Given the realities of the skills needed for high-demand occupations, it is increasingly important that adult ESL programs expand their work to better prepare English language learners to transition into career pathways or postsecondary education. This is especially critical considering the time it takes to master academic language and readiness skills, such as reading and listening strategies, organizing information and note-taking strategies, and critical thinking. An added challenge is that programs serve adult learners with widely-varied and diverse educational backgrounds, interrupted schooling or limited literacy. Therefore, the development of academic readiness for adult ESL populations should not wait for advanced or college prep classes. In this discussion, we would like to explore the benefits of and best practices for integrating academic readiness skills at all levels of ESL instruction, particularly at the beginning levels.
Betsy Parrish is Professor and Coordinator of the Adult ESL and TEFL Certificate Programs in the School of Education at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She established the TEFL Program in 1991 and the Adult Certificate Program in 1995. She is the author of Teaching Adult ESL (McGraw Hill 2004) and Four Point: Advanced Listening and Speaking (University of Michigan Press 2009). She is a frequent presenter at TESOL on Adult ESL issues, including academic readiness, mentoring, workplace ESL, cross-cultural communications, and learner-centered teaching practices. She is the Program Advisor for ABE Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS) at Hamline, which provides professional development for ABE teachers throughout Minnesota. In addition to her work in Adult ESL, she has worked as an ESL/EFL teacher, teacher educator, and consultant in France, South Asia and Russia.
Kimberly Johnson is Assistant Professor and Director of the Adult Basic Education Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS) in the School of Education at Hamline University in St Paul, MN. At ATLAS, she coordinates research and oversees the design, delivery and evaluation of multiple professional development initiatives for Adult Basic Education and Adult ESL instructors across the state. She has published in multiple journals, including TESOL Quarterly, Adult Basic Education and Literacy Journal, and Teaching and Teacher Education, and is a frequent presenter on Adult ESL teaching and learning at TESOL, the National College Transition Network, and other national conferences.
In preparation for the discussion, please read Promoting Learner Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Work: Developing Academic Readiness Skills from the Beginning. What are the most compelling arguments for developing academic strategies from the beginning? What strategies provided in the brief might work for learners you serve? How have you applied strategies like those outlined in the brief in your settings? What were the successes and what were the challenges?
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