Teaching Adult English Language Learners with Emerging Literacy Skills - English Language Acquisition - Discussion Lists

Teaching Adult English Language Learners with Emerging Literacy Skills
February 22 - 26, 2010

Guests | Suggested Resources | Discussion Summary

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Adolescent and adult learners who are beginning to attain literacy for the first time are in many ways strikingly different from students who have strong first language literacy when they begin to learn English. Low-literacy students require instruction that helps them to achieve alphabetic print literacy, but how can such direct instruction happen via meaningful content, content that helps them to become full participants in their new communities? During the week of February 22-26, 2010, guest facilitators Patsy Vinogradov and Martha Bigelow of the University of Minnesota will moderate a discussion where participants share their successes and challenges in working with adolescent and adult English language learners who are emerging readers.


Patsy Vinogradov has been involved in ESL since 1994. She began teaching in Russia, and later worked extensively with adult immigrants and refugees in Nebraska and Minnesota. She completed a B.A. in Russian Language from the University of Nebraska, and an M.A. in Teaching ESL from the University of Minnesota. She also holds teaching licenses in K-12 ESL and Adult Basic Education. Patsy has been an adjunct faculty member at Hamline University since 2002, where she works with graduate students in both the TEFL Certificate and Adult Certificate programs. Her research interests include literacy development for adult students, especially those with limited first-language literacy. She is also the Executive Assistant for the Minnesota TESOL affiliate, MinneTESOL, the state professional organization for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. Patsy is a PhD student at the University of Minnesota in Curriculum and Instruction, Department of Second Languages and Cultures.

Martha Bigelow is an Associate Professor in the Second Languages and Cultures Program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota. She has 13 years of ESL/EFL classroom experience teaching adult students in adult basic education, community college, ESP, and university settings. She has ten years of experience as a foreign and second language teacher educator. Her research focuses on the areas of second language acquisition, literacy development, and the sociopolitical factors that influence those processes. Specifically, she is interested in how first and second language print literacy promotes the acquisition of second language oral skills in teens and young adults. She has studied how English language learners (ages 16-28) with low print literacy make use of oral feedback, and has examined the strengths and challenges that older students with limited formal schooling and low literacy bring to oral language development in English. She has also studied the Somali and English literacy skills of young Somali women (ages 17-21) who are newcomers to the United States and have had limited formal schooling. She has explored how school and community-based oral- and print-based literacy they value and use has the potential to add to what teachers and researchers know about building vocational and academic literacy. Dr. Bigelow has an MA from the University of New Hampshire in Language and Linguistics and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Applied Linguistics.

Suggested Resources

"Maestra! The letters speak." Learning to Read for the First Time: Best Practices in Emergent Reading Instruction, Patsy Vinogradov, 2008

Teaching Low-Level Adult ESL Learners, Grace M. Holt, 1996

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