The Purpose ::
The purpose of this WIKI is to gain an understanding of the various factors that that have shaped and continue to shape ESL programs, and those factors specific to the Chicago vicinity.
Adult ESL instruction and immigrant education continue to evolve as new populations arrive, new initiatives begin, and new developments arise (such as the revised citizenship test to be launched in October 2008); the future directions of this field may be informed by its past.
ESL Providers ::
English language instruction is provided by the following groups. Click below to find out more:
“Primary and fundamental duty resting upon all American employers”
“The Americanization movement had been in launched in 1915, and by 1918, the factory-class idea had been “sold,” as an idea. Factory classes sprang up on all sides, flourished for a brief period, and in a discouragingly large number of cases, died. It was the time when everyone relied on enthusiasm, and practically nothing else, to get this job done. Anybody could teach. Make everybody 100 per cent American, and do it overnight! Speaking English will win the War! And so on.” (Leiserson, 1924, p.122)
Americanization Efforts Included:
~ HULL HOUSE RESIDENTS
|The Need for Adult ESL Classes :: |
The official language of the United States is English, yet there are more than 35 million adults living in the country whose native language is not that of English. The majority of this population originates from Mexico and other neighboring Latin American countries, followed next in line by Asian countries. For the most part, the majority of these groups cluster in six states: California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Illinois. (Other states currently facing increased populations are those of North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, Arkansas, Utah, Tennessee, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, and Kentucky.)
"Practitioner Toolkit: Working with Adult English Language Learners." December 2004, The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) in Louisville, KY and the National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington DC. http://www.cal.org/Caela/tools/program_development/CombinedFiles1.pdf.
For statistics on current immigrant populations, please refer to the following links:
Who is the Typical ESL Learner?
This is a hard question to answer. The Adult ESL learner is as diverse as one could imagine. Below illustrates the differences amongst learners.
~ MOTIVATION FOR ENROLLING:
Going back to school for English generally involves a big sacrifce in the life of the ESL learner. The average student will deal with issues like the following: conflicting work schedules, having to juggle multiple jobs, the added pressures from family responsibilities, transportation options or lack of, child care solutions; locating programs and classes that meet their needs and goals and that are a reasonable distance from home, financial difficulties, health care and medical insurance issues; and the impending fear of problems surrounding their legal status.
~ DIFFERENCES FROM THE AVERAGE ENGLISH STUDENT:
Adult ESL learners possess a wealth of life experiences. They have opinions, judgements, and senses of humor that they cannot readily share. In many ways, they cannot be themselves, and this can be both frustrating and disheartening.
It is also this lifetime of experience and background knowledge that often provides them with a genuine motivation to learn and advance their education. In addition to this, they frequently have a strong familial and/or community support system already established which can help them in adjusting to this new life.
|The ESL Course Structure ::|
ESL instruction is generally offered in the following seven contexts:
Standards in ESL ::
ESL Assessment ::
The ESL Learner will have a variety of reasons for enrolling in the class, and if their needs are not met, there is the danger of the student becoming frustrated with the class and simply dropping out. Therefore, it is critical that instructors have a full understanding of their needs, their progress and their goals. In addition to keeping the student engaged, needs assessment plays a major role in developing curricula and classroom practice. Another complementive measure under assessment is self-evaluation. Self evaluation is very important as it provides a way for the student to track their progress towards meeting the goals they have set for themselves.
~ LEARNER ASSESSMENT TOOLS:
Learner assessment tools can assume several types of forms, they can be undertaken at various times during the course, and they can vary in what they choose to focus on. Such tools could include survey questionnaires, open-ended interviews, personal/dialogue journals, timelines (for measuring goals) and informal performance observations. The choice of which tool to use depends upon the particular type(s) of student being assessed and their proficiency level. For instance, some students at entry level would require translating or a tool that could be represented in a pictorial manner, and other students at a more advanced level could work with a more indepth information gathering tool.
|Program Analysis :: |
This section takes a look at three types of Adult ESL programs in the Chicago area. Several program factors are evaluated such as program initiation, assessment, classroom dynamics, and program/student challenges.
University Programs ::
University Adult ESL programs support the incoming population of students who are not yet ready to enter into the full university program. They also support the city population of non-native speakers. Programs like these are fortunate because on-campus classes expose the students to a world of higher education, possibly motivating them to continue with the education after ESL. Another benefit to these programs is that they offer several satellite classes which are held in communities that have a need for ESL instruction. The communities provide the location and the colleges supply the teachers and the course.
