Developing Academic Readiness Skills with Adult English Language Learners from the Beginning
During the week of January 31 - February 4, 2011, Dr. Kimberly Johnson and Betsy Parrish of Hamline University facilitated a discussion on the LINCS Adult English Language Acquisition (ELA) Discussion List. The title of the discussion was "Developing Academic Readiness Skills with Adult English Language Learners from the Beginning." Participants made nearly 170 posts. The original announcement of the discussion, including brief biographies of the facilitators, can be found at http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/englishlanguage/11readiness. The LINCS resource the discussion was based on, Promoting Learner Transitions to Post Secondary Educating and Work: Developing Academic Awareness from the Beginning, is reviewed and can be downloaded at http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/resourcecollections/abstracts/workforce/RC_work_abs96.
The facilitators, list moderator, and list participants talked about the benefits of and best practices for integrating academic readiness skills at all levels of ESL instruction, particularly at the beginning levels. Participants explored skills needed for success in post secondary work, and evidence-based resources and activities to build these skills with English language learners. Skills discussed included note-taking and organizing; using technology (both software and the Internet; and critical thinking skills such as identifying assumptions, categorizing, interpreting, inquiring, analyzing and evaluating, summarizing and synthesizing, and making decisions. Developing academic vocabulary, using dictionaries, using prediction in reading, and problem solving were also discussed.
Suggested activities to use with beginning-level learners to build some of the critical thinking skills included the following:
- Identifying assumptions (Have students complete a KWL chart: What do you know? What do you want to learn? What did you learn?)
- Organizing (Have students make and decide how to organize a learner-created dictionary. Have students sequence the parts of a class-generated text in the right order)
- Categorizing (Hold pictures of different jobs and have students sort themselves in multiple ways. For example, a job I like/don't like; A job that needs special training/no training; a job mostly outdoors/mostly indoors.)
- Analyzing and evaluating (Collect data from classmates on a given topic (e.g., jobs held by the men in class and jobs held by women in class). Use data to make comparisons between genders. If there are differences, ask why? Compare jobs held here to what they did in their home countries. Portray data graphically (e.g., bar graphs).
All of the individual postings can be found in the online archives at http://lincs.ed.gov/pipermail/englishlanguage/2011/thread.html#6932.