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Working with limited literacy adult English language learners Tacoma Community House Training Project OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH AND WORKSHOP JENNY FIELD.

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Presentation on theme: "Working with limited literacy adult English language learners Tacoma Community House Training Project OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH AND WORKSHOP JENNY FIELD."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working with limited literacy adult English language learners Tacoma Community House Training Project OVERVIEW OF RESEARCH AND WORKSHOP JENNY FIELD

2 Literature review  Some extensive work done by Burton, Peyton and Adams (2003). National Adult Literacy Survey between 1989 and 1992 in USA  23% of the adult population studied measured at Level 1. They were able to perform simple routine tasks involving brief and uncomplicated texts and documents  27.3% measured at Level 2. They were generally able to locate information in texts and make low level inferences using printed materials  Result: more than half of the population studied had low or limited English literacy skills, more than half of those scoring at Levels 1 and 2 were immigrant adults

3 Dr John Bensemann (2012) New Zealand research - Critical insight (in partnership with English Language Partners New Zealand and Ako Aotearoa). 36 adult refugee learners interviewed from classes which have less than 9 years formal education. He found that many refugee learners begin acquiring their English and other literacy skills at the lowest level as they have no, or minimal, previous English and they often lack reading and writing skills in their first language Progress is usually slow and painstaking, requiring the tutor to:  carefully scaffold skills,  build on the small steps previously achieved  constantly revise in order to consolidate the initial gains

4 Bensemann cont…… Making progress in language and literacy skills is developed through a balance of:  contextual learning to ensure personal relevance  motivational teaching of structural aspects ensure correct guidelines for English usage  patience, repetition, recycling.

5 What are the factors that influence L2 Literacy development?  L1 literacy  Educational background  L2 language and literacy  Learner goals When considering placement into programmes both the learner’s oral proficiency and their L1 literacy background should be considered. Burton, Peyton and Adams (2003)  Learners literacy backgrounds may range from: Preliterate, non literate, semi-literate, non-Roman alphabet literate, Roman alphabet literate.

6 L1 Literacy Explanation Special Considerations Preliterate Nonliterate Semiliterate Non alphabet literate Non-Roman alphabet literate Roman alphabet literate L1 has no written form (e.g., many American indigenous, African, Australian, and Pacific languages). Learners had no access to literacy instruction. Learners had limited access to literacy instruction. Learners are fully literate in a language written in a nonalphabetic script such as Chinese. Learners are literate in a language written in a non-Roman alphabet (e.g., Arabic, Greek, Korean, Russian, Thai}. Learners are fully literate in a language written in a Roman alphabetic script (e.g., French, German, Croatian, Spanish}. They know to read from left to right and recognize letter shapes and fonts. Learners need exposure to the purposes and uses of literacy. Learners may feel stigmatized. Learners may have had negative experiences with literacy learning. Learners need instruction in reading an alphabetic script and in the sound-syllable correspondences of English. Learners need instruction in the Roman alphabet in order to h. FACTORS INFLUENCING ADULT LITERACY DEVELOPMENT IN Types of L1 Literacy and L1 Literacy Effects on L2 Literacy Explanation Learning Special Considerations Preliterate L1 had no written form (e.g. many American indigenous, African, and Pacific languages) Learners need exposure to the purposes and uses of literacy Nonliterate Learners had no access to literacy instruction Learners may feel stigmatised Semiliterate Learners had limited access to literacy instruction Learners may have had negative experiences with literacy learning Non-alphabet literate Learners are fully literate in a language written in a non- alphabetic script such as Chinese. Learners need instruction in reading an alphabetic script and in the sound-syllable correspondences of English Non-Roman alphabet literate Learners are literate in a language written in a non-Roman alphabet (Arabic) Learners need instruction in the Roman alphabet in order to transfer their L1 literacy skills to English Roman alphabet literate Learners are fully literate in a language written in a Roman script (e.g French Croatian, Spanish etc.) Learners need instruction in the specific letter – to sound and sound syllable correspondences of English.

7 Walter Ong (1982)  Fully literate persons can only with great difficulty imagine what a primary oral culture is like  Moving from a primary oral culture to a chirographic culture changes the way we think

8 According to Ong (1982), in an oral culture thought processes are:  additive rather than subordinative  aggregative rather than analytic  redundant or “copious”  oral thought is empathetic and participatory  agonistically toned  situational rather than abstract

9 Differences and similarities between literate and non- literate learners Literate learnersNon-Literate learners Learn from printLearn by doing and watching Tend to be visually orientedTend to be aurally oriented Make lists to rememberRepeat to remember Spend years learning to readHave limited time for learning to read Know they can learnLack confidence in their learning ability Learn best when content is relevant to their lives Can distinguish between important and less important points May accept all content as being of equal value From What Non-Readers or Beginning Readers Need to Know, The Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning 1999

10 Writing and print  has an existence of its own  establishes a distance between the writer, reader and the text itself  prompts us to get a sense of ourselves as situated in time Ong (1982)  Field & Sellars (2008) “becoming literate for the first time as an adult in another language is a mammoth task. It is much more than learning codes and signs. Learners must adjust to new concepts of time, of interiorisation of thought, of vocabulary and of space.

11 In your groups  Discuss some of Ong’s descriptions of people from preliterate cultures  Have you experienced or observed some of these traits?

12 So what helps learners who present with limited literacy in their L1?  Build from an oral platform. Learning to speak English is one of the first steps they can take to get control of their lives.  Building up simple communicative strategies gives confidence and builds a platform for learning.  However they will meet complex situations where more than a few simple words are needed.  Teachers need to find a balance between unstructured conversation and controlled practice of new language  Use meaningful hooks and plenty of practice, not just parroting  Oral drills Croydon(2005) p1.

13 Controlled practice techniques “Beginner students need a curriculum that builds grammatical structures and vocabulary and gives then opportunity to practice these new language skills in a controlled environment p.5”  Build oral competency before introducing the written form of the language

14 Start from the students’ world  Picture stories As these may be stories about events the past tense may be used here not in a formal way but as part of the retelling of events.  Grids using pictures, symbols, single words or short known phrases.  Line up activities I like these line up and circle activities as interaction occurs. However they shouldn’t be carried on for too long.

15 More activities that support learners  Dialogues and Role plays Croyden pp. 17 – 29  New structures can be practised through 4-6 line dialogues. Practice together first, then in pairs  A concrete springboard – naming things they know, having an opportunity to discuss family matters  Construct simple conversations with prompt questions and invite them to say more.  Sorting and categorizing Ordering and sequencing Comparing Matching  Picture cards, magazine pictures  Realia Drawing Maps  Brainstorming Board Games bingo, alphabet  Other games e.g cards, guessing games, picture games.

16 Teaching Reading and Writing “ An effective literacy programme provides the right balance between Meaning Based approaches and Parts to Whole approaches... A reading programme should have opportunity for students to apply literacy in a real way to meet their needs and well as time spent on bottom-up processing where students learn how to sound out to constituent parts of a word” Croydon,p.47.

17 Meaning based Approaches  Learner build up their sight words, use target letter charts. Teach phonics ( initial consonants) while you are teaching language  Use worksheets, games, make your own target letter chart.  Language Experience Approach Students have a shared experience then write about it together. This becomes a text.  The news. Start with informal chatting. Generate ideas with a sentence starter On the weekend I ______________. I feel ____________ because ____________.

18 In groups 1. Complete the chart 2. Think about and match activities with those L1 groups which may benefit particularly from this activity.

19 Managing a Multi-level literacy class.  “ Almost every English class could be called multi-level since students’ pace of learning, rate of acculturation, style of learning and previous education experience vary a lot. Adjusting groupings, modifying tasks, and providing individualised and self-access materials all help to make a multi level class run more smoothly Croydon (2005)p.78.”  At Wintec there may be students from a variety of L1 backgrounds  There are benefits in multilevel classes  Tip for worksheets Have four or five tasks on one sheet graded from easy – higher level of difficulty. The more able student work through all activities whereas beginner literacy students may complete one or two.

20 Planning and sequencing of activities will help make your lessons successful. Ask yourself these questions as you plan.  Will this strategy/ material / activity allow students to respond at their own level. Will they succeed?  Will the material allow each student to discover something new about the language?  What language skills are being practised?  Are there visual and non-verbal clues built into the material?  What is the objective for each level of student in the lesson?

21 Bibliography Benseman, J. (2012) Adult refugee learners with limited literacy: needs and effective responses Burt, M., Peyton, J.K., Adams, R. (2003) Reading and Adult English Language Learners: A review of the research. Washington, DC: Centre for Applied Linguistics Croydon, A. (2005) Making It Real: Teaching Pre-literate Adult Refugee Students. Tacoma Community Housing Training Project Field, J., & Sellars, A. (2009) From remembering to reading: The mammoth task of beginning to function in a literate world. TESOLANZ, Wellington, New Zealand Ker, A., Adams, R., Skyrme, G. (2013) Research in applied linguistics and language teaching and learning in New Zealand (2006–2010) Language Teaching, 46, pp Ong, W. (1982) Orality and Literacy The Technologizing of the Word New York: Methuen & Co. Ltd

22 Thanks for coming


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