Sample Programs: Daley College / Truman College
Faith Based Programs ::
Community Programs ::
Website :: http://daley.ccc.edu/academic/ae_courses.aspx
A Little History ::
The 24 year old Adult ESL program at Daley College (DC) grew out the Urban Skills Institute (established across all city colleges) which focused on adult learning skills.
It initially started with 3 ESL programs in the morning and 3 ESL programs in the evening, but due to increasing demands and needs, it grew into a massive part of the Adult Education program. Of the 5400 Adult ED students enrolled at Daley, 3800 students belong to the ESL program, roughly 70% of the program.
Student Assessment ::
Before the student enters the program, the student makes an appointment with the department to learn about the program and understand what to expect. After this, the student attends an orientation session along with several other prospective students. (Due to the diverse ethnic backgrounds that Daley attracts, students are arranged in the auditorium into 8 groups for orientation and assessment. These groups represent the more common backgrounds that Daley sees enter into the program. Examples include: Spanish, Arabic, Polish, French, etc… and then of course a miscellaneous group that accommodates backgrounds that aren’t as frequent in the program.) After the orientation intro, students are tested individually for oral abilities, grammar, conversation and literacy. The first series of tests come from the college and then the next batch are the state-required tests (BEST & CELSA)*
*see links to information on these tests under the Truman College Section of the Wiki below.
The students at Daley College are from a variety of different backgrounds. They must be 19 years of age and/or 16+ years if they have parental approval and proof they are not currently enrolled in a secondary educational program.
Daley College offers free classes to the learners which funded through the IL College Board of Education.
Textbooks are free to the students, but they must remain in the classroom. The student has the option to purchase the books if they would like to take home and study or to pass on to others as well. DC encourages students to purchase them (if it’s affordable for the students) as it signifies that they’re “making an investment” into their education and may motivate them to continue with the class.
For several years, DC used the Side by Side books, but have recently switched over to using Step Forward. They also use books such as the Ventures Series, and for the more advanced learners they use Summit. DC has an extensive language library at the college, so teachers often supplement with material from other books or with their own materials.
DC offers 8 levels of instruction within the ESL program. The 1st is a pre-literacy class, the 2nd – 6th are standard ESL classes, and the 7th class is for college transition. The syllabus is generally based off of the textbooks as a foundation, but teachers have flexibility in adding in what they deem important, such as important life skills or other important areas. All 4 skills are focused on during the course.
The majority of classes are help on campus, but there are 6 satellite locations where Daley College offers classes.
For on-campus courses, the students/teachers have access to one computer lab (shared with all Adult ED courses), a language lab and a language resource center. For off-campus courses, they do not have such access at their facilities, but have the option of use on the Daley College campus.
Additional Resources ::
On campus students have access to day care (a paid service) and have access to free English tutoring if needed. Students also have access to the DC library as well as the Chicago Public Library.
DC has formal partnerships with 6 local schools in which they setup ESL courses. The schools do not charge DC rent for the space and DC doesn’t charge them for offering the services. The school is responsible for providing a safe, clean facility and Daley provides a dedicated Coordinator, teacher and all the necessary materials.
In addition to the above, Daley does meet with the Area Planning Council (APC) to discuss & strategize on community issues – in regards to issues affecting students.
Student Challenges ::
One of more challenging issues students/teachers deal with – relates to learning disabilities. There are programs that specialize in learning disabilities, and programs that specialize in learning English, but there isn’t a solid solution in place for dealing with students who come with both issues. The ESL department is generally the one that ends up with these cases and it’s a tough situation to resolve. One reason being - disability identification is hard when communication is also a barrier. Generally, the ESL department ends up working hand in hand with the Special ED department in helping the student.
Other issues that sometimes come up are domestic abuse or even more frequent – when a student enters the program lacking an adequate elementary education.
Website :: http://www.trumancollege.edu/adulted/classes.php#esl
A Little History ::
Student Assessment ::
Course Structure ::
Courses typically have around 25 students, and there are morning, afternoon, evening, weekend, and intensive courses (12:30-4:30 daily) offered for all areas of AE.
This new curriculum also includes WORK, HEALTH, CIVICS, and TECHNOLOGY. Life Skills are more the focus of lower-level courses, and Academic skills for higher levels.
