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Cutting Funding for ESL Beginners

There has been a change in the way funds are used in adult ESL classes for immigrants - see below.

The funding is being diverted  away from classes that include anyone who wants to learn basic English towards classes that only focus on Workplace English. And eventually there will probably be a charge for these classes.

This turn of events is actually a blessing in disguise because technology, especially the use of the smartphone, not only provides an alternative but also can be a better way to teach/learn a foreign language, especially English. 

Years ago we talked about “Bridging The Digital Divide” which focused on ways to bring technology to low-income communities. Years ago, such as back in the days of desk-top computers and CDs.

Now nearly everyone owns a smartphone with access to the internet. 

I have been teaching” ESL using smart phones, the internet and WhatsApp for about 5 years now, and at the same time taught “live” classes. Now I have decided to change my whole program so that everything can be done using smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The majority of my students are women who are about 40 years old, work at low-income jobs and have children. Most of them know little or no English, and they lack computer skills. BUT they all like WhatsApp.

I have developed two free websites and I also provide a series of texts which I print up myself and sell at cost.

A major concern in my approach is to help them learn day-to-day English, and, in the case of mothers, how to read with their children, especially if they are first and second graders.

All of these students are all very busy, and English is not easy to learn. So I encourage them to spend 5 or 10 minutes a day reviewing or study lessons. 

There is a lot more to this, but for now I will just add that in my opinion it is absolutely necessary to include the use of smart phones in English language instruction so that the students will be able to learn at their own pace, step by step, without the added anxiety of classroom attendance.



Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Thanks for encouraging all of us to use cell phones, Paul. Cell phones are a wonderful tool to support student learning. Moreover, in my experience, most learners are already using WhatsApp, so communicating with them and sharing lesson materials through this app is easy. 

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP