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.

Gail Rice: Language Experience Approach

Since writing is one of the last skills to develop, native speakers of English who are not proficient in reading are less likely to be proficient in writing. Students that have been shamed in the past for their failures in writing, may dislike writing and write as little as possible.  ESL (English as a Second Language) learners may also experience the same problems because they are aware of their mistakes speaking English.  Thus, ESL and native speaking students are less likely to write because they do not want to see a paper loaded with red marks and corrections.

The language experience approach (LEA) is a powerful tool for tutors to use with any learner who has enough conversational ability to carry on simple conversations, even if that person has no reading skills at all.  It uses the language of the learner, dictated to and written down by the tutor, as the basis of the reading material.  The material is then familiar and understandable since it is based on the learner’s experience, making it easier to read.

But what if learners make grammatical or other mistakes when dictating to the tutor?  What about mistakes that native speakers and ESL learners make in their own writing?

Some tutors feel that they should correct all mistakes and if not they are reinforcing those mistakes.  But such an approach defeats the purpose of the LEA and ensures that struggling writers will become more discouraged and less likely to write.

These issues and others will be discussed at the Tutor Celebration of Learning Seminar offered by the Florida Literacy Council and the Adult Literacy League on the morning of September 17, 2011.

Ruth Colvin, Founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, to speak at the Florida Literacy Conference

Ruth Colvin

The Florida Literacy Coalition is proud to announce that Ruth Colvin, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will be a keynote speaker at the 2011 Florida Literacy Conference. Ruth is the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc., a national, non-profit, educational, volunteer organization to help combat the illiteracy problems in the USA. LVA has merged with Laubach Literacy and is now ProLiteracy Worldwide.

Since 1962, when Ruth started LVA, she and her husband, Bob, have traveled all over the United States and to 26 countries, giving workshops in Basic Literacy (BL) and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).   The recipient of nine honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees, Ruth also received, in 1987, the President’s Volunteer Action Award, presented by President Ronald Reagan, and in 2006 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President George W. Bush. Ruth was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1991.

Ruth is an author of books on various topics including literacy, with titles such as I Speak English: A Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages-Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing.  She and her husband, Robert Colvin, live in Syracuse, New York, USA.

We are so honored to have Ruth Colvin speak at the conference. Make sure that you are registered for the conference so that you do not miss the opportunity to hear Ruth share her experience.

FATDEC Adds 2 New Members

FATDEC is proud to announce that 2 new members have joined the consortium!  The organization warmly welcomes Flagler and Baker County Schools!

FATDEC, Florida Adult and Technical Education Consortium, is a group of public schools, school districts, and community colleges working together to deliver curriculum in a web-based environment for adult education and career technical programs in Florida’s postsecondary public institutions.

Now, the FATDEC network consists of 35 members serving adult students with online ABE, GED, ESOL, and Adult High School courses in 38 counties across Florida!  Click here to see our membership map!

The online courses offered are very beneficial for adult learners as they have 24/7 access to the program – allowing students to customize their schedule and learn from home – and many of the courses are free of charge!

Want to know more about FATDEC?  Click here!

Don’t Miss FLC’s Virtual Tutor/Teacher Trainings

FLC is offering TWO virtual tutor/teacher trainings this month.  These trainings are free; participants need to have telephone and internet access simultaneously to participate.  Click here to read the presenters’ bios. These training sessions are specifically designed to assist literacy tutors and teachers.

TRAINING 1

  • Training Topic: Strategic Reading Instruction to Improve Comprehension for Struggling Reader
  • Date: June 22
  • Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 
  • Instructor: Iris Strunc, Northwest Florida State College
  • Description: Although many school hours are devoted to reading instruction, many students simply do not understand what they read.  This training will explain how strategic analysis of text can help focus struggling readers on the text and task in front of them.  Participants will be shown specific comprehension strategies using highlighters, post-it notes and index cards to assist ineffective readers to analyze and comprehend text better.  

 TRAINING 2

  • Training Topic: Effective Vocabulary Instruction for the Struggling Adult Learner
  • Date: June 30
  • Time: 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: Cecilia A. Hicks, Florida State College at Jacksonville
  • Description: Many adult learners struggle with reading for a variety of reasons. This workshop will explore several of these reasons and offer instructors  research-  and evidence-based solutions to this literacy dilemma. The primary focus of this training will be on vocabulary development. Participants will leave with proven strategies and activities designed to foster vocabulary development in the adult learner.

HOW IT WORKS

Participate from the comfort of your own home or office.  All you need is a telephone and access to the Internet. We will send you a toll-free number and web address (URL) when you register. On the evening of the workshop, you simply join the conference call and go to the web site which will allow you to access the slide show. 

Register today

Questions?  Contact Yari Payne at payney@floridaliteracy.org or (407) 246-7110 ext. 203. 

These trainings are collaborative learning events brought to you by the Florida Adult Literacy Resource Center, a program of the Florida Literacy Coalition. These trainings are made possible through the support of the Florida Department of Education, Division of Career and Adult Education.    

Another Great Florida Literacy Conference

Now that the Florida Literacy Conference has ended, I can reflect upon some of the activities I was fortunate enough to attend.  First, I participated in one of the pre-conference workshops:  Train the Trainer Course.  At this first session of the course, we participated in many activities to help us focus on competencies we need to be good tutor trainers.

After the opening ceremonies on Wednesday, I attended my carefully chosen workshops of the conference.  Since it was Adult Learner Day, I wanted to participate in a session with learners.   The workshop by VALUE did not disappoint.  I found the learners’ points of view to be very helpful and inspiring in this interactive workshop.

That afternoon I attended a very thought-provoking session presented by Hillary Smith.  She had polled learners and teachers about when, how often, and tactics to correct ESL learners when they make errors in English.   Her findings were enlightening.

Finally, during the informative FLC Annual Meeting, several learners read their emotional essays. Their personal stories brought faces to those needing literacy, just like the ESOL performers did in our closing session and luncheon;  a standing ovation to all!

Which workshop(s) did you find most helpful?  Share it in the comment section below.

Fine Tuning Pronunciation for ESL Learners

Have you ever been in a store and overheard someone say to the cashier, “receipt, please?” and realize that he or she pronounced the “p”?  It is a little startling – until you realize: how would you know that the p is silent?  Unfortunately, our language is full of pitfalls – with words that have spelling that barely resembles their pronunciation

Once, while teaching an advanced class, I could not understand what one of my students was saying regarding cookies and cakes. He was saying “bisquit” – so I thought he was referring to the brand of pancake and cake mix called Bisquick.  I finally realized that he was trying to say biscuit!

Spanish is my second language, so one would think that I should have known what he was trying to say.  After all, I know the spelling and pronunciation rules for my second language.  However, when I am speaking in one language, I tend to think in that language. 

If you have had situations like this and would like to know more about improving  pronunciation by ESL learners, please consider attending my workshop at 9 a.m., Thursday, May 6, during the Florida Literacy Conference.  

See you there!   Enjoy the conference!