Website :: http://www.wr.org
The Chicago World Relief (WR) office opened in 1980 to help resettle a wave of refugees from South Vietnam.
The size of each WR office varies in relation to how many refugees the U.S. is allowing to enter the country each year, as well as how much funding is available for the various services WR provides, including for the ESL classes. Initially the Chicago organization was much bigger in size and supported off-site classes. However, in 2004, the offices and classes were consolidated and moved to the same building. This was helpful, as it allowed people in other departments, such as resettlement and mental health) to interact with clients easily when they need to.
Student Assessment ::
Each student takes the BEST literacy test and is placed in level one, two, or three accordingly. Selected students from pre-literate backgrounds take the BEST Plus Oral Assessment. Additionally, instructors are able to use a “needs assessment” form (a picture based form for low level students and a text based form for higher level students) during the first day or evening of a new class session to solicit student feedback on why they need to learn English.The Education Coordinator facilitates the intake process. For refugees, this occurs at the end of their cultural orientation which takes place at World Relief within their first week of arrival to Chicago. Translators are typically available to explain the class policies and complete course goal forms (required by our funders). The BEST Literacy assessment is the primary means for placing refugees in particular levels; however, sometimes the Education Coordinator will place a student in Level 2 rather than Level 1 if the student’s oral English is strong but the written test score was low. The reason for this is that many refugees are unable to fill out basic information on the test that they actually know, such as their address, on the pre-test because they have just arrived in the country. Our day time program is an open entry program for refugees. For evening classes, we offer fixed registrations 3 times per year. All evening students are pre-tested with the BEST Literacy assessment and placed into classes according to this score. 99% of our evening ESL class population are Spanish speakers, so WR staff who speak Spanish facilitate the registration process in Spanish. All forms, including the intake form and goal form, are offered in Spanish.
WR's daytime program consists of refugees from all over the world. In one class, they typically have students from 5-10 language backgrounds at the same time. In the evening classes, 99% of our students are from Spanish speaking backgrounds. The benefit of having students from various language backgrounds in the same classroom is that it forces students to speak in English to communicate with one another. This is an ideal situation in an ESL (as opposed to an EFL) classroom. In both programs, there are 3 levels of classes, but each class level is multi-level to a certain extent. Teachers utilize a variety of strategies to help manage multilevel classrooms effectively. The typical class consists of 15-30 students. In general, the size of the daytime classes depends on how many refugee arrivals are coming. At certain times of the year, there are more arrivals than others. For the evening classes, WR tries not to place more than 20 students in one class; however, there are times when they will place more than 20 so that they don’t have to turn away students who want to take the classes.
Current textbooks used in the classroom include: Ventures, Very Easy True Stories, Easy True Stories and for the beginning literacy levels, the Sam and Pat Books 1 and 2 are used.
The main ESL curriculum at WR is centered around life–skills English, but they also have 2 courses that are specific to employment based English needs. The latest change they have made to the curriculum involved aligning the ESL program curriculum to the IL Adult ESL Content Standards.
The courses integrate all 4 skill areas into the class.
Some of the classes have volunteer tutors who work individually or with small groups of students who are behind the rest of the class. In addition, the teachers have developed activities and materials that they can individualize for certain groups within their classes. The Ventures series offers a reproducible workbook series called “Add Ventures”, providing worksheets with the same answers, but different levels, to help individualize instruction within the same level.
The program utilizes computers in a small way at this point in time. The level 3 teacher has done some activities with typing; however, WR has limited resources as they do not have a computer lab. World Relief has applied for a donation of a classroom set of laptop computers so that they will be able to integrate computers into our ESL classes, but they are not sure if they will receive this.
Once the student enrolls in the program, they have access to several additional resources. Many of the students have volunteer tutors who visit their home weekly. These tutors go through 12 hours of training through Literacy Works and have some access to teaching materials through our volunteer coordinator. Also, refugees who have children ages 1-5 are able to bring their children to our site for early childhood education while they are in English class. Some refugees are also eligible for transportation assistance in the form of bus passes to attend English classes. All of the refugees in the program have access services provided through the Resettlement and Employment Department, the Mental Health Department, and the Immigration Legal Services Department. Immigrant students in our evening classes also have access to the Immigration Legal Services Department. Another department also offers a weekly financial literacy class for ESL students.
