Robert McConnell (educator)

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Robert McConnell (born George Robert McConnell) is a Canadian educator and author.


He attended elementary and secondary school in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. At age 16, he enrolled in the University of Toronto, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree (Modern Languages and Literatures) in 1963 and, subsequently, his Master of Arts (Germanic Languages and Literatures). While at university, he published poetry in a number of academic reviews and was editor of Acta Victoriana, the literary magazine of Victoria College. His work in Acta appeared alongside that of such notable writers as Northrop Frye, Margaret Atwood, and Dennis Lee.

Academic career[edit]

In 1974, after nine years of high school language instruction, both as a teacher and department head, he was appointed Co-ordinator of Modern Languages for the Scarborough Board of Education, in the city of Toronto. In this capacity, he was responsible for all modern languages, from Senior Kindergarten to grade 13, in a major metropolitan board of education with a student population of approximately 80,000. A focal point of his duties as co-ordinator was the implementation and administration of French Immersion and Extended French (Late Immersion) programs in both elementary and secondary schools. At the university level, he was for many years a lecturer in the Honours Specialist program for both French and German at the Faculty of Education of the University of Toronto.

Professional leadership[edit]

McConnell has held numerous leadership positions in Modern Languages at the provincial, national, and international levels. • President of the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers • President of the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association • Founding President of the Ontario Council of French Second Language Consultants • Director of the Ontario Education Association • Chairman of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Advisory Board to the Modern Language Centre • Chairman of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation Education Committee • Editorial Director of the Canadian Modern Language Review • Chairman of the Ontario Association of Teachers of German

In 1986, at the one hundredth anniversary conference of the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association, he was honored with Life Membership.

From 2000 to 2005, he was Co-ordinator of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) / Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) / Estonian Ministry of Education Language Immersion Project, providing leadership to the Estonian Government in its efforts to introduce Estonian immersion to its large Russian-speaking minority. This pioneering program is now being emulated in other countries such as Spain, The United Kingdom, and Kazakhstan.



In addition to numerous articles in academic journals, he is the author of more than 370 textbooks in French as a Second Language, ranging from primary through university levels. These include two highly popular core French programs (grades 3-12), Vive le français! and Savoir Faire. He is also the author of Accents, the first Canadian-based FSL series to be adopted in the U.S.A. The above three series are published by Pearson/Longman Education. He is also the author of Wort und Bild, a series of readers in German for secondary school students, published by Aquila Communications. The above books have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Children’s literature[edit]

McConnell is the author of more than 20 children’s books in English, French and German. Best known among them is arguably the perennially best-selling classic Norbert Nipkin. This series is illustrated by long-time collaborator and internationally acclaimed Canadian artist Steve Pilcher, art director of the Shrek movie series and the winner of an Oscar in 2013 for the animated Pixar/Disney film Brave.[1]

Art Books[edit]

McConnell is the author/editor of a number of trade and limited edition books on Canadian art, notably those featuring wildlife artist Glen Loates, as well as famed watercolorist A.J. Casson,[2] who was at the time the only surviving member of the Group of Seven. The limited edition books A. J. Casson: A Tribute; A. J. Casson: Elora and Salem; A. J. Casson: My favourite Watercolours; and A. J. Casson: The Serigraphs are highly sought after by collectors and art dealers.

McConnell is a frequent keynote speaker at Modern Languages conferences in Canada, the United States and Europe.