A passport that takes students outside their linguistic comfort zone by taking risks with their family, their community, and eventually with the world! Are you interested in taking the risk? Read on.
Strategies are continuously being presented to learners of a second-language. We put up posters, repeat the mantras, and remind students to use their strategies to become better learners. The Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport has taken strategy acquisition a step further. It has taken students out of the classroom, and into high to low linguistic-risk situations where they are encouraged to take risks in their second language in authentic, real-life situations.
Originally created by the University of Ottawa’s Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative to help University level ESL students to take risks and benefit from extra opportunities to practice their second language, LEARN and SPEAQ have recently partnered to adapt this passport for FSL and ESL students in Quebec.
What is in the passport?
-a number of carefully chosen situations which the student decides are high, medium or low-risk for them
-a place for comments
-a place to add new risks
-a self-assessment
How does it work?
1. A passport is presented to each student for an allotted period of time.
2. The student ticks off risks as high, medium or low at the time they are taken.
3. The student completes the self-assessment and the teacher returns it to SPEAQ to have the (anonymous) data analyzed by the University of Ottawa.
What happens after?
-The University of Ottawa collects the data, and research continues on how risk-taking affects second language acquisition.
-The passport is distributed province-wide for all Intensive ESL students to use.
Best of all, the student will have…
…found new situations to practice their second language.
…gained insight into the way language is learned.
…gained insight into how risk-taking affects learning in general.
The field study is in its second year, and we are looking for Intensive ESL teachers to participate. The participating teachers are expected to meet with the project leader 2-3 times in person or online, and commit to following the procedures outlined in the guide.
If you are interested, please fill out the registration form, and you will be contacted shortly. (Spaces are limited.)
For a list of risk-taking activities to practice with your students: Activities That Encourage Students to Take Linguistic Risks.

If we are really wanting to serve our students and help them to develop to become the leaders and learners of today and the future,
taking risks in our practice is not only encouraged, but necessary.                              – George Couros, The Risks in What We Don’t Do

Elizabeth Alloul
LEARN Consultant, ESL Special Project