Expecting the Best

This resource is a wellness curriculum for English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

Sandra Diehl and Team
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Coastal Area Health Education Center
North Carolina March of Dimes
North Carolina Community College System
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Target Audience

Expecting the Best is a health and wellness curriculum for English as a Second Language (ESL) students designed to improve health literacy, functional literacy, and enhance English communication skills. The 14 lessons teach a variety of functional skills, mainly focusing on health care and nutrition, and are also linked to CASAS objectives. The project addresses common literacy concerns that adult educators and health care professionals have expressed and builds upon the strengths of these two disciplines. The website includes student lessons and an instructor’s manual.

Required Training


What the experts say

This curriculum is a GREAT resource. It is exceptionally well organized, has an extensive list of other health literacy resources, and is grounded in solid adult learning theory and curriculum development.

The project was guided by a multidisciplinary advisory board, and medical professionals reviewed materials to ensure their technical accuracy. The advisory board members come from a plethora of disciplinary areas: social work, adult education, ESL, medical, etc. Each of these disciplines lends to the theoretical base of this project. Adult learning theory is prevalent throughout the lessons as are the principles of curriculum development. Further, medical content was reviewed by those in the medical field (quite a number of them, it appears) for accuracy. Lessons teach a variety of functional skills and are linked to CASAS objectives.

The curriculum was field tested and evaluated by ESL instructors and students across North Carolina. Although the evaluation report is not available online, it confirms the effectiveness of these instructional materials, which have been adopted and used for ESL instruction in a variety of community college classrooms, community-based organizations, and literacy councils.

Useful features include:

  1. Outstanding use of authentic materials and realia, including clear and professional quality graphics , which improve both student retention in class and students’ ability to internalize material presented.
  2. Contexualized material provides multiple opportunities for students to learn health specific materials within in the context of writing, conversation, reading, vocabulary and listening instruction.
  3. Differentiated instruction marked by a variety of levels of materials available in each lesson and by the number and variety of extension activities.
  4. Format of Teacher’s Guide effectively outlines competencies, objectives and materials needed, which promote ease of use and effective instruction.
  5. Peer teaching, small groups and pair work used to facilitate and maximize student talk time.
  6. Whole program design built around the concept of teacher facilitation and promotes the 20/80% recommendation ratio of teacher/student talk time.
  7. Multiple intelligences theory represented by the large number and variety of student activities including, but not limited to: dialogues, role playing, use of realia, large and small groups, pair work, jigsaw activities, dictation, language experience, cloze activities, speakers and field trips.
  8. By design, works to create a sense of community and self-efficacy among students.

Reviewers noted that it would be helpful for the classroom teacher or a seasoned professional to review the curriculum in detail to smooth out the following slight limitations of the curriculum:

  • It could use more pre-reading activities and vocabulary.
  • It sometimes mixes high and low-level competencies, such as grammar points, vocabulary, concepts, and materials used
  • Lesson 1 is based on the old Food Pyramid. The government has changed the pyramid to the Food Plate with new graphics and explanations. So, while the information behind the lesson is still valid, the activities and readings should be adapted to the Food Plate model: www.choosemyplate.gov

Also note the following corrections to outdated links on the Expecting the Best Website:

“Project Background” page:

“Health Literacy Resources”:

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