Building Skills and Expertise for Working with Struggling Adult English Language Learners
Date: March 1, 2016 - 11:33am
An Action Research Project Summary Report
While most English language learners make expected progress, there are some for whom second language and literacy acquisition is extremely difficult. Building Skills and Expertise for Working with Struggling Adult English Language Learners builds on the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association’s work to support adult English language learners experiencing learning difficulties, whatever the reason. Even within an ESL Literacy class where all learners are developing literacy skills as adults, learners acquire language and literacy acquisition at different rates. The question this project sought to answer was, “What will help struggling ESL Literacy learners succeed in their learning journeys?”
Over two years, a LINC teacher and a community-based ESL Literacy teacher collaborated with learning support services to find ways to address unmet literacy needs with learners making limited gains over time. Teacher-researchers selected reading and writing outcomes found in Learning for Life: An ESL Literacy Curriculum Framework (Bow Valley College, 2011) and drew on adult ESL Literacy, early childhood literacy, and learning disabilities research for strategies that would support identified struggling learners make gains on these outcomes.
Teacher researchers kept track of their teaching experiences by journaling, making note of teaching strategies used and how learners they identified as having the most difficulty responded to this targeted instruction. Learners included in the research had 0-7 years of formal schooling in the first language. Additionally, they were making limited gains compared with their peers. All learners attended part-time classes: 12 hours a week for LINC classes and six hours a week for those in ESL Literacy classes.
By the end of the project, teacher researchers identified strategies they found to be the most critical in their work with adult ESL Literacy learners, particularly those experiencing the most difficulty developing literacy skills.
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.