Academic Writing and English Language Learners

Day One Keynote - "Focus on Form with Multilingual Writers"

What to correct? How to correct? Why to correct?

In the teaching of writing to multilingual writers, the grammar correction debate rages on—should we be sticklers about the fine points of grammatical accuracy or overlook errors that don’t inhibit communication? A focus on form gives rise to questions about which linguistic standards to adhere to, how to approach form and grammar when giving feedback, and what our students even gain from it. This talk will offer a look at differing approaches to form and grammar in the teaching of academic writing to multilingual writers, as well as the history, politics, and preferences surrounding these practices.

Jennifer MacDonald is Head Teacher of ESL Programs at Dalhousie University. Her research interests include the teaching and learning of English in the university setting, English for academic purposes curriculum and materials design, and sociolinguistics. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the Institute of Education, University College London. She can be found online at and @JenMac_ESL .


Day Two Keynote - "Symphony of Ghosts: Songwriting, Literature, and Intermediality"

Dan will present on intermediality and the influence and interconnectedness of literature and music. He will talk about some ways music has interpreted literature in pop culture, touch briefly on how novelists have been inspired by music in developing structure and ideas, describe the 5 year long writing and reading process that brought Symphony of Ghosts to life, and perform songs from the album.

Daniel MacCormack is a Halifax-based songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. In October 2014 Dan released Symphony of Ghosts. Symphony of Ghosts traces and strengthens the lines connecting music and literature. Inspired by the writing of David Adams Richards, each of the ten songs on the album focuses on a different Richards novel. Incorporating themes, characters, imagery, and language from Richards’ books, and produced by Jason Michael MacIsaac (Heavy Blinkers, Jenn Grant), this is a rich, layered musical homage to one of the greatest writers to come from Canada.

Symphony of Ghosts was nominated for a Nova Scotia Music Award for Folk Album of the Year in 2015.

In 2015 Dan had the opportunity to perform at festivals and events through the Saint Mary's University English Department, the Acadia University English Department, the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, Deep Roots Music Festival and the Muskoka Chautauqua's Reading Weekend alongside artists like David Adams Richards, Murray McLauchlin, Sylvia Tyson, Lawrence Hill, Linden MacIntyre, and Lisa Moore.

Since the release, the album has garnered attention from both the music and literary communities. David himself has also approved of the project, participated in a half-hour CBC radio documentary about the project, and invited Dan to perform with him at a reading that he recently did through Halifax Public Libraries. The album was featured on The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers.

Praise for Dan MacCormack

Dr. Alexander MacLeod (Author, Light Lifting, SMU English professor) says about the album:

“I am a great fan of David Adams Richards’ novels, but even if I had never read one of those searing sentences, the music in Dan MacCormack’s Symphony of Ghosts would still register with me on a profound level. Carefully written, beautifully preformed, precisely arranged and recorded, each one of these songs is a labour of love. You likely haven’t heard anything quite like Symphony of Ghosts before, but, come on, that’s to be expected: rare achievements of this order don’t come around every day.”

 And Sue Goyette (Author Ocean, Outskirts) says:

“Dan MacCormack has read the work of David Adams Richards with the kind of attentiveness and heart good work insists on. When that reading collides with a musical sensibility as honed and engaged as MacCormack’s, we find ourselves in familiar territory. We feel as though a silent place in us is now filled with the songs we’d been waiting to hear all along. Readers of David Adams Richards will encounter his ideas revitalized, transformed somehow and carried in a new current of songs written by a seriously talented musician. I can’t think of a better collision.”

Reviews of Symphony of Ghosts

“An elegant, inspired concept of a record that bleeds passion, melody and Canadiana, Symphony of Ghosts is meticulously researched, artfully arranged and expertly played, sung by MacCormack as if he’s been waiting his whole life for these songs.” – Tara Thorne (The Coast, CBC)

"Literary folk of the highest order is supplied by Dan MacCormack on his debut record.... the poetic title Symphony Of Ghosts is an apt hint at the literary bent of this lovely new debut album from Halifax-based songsmith Dan MacCormack… There are dark ghosts lurking in the lyrics here, but the aural richness on display keeps despair at bay." — New Canadian Music

“Dan MacCormack's latest album, October's Symphony of Ghosts, lives in the fertile valley between folk and literature.”The Coast

“it's a rich listen in every way, whether you are a music person, or a lyrics one.”Bob Mersereau (CBC)