[EnglishLanguage 2059] Re: How to help low-literacy students developchart-reading ability

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mary mschnec at localnet.com
Tue Jan 15 09:58:16 EST 2008

HI Liz,

Which group are you working with? Here is Maine we have many Somalis; many
of them are literate in multiple languages but some from the hinterlands,
especially the women, were never literate. I have found the guide "Making
It Real: Teaching Preliterate Adult Refugee Students" by the Tacoma
Community House Training Project to be helpful. A link for this came over
this list at one point and I downloaded it. It does include ideas for using
and making charts. I have made lots of charts with students. Sometimes in a
group we list their names, then address, then how long in US, then country
of origin and you can go on adding columns all day with questions like how
many people live with you, how many schools have you been to, what did you
have for supper- the list is infinite. IN a one on one, you can make a chart
of the person's family and have columns for age, sex, birthdays, likes,
dislikes, etc. The guide has lots of other ideas.

However, to become independent readers and writers they must know our
alphabetic code so for those who don't pick it up, it has to be taught. The
bigger their speaking vocabulary, the easier it is to begin to transfer that
to print. It is so much harder learning to read a language before you know
the basic vocabulary, pronunciation and syntax. The people I have worked
with have not had problems with print but occasionally if I show them a
picture to illustrate a word or concept and there is superfluous stuff in
the picture they don't get what I am showing them. It has been helpful to me
to know a very little about the Somali system of writing so I know special
hurdles, like they don't have a p so they confuse the p and b. And their
long and short vowels are really longer and shorter, unlike ours. I make
direct comparisons and demonstrate the differences.

Mary Schneckenburger

Program Coordinator

Literacy Volunteers-Androscoggin

60 Court St., Auburn, ME 04210

207 333 6600

----- Original Message -----
From: <elizabeth.andress at spps.org>
To: <englishlanguage at nifl.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 8:16 AM
Subject: [EnglishLanguage 2058] How to help low-literacy students
developchart-reading ability

> Hello. I teach a high-beginning ELL class, and am planning a

> practitioner-research project this year that focuses on strengthening the

> literacy skills of the low-literate Ss in the class, those with little/no

> literacy experience in L1, who continue to demonstrate many obstacles to

> navigating print documents, even though they have been able to test into

> high-beginning. I'm focusing particularly on the reading skills needed to

> read information in charts (needed in real life, necessary for success on

> the CASAS 81/82RX test). I would appreciate input on two questions:


> - Where can I learn more about the cognitive constructs these Ss bring to

> this kind of literacy task? I.e., what do we know about Ss who haven't

> oriented to print in their growing up years, or had any academic

> experience, and how they relate to information on a printed page?


> - What strategies have you used that have helped such Ss strengthen their

> chart-reading abilities?


> Thank you.


> Liz Andress

> St. Paul, MN

> elizabeth.andress at spps.org

> 651-296-4826



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