Monday, October 31, 2011

Free Webinar on ELL Emerging Literacy

I wanted to announce a wonderful free resource for teachers of non-native English speakers with no prior literacy. Dr. Robin Schwarz will be presenting a webinar on best approaches for helping these students to acquire literacy. She will be conducting the webinar on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, from 1:00-2:00 PM MST.

Here is the abstract of the webinar:

One of the major challenges of ESL teachers is working with learners who have no prior literacy. How can you best teach these learners to read? Teaching non-literate or very low literate non-English speakers to read is NOT like teaching students who are literate in another language. Robin Lovrien Schwarz, PhD, will help you learn what research has discovered about the challenges these learners face and what the best approaches are for helping them begin to acquire literacy. Dr. Lovrien Schwarz will also direct you to sources that will support you in teaching reading to this population.

View the recorded webinar here.

For a list of other free webinars on literacy, click here.

(Read a follow-up post on the webinar here.)

Literacy Training in the Bronx...and in Your Own Backyard

This past weekend I conducted literacy training at the Bronx Library Center in New York City. Among those in attendance were literacy volunteers, library staff, and administrators. The purpose of the training was to provide an overview of the Reading Horizons method and to provide ideas for literacy application activities. I was impressed with the attendees' passion and interest to improve literacy for individuals who cannot read or write, as well as non-native English speakers who struggle to communicate in English. (See my post on a follow-up training in the Bronx here.)

I showed the attendees the following video, which was followed by a discussion about the reality of life for individuals who cannot read or write.

Our discussion caused me ponder more deeply about other individuals who struggle with literacy in my own community. Although I have had several opportunities to travel abroad to help fill English and literacy needs, I was reminded that you don't have to go very far to find individuals who struggle. This thought reminds me of my responsibility to contribute to promoting literacy in my own community.

I thought I'd share again a video series I mentioned in a previous post called "In Your Own Backyard." Who might be struggling with literacy in your backyard, and what can you do about it? (For ideas, visit my post here.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

ESL Listening Strategies for English Language Learners

Last week I had the opportunity to visit a country I had never visited before: Brazil. I have never studied Portuguese, the native language spoken there. I have studied Spanish, and I admit that I thought my Spanish would help. But in a country where most people speak neither English nor Spanish, I found my communication to be ineffective. This experience provided me an opportunity to recall first-hand what it’s like to be a non-native speaker of a target language.

My experience in Brazil struggling to communicate and to be understood in a language unfamiliar to me provided me an opportunity to think about language learning strategies and how I was implementing them (or how I was failing to implement them) to achieve the goal of communication and comprehension. Specifically, it provided me an opportunity to "think about my thinking" (metacognition) while listening to a language that was foreign to me and to consider the strategies I was using to try to understand what I heard. In this blog post, I thought I would provide a list of listening strategies that could be used in the ESL classroom to bring listening strategies to non-native English speakers' consciousness. I also thought I would include a simple guideline for how to develop a listening strategy lesson that I used in a teacher training when I worked at BYU's English Language Center as the Listening/Speaking skill coordinator. This guideline can be accessed on the page link to the right, or by clicking here.

Listening Strategies Reference List
Adapted in part from Brown (1994), Chamot (1995), Goh (1997), Mendelsohn (2000), Murphy (1987), O’Malley, Chamot, and Kupper (1989), O’Malley, Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Kupper, and Russo (1995), White (2007), and Willing (1987).