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Archive for March, 2013


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Carrie:

Through the months of January, February, and March, I excitedly continued my efforts in the classroom teaching adult English language learners! As mentioned in an earlier post, the Adult Literacy Program staff and volunteers were positively overwhelmed with the amount of language learners signing up for ELL instruction. Over 40 students entered my classes for the winter term and the experience of teaching large classes was a very positive learning experience for me. Restructuring lesson plans to adhere to multi-level learners, having activities that kept my students engaged in the classroom, and modifying learning and language skills, were all components of teaching that I was able to adapt to enhance learning within the classroom. Because of the large number of students in the class, I was so grateful for my teacher assistants, Kathleen, Megan W., and Susan S. They were so great in the classroom, not only with the students but in offering me assistance and guidance throughout the classes!

For the winter term, we focused on units covering clothing, food, and health. It was interesting for me to see how much my students knew about the topic before we began to delve into the subject. I believe one misconception that I had as a new teacher was that the notion that “beginner” meant that my ELL learners knew little knowledge of certain subject areas. But as I began to teach these specific units, I came to realize and learn that my students understood many of the fundamentals such as the ins-and-outs of grocery store shopping, how to read store advertisements, and the basic parts of the body. The challenge of these particular units was the specificity of these topics such as the vocabulary associated with clothing, food, and health (i.e. cart vs. basket, headache, stomachache, etc.) as well as the grammar associated with the lesson. It was rewarding to see how students were able to strengthen their vocabulary skills and be able to use those words and incorporate them in to a sentence structure that was grammatically correct. By far, my favorite unit that I taught this term was health. I felt that it is one of the most important units to cover in a life skills based ELL course. As a class, we went over dialogs common to doctor visits and pharmacy visits and by the conclusion of the class, the students were able to construct their own dialogs about medication!

I cannot say enough that the winter term was such a learning experience for me. I feel more confident now entering the classroom for the spring session, teaching learners of multiple ELL backgrounds and adapting my lessons appropriately to all learners!

Susan:

Before this winter term began, I admit that I was nervous how the classes would be with new students and previous students mixed together in my classes.  After my first classes this winter, I learned that these students would come together and form friendships beyond the classroom.  Teaching this winter just was rewarding as the fall, and gaining the skills to assess students’ progression made it even better.  My confidence as an ESOL teacher has increased from this winter term, as I learn new techniques to use in the classroom and saw students responding to them positively.

This winter, my students learned about clothing, food, and health.  Students practiced dialogues, expanded their vocabulary and grammar, and completed surveys asking questions to classmates in the class and then at home to family members and friends.  This winter term, I also introduced my classes to a Weekly Log where students completed each week that asked them where they spoke, read, listened, or wrote in English outside of the classroom.

My favorite part of this term was taking my students from Cascades Library on a field trip to the grocery store.  Prior to the field trip, we spent a few classes learning the vocabulary about food and the grocery store. On the night of the field trip, we walked as a class to the store.  Then, the class split into two groups with me leading one group and my assistant, Jackie, leading the second group.  We gave the students a tour of the grocery store showing them the bakery, deli, produce section, frozen foods, and aisles.  After that, they completed a short scavenger hunt where they found food items in the store and listed the price of them. Finally, we went back to the classroom and wrote about their experience.  To be able to take what they learned inside the classroom and apply it to their lives was one of my most rewarding experiences so far this year during AmeriCorps.

This winter term went by so fast! I am thankful for my assistants, Jackie and Laura, for being able to add ideas and aide in the classroom.  The students were able to receive more one-on-one attention thanks to them.  Overall, I enjoyed watching my students grow and getting to know them.  One student received her library card and came in every night with new books, and one student received her green card along with her daughter.  I always hate the end of the term and having to say goodbye, but I look forward to hopefully seeing many of these students return this spring term to continue practicing their English skills and advance further.

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The Adult Literacy Program staff welcomed eight new volunteers to the Loudoun Literacy Council!  For the Spring Teacher/Tutor Training event, the ALP staff focused on cultural diversity, realia, chart levels, and adult learning on day one of training. We also chose to focus on tutoring on the first day of training, which allowed our volunteers to learn more about one-on-one tutoring ESL and ABE learners as well as to learn how to effectively gauge students’ goals and expectations.  The first day also included an immersion experience, in which one of ALP’s volunteers or students comes to teach a thirty-minute lesson in a language other than English. We were so excited that one of our volunteers, Elena P., joined us for this experience. As a Spanish speaker, Elena wowed our new volunteers, by introducing basic concepts such as the Spanish alphabet and basic Spanish grammar. After thirty minutes of instruction, our volunteers were exhausted! It was a great learning opportunity for all of us because it allowed us to catch a glimpse of how our ELL students feel when they step into our classrooms or when they enter a tutoring session.

Day two of training focused on LLC’s policies and procedures, curriculum and text, structure of an effective lesson, and lesson planning. The second day of training is essential for our volunteers because it allows them to produce their own lesson plan with the new knowledge that they have gained over the course of training. Our volunteers did a great job in constructing their own creative lesson plans! We are glad to say that all of our volunteers are anxious to get into a classroom as an assistant or to become a tutor for the spring term!

Congratulations to Beth, Clark, Claudine, Connor, Katie, Linneah, Sonia, and Tina!

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