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Intensive ESL Ezine at Carleton University

Mike Barker from Canada

Mike Barker works as the CALL Development Coordinator at the Centre for Intensive Language Education at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Intensive ESL Ezine
Photo: Hiro
The Winter 2007 editorial team is pictured here on the steps of Canada’s parliament building: Longman (Taiwan), Bekir (Turkey), Mike (Canada), Ruby (our excellent volunteer from the United States), and Yujin (Korea). Hiro (Japan) is taking the picture.

We started the Intensive ESL Ezine in the summer of 2004. Complete with photos, stories and audio/video content, the ezine has provided a great opportunity for our students to showcase their class work, to write stories independently and to participate in a fun extracurricular club.

Each week our rotating team of staff writers, made up of students from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, among others, meets to discuss possible story ideas. Stories often grow out of a curiosity about events occurring in the community.

For instance, after seeing food bank boxes at a local grocery store, Eriko contacted the Ottawa Food Bank for an interview and a tour of their facilities which she later wrote about. Taku wrote about watching the Ottawa Lynx baseball game. And Luis wrote his story "Start your Engines! at the Ottawa's Ferrari Parade" about his day at the Ferrari car show.

Staff writers also write about topics that might be useful to students in the program: Mio's story about second hand clothing stores in the city; Taku and Fernando's story about the origins of Beavertails; and Ana's review of Ottawa nightclubs.

And, of course, there is always space for creativity. Creative writing, both independent and written for class assignments, regularly makes its way into the publication. Some of our most memorable stories include:

  • a radio show written and performed by a Venezuelan architect and performed by students in the club

  • a series of stories about the sports teams of Ottawa written by a Japanese journalist in our program

  • a student from Japan interviews Canadian students learning Japanese…in Japanese

  • a video on the topic of body language from different cultures written, performed, and edited by an ESL class

  • a series of online comic strips written and illustrated by a Taiwanese graphic artist

  • a radio show written and recorded by an ESL class in cooperation with the campus radio station, CKCU 93.1. The show was later played on the air.

  • a photo story of the intrepid ezine Misadventure team as they try unsuccessfully to meet the Prime Minister of Canada

  • and, a personal favourite, "Student Fashion - Going to class with class" a story in which our writers interview students on campus about their particular style

Best of the Ezine Issue
Photo: ESL Ezine
The Best of the Ezine edition.

You can read these and other stories on the Best of the Ezine edition published in June 2007.

The size and popularity of the ezine club has varied over time. Some weeks more than twenty students show up to meetings; other weeks, only six attend.

At its most successful, the club was made up of a small core of committed writers who enjoy writing, taking pictures, and spending time outside of class connecting with each other.

Unfortunately, interest in the ezine as a club is on the wan in recent months as many students turn to social networking tools such as Facebook, Mixi, and Cyworld to connect with one another and, occasionally, to share their work. However, we hope that the creation of the Facebook group "Intensive ESL at Carleton University," will reverse this trend.

View Student Project: Intensive ESL Ezine

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