Practicum Courses

Students in Linguistics and CogSciL are always eager to enrol in one of the practicum courses in their fourth year. In Ling 4SL3, students are placed with a Speech-Language Pathologist, and in Ling 4TE3, they’re matched with an ESL teacher. They spend at least 36 hours shadowing, assisting, learning, and reflecting on their practical experience in the clinic or in the classroom. Since the practicum courses began, students have always benefited from the practical experience, but when I took over the courses, I also wanted to construct a means for them to reflect on their experience in a structured way. The Learning Portfolio in PebblePad provided the perfect venue for students to complete weekly reflections and then pull their experience together into a final portfolio.

The home page for each course shows the core organization of the courses, with information for students and for supervisors:

SLP Practicum Home Page

TESL Practicum Home Page

While every student has a different experience, depending on their placement, each course is organized around the same basic structure:

  • Students complete weekly reflections guided by a template.
  • Twice during the semester, they exchange reflections with another student and comment on each others’ reflections.
  • Partway through the semester, they meet with their supervisor for a formative assessment that does not count towards their final grade. This assessment helps students to know how they’re progressing towards their goals, and offers an opportunity to refine or update some of their goals for the rest of the semester. The structured reflection for the week of the assessment uses a different template from the weekly reflections.
  • At the end of the semester, the supervisor completes a summative assessment (TESL Assessment | SLP Assessment) and each student completes a learning portfolio documenting their experience.


Author: Catherine Anderson

Director of the Gender and Social Justice Program and Teaching Professor in Linguistics at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

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