Research-based Health Literacy Materials and Instruction Guide - Beginning ABE and ESL Levels

Research-based Health Literacy Materials and Instruction Guide
Beginning ABE and ESL Levels


The initial development and implementation of these health literacy materials was the direct result of competitive federal funding for adult literacy research. The original health literacy materials, which form the basis for this web-based version, were developed through a grant from The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2002-2008) to Dr. Susan Levy, University of Illinois at Chicago Institute for Health Research and Policy. The project was funded through a federal partnership which included The National Institute for Literacy, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education of the US Department of Education, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. For more details, including a full list of the original research project staff, see Introduction and Acknowledgements.

These health literacy materials meet both the need of adults to enhance their literacy skills as well as their need to navigate the health care system and begin to achieve better health care for themselves and their families. These materials integrate literacy skills and practice with pertinent health information. In a scientifically-based research environment, use of these materials led to an increase in participants’ literacy scores on standardized tests used to validate literacy gains. And, equally as important for these adult learners, they significantly increased health literacy and knowledge. 

The materials presented here are specifically intended for Beginning ABE and ESL learners, and the strategies they employ to develop and strengthen the components of the reading process are those proven effective with these groups. Find the link to the Intermediate Level ABE and ESL version in the left navigation bar.

Navigating Through the Materials: What’s Where

The basic layout or organization of the Research-based Health Literacy Materials is very straightforward. There are 18 Sections, designed to be introduced to students in order from 1 through 18. The results and outcomes of the research are based on this sequence of instruction and a set number of instructional hours (42 hrs. minimum). The Sections are listed on the sidebar to the left of the screen. Clicking on a Section title will allow you to read a brief synopsis of the main topics and highlights of that Section.

You’ll find the materials for each Section organized into four “folders” or categories. Before introducing the materials in the classroom or tutoring session, instructors are strongly urged to read the Instruction Guide, in particular:

Part 1 – A Closer Look at Basic Skills (Alphabetics) and Vocabulary

Part 2 – A Closer Look at Reading and Comprehension

Part 3 – A Closer Look at Supplemental Activities

Part 4 – A Closer Look at ESL Activities

The four key chapters noted above contain the methodology and the rationale behind the activities in each of the respective folders. Activities common to all 18 Sections are noted by an asterisk (*). Due to the nature of the content, some Sections contain more material and will take longer to cover than others.

Basic Skills and Vocabulary
Material in this folder should be considered building block material for the Section. It is intended to be used at the beginning of each lesson to help students develop the foundational skills needed for effective reading.

The folder contains:

  • Vocabulary Lists (Core and Supplemental) *
  • Sight Word List *
  • Phonemic Awareness Activities
  • Phonics Activities
  • Graphics for the Core Vocabulary *

Reading and Comprehension
This folder contains the basic reading material for the Section:
  • Reading Passage *
  • Cloze Activity
  • True-False Comprehension check
  • Beginner Story *
  • Beginner Cloze Activity *
  • Beginner Comprehension

Supplemental Activities
This material covers a wide range of activities designed to reinforce and give more “hands-on” application of the core lesson content. Type of activity is denoted by the following codes:
  • (W) – indicates a writing activity
  • (O) – indicates an oral activity
  • (C) – indicates a comprehension/reading activity
  • (V) – indicates a vocabulary activity

ESL Activities
This material is designed specifically for use with English language learners. The folder contains:
  • Word Focus Activities
  • Grammar Focus Activities
  • Sentence Focus Activities
  • Conversation Focus Activities

zip archiveAll Health Materials Files (167MB)

You may download, print and copy any individual file or activity for use, as well as a zipped file of all the materials in each section. For additional information please see Technical Requirements

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Instruction Guide   |   Technical Requirements