Monday, June 26, 2017

U of T PhD Student Seeks PBLA Research Participants

Yuliya Desyatova says:

I am a PhD student at the University of Toronto and a LINC teacher. In response to numerous calls I have heard about the need for independent empirical research, I am starting a research project on how PBLA affects teaching and learning. How big of a resonance the project will make will depend on the number of participants. If you or anybody you know would consider joining – you can e-mail me for more details at

Thank you.


  1. Yuliya may read this so here goes. Since my employer lays off for the summer, I spent a couple of weeks going through the Guide to Implementation, while sipping wine on the deck.
    I realized that the creator gave service providers an open playing field to implement all of PBLA and whatever else they want to pile on their employees. Could this be something that unions and the Labour Board could fight? I believe that the workload is untenable. I believe that the philosophy of PBLA is flawed but redeemable if some serious corrections are made. I believe that OCELT instructors deserve an apology. I believe that the only way the system will bring consistency is to create provincial and national resources that are to be provided to each instructor for use. TUTULA is there, but full of a lot of useless, unconnected material. Please help fix these issues. And try to get a fair and reasonable compensation for everyone.

    No one is left unhurt by PBLA. From Admin who are pressed to implement a flawed system thus harming their employees, to Lead Teacher who have become "the enemy enforcer", and Classroom Teachers who no longer have lives apart from work, all have been burned by this early implementation.

    I know that sanity can prevail as things can change quickly. Someone suggests a hiatus, giving time for all supports and resources to be created. A hiatus would allow for healing, and resources could be applied to create consistency. Needs assessments could be designed to fit each unit. You know, for something that has been being implemented for 5 years?, there really should be a better plan for the people coming on board now.

    Chin up, cheers. Summer is here. Won't worry for the Fall.

    1. Dear Summer Anonymous,
      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment. I agree with you that the workload is untenable. If you've been following my blog, you know that I agree with many more of the points you make here.
      I am also enjoying my wine on the deck and will see what happens in the fall. Cheers! --K

    2. Thank you for your comments!
      I hope you will consider participating in the project to voice your experiences and concerns in an interview or in a survey, whatever you prefer.
      I am in the process of working out the final details for the ethics review of the project, and expect to have all the necessary approvals early in September.
      Enjoy your summer!

  2. Dear Summer Anonymous,

    Your second paragraph says it all! True.

    The truth is that somewhere in the lofty towers of government (civil service?) reside policy analysts, integration specialists, information officers, implementstion managers, education managers and who know who else (lobbyists?) who function according to X Year Plans and who propose and implement strategies, policies, initiatives. These are the mythical "funders" of the mantra "The Funders Want It". They are not able to "take a hiatus" (moratorium) on this massively public and expensive "Portfolio Based Learning Assessment" project. They HAVE to see it to the matter that all the signs are there that the construct is invalid, the method of implementation is flawed, and that no-on is taking responsibility for the poorly thought out design of the process. Thy would rather blame the PEOPLE (us) than the process.

    Yes, they have a very challenging task: Consistent Second Language (English and French) delivery on a national and provincial scale. We get that. We appreciate that they approached this project with the best of intentions. Like them we hope(d) for a positive outcome to this experiment. This IS an experiment to develop a "new assessment methodology" (read "teaching" methodology) on a scale (a whole country) that would have presumed a more rigorous research justification for the green light than was provided.

    Portfolios to show evidence of progress? Absolutely. I've used them for YEARS before PBLA came along. But not the attempt to "standardise" from A-Z the delivery of language in a "one size fits all" prescribed routine...( Don't get me started on the idea of standardisation through "teacher created assessments"...I believe there are 2,000-3,000 the math..Consistency?

    Sorry but I disagree with you that it is salvageable through "supports and resources". There have already been minor tweaks and adaptations, some window dressing. At core the approach is wrong - it ignores the necessity of differential approaches in SLA. (Not saying that the PD wasn't helpful for many instructors -especially the chance to get to know the CLBs more thoroughly - I'd keep that part!)

    Unions? Labour Board? Maybe. The conditions of many Collective Agreements were changed without negotiations. You shoukd see tge new job descriptions . PBLA, PBLA, PBLA. Without proof it is effective.

    The most important question is: has this been of benefit to the learners? In comparison to the prePBLA set up have they learned more English, do they know more about Canada and Canadian values than before? Are they more able to get jobs and and is integrating into Canadian life easier than before? If the answer is yes - let's do it. If no? We have a problem.

    We need independente evidence based research to show this. Who's game?

    But, yes. A little Gamay with my PBLA and some Chablis with my CLB helps the medicine go down.

    Recharge in summer, then back to ????

    1. Claudie,
      Thank you, as always, for your energy and devotion to this field and for helping me to make all struggling and questioning ELT professionals feel welcome and heard here. Lillet for me! --K

  3. Is this the new job description? The pay doesn't reflect the changes and additions. How can TESL help with this? Do you noticed that there are no education qualifications? Does this seem strange to anyone but me? I thought the requirement was a BA to be TESL Certified. Is TESL Certification no longer a requirement?


