[FamilyLiteracy 1100] Upcoming Discussion on ESL List

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Gail Price gprice at famlit.org
Mon May 5 13:01:28 EDT 2008

I know many of you will be interested in the upcoming discussion on the
Adult English Language Learners discussion list. Please read the
following message from Lynda Terrill, moderator of that list.

Assisting adult English language learners (or second language learners
in general) to increase their reading proficiency is one of the
perennial issues on this list and others. We will be focusing on this
topic specifically from May 12-16, 2008 when Heide Wrigley and a cadre
of Texas practitioners will share information, challenges, and outcomes
of a professional development and classroom project they have been
working on during the last year. See the bottom of this announcement for
bios of Heide and the teacher working group.

To subscribe to the Adult English Language Learners discussion list,
please go to http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/Englishlanguage

Focus of Discussion
The last few years has seen a resurgence of interest in reading, not
only at the primary level, but also at the secondary level and to a
lesser degree in adult education. We've heard about the components of
reading with an emphasis on phonemic awareness and decoding and about
the importance of fostering reading comprehension. Yet, we don't know a
great deal about what works in second language reading, particularly for
adults. Exciting work is being done in the use of comprehension
strategies and in vocabulary studies, yet not much of that information
has made it into the ESL classroom. or in instruction for adult English
language learners in ABE, GED, ASE, and community college classrooms.

This discussion seeks to close the gap. Our hope is to help teachers
make the connection between what recent research tells us about reading
in general and second language reading in particular and what works for
teachers and learners in the classroom.

Reflective Questions
These questions will help frame the discussion, but can also help to
direct background reading before the discussion:

* Is teaching reading for native speakers similar to teaching
reading to English language learners? If not, what is the difference?
* If English language learners have some literacy in the native
language, do we still need to focus on decoding and building phonemic
awareness? Why or why not?
* If our students seem to read just fine in terms of decoding and
reading aloud, why do they often still have trouble understanding what
they read?
* What about the role of background knowledge and vocabulary - how
do we build these skills so that reading comprehension is facilitated?
* Some teachers wonder about the role of "reading strategies" in
adult ESL. Many have found that "predicting meaning from context"
doesn't always work for beginning level readers. Are there other
strategies that can be adapted for English language learners that show
greater promise in facilitating comprehension?

Background Reading
There is a wealth of materials now available about teaching reading to
adult English language learners. For a quick overview of issues that
will be covered in the special discussion, see How Should Adult ESL
Reading Instruction Differ from ABE Reading Instruction? (CAELA
brief). Miriam Burt, Joy Kreeft-Peyton, and Carol Van Duzer, 2005
<http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/briefs/readingdif.html> . A
sample of other resources is below.

"Activities to Promote Reading Development
ctivitiestoPromoteReadingDevelopment.pdf> " in Practitioner Toolkit:
Working with Adult English Language Learners
ilesl.pdf> . National Center for Family Literacy and National Center for
ESL Literacy Education at the Center for Applied Linguistics (2004)


Reading and Adult English Learners-online resource collection

Reading and Adult English Language Learners: A Review of the Research
<http://www.cal.org/caela/research/raell.pdf> . Miriam Burt, Joy Kreeft
Peyton, & Rebecca Adams (Center for Applied Linguistics and National
Center for ESL Literacy Education, 2003)

Second Language Acquisition in Adults: From Research to Practice (NCLE
Digest) Donna Moss and Lauren Ross Feldman, 2003


Teaching Reading to Adult English Language Learners (module from The
CAELA Guide for Adult ESL Trainers, 2007)

Facilitator Bios

1. Heide Spruck Wrigley is a senior researcher with Literacywork
International, a small social science research firm based in Mesilla,
NM. She was the subject matter expert on several national studies on
adult ESL literacy and has written extensively on the subject. She also
conducts Adult ESL Institutes for four of the Texas Professional
Development Centers (the GREAT Centers), the most recent Institutes on
Second Language Reading. These Institutes combine face-to-face seminars
with learning circles where readings and classroom experiences are
discussed with a mentor. Participants in the Institutes also try out
instructional strategies and sample lessons in their own classes, after
these have been demonstrated in the face-to-face sessions. In addition,
mentors (experienced teachers) are available to discuss teaching
challenges, provide technology support and conduct peer observations.

2. Practitioners participating in the first ESL Reading Institute
include teachers from adult ESL programs situated in community college
and CBOs in Texas, mostly from the coastal region. Also participating
were administrators and experienced teachers acting as mentors to the
rest of the group.

As part of the online discussion, participants will share their insights
and discuss what works in their classroom. They will discuss their
experiences as they try to implement a rich reading program, use
research-based comprehension strategies, and seek to foster reading
competence while promoting reading for pleasure.

Gail J. Price

Multimedia Specialist

National Center for Family Literacy

325 W. Main Street, Suite 300

Louisville, KY 40202

gprice at famlit.org

502 584-1133, ext. 112

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