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Here you will find Canisius College graduate students sharing their thoughts and experiences. These posts explore the dedication and responsibilities of a being a graduate student, as well as the triumphs and successes.

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TESOL

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Welcome back everyone! Hope you all had a safe and fun-filled holiday break.

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As the semester has concluded and days and nights filled with studying, reseaching, and writing final assignments, I feel a sense of relief as I can relax for a few weeks before starting my second semester here at Canisius College.

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After a long struggle with various health issues, Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. An advocator for ending segregation and violence and a well loved and respected leader in South Africa for many years, Mandela has certainly left quite an impact on many.

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Around this time of year people are always talking about the importance of being thankful for what you have, not in terms of material items, but for your health and your family. The one thing I am most thankful for is my education. We are privileged in the United States to have the opportunity, no matter your financial or social status, to be able to attend public school. Public schools in the United States do not discriminate against one’s gender or race as many other cultures do.

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Great job. Way to go. Oh yes, I am very excited.

These phrases are usually spoken and read as being positive; however, they can also be sarcastic where in fact the person did not do a good job on something and the person is not excited. The phrases change depending on the inflection a person uses to speak the words, or the context clues if the words are written down

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One of the final assignments for one of the classes I am taking is to research an assigned sect of refugee peoples in terms of why they leave their native countries, what type of education they receive while living in deplorable conditions, and what we can do as teachers to help students in refugee situations to succeed.

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I work at a local library and the topic for discussion today revolved around our patrons who are natively from acountry other than the United States, but have since moved here. Many of these patrons have a limited English proficiency and have ordered books in their own language about an array of topics. Since our small town population for years was mainly just English speaking Americans with a few Spanish speakers here and there, our book collection consists of majority English books, with a small section with Spanish books. Now, since our town population is becoming more diverse, we are shifting some of the books on the shelves to make room for a new worldly section for books in other languages. There was debate over how the books should be organized: Should there even be a separate section? Should the books be shelved by language? Should the books be shelved by topic, regardless of language? Should the language be posted on the spine of the book for people to see?

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Yesterday I was a substitute in an ESL class. I always love working with ESL students, hence my graduate program specification, because ESL students have this desire to learn and the look that graces their faces when a concept is finally understood, shows me my job as a teacher does not go unnoticed. So in the classes yesterday, students were at a variety of language proficiency levels. For example, one student just arrived in the United States this week, and he knows no English, only Spanish; conversely, there are students who fully understand English, but struggle reading and writing in the English language.

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Last night I went to the movies to see “Captain Phillips”. Highly recommended! Especially after reading an interview with the actual Captain Phillips who explains the movie is very close to the actual events that took place, I loved the movie even more. It was full action from beginning to end with an amazing story of one man and his crew’s quick thinking survival skills. For those who are not familiar with the story and/or movie, it takes place on a cargo ship that Captain Phillips is directing through the dangerous waters of the Somali Basin when his ship is attacked by Somalian pirates. The story revolves around Captain Phillips protecting his crew and how he handled the piracy invasion.

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A student in my 11th grade English class is from Ecuador. She is here for one year as part of an exchange program and her goal is to learn English so when she goes back to her native country, she will be able to get a job. She went on to explain to me about how in Ecuador in the business world you are not even looked at as a candidate if you do not know at least two languages. Through our conversation I learned a lot about the Ecuadorian school system and how the English they are taught is more of a British English than an American English. Also, there are no paper handouts. Students receive CDs for every class with all homework assignments and handouts to be completed at home and submitted online. This alleviates papers being misplaced, and students receive instant feedback. I thought this was quite creative and maybe I will use something similar in the future with certain units.

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