Help out in almost any LCNV class and you will likely find yourself supporting adults with limited formal education in their home countries. Such learners face inordinate challenges in learning to read and write English, as they may be learning to read and write in any language for the very first time. We often refer to these learners as literacy learners, students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE), adult emergent readers, or LESLLA (Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults) learners.
We know from the research on best practices that teachers should focus on the rich and varied strengths these adults bring to class. Content should be relevant to the learners’ lives, and classroom routines are important. When it comes to teaching reading and writing, a balanced literacy approach is helpful and is what we expand upon in LCNV’s Instructor Training. The essential components of reading are alphabetics (i.e., phonemic awareness and decoding), vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency. Most textbooks provide many activities to work on vocabulary and reading comprehension. However, it can be particularly challenging to know how to integrate instruction on alphabetics with the regular textbooks for LESLLA learners.
Many LCNV teaching teams pair in-class supplemental tutors with the LESLLA learners in their classes for occasional pull-out work on alphabetics. To support these efforts, LCNV volunteers assembled 15 phonics kits that teachers check out of the LCNV Library. The kits are based on the Phonics and Phonemic Awareness Kit created by the Minnesota Literacy Council. (Watch this YouTube playlist to see many of the activities in action.) Kits are filled with activity ideas and durable materials (e.g., laminated alphabet sets, mini-whiteboards) for low-beginning through intermediate levels.
Teaching LESLLA learners is more than just a local effort. In fact, the international LESLLA organization was founded in 2005 to bring together researchers, teachers, and policymakers to expand the research and knowledge base around working with LESLLA learners. Their next annual conference will be held in Pittsburgh, PA from August 28-30, 2019. Of use to LCNV teachers, class aides, and tutors are the variety of resources on the LESLLA website, such as the digital hub of readings in multiple languages and other suggested materials. Many of the suggested books (e.g., What’s Next? by New Readers Press) are available in LCNV’s Library as well. Search the LCNV Library catalog here and learn how to check out books in person or by mail.
If you’re looking to learn more, I encourage all LCNV teachers, class aides, and supplemental tutors to take one of the self-paced or facilitated online courses below.
- Self-paced: Teaching Adult ELLs Who Are Emergent Readers from LINCS. Before enrolling, click here to create a free account with the LINCS Learning Portal.
- Self-paced: Literacy Level Adult ESL Instruction from the Minnesota Literacy Council. You will need to create a free account. (The course can be accessed by non-Minnesota residents.)
- Facilitated course starting April 4th: Reading in a LESLLA Context hosted by the EU-Speak project. Click here to register.
Author: Xavier Muñoz, Faculty Support Manager