The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County

Dan Carpino, Introducing Challenging Topics to Adult English as an Additional Language (EAL) Learners


Short Interview

Dan teaches advanced English classes at The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County. He promotes oral discussion in his English as an Additional Language (EAL) classroom by introducing topics that relate to current and pertinent social events, new laws and government decisions. He encourages his adult learners to explore and expand their views as well as others’ opinions on a variety of topics. While some topics may be controversial, opening such conversations in class allows Dan to communicate classroom and social rules of mutual respect among his students in the class and the broader community.

Díaz-Rico (2012) writes, “It is imperative that teachers encourage the language that is needed and desired by the students, and if that desire does not exist, to evoke those emotions and motivations as an integral part of instruction” (p. 37). Díaz-Rico continues, “Instruction – particularly in a second language – that is not meaningful and motivating to the learner becomes empty” (2012, p. 37). By allowing his students to discuss a variety of topics, Dan encourages the use of language that is relevant to students’ daily lives and interactions within their community. As Díaz-Rico writes, “Language learning occurs within social and cultural contexts” (2012, p. 78). Thus, language instruction becomes a task that supports students in gaining both the proper conventions of written and oral language as well as perspective and an opportunity to discuss social issues that affect their daily lives. Díaz-Rico (2012) states, “Proficiency in a second language also means becoming a member of the community that uses this language to interact, learn, conduct business, and love and hate, among other social activities” (p. 78). Listen below as Dan shares his approach to engaging his EAL adult learners in discussing controversial topics.

Karin Falconer, Language Learning
Enriched by Technology

Short Interview

Karin is adult educator for English as an Additional Language (EAL) adult learners who are learning the target language English at the The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County. She explains how she uses technology in the classroom to expand on traditional practices of word definition.

Cope and Kalantzis (2009) explain, “The logic of multiliteracies is one which recognizes that meaning-making is an active, transformative process, and pedagogy based on that recognition is more likely to open up viable life courses for a world of change and diversity” (p. 10). Accordingly, Karin uses technology to save time and help her adult learners gain a visual understanding, rather than abstract understanding, of concepts. For example, in the video below, Karin talks about teaching the word “salmon” and the concept of this type of fishing. Díaz-Rico (2012) states, “The instant communication available through the Internet connects students with other parts of the world, with speakers of English, and with rich sources in information” (p. 187). By using technology, Karin brought these concepts closer to her students, for instance, making the word “salmon” more immediate, real, and tangible.

Moreover, Karin specifies the importance of adult educators’ adaptability and flexibility to their classroom and adult learners’ academic, social, and personal needs. Díaz-Rico (2012) reminds teachers and adult educators that collaboration is also vital for “achieving social justice: equal access to, and opportunity for, equal education for all students” (p. 5). Listen below to Karin describe how she incorporates technology in innovative ways to teach her adult EAL learners.