Sometimes WR refers students to other ESL programs in the community, depending on where they live, what their English level is, and what their job schedule is. WR has a family literacy program that partners with the local public library. The office’s school based services help ESL students who have children in Chicago Public School System. And, employment counselors refer ESL students to vocational training programs when appropriate.
The majority of WR's ESL learners are refugees. One of the main goals of the organization as a whole is to have families self-sustaining within the first three months that they arrive. Employment is therefore a major concern and an issue that they address in the ESL program. Every term there is a 3-week course called “WorkStyles”, dedicated specifically to employment issues in an American context (mock job interviews, filling out applications, solving problems at work, interacting with supervisors, co-workers, etc…) They also have a special class designed for pre-literate and non-literate adults, where they can gain the visual and gross motor skills necessary to begin gaining literacy skills in English. WR teachers spend a lot of energy in creating positive classroom communities, a very important aspect of helping refugees deal with the trauma they have experienced in the past and the stress they are now facing as they are resettled in the U.S.
Transportation is an issue for the program. Many of their clients live in neighborhoods across the city. World Relief has limited funds to provide transportation, so sometimes they refer students to similar programs that serve the needs of the refugee population.
Website :: http://www.se-asiacenter.org/
A Little History ::
SEAC has been around for 30 years and of its 14 programs, the ESL program is the oldest. In fact, it is one of the oldest ESL programs offered by a community organization in the city. The organization started off in the basement of a members' house. Since then, it has grown to consist of three large buildings. Currently the organization is restructuring its curriculum to meet some of the current challenges and issues.
Initial assessment begins with an application about their language background and educational history. If they are beginners, translators are provided. Students are also assessed every three months. All assessments (initial and during the course) are done with the workbook ESLOA. ESLOA provides diagnostic testing through oral assessment. It tests life skills such as identifying money and appointment cards. The organization recognizes that there are problems with the diagnostic testing. It does not address writing skills and the structure is confusing to some students. However, the organization is forced to use it because it is provided to them by one of their sponsors.
Classes take place every weekday morning. Multiple teachers lead the class of 20 adult students. However, there are 160 students in the entire ESL program, but many are being tutored individually or in small groups. The average age of the students is 55 years old. Students come from a variety of backgrounds. Many are from language backgrounds that are non-Roman Alphabetic. The educational background of students varies from just a few years of formal education to college educated individuals.
According to Carol, an educator at SEAC, the course is based on a skill, task and content based framework. The different skills (i.e. listening, speaking, writing and reading) are integrated into the program. Activities and tasks are created to help students learn survival and life skills that they will need in their everyday life and at work. Many of the activities come from the workbook; however, the teachers are working to make them more communicative. In fact, students have been requesting that there be more activities that include role playing.
The students work out of the book, Center Stage by Irene Frankel. It is task based and focuses on life skills. It includes an interactive cd-rom; however, the center only has one computer for student use so it is not used.
Outside of the morning classes, students have the opportunity to work with volunteer tutors for two hours a week. They may work with tutors individually or in small groups. Tutors must first go through a 12 hour training program provided by the organization Literacy Works. Tutors are committed to four months. Students and Tutors work out when and where to have their tutoring session. However, the organization provides translators if the student is a true beginner.
Space is a constant issue at SEAC. The program is held in a large area of an old building that was once a restaurant. The space also holds other programs that the organization provides. During the morning class, adult day care and the senior lunch program also takes place in the same space. Children in the child care and pre-school programs also walk through the space to enter and exit the building. This creates a lot of noise and distraction for the students and teacher. Also, it limits the type of communicative activities that the students can do.
The ESL program consists of students at multiple levels from different language and educational backgrounds. The educators struggle to find activities and lessons to address all the students' needs. The curriculum is currently being changed to address this issue.
SEAC is a non-profit organization that provides free services to members of the community including ESL classes; therefore, funds are limited. The SEAC does not have funds for all the materials and supplies they need. For example, there is only one computer available to the students. Also, the organization does not have the money to provide the workbooks which cost $25 to all of the students and sometimes the students can't afford them..
The educators and tutors working with students in the ESL program suspect that some students may have special needs such as a learning disability. The program does not have the resources to assess the students or address these needs and do not know where to refer the students to. Even if they could refer the students to an organization for assessment or assistance, they student may not be able to afford the costs.
