Better Learning Conference 2019: Rigor from the Get Go! Embedding skills for the 21st century in curricula

Betsy Parrish

Our speaker, Betsy Parrish, presented at the Better Learning Conference in July and her talk focuses on the complexity of everyday and academic tasks. She discusses the numerous skills learners need to engage with in today’s world and how to address these via simple modifications to teaching practices.

Betsy is a Professor in the MA TESOL and TEFL Certificate programmes at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has worked as a language teacher, teacher educator, and consultant for over thirty years, with experience in numerous countries. Her research concerns instruction in effective collaboration, critical thinking, and strategies for comprehending complex texts, all essential for preparing English learners for success in today’s world.

In Minnesota, where Betsy is based, they have the highest number of refugees per capita in the United States and the number of languages spoken is at over 100. Betsy uses her research in the disparity between what skills ESL/ELT students learn vs. what skills typical students achieve (or are expected to achieve) when learning in their local language, to provide a framework for English teaching.

Betsy’s talk covers the following topics:

  • Examining the complexity of tasks in today’s world
  • Defining ‘rigor’ in the context of language teaching
  • Exploring support options for meeting rigorous standards at all levels of instruction.


Watch the full talk here:

Watch out for other talk recordings from the Better Learning Conference 2019, released here over the next few weeks. If you’re interested in learning more about Betsy’s insights for teaching, take a look at the post ‘The changing focus of adult ESL’.

Heidi Burrows
Professional Development

The changing focus of adult ESL

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