Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I

Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I is 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.

Like our other language instruction study circles, it involves reading a selection of relevant research and completing various classroom-based reflection tasks. During the 3 meetings of 3 hours each, participants discuss the readings and tasks and explore together how research can inform classroom practice.

This study circle


The objectives of the study circle are to:

  1. Become/Be familiar with relevant research in literacy and language development in low-literacy adults.
  2. Articulate connections between relevant research and effective classroom practices with low-literacy adults.
  3. Identify useful resources (for students and teachers) that can enhance teaching and learning.
  4. Access support and ideas among colleagues who teach this level, thereby creating more effective, more engaging, and more satisfying teaching and learning experiences in low-literacy adult ESL classrooms.

Topics include:

  • Characteristics of emergent adult ESL readers
  • Research findings: What do we know for sure?
  • Orality and Literacy
  • Components of emergent reading development
  • What can we learn from early childhood instructors? Classroom practices to create literacy-rich environments and meaningful literacy experiences for learners
  • Reporting on classroom tasks, using authentic materials, and extensive reading
  • Planning for progress in a 0-1 class: lesson planning, managing multiple levels and mismatched oral and literacy skills, and assessment
  • Resources and next steps

Benefits of participation

Participants from MN Adult Ed programs earn 15 CEUs plus a $100 stipend for completing all the requirements for a study circle, including attendance at all 3 meetings. (No partial stipends will be awarded.) Priority for slots is given to current paid staff, but volunteers are also eligible to participate.

Here is what some of our participants have said about their experience:

  • “Really thought the research literature was relevant and interesting to discuss with others. Great to have the research organized in a way that is easy to get to and can be very useful beyond the study circle.”
  • “I liked hearing what other people are doing in their classrooms and what is working for them. It was informative and also inspiring!”
  • “I felt this was one of the most valuable professional development activities I have ever had. There have been a lot of them, but this is and will remain a high point going forward.”

Interested in participating in a study circle?

Contact your program manager, who can connect with ATLAS to see if we can offer it in your locale!

You are also welcome to make use of our Low-Literacy Adult ESL Study Circle I Facilitator Guide, which provides step-by-step suggestions for conducting study circles no matter where your program is based.