    LINC Instructor

    Design, implement, and instruct English as a Second Language classes in a LINC program based on the PBLA (Portfolio Based Language Assessment) guidelines.
    Design PBLA based module plans as well as daily lesson plans following the Revised Canadian Language Benchmarks 2012 and the Canadian Language Benchmarks: ESL for Adult Literacy Learners (ALL) 2015.
    Develop a diversity of course materials that are based on the Curriculum Guidelines in a task-based program for Literacy and CLB 7.
    Conduct on-going needs assessments with learners, assist them to set learning goals and develop lessons accordingly.
    Design assessment tasks for on-going evaluation of learners’ progress based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks and PBLA guidelines.
    Assist learners in organizing and updating the PBLA Language Companions (learner portfolios) as evidence of their learning progress.
    Prepare learners’ conference summary and progress reports. Conduct one-on-one interviews with learners to provide feedback on learning progress.
    Provide computer-assisted instruction using language learning software and MS Office programs.
    Integrate online resources and delivery tools such as LearnIT2Teach in language instruction.
    Maintain attendance records and other documentation as required.
    Organize special events to enhance learners’ participation and cultural experience.
    Assist in outreach activities to recruit LINC clients as required.
    Minimum 3-year experience teaching English as a Second Language to adult newcomers.
    Preference will be given to candidates with experience teaching Literacy and/or CLB 7.
    In depth understanding of and experience using the Revised Canadian Language Benchmarks 2012, the LINC Curriculum Guidelines and ESL for Adult Literacy Learners (ALL) 2015.
    Preference will be given to candidates who have completed PBLA (Portfolio Based Language Assessment) and LearnIT2Teach Stage 2 training.
    Experience providing online training will be an asset.
    Experience providing adult instruction using software associated with the LINC Program (i.e., Ellis, Clarity and Explore Canada) as well as Microsoft Word, Excel email and the Internet.
    Ability to adapt teaching methodology to the needs/skill levels of individual learners.
    Excellent English communication and interpersonal skills.
    Experience working in a multicultural environment.
    Demonstrated sensitivity to the needs of adult immigrants and refugees.
    Ability to work independently with excellent organizational and time management skills.
    Ability to speak Mandarin or Farsi would be an asset.
    xxxx xxxx Welcome Centre
    Duration of Position:
    May xx, xxxx to March xx, xxxx
    Starting Salary Range:
    $35.92 per hour
    Posting Date:

    Closing Date:

    Note: Successful incumbent must complete PBLA (Portfolio Based Language Assessment) training by June xxxx and LearnIT2Teach Stage 2 training by December xxxx.

    This is a non-union position scheduled to work x hours per week Literacy to CLB 7, Monday and Wednesday(s) from xxxam to x:xxpm.
    If you are interested, please quote Reference #ebebeb

    xx xxx xxxxx
    Manager, Staffing and Orientation
    xcnd send your resume with a covering letter to:

    xcxcx Immigrant Services
    xxx xxxxxx Street
    Toronto, Ontario xxx xxx
    Email: resumes@xxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Can we ask someone on the TESL ON Board what is going on here? IRCC? Sigh. The water just gets muddier and muddier all the time. --K

    2. How exactly would we take this to TESL anonymously? I guess we just hope that someone from TESL cares, is reading and wants to facilitate the change. Do you know someone who has the ability to investigate why an SPO can hire outside of TESL requirements?

    3. Anonymous,
      I can ask my local affiliate rep. She is very competent and helpful. --K

    4. Dear Requirements Questioner,
      A member of the board of my local affiliate was able to answer this question. See below:
      "Unfortunately, IRCC funded programs/ centres across Ontario can decide if they will accept teachers without certification. It's necessary provincially for MCI funded but not IRCC.

      I know MCC and still holds to that standard including having PBLA training, but I'm unsure what other centres are doing.

      I hope this helps."

      And I hope so, too. --K

    5. Thank you. Disappointing that the certification with its yearly membership fee is necessary for some, yet not for others. Very consistent, ahem.

    6. Yes, I agree. My employer has gone along with this 'industry standard' of requiring TESL ON certification / accreditation for as long as I've been there--seven years now. But it's making it more and more difficult for them to find teachers to fill openings. It would seem to me that a combination of an education degree or other teaching certificate plus X years of experience in ELT could be considered to be equivalent. --K

  4. I wonder if "More Claims and Controversies" would help the funders reassess the pay scale to accomodate the increased workload and added duties.

    Investigating Teachers’ Perceptions of the Usefulness of Portfolio-Based Language
    Assessment (PBLA) in Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
    Fatemeh Mohammadian Haghighi
    M.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 2013

    1. Anonymous Link Contributor,
      Thank you for participating in this discussion! --K


Thank you for participating in this forum. Anonymous commenting is available, but is not intended to shield those taking pot shots at those of us challenging PBLA. If you are here to do that, please use your name.