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The Stories of Us Curriculum


Anne Cairns

Anne Cairns has been in the field of ESL education for over 30 years. Her overseas experience includes teaching English in Japan, India and New Zealand. In Canada, Anne has taught in various ESL and LINC programs with the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, where she was PBLA Lead Instructor. While serving as Membership Secretary on the TESL Toronto executive board, Anne helped establish the TESL Toronto PD Bursary Fund. Anne was a contributing writer to the resource English for Financial Literacy, and a content writer for the CELPIP General English proficiency test. She has also presented several workshops at TESL Ontario and affiliate conferences. As the co-creator of a program called the Read to Speak Adult ESL Book Club, Anne continues to enjoy engaging with newcomers from around the world.

Anne MacGregor-O’Neill

Anne MacGregor-O’Neill worked for over 25 years teaching English-as-a Second Language to newcomers in Toronto. Besides teaching in the Continued Education Department of the TCDSB and in LINC classrooms, she also taught an ESL prenatal class and a customer service program. She is now retired and with a colleague coordinates the Read to Speak Adult ESL Book Club in partnership with the Toronto Public Library.

Marie Elizabeth Roder

Marie majored in Harp at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts during her high school years. She then received her Bachelor of Music in Performance in Harp in 2007.  She went on to Seneca College to obtain a certificate in teaching English as a Second Language. Marie currently teaches LINC (Language Instruction to Newcomers) at the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto, and has been a language instructor there for over 12 years. She continues to perform harp for various events across the GTA. Aside from her work with newcomers and her love for music, Marie is an active mental health advocate. She has educated youth in high schools and she has spoken in several public engagements and mental health conferences about eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness. She was chosen to run the VANOC 2010 Olympic torch run, as a representative of the GTA because of her work surrounding mental health.

Teresa Wiens

I am the Head and a Lead Language Teacher at the Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto which serves newcomers to Canada. I come to the experience of teaching through theatre. In the classroom, I understand that learning a second language is painful. Trying to master a second language as an adult means you will feel vulnerable, because you sound like a child. You have mature thoughts to express but they don’t come out the way you want them to. If I can keep them laughing long enough to become playful with the language, instead of worrying about grammar and mistakes, then it’s easier for the second language to emerge. The heavy moments still come … but the laughing makes room for trust, which allows the important conversations to come up, which are a key part of the experience of a second language classroom. I teach grammar, grounded in their own life experience, so that they can tell their own story. I teach them to trust that the eloquence, wit and wisdom that they express in their first language is possible in a second language as well.

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