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. 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

Pronunciation Study Circle

This 9-hour 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.

Integrating Language & Numeracy Study Circle

The purpose of this 9-hour 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.

Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I

This 9-hour 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 9-hour 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

Once Upon a Picture: The Thinking Collection

A collection of images, photo and illustrations, with prompts to inspire learners to write or speak using critical thinking skills about the image.

Next Gen Personal Finance

Next Gen Personal Finance is a nonprofit dedicated to financial literacy, and policy advocacy to bring financial literacy into the middle school or high school classroom. They have excellent content on just about any topic related to financial literacy, including an online Banking Simulator, and usually have effective lessons attached. Many materials are also available for teaching English Language Learners.

Phonics Stories from the Literacy Centre of Expertise

Free downloadable student and teacher books with phonics stories written for adult language learners. This site also contains online picture books for adult learners.
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Upcoming ABE Events

March 30, 2023 2:00 pm–3:15 pm
Russ Fraenkel
Online

ABE-Dev Ed Affinity Group Meeting

Online

Mark your calendar NOW, for this school year’s online ABE-Dev Ed Affinity Group meetings.  Attendees are provided two meeting options to discuss the same content, allowing for greater practitioner engagement.  The upcoming meeting options are: Thursday, March 30 (2-3:15pm) or Friday, March 31 (10-11:15am) Affinity Group meetings are facilitated by… Learn More

Online
March 31, 2023 10:00 am–11:15 am
Russ Fraenkel
Online

ABE-Dev Ed Affinity Group Meeting

Online

Mark your calendar NOW, for this school year’s online ABE-Dev Ed Affinity Group meetings.  Attendees are provided two meeting options to discuss the same content, allowing for greater practitioner engagement.  The upcoming meeting options are: Thursday, March 30 (2-3:15pm) or Friday, March 31 (10-11:15am) Affinity Group meetings are facilitated by… Learn More

Online
April 3, 2023 6:30 pm–8:30 pm
Literacy Minnesota
Online

Core Training Module 1: Overview of Minnesota Adult Education and Program Accountability

Online

Registration Deadline: MON. 4/3/23 Participants learn about Adult Basic Education programming in Minnesota, demographics of learners, instructional content standards as well as initial and on-going assessment. This session wraps up with learner motivations, barriers and persistence. Learn More

Online