Past Award Recipients
Jim Howden receives the
Robert Roy Award 2008.
Robert Roy Award Acceptance Speech
It is truly an honour to receive such an award as the prix Robert Roy and even more so to be recognized by my peers for contributions made to the teaching and learning of English as a second language in Quebec and across Canada, and the impact of innovative approaches namely cooperative pedagogy and cultivating collegial collaboration within school teams.
When I received your letter inviting me to Vancouver to receive this award, I was in the presence of my wife, Jill and my mother, Mary. Tears filled my eyes and I had to put the letter down. It was an extremely emotional and humbling moment and I immediately thought of the people who have been honoured by this award before me. I have often referred to these people in my studies and professional development; you could say I was one of their groupies and now I find myself to be in their company.
As a teacher in the Quebec arctic now referred to as Nunavik, I had never heard of CASLT – now remember where I was living. CASLT at that time was more geared to the study of French as a second language. When I was a pedagogical consultant for the Kativik school board and I began looking for associations and resources that could help me in my work to create programs for Inuit students learning ESL, I was excited to find CASLT and the knowledge base it could provide me in my work. It was in 1996 in Toronto in the red, plush velvet chairs, at the Royal York hotel that Nancy Pinch-Worthylake asked me if I would like to be on the executive and represent the ESL community within the structure of the association. I said yes and served on the executive as 2nd vice president, 1st vice president, and then ultimately president in 1998. I never knew that moving so many boxes so many times was part of the job description. I then remembered the expression “et toutes les taches connexes.”
CASLT was going through a restructuring process to better serve the needs of our membership and we had to be extremely resourceful and innovative. Let me give you an example – when we began the newsletter Réflexions (which today is incredibly professional looking and reading newsletter), board members and good friends in the field, after much cajoling, contributed articles, news items, and activities. Jill typed them up on our computer using probably a very basic WordPerfect program version (0.1, I think). We photocopied it at a local copy centre. My two children, Caitlin and Kiel, learned how to fold and stuff envelopes (I kept telling them that this is a fun activity and it would help them in their future careers as actors and musicians. By the way, they had already learned basic stuffing skills when I was the SPEAQ conference organizer and they stuffed bags.) CASLT grew in membership due to the hard work and commitment of the board of directors. Réflexions continued to evolve, CASLT Chez Vous really began to take shape, and CASLT became the association worthy of the international status it has today. My experiences with CASLT contributed to my role as a pedagogue and a consultant to other provinces and territories when restructuring their curriculum framework. These experiences were simply brilliant!
I am being honoured for my contributions, but I would like to share with you what I have received from my interactions with teachers, professors of second language and their students. I have been fortunate to travel extensively in Canada. All of the people I have worked with, and I would have to say there have been thousands of them, are dedicated to and believe in the importance and value of teaching and learning a second language. They also believe that this learning process is based on a set of values such as equality, openness towards others and it is supported by interpersonal skills that need to be modelled, taught, and nurtured. Because of these beliefs, they are successful and are motivating generations of young people who understand the importance of both languages in our country. Un petit à côté: j’ai appris mon français dans des classes de français de base. Aujourd’hui je crois que le français est une langue importante et vivante parce que mes enseignants le croyaient aussi. Ils avaient raison!
Je termine avec une citation que j’utilise lors de mes formations initiales et continues-
Continuons à structurer notre succès et à bâtir ensemble les environnements qui sont propices à l’enseignement et l’apprentissage des langues secondes au Canada.
Un gros merci à vous tous / A heartfelt thanks all of you,
Jim Howden - 2008