Teaching Reading to Adult English Language Learners: A Reading Instruction Staff Development Program

The resource contains materials for four workshop sessions, including a Facilitator Guide, Facilitator Notes, and Participant Handouts.

Center for Applied Linguistics
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Center for Applied Linguistics
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This comprehensive and self-contained resource was developed by the Center for Applied Linguistics for the Adult ESOL Program, Office of Adult And Community Education, Fairfax Co. Public Schools. The resource contains materials for four workshop sessions, including a Facilitator Guide, Facilitator Notes, and Participant Handouts. The sessions include: Introduction to Teaching Reading, Selecting Appropriate Texts and Developing a Good Reading Lesson, Focus on Pre-Reading, Putting a Reading Lesson Together. The Staff Development Program is based on research on English language learners and adult learners. The resource includes reading development materials, such as newspaper articles, school-based texts, CAELA briefs, brochures from organizations, interviews with ELL learners. Some of these materials are specific to the Washington, DC area; however, they are fine as is or could be replaced with materials reflective of the users’ areas. The resource has a distinct focus on instrumental learning. It should be noted that the reading activities are more appropriate for mid to high level readers.

Required Training

This Guide is comprehensive and self-contained.

What the experts say

Summary of Basic Skills Reviewer Comments:

This is a great resource for ESL adult education teachers and administrators. Excellent support materials are provided; it is very organized, based on research reports, gives good suggestions for resources, and very user friendly.

The workshop guide is well designed, and written in sufficient detail that it could be used by competent staff development persons. The facilitator and participant materials appear to be complete and helpful.

Perhaps the best argument for including the resource in the LINCS collection is its authorship. The individuals who put the workshop together are highly capable, recognized experts in ELL instruction. 

I have a few reservations:

  • While some attention is paid to using meaningful texts, and to connecting instruction to learners' lives, these topics are not considered as explicitly as I might like.
  • The 15-minute section on selecting appropriate text materials seems too brief to be very helpful, and no participant materials accompany it.
  • While the workshop includes a good example of a reading activity (designed using a familiar lesson plan format, there do not appear to be many suggestions for techniques teachers might use (except for those demonstrated) to develop their own activities.

Summary of ELA Reviewer Comments:
This resource is very well laid out, intellectually and visually. It is especially useful to the field of adult ESL because the teaching of reading is one of the least developed of the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in teaching English to speakers of other languages. The manual provides an organized and comprehensible approach to teaching techniques that follows the principles of adult learning and theories that address the differences in how ELLs learn to read compared to native language learners. In addition, the text addresses differences among ELLs (and the need for different approaches) based on native language literacy and the alphabetic or non-alphabetic written system with which they are familiar. Furthermore, the authors respect and build on the knowledge that the participant and teachers bring to the classroom. They also address the specific needs and experiences of ELLs including their levels of literacy in their own language and the type of written symbols with which they are familiar. It makes the case for direct instruction of the components necessary for ELLs to learn to read and shares research to back up each instructional point.

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