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

Alberta Routes offers professional development workshops to address the specific needs of staff and volunteers who provide EAL programming to English language learners in their communities.
Workshops cover a variety of subject areas and can be adapted or customized for each community and can be offered in-person onsite or through web conferencing tools online. All workshops are offered free of charge.

To book a workshop, contact your Alberta Routes Regional Advisor.

Workshop categories and topics include:

Teaching Strategies and Frameworks

Building Critical Thinking Skills in English Language Learners

Developing critical thinking skills helps English language learners enhance their communication. Through intentional critical thinking tasks, instructors can help learners expand their vocabulary, strengthen their accuracy and fluency, and use language for different purposes in a variety of
contexts. During this engaging and interactive workshop, participants will explore what critical thinking is, strategies and tips for helping learners develop these skills, as well as practical communicative activities instructors can use to foster learner’s critical thinking.

Classroom Management

Classroom management can be challenging for any instructor. During this workshop, participants will have an opportunity to explore five factors that influence a well-managed classroom.

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 instructors can provide intentional instruction time, tips to consider, and resources.

ESL Tutor Training

This workshop is for participants who are new to the role of ESL Tutor. It will orient participants to their role, to the needs of their adult English language learners, and to a sample learner plan and lesson plan.

Foundations for Task Based Teaching

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.

Foundations for Teaching Pronunciation

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.

Growth and Goalsetting

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.

Interactive Strategies for Teaching Speaking

Based on ATESL Best Practices for Adult EAL 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 tried and true interactive activities to use in their classes.

Introduction to the Canadian Language Benchmarks

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.

Learning Strategies for ESL Literacy Learners

Because ESL literacy learners often have limited or no formal education, they often lack well-developed learning strategies. In this workshop, participants will become familiar with three categories of learning strategies that when taught to ESL literacy learners will enable them to better understand, learn, and use new language and literacy. Participants will also explore how they can teach and support learners in acquiring and using new learning strategies.

Lesson Planning Made Easy

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 workshop breaks down the elements of lesson planning into a few easy steps and teaches tips and strategies to make daily planning easier.

Project Based Learning

Project-based learning is an engaging and authentic way to integrate language use and critical-thinking skills into the English-language learning environment. In this workshop, participants will learn about project-based learning, its benefits to learners, and how to create project-based learning opportunities for their students.

Strategies for Teaching Grammar

Participants will increase their confidence when teaching grammar by exploring a wide variety of strategies and resources to help them plan lessons that contextualize grammar, provide focused practice, and open opportunities to use grammar to communicate.

Strategies for Teaching Listening

Based on ATESL Best Practices for Adult EAL and LINC Programming in Alberta, this workshop explores principles and strategies for teaching listening. Participants will gain familiarity with the Canadian Language Benchmarks, discover useful resources, and learn how to design a listening lesson.

Strategies for Teaching Multi-level Classes

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.

Strategies for Teaching Pronunciation

Participants in this workshop will refine their strategies for addressing word stress, rhythm, linking, intonation, and problem sounds in their EAL teaching. Participants will prioritize pronunciation problems and explore ways to help learners apply what they learn.

Strategies for Teaching Reading

Based on ATESL Best Practices for Adult EAL and LINC Programming in Alberta, this workshop explores principles and strategies for teaching reading. Participants in this workshop will gain familiarity with the Canadian Language Benchmarks, discover useful resources, and learn how to design a reading lesson.

Strategies for Teaching Writing

Based on ATESL Best Practices for Adult EAL and LINC Programming in Alberta, this workshop explores principles and strategies for teaching writing. Participants will gain familiarity with the Canadian Language Benchmarks, discover useful resources, and learn how to design a writing lesson.

Task-Based Language Teaching

This workshop introduces participants to the theory and practice of Task- Based Language Teaching, an approach to 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.

