Building Skills and Expertise for using E-learning with Adult ESL Learners: ESL & E-learning – A Guide for Rural Alberta
Date: November 10, 2012 - 7:30pm
Large urban centres have historically received the majority of immigrants in Alberta and have consequently had larger ESL programs and more settlement services and organizations than smaller centres. In recent years, increased numbers of immigrants have been choosing smaller rural communities. In these communities, language and settlement programs are provided primarily through Community Adult Learning Councils (CALCs), Volunteer Tutor Adult Literacy Programs (VTALs), and colleges. The term rural can apply to a large range of communities. A multitude of definitions exist for this term, and many of these definitions have changed over time. A definition commonly used by both the federal and provincial government is the “the population living in rural municipalities and small towns and villages of fewer than 10,000 people, beyond the commuting zones of larger urban centres.” (MLA Steering Committee report on rural development, March 2004, p. 3) However, when approaching the issue of defining rural, Statistics Canada recommends, “that the appropriate definition should be determined by the question being addressed (Plessis, Beshiri, Bollman, & Clemenson, November, 2001, p. 1). With this in mind, the definition used in this section is extended to include small cities with populations under 100, 000 people. Through consultations with instructors and program directors in rural Alberta, we found that the reality of ESL in rural Alberta varies vastly from one place to the next, as do the technological resources available to implement e-learning in ESL. For this reason, a broad definition of e-learning, used earlier in this guide, is employed for this section: the use of technology for learning. One of the key findings from our consultations with rural communities was the large number of ESL literacy learners who are currently seeking language and literacy instruction in smaller communities. The Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000: ESL for Literacy Learners publication defines ESL literacy learners as “individuals who are learning English as a Second Language and who are not functionally literate in their own language for a variety of reasons” (p. II). Using e-learning to facilitate ESL literacy learning presents unique opportunities and challenges. ESL & e-learning - A guide for Rural Alberta was designed to support ESL literacy instructors, volunteers, and programs coordinators who are endeavouring to use technology with ESL literacy learners. These guiding principles were informed by an extensive review of the literature in ESL literacy instruction and e-learning. In particular, the Learning for LIFE: An ESL Literacy Handbook produced by Bow Valley College, was instructive.
The Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) is a professional organization that promotes the highest standards of teaching and English language program provision for all learners in Alberta whose first language is other than English.