• MN ABE Connect
  • Archive
  • At the Beginning & At a Distance: ESL Teachers at Lower Levels Share Virtual Teaching Wisdom
At the Beginning & At a Distance: ESL Teachers at Lower Levels Share Virtual Teaching Wisdom

At the Beginning & At a Distance: ESL Teachers at Lower Levels Share Virtual Teaching Wisdom

Literacy and Beginning Level ESL teachers are finding creative ways to continue to deliver high-quality instruction to their learners from a distance! On May 29, 2020, a trio of beginning level teachers ESL shared their approaches to distance education in an ATLAS webinar attended by participants from as far away as Australia!

Each of these teachers approaches instruction using different virtual platforms and instructional methods.

  • Amy from Minneapolis works with her beginning level learners using a combination of WhatsApp and Zoom to build strong connections and reach learners using a familiar communication tool.
  • Mary Lou from Indianapolis records phonics videos for her learners that follow the same routines they used during in-person classes, and utilizes a wonderful group of volunteers to carry out bi-weekly, one-on-one virtual reading sessions with learners.
  • Miriam from Robbinsdale uses Literacy Readers from Bow Valley College as the basis for highly interactive Zoom classes that cater to a multilevel class of beginning and literacy level learners.

If you missed the webinar, it’s not too late to learn from their wisdom! Keep reading to discover each of the panelists’ top take-aways gained from recent hands-on experiences delivering virtual instruction, as well as a link to the recording and a list of resources shared by both panelists and participants.

Amy Van Steenwyk

Cedar Riverside Adult Education Collaborative, Minneapolis MN

  • Don’t let yourself and your learners get overwhelmed by trying to do too much at once; master one class-wide activity at a time.
  • Get to know family members who are helping by name. They are a valuable part of virtual instruction!
  • This is a great opportunity to bring back learners who may have had to leave class for a variety of reasons; reach out to include former students.
  • Meet students where they’re at.

Mary Lou Cox

MSD Washington Township Adult Education, Indianapolis IN

  • Keep routines that you had previously; for example, I’ve continued my daily phonics instruction with a combination of videos and phone calls.
  • Utilize volunteers: lower level learners benefit from one-on-one time instruction that can be delivered with volunteers.
  • Incorporate a personal touch; I found that when I include photos from students, volunteers and my life in the lessons, the engagement level is much higher.
  • Yes this is challenging! Keep an open mind, and maintain flexibility with schedules, platforms and content.

Miriam Bosveld

Adult Academic Program Robbinsdale Schools, Robbinsdale MN

  • Don’t overwhelm your students with texts! I would love to delete every text I’ve sent to my students (passwords, website link, zoom links, etc.)and start fresh.
  • Enlist family members to help students access Zoom. There are a lot of teenagers and college students home right now who are happy to help.
  • Use curriculum that is not dependent on daily attendance at Zoom.
  • Have some part of your Zoom class be a time for individual help, individual conversation, etc.
  • If you have a multi-level class, use volunteers in breakout rooms to provide targeted instruction.

Want to learn more? Check out this online resource repository that includes the recording of the entire webinar, links to the panelists’ slides, and additional links to resources for teaching beginning and literacy level learners: https://tinyurl.com/y9ewejnh

And don’t forget about ATLAS’s extensive ESL Resource Library! Find materials and resources for teaching low literacy adult ESL learners here.

Andrea Echelberger, ESL Training Coordinator Literacy Minnesota