Helen Hefter, College ESL Specialist

This interview with Helen Hefter, ESL specialist, follows on my first interview with Chris Rush of Off2Class about helping struggling English language learners.

Helen Hefter teaches college-level ESL and academic writing in Montreal. She has taught English as a second language at two universities in South Korea. She currently teaches at Montmorency College in Laval, Québec and has been teaching there since 2016. She has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, a TESL certificate, and a Masters degree in Applied linguistics from Concordia University. She lives with her husband and two kids in Montréal, Canada.

In the interview, Helen talks about teaching upper-level English language learners about literary analysis and writing using the novel, Refugee. She also raves about using the online Academic Writing Course (AWC) to support her teaching. (In the francophone college system in Québec, the course she focuses on is known as 103A.)

01:30: What are some of the main challenges as an ESL specialist in teaching at a francophone college in bilingual Montreal?

02:48: What do you enjoy most about teaching at this level?

03:40: What skills does the 103A course focus on?

03:58: How do you approach teaching with a novel?

05:20: So you do hybrid teaching, combining classroom teaching and online work.

05:30 Tell me about the speaking activity.

06:48 So students were allowed to read their original text.

07:32 That was an entirely individual assignment. Did you do any group work?

08:32 Did you use any other kinds of reading or listening in the course?

09:35 Do you have many students changing countries?

10:12 What about teaching writing and the Virtual Writing Tutor?

11:20 I see that the Pen pal exchange is a new feature. Is that working well?

11:48 Do you do international exchanges?

12:20 A question about attitude and motivation.

13:10 Tell me three takeaways from today’s interview? What would you recommend or suggest to teachers?

As I mentioned, Helen talked about how useful she found the AWC, the online Academic Writing Course, for teaching literary analysis and academic writing.

The AWC is the core element of my new college-level textbook, Actively Engaged in Academic Writing. Find about the top features of this new book coming out in early August, 2019 from Bokomaru publications.


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