Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Veronica Baig

That's my official photo on the left. I currently work for Athabasca University, Canada's Open university--I don't have any photos with students as all of our students are at a distance. I stay in touch with them through e-mail, a toll-free telephone number, and moodle.
As Academic Coordinator for English Language Studies, I look after a variety of courses designed for ESL students and native English speakers to prepare them for regular undergraduate studies in an English speaking environment. There are some specific skills courses, some integrated courses, and a remedial writing course. Because we use individualized study (there are no classes, terms, or semesters--new students start the 1st of each month and have up to 6 months to complete a course--it's something like a revolving door) it's perfectly possible to have NS and NNS take the same courses. The emphasis in on writing and the skills needed for undergraduate study.
The other photo was taken at the TESL Canada conference last May where I co-presented a
symposium on "E-Tools and Teaching ESL through Distance Education." My contribution was to share the work I have done on blogging with my students. These are not traditional blogs, but they are an attempt to reduce the isolation of students studying at a distance and to to help them understand many of the grammar vocabulary and tools necessary for good writing. I update these blogs on a regular basis, and some of the students really get into it. I have three course blogs in total, they are all somewhat similar: here is a link to the one on English 177.
The road I have taken to where I am now is not a traditional one. I grew up in England, and my first degree was in Geography from the University of Wales. I emigrated to Canada--many years ago--and continued my studies at the University of Calgary. While I and my husband were living in Kenya (a long story), I was asked if I would help a young French girl improve her English skills. Needing the money, I gave it a try! When we returned to Canada, I went back to university to get the qualifications I needed to teach ESL--I wanted to make sure that I could get a job no matter where we travelled, and that I would know what I should know in order to teach ESL. I've worked in the volunteer sector, in public and private language schools, I have been a teacher and an administrator, and ten years ago I started working at Athabasca University.
For those of you for whom snow is a novelty, here is a photo of AU at this time of the year. Luckily, I also work at a distance; I can usually stay at home and work from there!
I'm particularly hoping that I can learn or see how to adapt some collaborative writing technology to my own asynchronous teaching situation.

1 comment:

Gabriela Sellart said...

What an amazing life, Veronica! So many experiences!