Identity Building for ESL Learners: Using your Blog to Build your Portfolio

Reasons for ESL Learners to use Blogs for their Portfolio Space

1. Puts ownership for documenting and maintaining narratives and records of artefacts demonstrating skills training and learning in hands of individuals, not educational institutions or government agencies
2. Centralizes the various episodes of educational/occupational narratives in one location as personal archive
3. Provides a more in-depth overview of your educational biography
4. Useful to support applications for admissions, for funding
5. Helpful to demonstrate language learning and document scope of skills, experience
6. Offers evaluators a concise, comprehensive overview of competencies (PLAR – Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition)
7. Provides concrete demonstrations of learning and skills development
8. Supports professional narrative – provides examples of experiences for interviews
9. Supports development of professional work-folio
10. Supports Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) for English language proficiency (Cdn)
Background:
An Internationally Trained Professional new to Canada will need to demonstrate their skills and experience through their diplomas, licenses, and resume. Many would need to supplement these documents with evidence showcasing their skills development through documenting career assessments, recognition of foreign credentials, English language assessment results (Canadian Language Benchmarks, IELTS, etc.) as well as provide evidence of learning completed during industry specific skills training courses, LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers) classes, employment workshops, volunteering (internships), and networking contacts.
In addition to formal evidence of learning and skills development, it is important to also begin documenting commentary as one engages in examining and documenting past experiences for relevance to current and future goals, reflections on past or current careers/jobs, review of values and interests, and reflections on past and present formal and informal learning experiences.
For example, one might have a degree in a particular field, possess the expertise and years of experience, and have excellent job prospects for obtaining the same kind of work in the local labour market. However, if it is a regulated profession, there may be several steps towards obtaining the license and building the experience and relevant skills to obtain employment. Given the reality of a delayed employment path, one needs to consider short-term contingencies, and build a skills ladder that brings them closer to their long-term career goal. Also, one simply may not wish to go through the lengthy, costly process of becoming licensed in a regulated profession; instead, they may opt to start fresh and begin training in a somewhat related – or completely different – career. Or some may find that their options for the career they trained for are limited because few jobs exist for that type of job. So, they need to re-evaluate their options and choose a new career/training path.
This process of re-examining career and training options is best when anchored to documented evidence and reflections. The blogging for reflection, and tagging and linking the reflections to artefacts best serves the individual professionals for the various paths they may seek.
Artifacts Useful for Formal and Informal Education and Training
Brochures describing training events, retreats, workshops, clinics, lecture series
Certificate of mastery or completion
Charts or lists showing hours or time completed in various areas of study
Evidence of participation in vocational competitions
Grants, loans, scholarships secured for schooling
Professional Licenses
Lists of competencies mastered (usually as links to formal institutions pages describing program outcomes)
Samples from classes (papers, projects, reports, displays, video or computer samples)
Samples from personal studies (notes, assignments, projects and presentations)
Syllabi or course descriptions for classes and workshops
Results from Standardized or formalized tests
Student/Peer or Teacher evaluations
Scanned copies of Official (translated) Transcripts, report cards

Artifacts Demonstrating General Work Performance
Community service project summaries
Descriptive material about the organization (annual report, brochure, newsletters, articles)
Job descriptions
Logs, list or charts showing general effort (phone calls received, extra hours worked, overtime, volume of e-mail, case load, transactions completed, sales volumes)
Participation awards, badges
Employer evaluations or reviews
Examples of problem solving – narrative accounts
LinkedIn recommendations from peers
Letters of reference (character references, employment/academic references)
Organization charts showing personnel, procedures, or resources
Products showing your leadership qualities (mission statements, agendas, networks)
Records showing how your students, clients, or patients did after receiving your services (evidence showing your impact on the lives and performance of other such as test scores, performance improvement data, or employment and promotion)
Resumes and Cover Letters
Results of Career Assessments
Samples from (or lists showing) participation in professional organizations, committees, work teams.
Surveys showing satisfaction by customers, clients, students, patients, etc.
Invitations to share your expertise (letters or agreements asking you to train, mentor, or counsel others, invitations to present at conferences or professional gatherings)
Documentation of experience as a consultant. (thank-you letters, products, proposals)
Letter of Intent (for entry to university study) – your own correspondence to admissions officers

Artifacts Demonstrating Skills Using Data
Communication pieces (memos, reports, or documents, a public service announcement).
Writing abilities as demonstrated in actual samples of your writing (articles, proposals, scripts, training materials, web pages, blog posts)
Evidence of public speaking (membership in Toastmasters, photographs of you at podium, speech outlines, brochures for your presentation, speaker’s badge or brochure, blurb from the conference.)
Also posters, photos, reviews of actual performances (dance, drama, music, story telling)
Data (graphs, charts, tables you helped to produce, testing results)
Display or Performance materials (actual objects, or illustrations, or posters from displays)
Computer related (data base designed, desktop publishing documents, samples from using the Internet, computer video screen pictures or manuals covers illustrating programs you use)
Formal and technical documents as in grant or loan applications (include proposal cover sheet or award letter)
Professional Writing samples: (might include) brochures and flyers; technical manuals, handbooks, checklists, forms, reports

Artifacts Pertaining To People Skills
People and leadership skills (projects or committees you share, projects you initiated, photos of you with important people, mentoring programs, proposals, documents or strategies related to negotiation)
Planning Samples (summary of steps, instruments used such as surveys or focus groups)
Problem solving illustrated with various artifacts. Use figures or pictures showing improvements in products, services, profits, safety, quality, or time. Include forms and other paper products used to solve problems
Employee training packets, interview sheets, motivational activities

Artifacts Demonstrating Using Skills, Things, Tools, and Equipment
Any artifact which shows technical skills, equipment, or specialized procedures used in your work:
• Paper documents or replicas of actual items including: forms, charts, print outs (such as medical chart, financial statement or budgets, reports, emergency preparedness plan, marketing plan, customer satisfaction plan, inspection or evaluation sheet, financial or budget plans, spreadsheets, charts, official documents)
• Performance records (keyboard timing scores, safety records, phone logs, complaint logs, pay stub with hours worked highlighted, any record showing volume, amount, total time, response time, turn-around time, dollars or sales figures, size of customer database, organization chart showing people supervised)
• Technical directions, manuals, procedure sheets for specialized work, use of equipment, and detailed processes. This could include: sample pages from manuals, illustrations, technical drawings, blueprints or schematics, photos from the workplace, schematics or directions for tools or equipment, operation or procedure sheet
• Photos, video, slide show, or multi-media presentation showing process or equipment.
• Actual items which can be handled in various ways: displayed in person one at a time or part of a display you set up

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