Teaching by Theme

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 workshop will look at what
themes are, and explore topics related to specific themes, activities, as well as useful resources and activities.  This workshop can be offered as a 1-hour workshop that focuses specifically on one of the following themes: 
Getting to Know You
Home and Community
Food and Nutrition Health
Safety Financial Literacy

Teaching CLB 1-2

This workshop is for participants who want to develop or enhance their ability to create lessons for CLB 1-2 learners, based on the CLB competencies. By the end of the webinar, participants will have ideas of the specific vocabulary, grammar, and strategies required by CLB 1-2 learners for all the four skill areas.

Teaching ESL Literacy Learners

Through this workshop, participants will learn how to recognize ESL literacy learners, distinguish between the different levels of ESL literacy as defined by the Canadian Language Benchmarks, explore principles for ESL literacy instruction, and identify strategies and resources for teaching ESL literacy learners.

Teaching Pre-Benchmark Learners

Participants in this workshop will develop or enhance their ability to create lesson plans based on the Canadian Language Benchmark competencies. Participants will be shown steps that apply to any CLB level; however, this workshop is specific to creating lesson plans for pre-Benchmark CLB learners.

Tutor Training Using the Foundational Numeracy Modules and Assessing Learner Abilities

This workshop is for instructors, tutors, and program staff who work directly with numeracy learners. In this workshop, participants will learn to use the modules effectively with their learners in one on one and small group settings. We will also explore ways of using the module assessments as a learning tool.

Tools and Resources for Teaching

ATESL Best Practices

This workshop introduces participants to ATESL’s Best Practices for Adult EAL 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 EAL context.

An ESL Toolkit of Educational Games and Activities

Explore over 55 educational games and activities you can use to make your
ESL classes more fun. You will learn how to use them to reinforce grammar, thematic vocabulary, and the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

Introduction to LINC Works

LINC Works integrates essential skills, entry-level certifications, and facilitated work placements into programming for newcomers to better prepare them to enter the workforce and maintain employment. The project focuses on learners at CLB levels 3 and 5, and will be applicable for a variety of programs. This workshop presents the LINC Works materials and guides tutors and teachers to make the best use of this resource.

Introduction to Open Educational Resource (OER)

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.

The Language Experience Method for Beginning and Literacy Learners

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.

Online Resources for ESL

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.

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.


In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the concept of pragmatics, and learn how to incorporate pragmatics into your classes and explore useful resources.

Setting and Maintaining Professional Boundaries for ESL Providers

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.

Teaching Financial Literacy to English Language Learners

During this workshop participants will identify learner needs and concept related to financial literacy. Participants will also look at ways to incorporate financial literacy into their lesson plans and useful resources.

Teaching Idioms

This workshop is for participants working with English language learners who are at an intermediate level and higher. During this workshop, participants 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.

Tips and Tools for Successful Conversation Groups

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, the different ways conversation groups can be organized to meet learner needs, as well as ideas and tips to use in tutorial sessions and classrooms.

Tools & Resources for ESL Providers

ESL Providers will be introduced to the services offered by Rural Routes (mentorships, workshops, resources, classroom visits, website), as well as to English as an additional language (EAL) terminology.

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.

Warmers and Fillers for Teaching

Have you ever found yourself with a small block of time you needed to fill in your class/tutoring time because your lesson ran shorter than you planned?
Have you ever wished you had an activity to bring energy into your
lesson? Participants in this interactive workshop will discover warm up and filler activities to add to their toolkit. Participants will also leave with a handout filled with great warm up and filler activities.

Teaching Online

Games and Activities for Online Learning

An online instructor’s role can be a struggle, and keeping learners engaged while teaching can seem at times to be a monumental task. Join us for this interactive webinar to discover games and activities that will capture and keep your learners' attention from the moment they log in.

Online Facilitation Skills

In this workshop, we will explore different strategies to support online learning. If you are new to online facilitation or looking for new interactive teaching methods this webinar will provide practical ideas for online facilitation.

