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Using Think Alouds to Adapt Tasks for ESL Literacy Learners

  • Using Think Alouds to Adapt Tasks for ESL Literacy Learners

The following blog post was written by Emily Albertsen and Jennifer Acevedo, faculty members at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement (CEIIA). This blog post is part of our Conference Reflection blog series. Jennifer and Emily attended the Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) conference in October 2017.

At last year's ATESL conference, we had the pleasure of co-presenting Meeting the needs of ESL literacy learners: CCLB resources for ESL literacy instruction to a very dedicated, enthusiastic group of ESL literacy instructors. This presentation focused on the ESL literacy resources that the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CCLB) has available to support ESL literacy. One section of the resources that we focused on is the Think Aloud section in CLB: ESL for ALL Support Kit.

Language tasks often assume complex literacy skills, conceptual knowledge, and numeracy skills. The Think Alouds in Part V of the CLB: ESL for ALL Support Kit walk you through a process to consider the literacy skills, strategies, and knowledge required to complete a language task.

The Think Alouds encourage you to consider the following when adapting CLB tasks for your literacy learners or creating new tasks for literacy learners:

What skills do the learners need to complete the task?
  • conceptual knowledge
  • oral language
  • reading/writing skills and strategies
  • numeracy skills
What do I need to do to support my learners with this task?
  • before the task: skill-building activities
  • during the task: scaffolding and support
  • after the task: reflection and next steps
How does the task need to support ESL literacy learners (in the set-up, layout, language, expectations, etc.)?
  • presentation of the task
  • cognitive requirements of the task
  • conditions for completing the task

There are 10 complete task exemplars with Think Alouds in the Support Kit, with one in reading and one in writing for each level from Foundation L to CLB 4L. The task exemplars are CLB tasks that have been adapted for literacy learners. They are ready to use in the classroom and include handouts and rubrics. You can also use them as a model to adapt your own tasks. 

For more information on ESL literacy resources, read CCLB Resources for ESL Literacy Practitioners.