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A Practical Guide to Teaching ESL Literacy: Bow Valley College launches a new resource

Bow Valley College is introducing a new resource for ESL literacy practitioners: A Practical Guide for Teaching ESL Literacy. This resource is a useful and in-depth guide for anyone who is teaching ESL literacy learners. It balances applied research and teaching practice with examples and ideas for the classroom.

Adult ESL literacy learners are learning a language and developing literacy at the same time – an incredible learning task! They bring a wide range of knowledge, strengths, and experiences to our classrooms; they also have specific learning needs that set them apart from other adult learners.

As ESL literacy instructors, we have the challenge of meeting the needs of these learners and helping them to learn English and develop literacy. Depending on our teaching context, we may have a dedicated class of ESL literacy learners or we may have ESL literacy learners mixed in with our non-literacy learners.

A Practical Guide can support you as you work with your ESL literacy learners. It includes:

  • An Introduction to ESL Literacy
  • The Framework of Literacy Skills for Adult ESL Literacy Learners
  • Creating an Effective Learning Environment
  • Planning Instruction
  • Approaches to Teaching Oral Language Skills
  • Approaches to Teaching Literacy Skills
  • Materials and Resources

A Practical Guide is designed to help you recognize who ESL literacy learners are, what they are learning, and how we can best teach them. The Framework of Literacy Skills for Adult ESL Literacy Learners lays out the skills necessary to develop literacy and outlines a path of progression through literacy skills. It explores what ESL literacy learners need to learn to develop literacy and the order in which they usually learn it.

The resource also discusses effective approaches to teaching adult ESL literacy learners. This includes creating a learning environment, which also recognizes that many ESL literacy learners have experienced trauma. It discusses planning instruction, including connecting instruction to outcomes, needs, assessment; relevant and authentic learning; goal-setting and reflection; transparency; pathways; and connecting instruction to the level of the learner. This resource also explores approaches to teaching oral language and literacy skills as well as materials and resources for ESL literacy learners.

In 2009, Bow Valley College published Learning for LIFE: An ESL Literacy Handbook. This handbook has had wide reach within the ESL literacy community. A Practical Guide draws on this earlier work but is a completely new resource, with up-to-date information for ESL literacy instruction today, including PBLA and the updated Canadian Language Benchmarks.

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