ESOL/ESL Conversation Circles and Learning Circles
Submitted by David J. Rosen on March 29, 2017 - 8:11am
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Here's a great example of nonformal, library-based ESOL/ESL conversation circles, held at the Peabody Institute Library in Massachusetts. "Each of these free volunteer-led sessions meets weekly in a relaxed setting so that language learners can improve their pronunciation, build vocabulary and perhaps most importantly, gain confidence in their English speaking abilities. The program started with three circles; there are now seven weekly groups meeting for English practice. The concept recently expanded into offering circles for individuals (native English speakers) who wish to practice speaking Spanish and Portuguese."
Most states have had waiting lists for English language classes. Many libraries offer free English language conversation circles to help people while they wait for an English class. Some libraries also offer conversation circles as a supplement to their own -- and others' -- adult English classes.
Many libraries now also offer learning circles led by a trained volunteer. These include a free-to-the-learner, online English language course such as USALearns or Burlington English, or free online English learning resources such as Newsela. Although most learning circles have not been explicitly for English language acquisition, in Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts World Education and Peer to Peer University have an eighteen-month pilot project, funded by the Dollar General Foundation, to offer and customize the learning circles model for English language learners on waiting lists for English classes. These are offered in a library-based family literacy program, a public school adult learning center and three community-based organizations. I am the internal evaluator for this project, helping the five sites to customize the model for adult English language learners.
Do you want to learn more about conversation circles or learning circles? If so, let's discuss them here. Are you a facilitator of a learning circle or conversation circle? If so, please tell us about your model.
David J. Rosen