by Shona Nichols
Shona Nichols loves travelling, teaching English, and being a life-long learner. She has taught in LINC programs in Edmonton, both in-person and online. The COVID-19 pandemic provided the opportunity/inspiration to create her own YouTube channel, My Canadian English. She has a BA (English) and LLB, and will have an MEd (TESL) as soon as she finishes her capstone in April 2022.
I love YouTube! Created in 2005, YouTube is a free online video sharing platform. I watch YouTube videos almost every day to be entertained, to gain information, and to learn how to do things.
In May 2021, I also started to teach English through my own YouTube channel, My Canadian English. I create and post several different types of videos every week. The WRITE 365 series is a daily 10-minute free writing activity with a new, authentic photo every day. The What the Canada, Eh? series has short, engaging, language-rich videos designed for lower-level English language learners.
Topics so far include food (poutine), current events (2021 Census, COVID-19 shots, the heat wave in Western Canada), special days (Eid, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day), Canadian content (Canada Day, the Canadian Prairies), and things in my neighbourhood (horses in the city, a trip to the bakery, dandelions).
More videos in this series will be posted on Thursdays and Sundays throughout the year, along with PowerPoints with clear, simple language in a font that is easy for learners to read. I also create videos that help learners develop their digital literacy skills and show instructors how my resources can be used with their learners, whether it be in a face-to-face class or online.
Why do I post free resources on YouTube for English language learners and instructors?
#1 ACCESSIBILITY. I believe that learning English should be available to anyone, any time, and any where, regardless of whether they can attend a formal language class.
#2 RELEVANCE. I believe that learners are more engaged and motivated to learn when the topics are current, relevant, and interesting.
#3 EFFICIENCY. I know first-hand the demands of teaching English to newcomers to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with the switch to online learning. Instructors are feeling burned out. I believe there is efficiency in having online, high-quality, CLB-based, Canadian-specific resources that can be shared easily and freely throughout Canada.
#4 FUTURE OF LEARNING. I believe that we are at a crossroads for English language learning in Canada. The sudden shift to online learning in 2020 revealed a need for digital literacy skills (for both learners and instructors!) and resources that enhance learning in the online environment. New weekly resources offer learners fresh opportunities to learn English and allow more authentic assessment as the materials have not been shared previously on the Internet or in textbooks. My materials illustrate what is happening right now in Canada which allow learners at all levels to join the conversation about current issues and events.
How can you get involved? Subscribe to my YouTube channel, My Canadian English. Use my videos and PowerPoints in your class. Let your students know about my YouTube channel so they can continue to access resources even after they have left your class. Give me feedback. I’d love to hear what’s working, what’s not, and where there is need for new materials. I can be reached at MyCanadianEnglish@gmail.com.