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Are We Helping Our ABE/ESL Students Transition Effectively?

Have you modified the way that you help ABE/ESL adults transition into college as well as function both in everyday life and in the workplace, based on funding and other requirements imposed on students in our changing world?

I recently reviewed a resource which should soon appear in our LINCS Resource Center, “Teaching Writing to Adult English Language Learners: Lessons from the Field,” by J. Peyton and K. Schaetzel, from the Center for Applied Linguistics, Georgetown University (11/2016).

This article presents the results of a survey and follow-up interviews with adult English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors to identify the writing instruction they deliver, the text types they teach, and the time they devote to writing. Although the interviews were directed to ESL instruction, I find that the same practices may well apply to how we teach basic writing to our ABE adult learners. What do you think? Do we need to redirect our instruction in the ways recommended by this survey?

From the LINCS Review Abstract

The ability to write texts for academic and professional purposes (i.e., academic writing) is key to the success of adults in U.S. society—in school, on tests needed to progress through learning and into work, and in the workforce. This article presents the findings of a survey of adult ESL about the writing instruction they deliver, the text types they teach, the time they devote to writing and the importance of writing in student placement decisions. Based on the results, the authors identified the following misalignments between the skills needed in the workplace and what is taught in Adult ESL Classes:

  • Types of Writing

    • What’s needed: Argumentative/persuasive and technical/informative texts.
    • What’s taught: Narrative, imaginary, descriptive texts
  • Length of assignments
    • What’s needed: A paragraph to a 10-page paper
    • What’s taught: A paragraph or less
  • Feedback
    • What’s needed: Feedback on overall ideas and their presentation
    • What’s taught: Error correction
  • Modality for writing
    • What’s needed: Word processing
    • What’s taught: Handwriting”

Please share your reactions to the findings and comment on how you are addressing (or not) the "needed" items listed. What pros and cons do you perceive in implementing those needs among ABE and ESL students in your program? Do you believe that students should be using additional technology to write better beyond just word processing? Leecy

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