Skip to main content

Adult ESL - Family Literacy - and Technology

Hello, Everybody - 

My adult ESL program classes have evolved into a Family Literacy program that is proving to be very successful.

I teach in a library and my students are working adults, usually women with children. My classes consist of lessons on a few websites, particularly, followed by a "live" class around a table. I have found that including the use of computers also provides the solution to multi-level classes.

 A few months ago I showed them STARFALL for kids, and encouraged them to show their children at home. The response was very positive, so I then contacted STARFALL to get some story books with audio CDs.

The students are all very enthusiastic because now they can help their kids with reading and also learn some English at the same time.

The library where I teach classes also has a bilingual story time for kids which the parents often attend.

As you can imagine, many immigrant parents feel alienated from their kids’ school, but through this type of program they can become more involved. Actually their interest in learning English has grown, as well as their interest in using technology.

My classes are very informal, based on the fact that working adults with families simply cannot attend classes on a regular basis. But I also post audio and video lessons on WhatsApp groups, which fills in the gap quite well.



Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Paul, Thanks for telling us about how your current work has evolved into a family literacy class. Tapping into parents' interest in supporting their children can be a powerful motivator. I've worked in family literacy classes quite a bit myself, and I can say that I've never met a parent who didn't want their children to be successful. It's great that you can supplement the face-to- face class with your website, Facebook page, YouTube videos and lessons through WhatsApp. Keep up the inspiring work!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP

Leecy's picture
One hundred

Congratulations on your success, Paul, and thanks for sharing.

I'm so glad that you stressed the importance of family literacy in our communities. Our LINCS Reading and Writing Community will be sponsoring a wonderful 3-4 day discussion later in the year on Family Literacy, led by the Executive Director of HIPPY USA , Staci Croom-Raley. HIPPY also sponsors family literacy programs around the world with great success. Stay tuned for the date once the timing is announced! 

I hope that you who are reading this thread will be brave and drop in to share your family-literacy experience. Let's Talk! Leecy

Diana Batista's picture

hello - I’m in a training session at the COABE conference with Leecy.  We just discussed how relevant family literacy activities are with students.This class sounds like it uses authentic tools to engage your learners! I’m wondering if students have access to online learning in addition to the class.  If you do - can you share your resources? Thanks 

Paul Rogers's picture
One hundred

Hi, Diana - To answer your question concerning resources: First, I am a volunteer teacher at a local library. My students are low-income working adults, usually women with children. All are Latino, mostly from Mexico. Many have attempted to attend “regular” classes but were unable to continue for various reasons.  

They own smartphones and use WhatsApp. So I formed several groups which I use to send lessons from my two websites, and is a website that teaches children how to read, and the parents like it a lot.

The lessons that I send via WhatsApp contain texts and short videos which serve as audio texts. Students listen when they can, usually on the bus or at home, and sometimes at work.

A year ago one of my students told me he was a gardener at Oprah Winfrey’s estate and listened to the lessons while he cut grass. I told him to greet Oprah in English!

I also use Google Translate and other lessons on Google.

There are many good websites, including Duolingo, LiveMocha, MansiondeIngles, etc. I recommend these versus Apps because Apps use up memory on the phone and I have noticed that people run out of space at the end of the month. Now there is a thumbdrive which fits into a phone, so this will help people even more. There are also websites that provide free lessons on a variety of other subjects. Passing the driver’s test and citizenship are the top two.

I recently talked to a teacher in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico who has developed a low cost online English program for people who work in  Hotels and Restaurants. Perhaps I can add this.

I post a lot of songs on WhatsApp using YouTube. Many songs have bilingual lyrics superimposed karaoke style, which the students study.

A few years ago I created several groups on Facebook to learn English, and I post to these groups regularly.

The idea is to provide as many resources as possible and also to encourage the students to look for their own sites.

I believe that self-study is very important, and with the Smartphone anyone can learn anything anytime! Actually I am busy 7  days a week!! But not so much as a teacher but as a guide, resource, coach...etc.

Attendance in my classes is not required at all, although there are some people who come all the time. By the way, I still print up hard copies of some of my textbooks, which people like.

I believe that the method outlined above helps people learn English gradually, at their own speed. It may be slow, but I know that it works.

I cannot prove it but I think that learning can actually take place faster in this kind of class compared to official classes.

My method is bilingual and phonetic. Bilingual to make sure that everyone understands the lesson or instruction, and phonetic to teach pronunciation step by step.

In any case, adding the ingredient of helping their children learn to read in English provides parents of a way to feel more involved in school and also is a good motivator to learn English.

I intend to gradually evolve my program so that it is completely online via ZOOM, Skype, Facebook WhatsApp etc. live video, and anything else that will be developed.

Soon I am going to try to start writing grants in conjunction with the library to be able to expand my program, especially in libraries.

My vision includes a network of classes, at first in the county, and a mobile van Bookmobile style to travel around!!!

Paul Rogers

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hello everyone, Thanks for writing to us from COABE in New Orleans, Diana. It's been a fantastic conference.

I love your vision, Paul, as well as how flexible your program is. It's great to see how you are meeting the needs of many working adults. We will all look forward to hearing how things continue to evolve in your work. Thanks so much for sharing with us here on LINCS!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP