2019 TESL Sask/SKTEAL Conference


Sharon Rajabi
Title - Digital Literacy: How does it relate to language learning?

This presentation will focus on the applications of digital literacy in language teaching and learning. In the 21st century where all our lives are consumed by technology, we find that the majority of ESL and LINC classes are taught as face to face.  In this presentation, we will explore the impact of technology on language learning and the place of digital literacy in today’s classroom.  We will examine the effect of the digital world on adult learners’ language learning and see how online learning is aligned with the adult education framework and if and how it can improve language learning.
In particular, we will explore questions such as: Can a virtual classroom be designed as a task-based, learner centred, and competency based language course? Can online delivery be aligned with the Canadian Language Benchmarks?  As a service provider, what are our obligations to the clients and funders in 2019?
Sharon Rajabi, M.Ed. works as a Consultant and Project Manager for the Toronto Catholic District School Board and currently manages the National Curriculum Guidelines and the e-Learning project funded by IRCC and the Ontario government respectively. Sharon’s interest is in the application of technology in Second Language Acquisition & its impact on second language learning.  In 2007, Sharon authored Step Forward Canada Books 1 & 2, published by Oxford University Press.
Dr. Zhi Li
Title - Language Assessment Literacy: What is it and who should care about it?

As a language teacher, we have to deal with assessment-related activities regularly, such as adapting existing materials for assessment purposes, writing items or preparing assessment tasks, evaluating students’ assessment performance, communicating with students about assessment outcomes (i.e., scores), and tracking students’ progress. All these activities require some knowledge and skills in language assessment, which are usually conceptualized as language assessment literacy. Given the need for various assessment practices in language education (e.g., standardized tests, portfolio-based assessment, peer-assessment, and self-assessment), language assessment literacy is an important part of language teachers’ professional development. In this talk, I will review some recent research on language assessment literacy, which is primarily from the perspectives of language teachers and test score users, and discuss the implications of language assessment literacy studies for language education practitioners. Building on the current views of language assessment literacy, I will emphasize the importance of students’ language assessment literacy as well because the students as the largest group of assessment or test stakeholders may enhance their learning with informed views of language assessment practices in and outside the classroom. I will conclude the talk with some guidelines for assessment practices and a research agenda on language assessment literacy.  

Dr. Zhi Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Saskatchewan (UoS), Canada. Before joining UoS, he worked as a Language Assessment Specialist at Paragon Testing Enterprises, Canada and a sessional instructor in the Department of Adult Learning at the University of the Fraser Valley, Canada. Zhi Li holds a doctoral degree in applied linguistics and technology from Iowa State University, USA. His research interests include language assessment, technology-supported language teaching and learning, corpus linguistics, and computational linguistics. His research papers have been published in TESL Canada Journal, System, CALICO Journal, and Language Learning & Technology.
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Dr. Tracey Derwing
Title - New Directions for L2 Pronunciation Teaching and Research

For several decades applied linguists complained about the lack of both pedagogical research and instruction of L2 pronunciation, especially for English. Teachers were reluctant to incorporate pronunciation into their classes for many reasons, mostly because they didn’t know where to begin. The last fifteen years, however, have witnessed a dramatic increase in applied L2 research, and a greater awareness of a need for a focus on pronunciation in teacher education. The current status of pronunciation research for pedagogical purposes will be described, including issues of the ultimate goals of intelligibility and comprehensibility, rather than native-like accuracy. Although there is a long history of L2 phonetics research, much of that work has not made its way into pedagogical circles, although that is beginning to change. However, ‘accent reduction,’ as opposed to ‘pronunciation instruction’ has become a popular and lucrative niche for entrepreneurs who may have no appropriate training to facilitate more comprehensible L2 speech. Other issues that concern the teaching of L2 pronunciation, such as assessment will be touched on. Furthermore, the responsibilities of the interlocutor will also be discussed: for too long the L2 learner has borne most of the burden of communication.

Dr. Tracey Derwing is a professor emeritus of TESL (Educational Psychology) at the University of Alberta, and an Adjunct Professor in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University. With Murray Munro, she has extensively researched L2 pronunciation and fluency, especially the relationships among intelligibility, comprehensibility, and accent. In 2015, Tracey and Murray co-published Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-based Perspectives for L2 Teaching and Research, a comprehensive examination of pronunciation research with relevance for the classroom. Tracey has also investigated native speakers’ speech modifications for L2 speakers, and interventions to enhance native speakers’ comprehension of L2 accented speech. In addition, she has conducted workplace studies involving pragmatics and pronunciation. As a director of The Prairie Metropolis Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration for eleven years, Tracey has a strong interest in factors contributing to successful social integration of newcomers, most notably, the development of strong oral communication skills.