Canadian English: Not Just a Hybrid of American and British English

December 13, 2011

NALD logoA number of years ago I had the pleasure of participating in a professional development workshop in Cuba for English teachers there. Due to the large numbers of Canadian tourists in Cuba, the teachers were intensely interested in “Canadian” English. They asked, “What is Canadian English?”, “How does it differ from British English? Or American English?” and “Is there really such a thing as ‘Canadian’ words?”

I wrote a paper on the topic of Canadian English for the workshop and I must say, I was surprised at how much I learned about my own language!

The National Adult Literacy Database (NALD) has archived the paper and has made it available for all researchers, teachers and literacy practitioners free of charge. Download your free copy of “Canadian English: Not Just a Hybrid of British and American English”.

________________

Like this post? Share or Tweet it: Canadian English: Not Just a Hybrid of American and British English http://wp.me/pNAh3-15H

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


The Need For Increased Integration of Technology and Digital Skills in the Literacy Field in Canada

December 2, 2011

Need for Increased Tech in Literacy by Sarah Elaine Eaton, Calgary, CanadaIt’s here! The Need For Increased Integration of Technology and Digital Skills in the Literacy Field in Canada has just been released.

Technology does not need to be adopted because it is fashionable, but because the face of learning worldwide has changed dramatically over the past several decades at all levels, from early childhood education to workforce training. When literacy professionals integrate technology in meaningful ways, they ultimately help learners prepare for long-term success.

This report highlights the changing landscape of Canadian education and training (though the findings may relate to other regions, too). It offers recommendations for literacy organizations, managers, coordinators, staff, volunteer tutors and other practitioners to incorporate technology into professional practice in an easily accessible manner that focuses on building professional competencies.

Topics covered include:

  • The changing nature of education and training.
  • The current state of literacy instruction.
  • Emerging models of technology integration in the literacy field.
  • The need for continuing professional development.
  • Recommendations.

Bibliography contains 36 references. Get your copy here: http://www.onatepress.com/titles/the-need-for-technology-in-literacy/

This publication is also available through the ERIC database: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED526087.pdf

______________

Like this post? Share or Tweet it: The Need For Increased Integration of Technology and Digital Skills in the Literacy Field in Canada  http://wp.me/pNAh3-12r

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


You thought Canada was a literate country? Think again

May 26, 2011

In 2003, the International Adult Literacy Skills Survey (IALLS) tested more than 23,000 Canadians in four areas:

  • prose literacy
  • document literacy
  • numeracy
  • problem-solving

Proficiency was rated on the basis of levels one to five, that is, lowest to highest. Level 3 corresponds roughly to high school completion.

In case you’re wondering what this test was all about anyway… IALLS is the Canadian component of the “Adult Literacy and Life Skills” study, which was a joint project of the Government of Canada, the US National Center for Education Statistics and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The larger study was an international undertaking, involving thousands of people from numerous countries. In the literacy world, it’s a big deal. The results are a big deal for all of us Canadians. We have more work to do to raise the bar for all Canadians.

Literacy isn’t a black and white issue. It’s not a matter of “You can read” or “You can’t read”. There’s a continuum. Skills can be built at any time over the life span. They can also decline if we don’t use them.

Sad blonde girl with bookThere is an idea out there at literacy is “an immigrant problem.” Well, folks, it’s a myth. While it’s true that about 60% of new immigrants to Canada scored below Level 3 on the IALSS test, there are tens of thousands of people born right here in Canada who lack sufficient literacy skills.

One shocking result of the test?

2% of Canadian born university-educated individuals scored at the lowest level of prose literacy.

We have to ask ourselves: How are we allowing these people to slip through the cracks, grade after grade and year after year? How is it that someone born in Canada can graduate with an undergraduate degree when they score at the lowest level possible on an international literacy test? Although those results are troubling, some might argue that those people are the exception, that they are the outliers on the bell curve of test results.

Before you write off the stats as being an exception, think about this result:

About 37% of the total Canadian-born population scored below Level 3 in prose literacy.

In other words, about 9 million Canadian-born adult citizens lack sufficient literacy skills to function in the workplace.

Let’s put that into perspective for a minute.

9 Million people…

That’s the entire population of Nova Scotia. Multiplied by 9.

The number of people killed during the Russian Revolution over half a decade from 1917-1922.

The number of people in the UK who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

The number of people who follow Justin Bieber on Twitter.

Just under the total number of people in the entire world who suffer from hunger.

However you look at it, 9 million is a lot of people.

What can we do, Canada, to raise the bar for literacy?

References:

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/051109/dq051109a-eng.htm

Related posts

Canada’s 9 Literacy and Essential Skills http://wp.me/pNAh3-qi

Literacy and Essential Skills (video) http://wp.me/pNAh3-y

“The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read” http://wp.me/pNAh3-H1

_________________

Share this post: You thought Canada was a literate country? Think again http://wp.me/pNAh3-G7

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


My Calgary Includes Both Official Languages in Schools

April 27, 2011

School girl on stairsI was astounded when I saw the headline tweet from the Calgary Herald: “French classes no longer mandatory in Calgary schools“. I read the article and astonishment turned to dismay.

It used to be that in Calgary, children in grades four to six had to learn French, Canada’s other official language. It seems that the Calgary Board of Education has now made it the choice of each individual school whether or not they choose to teach French to their students. The school may make its decision based on demand and interest. This decision comes just days after another announcement that the school board will cut hundreds of teaching jobs this year.

Is this a coincidence? I hardly think so.

While there is ample research that demonstrates the benefits of language learning on overall cognitive development, including math and problem solving skills, our local public school board has effectively said “if there’s no demand, there’s no reason to have these classes.” Just because I personally had no desire to take math in school, that didn’t make it optional.

Canada is a bilingual country. While many of us may never achieve full bilingual fluency, leaving cultural and linguistic exposure up to “school choice” and “student choice” won’t help us build a twenty-first century global citizenry. Nor will it help those children later in life if they ever want a job with the federal government. A job with the feds requires functional fluency… and our students won’t even get exposure to our country’s other official language.

The idea of making language learning choice-driven is akin to making it market driven. I’m all for marketing of language programs and promoting second language learning. I literally did a PhD thesis on marketing of language programs. In fact, I’m not even a huge proponent of mandatory language learning.

If it was really about “choice” or “market demand”, the board could have hired a market research firm to determine what classes would be among students’ first choice… Would the sciences be among most students’ favorites? Or phys ed? The answer is… no one knows. Because no one in Calgary has actually done any research to find out what students want now… and what skills they will need for their jobs later in life.

But this isn’t really about market demand or choice is it? This is about finding ways to cut programs, cut costs, cut jobs. It’s about balancing a budget in the short term… and doing it slyly and indirectly by making mandatory classes optional. No one’s thinking about making sciences optional here… just our country’s other official language.

And it’s gob-smackingly short sighted.

We don’t ask children if they’d like the choice to study math or English or science when they’re in grades four to six. It’s part of our job as responsible adults, parents and community leaders to provide them opportunities for learning that will serve as the foundation for more learning into the high school years… and later as the foundation for skills that will get them jobs and provide them with critical thinking skills as they then become the guardians of the next generation. It’s our job to get them excited about learning, keep their minds open and their motivation levels soaring so they engage in learning in new and innovative ways.

In Calgary, we seem to have forgotten that. Mon dieu…. Père, pardonne-leur car ils ne savent pas ce qu’ils font.

______________________

Share this post: My Calgary Includes Both Official Languages in Schools http://wp.me/pNAh3-DJ

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


%d bloggers like this: