In the Minnesota adult basic education system, ESL learners (as defined by the National Reporting System) make up roughly half of our students statewide. Of course, there are English learners in non-ESL (ABE) levels as well! Language learners do not check their language issues at the door when they test out of ESL-specific offerings in programs.

In addition, learning academic language, the language of access in our society, is a second language for everyone. Offering strong language development is a key component of our work in ABE, across all proficiency levels and teaching contexts. In response, ATLAS offers a number of professional development (PD) activities to support language development.

Language & Literacy Institute

One of our primary activities for improving ESL instruction is hosting the Language & Literacy Institute, a two-day, intensive training that takes place in late January each year. The large event brings together reading, writing, and ESL educators in ABE to collaborate with and learn from one another. The Language & Literacy Institute is organized by the Language & Literacy Advisory Team, and we offer an array of  workshops on reading and literacy instruction topics that have emerged as priorities in the state.s In addition, we offer the CCR (College & Career Readiness) English Language Arts (ELA) Foundation workshop in conjunction with this event each year.

Language Instruction Study Circles

Study circles are small learning groups of practitioners who meet several times with a facilitator to learn together around a specific topic. Prior to each session, participants read a selection of relevant research on the study circle topic, and they may be assigned written or classroom-based reflection tasks to complete as well. ATLAS offers a number of language instruction study circles, which are described below.

Study Circle Facilitator Guides

Practitioners are also encouraged to make use of our Study Circle Facilitator Guides, which provide step-by-step suggestions for conducting study circles no matter where your program is based:

Study Circles

Integrating Language & Numeracy Study Circle

The purpose of this study circle is to advance Adult Basic Education teachers’ ability to effectively and confidently integrate numeracy instruction and English language instruction. It is appropriate for teachers of all levels of English and math within Minnesota ABE, as teachers adapt tasks for their own levels and classrooms. Study circle participants explore relevant research and its implications for best practices in the classroom, as well as engaging in both at-home reading and reflective classroom tasks that inform and deepen discussions and allow for maximum professional growth.

Pronunciation Study Circle

This study circle is a professional learning activity for Adult Basic Education ESL teachers who are interested in integrating effective pronunciation instruction into their regular teaching practice. Study circle participants analyze the pronunciation needs of learners with diverse cultural backgrounds and English ability levels, explore relevant research and its implications for targeted pronunciation instruction, and actively engage in pronunciation instruction within their own teaching practices. Participants engage in both at-home reading and reflective classroom tasks that inform and deepen discussions and allow for maximum professional growth.

Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I

This study circle is a professional learning activity for teachers of low-literate Adult Basic Education ESL students – those learners with little or no first-language literacy. With a special focus on reading development for these learners, teachers explore relevant research and its implications for best practices in the classroom. Study circle participants engage in both at-home reading and reflective classroom tasks that inform and deepen discussions and allow for maximum professional growth.

Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle II: Next Steps in Designing Balanced Instruction

This study circle is a professional learning activity for Adult Basic Education teachers of low-literate adult ESL students – those learners with little or no first-language literacy. A follow-up to Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I, this circle focuses on balancing oral and written skills instruction in the classroom, in addition to establishing strong instructional routines that guide students to more independent and effective learning. Study circle participants explore relevant research and its implications for best practices in the classroom, as well as engaging in both at-home reading and reflective classroom tasks that inform and deepen discussions and allow for maximum professional growth.

Advisory Teams

Language & Literacy Advisory Team

The Language & Literacy Advisory Team (LLATé) is an ATLAS-sponsored team designed to strengthen language, reading, and writing instruction in Minnesota through relevant, meaningful, and effective professional development for practitioners.

The Advisory Team is responsible for visioning and the creating a long-term strategic plan for language & literacy PD in Minnesota, as well as specific tasks yearly to support established PD efforts, such as the January Language & Literacy Institute.

New ESL Resources

6 Great Ways to Help ESL Students Achieve Self-Correction

This article from Busy Teacher offers suggestions for ways that teachers can promote self-correction for their ESL learners during classes.

Teaching the Skill of Self-Correction

This article offers several suggestions on how teachers can help students to take ownership of their reading, monitor themselves while they are reading, self-correct when they need to.

Differentiated Comprehension Checks

This article explains how using differentiated comprehension checks is a way to reach all students in your classroom. It helps students understand grammatical features by asking a quick series of tiered questions during a story or conversation. This is a meaning-based technique that promotes comprehension.
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Latest ESL Articles

Resources to Support Literacy Level Instruction

Adult ESL learners who are learning to read and write for the first time in their lives present a unique challenge in the ESL classroom. However, while literacy level learners may be in the classroom for the first time, they come with a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience, as well as a keen understanding of how precious learning is. Literacy level learners “may be beginning learners, but they are not beginning thinkers” (Brod, 1999). Read More

Pronunciation Webinars for ESL Teachers

For many language learners, being understood by native English speakers is a daily battle. By integrating simple pronunciation instruction into regular lessons, teachers can make a difference with their learners’ speech production and confidence levels. Read More

Upcoming ABE Events

November 21, 2019 2:00 pm–3:30 pm
Minnesota Literacy Council
Online

Introduction to Khan Academy for Distance Learning (webinar)

Online

Registration Deadline: THU. 11/21/19 Join us for the next in our distance learning webinar series, where we explore the free website Khan Academy. Learn how to set up classes, enroll learners, assign content, pull distance learning hours, and more! This session will be led by Susan Wetenkamp-Brandt from… Learn More

Online
November 22, 2019 12:00 am–11:59 pm
MELEd
St. Paul RiverCentre
175 W Kellogg Blvd
St Paul, 55102

MELEd (MN English Learner Education) Conference

St. Paul RiverCentre
175 W Kellogg Blvd
St Paul, 55102

Deadlines: Applications for scholarships due TUE. 10/15/19 Registration for conference ends early November 2019 ATLAS scholarships to attend will be available soon!  Applications will be due in mid-October!  Please check back. For now, see the May 2019 newsletter article here: https://atlasabe.org/news/attention-esl-teachers-a-fall-conference-for-you/… Learn More

St. Paul RiverCentre
175 W Kellogg Blvd
St Paul, 55102
November 22, 2019 11:00 am–12:15 pm
Burlington English
Online

Data-Driven Instruction with BurlingtonEnglish

Online

Registration Deadline: THU. 11/21/19 Do you want to learn how to use the data from Student Progress Reports to customize your instruction? If so, join us and other teachers to “Drill into the Details” of BurlingtonEnglish Student Progress Reports. Teachers will learn how to run reports, interpret sample… Learn More

Online