Practical Ideas for Blended Learning

The growing prevalence of technology inside and outside the classroom makes things a whole lot easier to keep your learner(s) engaged with activities even when they’ve gone home. Blended classes aim to take the best aspects of online learning and combine them with the best aspects of traditional classes for a more comprehensive learning experience.


CELPIP Preparation

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

In this workshop, participants will explore the essential components of citizenship preparation courses for EAL 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.

ESL Assessment

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.

IELTS Preparation

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.

Orientation to Rural Routes Assessment Tool

Designed for the Rural Routes program, and based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), this four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) assessment tool will help program coordinators identify approximate CLB levels in order to place learners, make instructional decisions, and determine a learner’s readiness for a formal CLB assessment.

Community Connections and Programming

An Integrated Approach to ESL and Family Literacy

Family literacy practitioners will acquire tools and strategies to support ESL families. The course includes discussion of culture, traditions, and best practices for merging ESL and Family Literacy programs.

Developing Community Partnerships to Support Newcomers

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.

ESL Outside the Box

Are you and your learners tired of the same old routines? Do you have learners who are not available for regular classes or tutoring? This workshop showcases unusual but effective ways of setting up ESL learning in your community. Participants will explore unique formats for organizing ESL classes and tutoring, identify best practices for fostering meaningful and engaging learning opportunities in non-traditional settings, and learn how to implement teaching strategies and ideas in non-traditional settings.

Preparing Refugees for the Post-Sponsorship Period

In this workshop, participants will acquire information and resources to support refugees who are nearing the end of the sponsorship period in order to guide the refugees to self-sufficiency. This workshop is developed for anyone who is involved in refugee sponsorship.

Starting or Inheriting an ESL Program: Steps to Success

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.

Volunteer Engagement for ESL Providers

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.

Inclusion and Diversity

Everyone is Welcome!

Teachers and tutors never know who will walk through their doors! Everyone is Welcome! explores one more element of diversity in our ESL classrooms: the different ways our brains are wired. During this workshop, we will overview Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Learning Disabilities.

Interrupting Bias

Conscious and unconscious biases are part of being human. During this interactive workshop, participants will examine what bias is and how to mitigate bias.     Participants will also learn practices that are helpful to effectively set expectations for valuing diverse viewpoints and facilitating respectful conversations. The information and teaching practices discussed in this workshop can be utilized in a variety of disciplines/areas to promote equity and inclusion.

Introduction to Intercultural Communication

In this workshop, participants are invited to reflect on foundational concepts related to culture, including how culture is defines, how it relates to people’s behaviours and values, and how to respond to unfamiliar encounters with mindfulness, in order to foster effective communication and build relationships.

Learning Disabilities and ESL

Learning English is difficult. How much more challenging is it when you have a learning disability! This workshop will discuss strategies to help your learners read and write. Though these strategies are designed for learners with learning disabilities, all learners can benefit from a fresh approach to reading and writing.

The LGBTQ+ in the EAL Classroom

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.

Parenting in Two Cultures

Newcomers often struggle with childrearing in a culture with very different practices and expectations from their own. This workshop looks into some of the challenges newcomer parents and children face and gives practical suggestions on how to teach newcomer parenting to negotiate the gap.

Promoting Indigenous Awareness: The Elders Speak

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.

Supporting Learners with Mental Health Challenges

Many newcomers struggle with mental health issues. In this three-hour workshop, participants will become familiar with mental health issues and how they impact adult English language learners. Participants will also learn how to plan and implement instruction that is sensitive to and inclusive of individuals with these issues. The workshop will address when and where to seek professional help and how to refer learners to a mental health professional in a tactful and non-intrusive manner. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore mental health curriculum resources for use with learners.

What is really going on here…and does it matter?

A learner may not be making progress – but why? Is it because they have never had the chance to go to school and are just now learning how to read and write? Is it trauma? Is it just language development? Is it a learning disability? Is it stress? This workshop will explore common challenges for all of these folks and effective teaching strategies to help all of them progress.

Working with Trauma Affected ESL Learners

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.