idioms (2.5 hours)

This workshop is for participants working with ELL learners who are at an intermediate level and higher. During this workshop, participant s will identify reasons for teaching idioms, as well as things to consider when 
introducing idioms to learners. Participants will have an opportunity to explore different activities as well as online resources for teaching idioms.

Canada’s New Cannabis Laws (1 Hour)

In this workshop, participants will learn about recent changes in Canada’s Cannabis laws. Participants will explore common misperceptions about the legality of Cannabis in Canada and receive materials and strategies on how to communicate the correct information to their learners.

Working with Trauma Affected ESL learners (3 hours)

This workshop is for instructors, tutors and program staff who work with English language learners.  In this workshop, participants will learn to define trauma and look at the ways it impacts an individual and the ESL learning environment.  Participants will explore trauma informed care, and the ways they can support trauma impacted learners in ways that benefit all learners.  Participants will also learn different calming techniques

Tips and Tools for Successful Conversation Groups (3.5 hours)

Conversation groups and classes can be a versatile and effective way to develop language skills for newcomers. Participants will learn about the benefits of conversation classes for English language learners and the different ways conversation groups can be organized to meet learner needs. Participants will also focus on ideas and tips to use in tutorial sessions and classrooms.

The Language Experience Method for Beginning and Literacy Learners
(1.5 hours)

Not sure where to start with your beginning learner or literacy learner? The Language Experience Method is an excellent and versatile method that engages learners who need to see some quick results to build their confidence. This workshop introduces the method and gives participants an opportunity to create their own language experience activity.

Foundations for Task Based Teaching (3 hours)

Task-based teaching is the leading ESL methodology today. In this workshop, participants will gain an understanding of what task-based teaching is, how it works in practical terms and why it is important in the context of the Canadian Language Benchmarks. They will explore the benefits of task based teaching for both learners and instructors. They will practice and create a task-based lesson for their own learners.

Lesson Planning Made Easy (3 hours)

Lesson plans are essential to successful teaching and learning. But lesson planning can feel like an overwhelming task when there are so many demands on a teacher or tutor’s time. This 2-hour workshop breaks down the elements of lesson planning into a few easy steps and teaches tips and strategies to make daily planning easier.

Introduction to Open Educational Resource (OER) (2-4 hours)
In this workshop, participants will be guided in how to use a free, online, interactive English language textbook in their ESL classes. Participants will gain an understanding of how the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and intercultural communicative competence (ICC) are integrated throughout the chapters and how the numerous interactive features can enhance teaching and learning. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the various ways they can use this resource in their teaching or tutoring communities.
By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:
  • Access the OER
  • Identify ways to use the OER in their own teaching and learning communities
  • ​Identify opportunities in the OER to develop lessons that provide learners with input, opportunities to use and adapt language, and opportunities to develop intercultural communicative competence
Starting or Inheriting an ESL Program: Steps to Success (4-7 hours)
This workshop will guide participants through the essential steps to successfully setting up an ESL program. In addition to gaining a foundation in ESL programming principles and best practices, participants will explore needs assessments, program and curriculum development, resource identification, staff and volunteer selection and professional development. This workshop is for those starting up an ESL program or for new coordinators in existing programs. Participants will also take away a booklet of related resources.

Strategies for Teaching Multi-level Classes (2.5-3 hours)

In this workshop, participants will explore four strategies for adapting instruction to multi-level classes and discover two classroom activities that work particularly well in multi-level classrooms. They will also become familiar with those parts of the Canadian Language Benchmarks that are particularly useful when planning instruction for multi-level classes.

Foundations for teaching Pronunciation (4-6 hours)

In this hands-on workshop, participants will identify how and where to produce English vowel and consonant sounds, how to produce correct syllable and sentence stress, and how to plan a productive lesson cycle with effective activities. Participants will experience a variety of teaching techniques and lesson ideas that they can bring back to their own learners.

Strategies for Teaching Pronunciation (4-6 hours)

In this workshop, participants will increase their understanding of the English sound system as they gather strategies for addressing word stress, rhythm, linking, intonation, and problem sounds in their ESL teaching. They will explore the priorities in pronunciation instruction and how to help learners make use of what they learn.

Strategies for Teaching Grammar (4 hours)

This workshop will help participants gain fluency and confidence when addressing grammar topics. Participants will explore the advantages and limitations of grammar instruction. They will be exposed to a wide variety of strategies and resources as they learn to plan lessons that contextualize grammar into other language skills, provide for focused practice, and provide opportunities to apply what was learned in communication.

Strategies for Teaching Reading, Listening, Writing (Three 2-hour modules)

Composed of three self-contained 2-hour modules, and based on ATESL Best Practices for Adult ESL and LINC Programming in Alberta, this workshop explores principles and strategies for teaching listening, reading, and writing. In the process of learning about each skill, participants will gain familiarity with the Canadian Language Benchmarks, discover useful resources, and learn how to design listening, reading, and writing lessons.

Interactive Strategies for Teaching Speaking (3-4 hours)

Based on ATESL Best Practices for Adult ESL and LINC Programming in Alberta, this workshop explores principles and strategies for teaching speaking. Participants will deepen their understanding of the Canadian Language Benchmarks as they learn how to design speaking lessons to increase learner fluency and accuracy. They will also be exposed to seven tried and true interactive activities to use in their classes.

ESL Tutor Training (4 hours)

This workshop is for participants who are new to the role of Volunteer ESL Tutor. It will orient participants to their role, to the needs of their adult ESL learners, and to relevant materials available on line. Participants will learn to design thematic or task based lessons that address learner interests and needs while providing language input, opportunities to practice language skills, and feedback.

Teaching ESL Literacy Learners (3.5- 5 hours)

Through this workshop, participants will learn how to recognize ESL literacy learners, distinguish between the different levels of ESL literacy as defined by the CLB, explore principles for ESL literacy instruction, and identify strategies and resources for teaching ESL literacy learners. The longer version of this workshop includes a Literacy Learning Simulation.

Teaching Pre-Benchmark Learners (4 hours)

This workshop is for participants who want to develop or enhance their ability to create lesson plans based on the CLB competencies. The steps the participants are shown will apply to any CLB level; however, this workshop is specific to creating lesson plans for pre-Benchmark CLB learners. By the end of the workshop, participants will have ideas of the specific vocabulary, grammar, and strategies required by pre-Benchmark learners for all the four skill areas (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).  Participants will also have the basis for at least two series of lessons based on two different themes, with ideas shared by other groups on another seven themes. ​By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • Understand challenges and frustrations felt by immigrants with no or little English skills.
  • Identify important vocabulary, grammar, and concepts required by newcomers with no or little English language skills.
  • Identify skills required to reach CLB 1.
  • Develop skills in creating lesson plans based on competencies.
  • Develop skills in adapting material to learners with no or little English skills.

Learning Styles (3-4 hours)

This workshop presents strategies for identifying and supporting learners with visual, auditory, and tactile learning styles. Participants will learn to plan lessons to incorporate all three styles.

Pragmatics (soft Skills)(2-3 hours)

In this workshop, participants will learn what pragmatics is and how to incorporate pragmatics into their ESL classes. They will also be exposed to useful resources for teaching pragmatics.

Assessment and Frameworks

           Classroom Management (1 hour)

           Classroom management can be challenging for any instructor. During this one-hour             webinar, participants will have an opportunity to explore five factors that influence               a well-managed classroom.
CELPIP Preparation (2 hours)

This workshop introduces the format of the CELPIP test and showcases the test taking strategies that will improve your learners’ chances of success on the test. You will learn how to prepare activities that help learners prepare for the exam.

Citizenship Preparation: Creating a Course (4-6 hours)

In this workshop, participants will explore the essential components of citizenship preparation courses for ESL learners. This workshop will discuss classroom models, course outlines, possible topics, eligibility and the application process, citizenship test preparation, and resources for students and facilitators. A booklet of related resources will be provided. By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Identify an appropriate classroom model
  • Plan a course outline for a citizenship preparation course
  • Describe and plan for essential topics related to citizenship
  • Access related resources
ESL Assessment (4-4.5 hours)

In this workshop, participants will identify strategies for assessing learner needs and setting learning goals based on those needs.  They will explore strategies and tools for assessing learning outcomes, providing feedback, and encouraging learners to reflect on their own learning.

Introduction to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (3.5- 4 hours)

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.

Task-Based Language Teaching (5-6 hours)
Condensed from a 4-day workshop for LINC teachers, this 5-6 hour workshop introduces participants to the theory and practice of Task-Based Language Teaching, an approach to second language instruction that is fundamental to the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Participants will learn what a pedagogical task is, identify the principles and practices underlying TBLT, create a task, and design a task-based lesson and assessment.

Introduction to On Target! (2 hours)

In this 2-hour workshop, participants will become familiar with the assessment tools in the On Target! resource. They will try out a variety of tasks, relate those tasks to the new CLB document, and explore how to use the tasks to get a general idea of a learner’s CLB level, to track progress, and to provide feedback on learning.

IELTS Preparation (3.5-4 hours)

This workshop is designed to help participants better understand the IELTS test, introduce participants to useful IELTS resources, and enable participants to plan activities that will help students with all four sections of the exam.

ATESL Best Practices (2.5 hours)

This workshop introduces participants to ATESL’s Best Practices for Adult ESL and LINC Programming in Alberta. As they explore the document, participants will have opportunity to gather ideas and solutions to address issues related to their own ESL context.

Teaching Resources

Online Resources For ESL (1-2 hours)

In this workshop, participants will explore a cavalcade of free and fantastic online resources to use with your ESL learners. Participants will become familiar with instructor-use and learner-use tools to enhance instruction, provide home practice, and engage learners with tried and tested tools and activities. Participants will take away a list of amazing resources.

