A reflection on the grey areas of multiracial identity.

Photo by Minna Autio on Unsplash

If I tell you where I’m from, will you know where I’m coming from?

I grew up in a town called Amherstburg in Essex County, Ontario. I was raised there by my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather. Over the years, I’ve come to think of my hometown as this charming, faraway place in the Canadian south where the buffalo roam and the tumbleweeds scatter along the dirt roads.

Actually, I suppose the roads of Essex County are kind of like that, with long stretches of flat land and the occasional farm, church…


A Social Evolution in Language

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

As a language teacher, pronouns come up often for me. I help my students achieve consistency in using them, e.g., She took her dog for a walk. That dog of hers is very friendly. As native speakers, we take these pronouns for granted because we just know them.

Or do we?

Back in 2013, I lived in Sweden for six months as part of an international student exchange program. One of my classes was beginner Swedish, and that was where I first learned about “hen,” a gender neutral pronoun. I’ll admit, I was already struggling with basic vocabulary and melodic…


Those stories that get better with age.

This week, I re-read an old book of mine called Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon. I’d acquired it after doing something I’ve always been told not to do; I judged the book by its cover. It drew me in with its rainbow-patterned spine; on the front-cover, a solo figure wandering through an empty field, its arms raised in light-hearted resignation. I found it on a shelf in Chapters, where I’d sought refuge in the chilled atmosphere one hot summer’s day.

I remember I was in high school at the time, but I can’t…


Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

Lesson planning. An essential and often unpaid component of being a teacher. We’ve all been there, especially during the early years. Pouring over our books, searching for the right elements to include in our English lesson…possibly having spent a very long time just to pair activities that didn’t quite work together.

We know all too well what happens when we don’t plan. The lesson goes from being 3 hours long to feeling like an eternity, and we might be left wondering if anyone is going to come back next week.

It’s easy to get caught up in agonizing over lesson…


Diverse Family Trees in the Classroom.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

On paper, creating a family tree seems like a pretty straightforward task, right? You’ve got grandfather, grandmother, mother, father, and children. Easy. In the third grade, I learned otherwise when my brain nearly exploded from trying to draw my own family tree. At that time, I lived with my grandparents, I didn’t know my father, and I had a half-sister (so far). Realizing the complexity of my situation, my teacher graciously excused me from the activity. She reassured me that not all family trees look the same.

More recently (a couple years ago), while volunteering at a community centre teaching…


Tracing mixed genealogical roots over five generations.

Left to right: me, my sister, my mom, and my niece in front.

Lots of us have sat down to draw our family tree at one point or another. Whether it was for a class project, or during our spare time out of sheer curiosity to know more about our ancestors. Sometimes, it’s a question of identity; longing to know who we are, especially if we never knew our biological families.

Family trees can quickly get pretty complex, and there’s always something we don’t know or can only take guesses at. For the past decade or so, my mom has been very curious about our Slavic…


Things I wish I’d known from the get-go.

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

I’ve been in the Canadian workforce for almost 20 years; from my humble, early days at McDonald’s to my current work as an ESL teacher in private education. Throughout this time, I’ve eaten way more McDonald’s than I’d like to admit, and I’ve noticed that discussions about soft skills have come more and more to the forefront.

Soft skills are what allow people to successfully integrate into a workplace culture. …


And how to use them effectively.

Photo by Alphacolor on Unsplash

Learning a language is fun, but it doesn’t take long to hit a wall during an intensive grammar class. Sometimes, everyone just needs a break from conjugating verbs, correcting exercises, and studying for tests. Even chit-chat starts to get draining after a while, so it’s always good to be ready with a few flexi-tasks.

Using songs can either be a great class activity, or a total disaster. It all depends on how you use them. …


Finding job satisfaction in an undervalued field.

Rue Sansregret, Montréal, QC.

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

— George Bernard Shaw

In the 10th grade, I remember my English lit teacher sharing this expression with us. It was confusing to hear him insult himself, especially since he’d end up being one of the best teachers I’d ever have. That might’ve been the moment I realized that teaching is somehow looked down on. …

Brooke-Elle

Writer. English Language Teacher. MA Education at McGill University.

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