Website :: http://www.apcc-chgo.org/
A Little History ::
Program Assessment ::
Additional Resources ::
Student Challenges ::
A Little History ::
Poder is a not-for-profit community learning center. It started off in 1997 as a class of six students and 2 volunteers studying English as a Second Language together in a former boxing gym. Once ESL instruction became an increasing need and funds were raised, the center quickly grew into a bustling center of activity with more than 375 adults attending classes, workshops and special events each week. The center started in one building, but through continual growth and increasing funding efforts, has now blossomed into three buildings located throughout the city.
All students entering Poder take a preliminary placement exam. They write something in Spanish and then they write the same thing in English. The purpose of this initial exam is to assess the literacy and educational level (if at all) of the students.
Those who have trouble with the reading and writing are placed into Poder’s Spanish Literacy program – which focuses on reading and writing in their native language, Spanish. Once they are competent in this area, they can then move on to the ESL program.
The next exam that is given is an oral interview and written exam. This is a graded exam that is divided up into proficiency levels. Depending on how much the student can answer (and answer correctly) will determine the level they are placed at.
Literacy may not be the only problem though. Many students come in even without an elementary degree. Due to this increasing problem, and more and more students leaving the Poder program because they lack basic elementary education, Poder has responded by starting an additional pre- class. It not only teaches reading and writing, but the other core classes taught in elementary school like science, social studies, math, etc.. (Taught all in Spanish) Upon completion, students receive an elementary certificate recognized by the Mexican department of Education. (Poder has established a relationship with the Secretary of Education in Mexico in order to provide this certification) This program sets students on a path to eventually completing the GED and receiving a full education.
Students are primarily of the latino background. Classes are taught solely in English, but in the beginning levels, teachers sometimes use their Spanish to clear up any confusion in necessary circumstances.
The programs follow the syllabus provided from the Side by Side books, but life skills are integrated into the syllabus where it’s appropriate. All 4 skills are focused on.
Current textbooks used in the classroom are the Side by Side Series. Teachers supplement the books with their own resources and attend workshops to stay abreast of new teaching ideas.
Poder is very fortunate in that it has a computer for every student. Half the class time is spent with the teacher – learning and practicing new English material, and half the class time is spent on the computers going over exercises, activities, Internet e-learning and basic computer skills like typing.
As a result of increasing requests, Poder has started an extra class (outside of the ESL curriculum) in the evening that teaches students how to use the Internet. The center, for many, is the only place where the students have access to computers and having the proper computer skills is becoming an essential need for job employment / advancement.
Class sizes at Poder can vary. Student numbers range between 15 and 48 and the center has a variety of classrooms to accommodate this variation. When they do have larger size classes like 48, teachers manage this by splitting up the class into two groups. One half of the class receives the lesson instruction while the other half works on exercises / English practice and then midway through the class, the two groups switch roles. This guarantees an equal education and keeping classroom sizes to a manageable size.
Poder’s program supports open enrollment. Students can enter into the program every 2 weeks, with the cutoff for class enrollment being a month before the class ends. At that point, students need to wait for the next session to start.
A system of open enrollment does open up problems like students having to play catch up and possibly holding back the other students (who have been there all term), but Poder addresses this problem by having several volunteers work them on an individual level to catch up.
However, if once they are placed in and they are experiencing difficulty catching up, they have two options. They can either defer their enrollment till when the next session begins or they can drop down to a lower level where the material will not be as difficult, but where they can transition in to the English material.
There is no tuition fee at Poder. All that is required is a $30 deposit. This is in place only to cover textbook costs if the student ends up dropping out of the program. If the student graduates out of the program and returns their books, their deposit is refunded. Having a deposit adds a degree of commitment to the program. However, if the deposit is not financially doable, then Poder waives the fee. A $30 textbook fee should not be the obstacle in the students’ pursuit of betterment.
Additional Resources ::
Poder presents workshops at the end of each session that addresses personal needs of the students, some of which include immigration rights, health concerns, legal issues, etc..
Student Challenges ::
The biggest issue that has arisen from the students is transportation. Students come to the center from all areas of the city, even as far away as Aurora or Cicero. Poder is trying to address this by expanding in different regions of the city, but transportation and transportation fees will always be present for the student. Students overcome this obstacle with their commitment and dedication to learning.
The biggest challenge the program deals with is day care. Every so often, Poder finds students that need to drop out due to the lack of available daycare at the center. Poder is running a pilot program at one of their centers that integrates day care. Hopeful this will work out and Poder can integrate within their other centers.
|Additional ESL Resources :: |
For additional Adult ESL Resources, please refer to the following Web site links: