St. Petersburg: Home of the 32nd Annual Florida Literacy Conference

Registration is in full swing for the 32nd Annual Florida Literacy Conference which will be held at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel  from May 4th-6th. Be sure to register now to enjoy our early bird pricing.* With hotel amenities and the many attractions St. Petersburg has to offer, everyone is sure to have an enjoyable experience during their stay.

hiltonsp1

Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront • 333 1st St S • St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Conveniently located about 25 minutes from the Clearwater International Airport, the Hilton boasts plenty of amenities.  Daily parking will be available for $6. Guests of the conference can enjoy a discounted room rate of $116 available for stays anytime from May 2nd through 9th. This room offer is only available until April 11th. Reserve your room today!

The Hilton Bayfront is located in the center of many attractions. Keep reading for a brief overview of what St. Petersburg has to offer.

*valid until March 5th

Dali Museum

dali museumGo and experience the results of a collaboration turned friendship between two of the 20th century’s world-renowned artists: Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination is an exhibit that displays the world shared by these two giants of imagination.* It will take you through paintings, story sketches, photographs, audio, and more that detail the friendship and professional relationship these two cultivated. Also be sure to explore the rest of the museum during this family friendly activity.

*runs January – June

Museum of Fine Arts

Florida-St-Petersburg-Museum-Fine-Arts-Front-FacadeLocated only half a mile from the hotel, the Contemplating Character Exhibit at the museum is just one of the exhibits that will be available for viewing at the Museum of Fine Arts. Go and explore the Neoclassicist, Romanticist, and Realist art styles of the 18th and 19th centuries in an exhibit that features 150 rare portrait drawings and oil sketches of artists, their loved ones, and famous figures. It even includes portraits of George Washington and author Oscar Wilde.

Dining

If you’re looking for a meal between your conference sessions or a nice drink to end the day, Tangerine restaurant and the Dali Bar are conveniently located in the hotel.  If you’re exploring the area around the hotel and get hungry, choose from multiple restaurants such as Gratzzi Italian Grille, Z Grille, Meze 119, or Crowley’s Downtown.

                Be sure to check back for future spotlights on attractions!

 

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Roberta Reiss- “ESOL Conversation Clubs: Design and Delivery”

Just like any endeavor, successful conversation clubs require some careful thought and planning to meet the needs of the adult learners seeking to improve their listening and speaking skills.

The design should grow from the needs of the participants and your motivation for forming the club:

  • Is it a request from existing learners already active in your literacy program?
  • Is it an idea coming from tutors who see a need for their learners to get more conversation practice?
  • Do you need a way to keep learners on your waiting list connected to the program in a productive setting?

If you are meeting the needs of existing learners, be sure to ask them what they want to practice specifically.  Are they focused on life skills English, current affairs or grammar in use?  The content of your sessions should reflect their preferences.  It will also be feasible to have sessions with a start date and end date that build on one another.

If it is to help your learners on the waiting list start their learning before they are matched with a tutor, you should consider an open-ended, open-enrollment, drop-in model for the club.  This will require the facilitator to create stand-alone sessions with a different topic for every meeting.  It will also require skill in facilitating multi-level sessions with learners of varying skill levels.

Roberta Reiss

For any model, adult learners will appreciate having the chance to master and practice specific skills, whether it is life skill dialogues, grammar in use, or pronunciation.  This can be achieved with learning activities in which there is two-way interaction, time within the session to allow learners to plan what they might say, and a task with a closed solution or end product.

Within the session, the facilitator can rely on a set procedure no matter what the topic:

  • Announce the topic
  • Present vocabulary and allow for practice
  • Model the learning activity
  • Create pairs/small groups to do the activity
  • Walk through the room to offer help, monitor work flow and clarify the task
  • Have learners report back to the whole group

Meeting the needs and expectations of your adult learners is the best way to ensure attendance and gains in skill levels.

If you would like to see the full “Conversation Clubs” webinar hosted January 22, please click here.

English Language Learners and Technology

Technology has significantly aided in the advancement of English language learners. From interfaces and tools to help in the learning process, to resources for teachers, to communication, technology has made it easier for language learners to better integrate into their new country. In today’s world, technology is instrumental in teaching and learning English, and adapting to the demands of the culture.

Translation sites and tools have made it easier for learners to understand words or phrases found on the internet. In Google translate, users can input any text and get a fairly accurate translation for what it means. Although at times it might be off in the meaning, since its assuming context, the definition provided is fairly close to the translation. Several websites also have the option to translate the page. While this doesn’t exactly help with learning, it helps those not familiar with the language to find locations for ESL classes or other places in the case of an emergency.

The internet is also filled with resources for ESL teachers and activities for students. Interactive games help students learn English because it is using a different method of learning. Students can find activities to practice in their spare time and the computer is able to correct things they got wrong (instead of memorizing the wrong thing). Teachers are also able to find lesson plans, brainstorm with other teachers, and download additional resources with the wide assortment of ESL websites. It is one of the best tools teachers can use when trying to find additional curriculum since learning English is a very popular subject. Here are some good websites for teacher/student resources:

FLC ESOL Tutor Help Center

Center for Adult Education Language Acquisition

English Page.com

Thirteen EdOnline

Using technology has become increasingly necessary to advance in economically in the United States. The GED will be computer based in a couple of years, most jobs only seek applicants online or through a computer, and several jobs require basic computer skills. Technology is also becoming the dominant mode of communication. Hundreds of millions of people use social media to find jobs, keep in touch with friends, and stay up to date with current events. If you are working with someone who is new to the country, incorporating digital literacy in your curriculum will help your student on multiple levels. Try different word activities using the computer. Teach your student how they can hear how words sound using a computer. There are many ways you can do this and it is becoming increasingly important that you try.

Roberta Reiss: Five important tips for a great conversation club

Roberta Reiss

1.  Research grammatical structures that are challenging for English learners.  Chose only one or two per session for participants to focus on, practice and perfect.

2.  Always model an activity first, i.e. show by example what you expect the participants to do or achieve.

3.  More true conversation occurs if your activity is designed around “closed tasks.”  For example, ask a participant to reproduce a drawing based on the directions offered by his or her partner.

4.  Design “two-way tasks” for your activities so that an exchange of information is required.  For example, asking one learner to tell a story to another learner requires only that the second learner listens.  The “two-way” version of this activity would be to ask a learner to interview a partner and report the information back to the whole class.  This activity requires listening, questioning, answering and clarification.

5.  Try to include new vocabulary, a few idioms and a few verb phrases in every session.

Roberta Reiss: Top 3 things to keep in mind when facilitating a multi-level conversation class

1.  Start a class by reviewing challenging vocabulary or vocabulary necessary for the task/discussion.  More advanced participants can improve their pronunciation while beginners expand their vocabularies.

2.  The facilitator should circulate through the room when pairs/groups are working on a task.  Offer encouragement, be available to answer questions, and help with pronunciation.

3.  Let learners “negotiate” language.  Create activities during which pairs or small groups of learners try to make themselves understood within the pair/group in order to achieve a product, find an answer or reach a goal. They then report back to the whole group.  The more advanced will be able to help out the beginners.  If by chance a pair/group of beginners is formed, the facilitator should join them for a while and assist.