Concordia launches new Teaching English as a Second Language Resource Centre
Concordia’s Department of Education recently launched the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Resource Centre — a web-based initiative that provides resources for TESL students to support their studies and transition into the workforce.
The centre is run by a team of master’s and undergraduate students supervised by undergraduate program director and assistant professor Teresa Hernandez Gonzalez. Their goal is to build connection within the TESL community.
“We are excited to see how this program will strengthen bonds between current students and alumni and build a community of engaged teachers,” says Sara Kennedy, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Education.
Tackling teacher attrition
According to Hernandez Gonzalez, teachers were showing signs of stress well before the additional challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Teaching is not an easy profession and has a lot of demands from parents, students and society,” she says. “After students graduate, they enter the profession and feel these demands are too challenging. Many leave after five years.”
Hernandez Gonzalez says she conceived of the TESL Resource Centre as a way to tackle the issue of teacher attrition by creating supportive communities and offering resources for overwhelmed teachers.
“We’ve realized that those teachers who choose to stay do so because of a strong network that offers a lot of creativity and informal mentoring,” she says.
Podcast: Talking TESL
The centre’s official podcast, Talking TESL, focuses on different areas of teaching, offers learning experiences and provides advice on how to navigate the courses and internships in order to thrive in the TESL program.
Sivan Black-Rotchin, the podcast’s coordinator and host, discusses TESL-related topics from four perspectives. “I try to feature the voices of all members of Concordia’s TESL community,” she says. “I interview ESL learners, TESL students, faculty members, and graduates who now teach at different institutions in Montreal.”
The aim, Black-Rotchin adds, is to provide a space for conversation to learn from one another in the field.
Community and mentoring coordinator Lisa Gonzales explains that another centre initiative is its mentoring program, which pairs a recent TESL program graduate with a more experienced peer to foster personal and professional growth through collaboration and mutual support.
Undergraduate TESL student and mentoring assistant Lauren Mallais-De Luca works with Gonzales on the platform’s mentoring section to create research-based resources including questionnaires, infographics, video presentations and more.
“I have an interesting perspective because I’m part of the audience the TESL Resource Centre is targeting,” Mallais-De Luca says. “While working on creating these resources, I can also see the benefits of them. And when I graduate and begin my career, I’d love to be part of this mentoring program.”
The website’s TESL Landscape page provides digestible and visually appealing means of accessing and understanding resources offered to students throughout the TESL program.
“From day one, we want our students to get a clear view of the program so they can better navigate through their studies,” Hernandez Gonzalez notes.
“We move away from documents and offer more dynamic material, like infographics, video tutorials and examples of coursework. The ultimate goal is to build their autonomy and self-confidence.”
Undergraduate student and TESL Landscape assistant Catherine Dolan works on creating content for the website along with the TESL Moodle page, which is accessible to students in the program.
“A lot of teachers might get overwhelmed and think that they have to create everything from scratch, but that’s not actually the case,” Dolan says.
Hernandez Gonzalez builds on this point. “Teachers are not born, they are made,” she says. “We became teachers by reflecting on our own practice and being surrounded by people who will help us grow.”
Find out more about Concordia’s online Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Resource Centre.