Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills to Adult English Language Learners

September 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, ESOL, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills to Adult English Language Learners
Tags: , , , , , ,

Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills to Adult English Language Learners October 28th; 9:00am-4:00pm

The goal of the workshop is to increase skills in teaching and assessing listening and speaking skills of those teaching adult English language learners. Workshop objectives for participants: At the end of the workshop, participants should be able to:        

  • Recognize the purpose and underlying principles of five oral production and assessment techniques,        
  •  Identify key steps in teaching oral skills,     
  • Adapt activities for multilevel classes,        
  • Describe performance and content standards,    
  • Identify characteristics of good assessments. 

Important Note: In order to attend this workshop, you need to complete the From Intake to Achievement: Virginia Adult ESOL Content Standards Training Online. If you have not already taken this workshop, please sign up and complete it. You must have completed this prerequisite before you may enroll. Audience: ESOL Teachers of all language levels.

All registrations are done through ERO. To register for this training, go to: http://www.valrc.org/trainings/ero.html and log into ERO.

 Click on the Course Catalog tab, and search for SRN: 2011102801

Registration ends: 10/24/2011 04:00 PMContact: Page Stirrup Email: pbstirrup@vcu.edu Phone #: 804-828-6521

 or 800-237-0178

Erin Finn, Director of Classroom Programs


Student Assessment Specialists

September 22, 2011 at 4:11 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Student Assessment Specialists
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m so proud of our Student Assessment Specialists (SASs)!  The last two weeks have been a flurry of back to school training and registrations with the whole team standing ready!   What is a Student SASs and what do they do?   A SAS is volunteer tester for our classroom program, and they use the Best Plus Oral Proficiency Test to help us place students and track their progress.  Our SASs are busy with test administrator training and recertification as we begin the classroom registrations.  In the last week and half, I trained 25 new Best Plus Administrators from all over VA (7 for LCNV) and recertified 19 others!  With the new school year well underway, valid certification is imperative for our funders at the Virginia Department of Education to accept our reports of student progress.  We test students at registrations and again just before the end of each session to track their speaking, listening and understanding of English.

Belle, our Director of Volunteers, has great systems and intuition for placing volunteers.  Many interested volunteers call her with the passion and talents to volunteer, but might only have selective availability.  Often these kinds of volunteers are great candidates for SAS if they have good clear speaking skills, good hearing, and the time for training.  Call Belle if you are interested in future training opportunities or would like to learn more about how it works!

Now a special portion of my blog is dedicated to our SAS team:  Thank you all so much for all your hard work.  Here are a few special messages about new materials available online, please ask me if you have any questions:

New Developing Oral Proficiency online professional development module now available

If you haven’t yet visited the new Developing Oral Proficiency of Adults Learning English free online professional development module at www.cal.org/adultspeak, you may be pleased to learn about the many free resources you can find there. This self-paced module has 5 main sections: Background information on teaching adult ESL, Elements of oral language proficiency, Language assessment, Instructional activities, and Resources for next steps. These sections are designed to be read and followed in sequence, although users are free to browse through the site using the navigation buttons. This interactive online module uses multimedia to provide practitioner resources including:

–          Student Performance Levels (SPLs) Audio Sampler, featuring speech samples of adult ESL students at different proficiency levels http://www.cal.org/adultspeak/levels/SPLslider.html

–          BEST Plus video clips illustrating features of listening comprehension, language complexity, and communication http://www.cal.org/adultspeak/assessment/index.html

–          Downloadable articles, classroom materials, briefs, and related resources included in the sidebars throughout the module

–          Instructional activities targeted specifically to beginning and advanced proficiency levels, separated into listening comprehension, language complexity, and communication http://www.cal.org/adultspeak/instruction/index.html

–          And for our ESL teachers, they have downloadable Instructional Activity packets http://www.cal.org/adultspeak/instruction/instructional-activity-packets.html

Thank you all, again!

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant


September 16, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Posted in ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Reflections
Tags: , , , , ,

On September 6th four twenty-something-year-olds, myself included, began our year of service as AmeriCorps members at LCNV. This first week has involved completing a bunch of paperwork, learning about the programs and structure of the Literacy Council, and beginning to become familiar with all of the resources that will be available to us as classroom ESOL teachers.  It can be a bit overwhelming thinking about all that we are going to have to do over the next year. I know that I am also nervous about starting teaching – standing in front of a large group of individuals and being responsible for what they are learning is quite intimidating, especially since I have limited teaching experience. There is something that has made this experience less intimidating, and that is the people at LCNV.

Meeting the staff has been the highlight of orientation so far. Everyone who I have met is extremely caring and so obviously passionate about the mission of LCNV that you cannot help but be touched by their dedication and enthusiasm. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Patricia Donnelly, the lively Executive Director, and something she said really struck me.  She was talking about how, with the recession, possible donors concentrate more on donating to causes that help people meet their basic needs (food, shelter) and organizations that focus on education get passed over because people do not view education as a basic need. But it is the most important and basic need! As the old saying goes, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Basic literacy and English language skills are important for making friends, taking care of children and obtaining employment in this country (which lets people provide their own food and shelter). If you give someone the right tools, they can change their lives permanently and for the better.

I think the work that is done through the LCNV is so important and this is the very reason why I joined AmeriCorps.  I want to help people improve their lives in a way that is more permanent than donating food or clothing to a drive (which is definitely a worthwhile endeavor, don’t get me wrong). I want to help people obtain jobs, take better care of their children, or even just successfully navigate a grocery store.  Mostly I want to have a meaningful relationship with students who are just as invested in learning as I am in teaching them, and that is what I am looking forward to this year.

Jessica Raines, AmeriCorps

Useful Lesson Plan Template

September 15, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Useful Lesson Plan Template

The VALRC sponsors many classes for ESOL Teachers.  I have taken several, some in person and some online.  The most recent one was an online class called:  “Beyond Basics:  Multilevel”, and it didn’t disappoint.  In fact, it may be been the best one yet!  We learned a lot about needs assessments and had to do a project with our class implimenting one of these.  We learned several different ways to form groups within the class.  We also learned what to put into a resource box for the class’s use.  The box is a kind of library of books, worksheets, old lessons, games, etc. for the students to take home or use in class.  Many of the best ideas from the class came from classmates.

By far the most useful tool from the class was a terrific Lesson Plan template for use with my multilevel class.  It was adapted by VALRC from the REEP Lesson Plan.  I have used this planning tool for every class since, and I have tweaked it a little.  Since I have an assistant teacher now, we’ve been splitting the class in two, so it makes planning even more important.  When do we split up?  What do we do altogether?  What do we do in each group?  What will each group do for homework?  It keeps me focused on what we’re studying and why, and it gives instructions to the other teacher as well.  I hope you find it useful.

~Sheila Weiss, Lead Teacher at Woodlawn Elementary

Recruit a Volunteer This Week!

September 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM | Posted in Volunteers | Comments Off on Recruit a Volunteer This Week!

In celebration of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, I would like to encourage you to recruit a family member or friend to become a volunteer for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia! Feel free to send interested individuals to this page on our website for a rundown of all of our available volunteer positions. There are plenty of opportunities to tutor or teach, but you can also test, help out in our office, work as a librarian, act as a registrar for our workshops, etc. Whatever your interests and availability, we’re sure to have something perfect for you! Please e-mail me if you have any questions: volunteers@lcnv.org.

– Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers

First Week at the Literacy Council

September 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, ESOL, Family Learning, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on First Week at the Literacy Council
Tags: , , , ,

As the end of my first week and the start of another here at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia , I am excitedly anticipating the weeks and months to come. This has been a great intro week mainly because the organization staff are the nicest and friendliest of people. I have been quite mortified by the idea of running my own classroom but their encouragement and support now has me feeling like with this staff behind me I could accomplish anything!  Adult Literacy has always been an issue close to my own heart as  I come from a family where English is not the first language. I only wish that I knew about the literacy council before, so that I could refer my own loved ones. But now I hope to change the game for others like some members of my family. Thank you guys for letting me be a part of the team!

– Setara Habib, AmeriCorps Member

International Literacy Day

September 8, 2011 at 1:47 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on International Literacy Day
Tags: , , , , , ,

Today the world celebrates International Literacy Day. On this day every year, UNESCO encourages us all to stop to recognize the importance of literacy and adult learning.  This year the focus is on the link between literacy education and peace.  Education develops knowledge, critical thinking, thoughtful questioning, dialogue, recognition of different perspectives.

The Director of UNESCO, General Irinia Bokova, sums it up, “The world urgently needs increased political commitment to literacy backed by adequate resources to scale up effective programs. Today I urge governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to make literacy a policy priority, so that every individual can develop their potential, and actively participate in shaping more sustainable, just and peaceful societies,”[i]

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia thinks about adult education and literacy every day.  We believe that adult education changes lives, strengthens the economy, improves children’s performance in school, and creates a strong community.  Literacy is the ticket to a more sustainable future for families and the economy, and yet Virginia ranks 37th nationally in state expenditure for adult education and literacy. Over 129,000 adults living in Northern Virginia are functionally illiterate.

Please join the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia in our mission to create a more literate community.  Please consider volunteering with the Council to teach an adult how to read, write, speak and understand English. Please consider donating to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia to support our educational programs that will strengthen the Northern Virginia community.  Please celebrate International Literacy Day with us by checking out our web-site and seeing how you can get involved.


Next week we celebrate National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (September 12 – September 18). The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is running a campaign to recruit a new volunteer during this week.  This could be you! Please join us.

September is Library Sign-Up Month

September 7, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, ESOL, Family Learning, Tutoring, Uncategorized, Volunteers | Comments Off on September is Library Sign-Up Month
Tags: , , , , ,

I really enjoyed the message in Molly Chilton’s post about her reflections on Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  I remember reading it as a teenager and feeling frightened.  This triggered some thoughts about where books are housed and access to books.  This lead me to think about libraries and how valuable they are to our community, whether you are an avid reader since early childhood, an adult getting starting on your reading journey.   These thoughts were rather timely because September is National Library Card Sign-up Month.  As we get ready to go back to school with LCNV’s classes, I especially love the American Library Association’s tag line, “September is Library Card Sign-up Month – a time to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply of all.”  Many of our lead teacher and volunteer teachers are probably starting to think about the upcoming semester; a trip to the library and or signing up for a library card might be a worthwhile class activity.  Our students are often surprised that such a resource is free. Thinking back to Fahrenheit 451, I can honestly say we are lucky to not only live in a community where books are not banned or burned.  Libraries are our partners in providing access to books and literacy to the students we serve; many tutor pairs meet to study in libraries, we hold classes at libraries, they welcome our students by sharing their resources, and they provide information about us to potential students. 

-Carisa Coburn Pineda, Family Learning Program Specialist

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.