Faculty Development Workshops

CELLTR will continue its popular speaker series in Fall 2018, which welcomes both local and international speakers to share research-informed and practical topics on English language learning, teaching, and support relevant to those who work in multilingual university contexts at SFU and beyond. Please check back for information on upcoming speaker events.

Registration is recommended. These sessions are open to the public for drop-in as well.

Thursday | Feb 28, 2019
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

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Lessons learned: Best practices and principles stemming from university-based content-based language learning programs


Dr. Jérémie Séror
Director, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) and Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa

As increasingly plurilingual and intercultural spaces, universities face the challenge of redefining traditional approaches used to respond to the presence of multilingual language learners on campuses (Marshall & Moore, 2013). This talk will explore the implications that can be drawn from research on the application of content-based language learning approaches in higher education contexts (Knoerr, Weinberg, & Gohard-Radenkovic, 2016; Lyster & Ballinger, 2011; Soltero, 2018) to create inclusive and supportive spaces that foster both literacy and disciplinary development for such learners.  After reviewing the unique challenges that stem from the increasing presence of students whose dominant literacy practices may differ from those valued in their programs, the presentation will explore specific examples of how university-based content and language integrated learning programs have sought to address such students’ needs.  The talk will examine these programs’ focus on curricular design and pedagogy and their emphasis on a collaborative effort between literacy and disciplinary programs and the instructors that deliver this content to students. A review of best practices stemming from this approach will underscore the training and resources required to support instructors and staff as they navigate changing roles and responsibilities associated to mediating an increasingly blurred divide between the disciplines and language and literacy development. The talk will end by discussing lessons learned about the crucial importance of a university-wide, integrated approach to the successful implementation of content-based language learning programs and the need to address and challenge beliefs, discourses, and practices that can limit language learners’ integration and success in higher education.


Knoerr, H., Weinberg, A., & Gohard-Radenkovic, A. (Eds.). (2016). L’immersion française à l'université: Politiques et pédagogies. Ottawa: Les presses de l’Université d’Ottawa

Lyster, R., & Ballinger, S. (2011). Content-based language teaching: Convergent concerns across divergent contexts. Language Teaching Research, 15(3), 279-288.

Marshall, S., & Moore, D. (2013). 2B or not 2B plurilingual? Navigating languages literacies, and plurilingual competence in postsecondary education in Canada. Tesol Quarterly, 47(3), 472-499.

Soltero, S. (2018). Dual language higher education: Post-secondary discipline-based bilingual immersion. In H. Knoerr, A. Weinberg, & C. E. Buchanan (Eds.), Current issues in university immersion (pp. 29-54). Ottawa: Groupe de recherche en immersion au niveau universitaire (GRINU).

Thursday | Feb 7, 2019
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

Students’ intercultural experiences in an internationalizing university in Shanghai: A critical discursive perspective


Dr. Carol (Yang) Song
Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Fudan University, Shanghai

The present study examines how different discourses on culture and intercultural communication were involved in structuring and shaping intercultural experiences of international students and home students in English-medium-instruction (EMI) Master’s degree programmes in a top-rated comprehensive university in Shanghai, China. The analysis shows that national, municipal and institutional policies and practices play a key role in creating the unique educational spaces in which the students are immersed, and their intercultural experiences are infused with cultural dichotomies saturating the urban and campus spaces under the ‘China Discourse’ publicized by the Chinese government. Instances of interpersonal ‘othering’ among international and home students revolve around multiple axes of differentiation (i.e., political, economic, academic/linguistic and experiential); however, a few student informants have developed critical cosmopolitan mindsets (Appiah 2005; Hannerz 2009; Hawkins 2018). Implications on internationalization of higher education polices are discussed in the context of China.

Dr. Carol (Yang) Song is currently an assistant professor at the Department of English Language and Literature, Fudan University, Shanghai. Her research interest includes internationalization of higher education, identity and intercultural communication, multilingual linguistic landscapes and digital literacies.

Thursday | Jan 24, 2019
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

Institutional and pedagogical perspectives on an innovative content-based academic language and literacy curriculum


Dr. Alfredo Ferreira
Lecturer, Academic English Program, UBC Vantage College

This presentation/workshop on content-based academic language and literacy programming begins with an introduction to the Academic English Program at UBC Vantage College (VC). VC is an alternative-entry, first-year program for scholastically well-prepared international students who do not meet UBC’s English language proficiency requirements for direct entry. The mandate and architecture of VC highlight the institutional support in the faculties of Arts, Management, Applied Science, and Science for tailored, innovative content-based language and literacy programming.

To provide participants with an initial understanding and experience of the context-sensitive approach to language and literacy supports of the Academic English program in particular, the facilitator will workshop a tool from the foundational writing course – we call it the Academic Writing Matrix – that sets out the three concurrent functions of language in situated contexts (Humphrey et al, 2010): with language, we represent human experience, enact social identities and relations, and organize messages (Halliday, 1994). These functions are unpacked and illustrated at various levels of granularity relevant to writing across disciplinary contexts, using student questions about their writing as prompts for exploring the explicit, language-based pedagogy. The presentation then moves to illustrate how the approaches to language and tasks in the foundational course are articulated in the more discipline-specific adjunct courses, with a focus on student work, speech genres, and the Science stream.

Participants are invited to stay after the first 60 minutes of the presentation/workshop for up to 30 minutes of questions and discussion.

Thursday | Nov 29, 2018
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

Faculty Perceptions of Teaching EAL students at a Canadian Transnational Branch Campus: What we learned, what we did about it, and what it means for our context


Dr. Brad Johnson
Director, Learning and Teacher Centre

Transnational branch campuses involve a home campus at a transactional distance from the branch campus (geographic, language, culture). Branch campuses typically bring a curriculum and pedagogy from home institutions that is delivered in English to students who are fluent in the regional language, but may have varying degrees of proficiency in English. Faculty often arrive with little or no international experience and are unprepared for the linguistic, cultural and educational differences they encounter. Through a process of awareness and adaptation often initiated by disequilibrium and frustration, faculty learned to be successful in their new environment. What can we learn from these experiences? How might they impact our practice ‘back home’?

As a way of beginning our discussion, we will begin with a review of faculty perceptions of students and teaching gathered through a survey conducted at the University of Calgary – Qatar in 2012.

This presentation will also report on an extended new faculty orientation program that was designed to mitigate challenges and to foster success in teaching and learning at UCQ.  The lessons learned can inform how faculty across the disciplines can address the increasing linguistic and cultural diversity on Canadian campuses in a globalized educational context.

Wednesday | May 16, 2018
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

Evidence-informed lessons learned in integrating critical thinking, writing, and business in a multilingual, multicultural classroom


Stephen Spector
Director of Undergraduate Programs, Beedie School of Business

Dr. Valia Spiliotopoulos
CELLTR Director & Associate Professor of Professional Practice, Faculty of Education

Laura Baumvol

Susan-Christie Bell

This session will highlight ‘lessons learned’ in rolling out three sections of the BUS 217 Critical Thinking in Business course collaboration between CELLTR and Beedie School of Business since the initial pilot in fall 2017. We will review trends in impact assessment results, as well as the opportunities and challenges in co-teaching, assessment, coordination of disciplinary and ‘language’ TAs, and multilingual student learning that integrates writing with critical thinking in business education.

Wednesday | April 4, 2018
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

What does research tell us about second language pronunciation learning and teaching?


Dr. Murray J. Munro
Professor, Department of Linguistics

Speaking with a nonnative accent is a normal aspect of second language acquisition. Even after many years of residence in a new country, most L2 users, including some young arrivals, retain “foreign” patterns of speech. In the majority of cases, sounding non-native poses few barriers to successful communication. If that were not true, human interaction in culturally diverse cities like Vancouver would be impossibly difficult. Nonetheless, some types of L2 pronunciation difficulties do cause communicative breakdowns that can be frustrating for both speakers and their interlocutors. Findings from pronunciation research are now helping us to identify these issues and to assist learners in resolving them. While this line of work shows considerable promise, it is essential to distinguish approaches to pronunciation that are ethical and evidence-based from the questionable practices of so-called “accent reduction” specialists who promote and capitalize on learners’ anxieties about their speech.

Thursday | March 1, 2018
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby


Teaching multilingual students across the disciplines: Can instructors make use of languages other than English as assets for learning in their classes?


Dr. Steve Marshall
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education

One of the key tenets of plurilingual education is the view that students’ languages should be viewed as assets for learning in linguistically-diverse classes, and that instructors should open up spaces for students to use different languages in their classes.  But how realistic is this in classes across the disciplines at a university such as SFU? In this presentation, Dr. Marshall will present data from a one-year study of plurilingualism as an asset for learning across the disciplines at SFU. Findings from the study reveal a complex inter-relationship and tensions between language, disciplinary content, and course objectives, which made plurilingual approaches successful in some contexts and problematic in others. Attendees will be welcomed to share ideas about how they respond to linguistically diverse teaching and learning environments at SFU, and the challenges they face, as students and instructors.

Wednesday | November 22, 2017
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby


Past expectations, current experiences, and imagined futures: Narrative accounts of Chinese international students in Canada


Dr. Olivia Zhihua Zhang
Director of Education, Trinity Language Centre

The internationalization of higher education has led to the influx of Chinese international students in Canada. The literature on these students usually addresses the factors that drive them to Canada, their learning experiences, and the impact of the stereotypical constructions of “Chinese learners” on their language learning. But the literature does not connect the current learning experiences of these students to their past back in China and the futures in their imagination. This session will outline partial findings on the English learning and IELTS test preparing/writing experiences of ten Chinese international students in a Canadian university. The stories show how they observed discrepancies between the English test-tackling strategies and their university learning, misconstrued IELTS preparation as English learning, and challenged the power of IELTS in shaping their English learning experiences and themselves as English learners. Narratives about how they imagined their futures at different stages of their learning will be presented too. An analysis of the stories in this study suggests that the current learning experiences of these students should be considered holistically with their past and future taken into account. The data reflects how the gate-keeping IELTS test has affected their perceptions about learning English, emotions, and identities as test-takers. This presentation will also provide the university community a chance to understand Chinese international students from an insider-outsider perspective of a researcher and educator.

Dr. Olivia Zhihua Zhang is the Director of Education in Trinity Language Centre (TLC) that affiliated with Trinity Western University (TWU) in Richmond. She is responsible for the curriculum and program design and development of TLC in addition to providing visionary leadership to an exceptional team of faculty and staff. She also teaches an advanced academic English course to international students entering the MA/MBA programs at TWU. Olivia’s research interests include teaching and learning English as a second/additional language, language and identity, learning experiences of international students, and narrative inquiry as the methodology. She is also an adjunct researcher in The Center for Research on International Education (CRIE) in the Faculty of Education, SFU. Before coming to Canada in 2007, Olivia was an Associate Professor of English in the College of Foreign Languages of Hebei Normal University in China.

Thursday | June 8, 2017
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby


Linguistic diversity in universities in Anglophone settings: Moving from deficit models of language support to plurilingual approaches to the teaching and learning of academic discourse


Dr. Siân Preece
Institute of Education, University College London

In the last few decades, internationalisation and widening access have resulted in the diversification of the university population and greater linguistic diversity as more multilingual domestic and international students and staff populate the academy. However, universities in Anglophone settings still largely operate discourses of ‘institutional monolingualism’ (Heller 1996), in which linguistic diversity is viewed as an obstacle to be overcome rather than of value for enriching institutional life and practices. The idea of ‘language-as-problem’ (Ruiz 1984) has perpetuated ‘deficit’ notions of language support. Research in the Anglophone sector to date (e.g. Preece 2009, 2010; Marshall 2010; Martin 2010; Simpson and Cooke 2010) indicates that despite the best of intentions, the prevailing idea of ‘deficit’ has focused institutional attention on fixing language ‘deficiencies’ rather than on ‘communicative repertoires’ (Rymes 2010), bi and multilingual modus operandi, and knowledge and expertise encoded in languages other than English.

I argue that deficit models are outdated in the contemporary academy. Drawing on the findings of The Multilingual University BAAL-CUP seminar (Preece and Phan 2016) and ESRC Seminar Series (Preece 2017), I examine how ‘language-as-resource’ perspectives provide a way forward by raising the visibility of linguistic diversity in the academy and treating it as an asset to be welcomed. I provide examples of plurilingual approaches to the teaching and learning of academic discourse, In concluding, I argue that plurilingual approaches, informed by resource views of language, can encourage and enable universities in the English-dominant world to take a lead on putting forward views of (linguistic) diversity as the norm and bi and multilingualism as desirable for societal and individual well-being.

Dr. Siân Preece is Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at UCL Institute of Education. Her research examines the relationship between language and identity with bi/multilingual language learners. She is particularly interested in the intersection of gender, social class and ethnicity for bi/multilingual students, particularly those from linguistic minority communities, and ways in which language acts as a marker of identity and a resource for doing identity work. She is author of Posh Talk: Language and Identity in Higher Education (Palgrave Macmillan 2009), editor of The Routledge Handbook of Language and Identity (Routledge 2016) and one of the co-authors of Language Society and Power, 3rd ed.(Routledge 2011). Sian is Principal Investigator for the ESRC seminar series The Multilingual University: the impact of linguistic diversity on higher education in English-dominant and English medium instructional contexts.

See video here.

Wednesday | April 12, 2017
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby

Challenges and successes of students from international pathways


Dr. Nancy Johnston & Heather Williams
Student Services, SFU

This talk will discuss research from the field of internationalization regarding post-secondary student success; research suggests that students from international pathways may be succeeding at lesser rates than their domestic counterparts.  Further research indicates that students from international pathways also face greater challenges when transitioning from school to employment. In both cases language and cultural transitions are cited as key to these students' success.   One way SFU has addressed the unique needs of EAL students is through Job Search Success, an online module aimed at improving student writing and intercultural communication skills as it applies to the Canadian workplace.  Using Post-Pre impact assessment tools, there is evidence that this curricular design and approach is having an impact on students from international pathways, as well as hope and confidence in their ability to work in Canada.

Wednesday | March 29, 2017
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
1390 West Mall Centre, Burnaby


Beyond linguistic competence:  International student well-being and engagement in English medium post-secondary education


Dr. Saskia Stille
Faculty of Education/CELLTR

This presentation articulates issues relating to the effect of English medium of instruction (EMI) on teaching and learning disciplinary content among international students in the Canadian post-secondary educational context, reporting on findings from a mixed method study to identify indicators and predictors of international student academic performance, and institutional needs and opportunities for the integration of language and content in disciplinary teaching and learning. 

Data for the study were drawn from student-level institutional data, as well as faculty and student perceptual data from surveys and interviews. Taken together, these data elaborate some of the language and learning needs of students for whom English language may present a challenge to disciplinary content learning and social and academic success, and instructional strategies across disciplines. Specifically, these findings point to the importance of understanding students’ resources for learning, the significant ambiguity that often exists around the identification of so-called English as an Additional Language (EAL) students at the post-secondary level, and the conceptual integration of language, student achievement and well-being in the context of disciplinary content teaching and learning.