Growth and Goalsetting (2-3 hours)

Participants will learn how to support learners in setting achievable learning goals that integrate all four language skills. We will also explore realistic goal setting for tutors and instructors to help them identify learner success and achievement.

Setting and Maintaining Professional Boundaries for ESL Providers (1-2 hours)

In this workshop, participants will identify mindfulness practices and explore reflection strategies to support healthy boundaries. Participants will learn about compassion fatigue and how to set and enforce realistic expectations regarding their commitment to help and to serve learners.

An ESL Toolkit of Educational Games and Activities (4-6 hours)

Have you ever pondered, ‘how I can make my ESL classroom or tutoring sessions more exciting for learners’? This hands-on workshop is designed for ESL instructors and tutors who work with ESL learners of CLB 4+. This workshop presents over 55 educational games and activities for making ESL classes fun. Participants will learn how to use these activities to reinforce grammar, vocabulary, and the four skills. Participant will walk away with a handout that has over 55 educational games and activities!


          The LGBTQ+ in the EAL Classroom  (2 hours)
          Participants will gain an understanding of how to create a safe and                                      welcoming learning environment and how to address LGBTQ+ issues in                              the classroom. This workshop introduces the concepts around equality                                and rights, appropriate vocabulary, and other basic information that                                    supports best practices. 

         Promoting Indigenous Awareness in Rural Routes: The Elders Speak
         (3 hours)

As part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action, this workshop supports ESL practitioners with content and strategies to teach newcomers about the country’s indigenous history and cultures.

Roots and Connections (3 hours)

In this workshop you will learn more about the Roots and Connections resource through practical activities, you will understand the roles an instructor plays in supporting the integration of immigrants in your community and you will experience a variety of ways the materials in the resource can be used to teach survival English language skills to your learners. 

English in the Workplace (EWP) (1 Hour)

In this workshop you will be introduced to English in the Workplace, an approach to English language instruction targeted to improving language proficiency within a workplace context.  The workshop introduces the contexts where EWP is used, the benefits and challenges of using an EWP approach. You will become familiar with resources you can use to teach EWP.

Intro to Intercultural Communication (2 hours)

This workshop provides an overview of intercultural communications and introduces the role of a cultural bridge. Participants will also learn key terms related to intercultural education.

Collaborations and Pilots


Developing Community Partnerships to Support Newcomers (2 hours)

This workshop is designed to assist participants in supporting ESL learners in the workplace. Participants will look at needs assessment as a means to forge partnerships with local businesses that employ newcomers. Partnering with local employers to accommodate the specific needs and time constraints of newcomer workers can open opportunities for learners and help employers seeking to integrate newcomers.

Rural Routes Intercultural Communication Series (Level 1, 2, & 3 information)

In this six part series, you will be introduced to core intercultural concepts to support your role as a cultural bridge for newcomers in your community.  You will set personal and practitioner goals for intercultural development and will learn to apply a process called the Something’s Up Cycle  and other intercultural tools to notice and navigate the differences that matter across cultures in the classroom. You will learn to see cultural patterns in everyday interactions. Completion of series qualifies you to enter the second course of the NorQuest Intercultural Practitioner Certificate.

Rural Routes Prep for Online Learning (Moodle Course)— Designed for ESL Instructors to use with their learners

Want to offer Prep for Online to your learners, but you don’t have your own Moodle platform? Well, Rural Routes can help! On your behalf, Rural Routes will host a Moodle class on the NorQuest Moodle platform. 

Digital literacy skills enable people to use computer systems, networks, and software to find, use, evaluate, create, and share information. NorQuest College developed a FREE course that will help ESL instructors/ tutors to teach their learners the digital literacy skills, online learning strategies, and vocabulary needed for them to be successful online learners. This course provides tutorial videos, modules, interactive activities, and transcripts you can use to help your learners access and participate in online learning. Additionally, an instructor’s guide is available.
Volunteer Engagement for ESL Providers (2 hours)

In this workshop, participants will apply strategies to recruit, retain, and recognize volunteers in ESL and literacy programs. They will learn how to effectively connect volunteers to meaningful opportunities through a ten step approach to screening. They will discuss trends and demographics that impact why and how individuals engage, and they will develop an understanding of the organizational standards essential for effective volunteer engagement.

An Integrated Approach to ESL and Family Literacy (2- 4 Hours)

​The focus of this workshop is to give practitioners more tools for their tool boxes by providing practical ideas and using real life experiences/scenarios when working with ESL and mixed groups (i.e. non ESL and ESL families in one group). Background information and resources will be provided on ESL and family literacy by discussing culture, traditions and best practices in both ESL and Family Literacy. This info will helpful for those working with and supporting ESL families in programs. ​This workshop was developed in partnership with The Centre for Family Literacy.