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Heide Spruck Wrigley


2/3 of immigrants from Mexico don't have a high school education ... literacy as a tool for social change (civics) literacy for 'new times' (technology) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Heide Spruck Wrigley

What Works in ESL Literacy?
  • Heide Spruck Wrigley
  • Aguirre International

Immigrants and Refugees
  • 90s higher than any other decade in 20th C.
  • Over 30 million foreign-born
  • 8 m. dont speak English well or not at all
  • 43 from Spanish speaking countries
  • 30 from Mexico
  • 2/3 of immigrants from Mexico dont have a high
    school education
  • 26 percent Asian Pacific Islanders
  • Of those 43 - report limited proficiency

Who Are ESL Literacy Learners?
  • Immigrants from Mexico (and Haiti)
  • Refugees
  • Hmong (150 000 in the U.S.)
  • Somali Bantu (10 000)
  • Sudanese (death and displacement lost boys)

Characteristics of Adult ESL Literacy Students
  • Able to navigate systems without relying on print
    (are able to build conceptual maps)
  • Have store of sight words and language gambits
    that they depend on
  • Use compensation strategies to make up for lack
    of experience with print (knowledge of how the
    world works allows for informed guessing)

ESL Literacy Students
  • Six years or fewer of schooling
  • Pulled out or pushed out of school in the early
  • Schooling interrupted by war or civil strive
  • Low levels of native language literacy
  • Difficulty succeeding in a regular ESL class as
    teacher moves from oral language to print

Barriers to Language and Literacy Learning
  • Print is seen as a secret code, not accessible
    takes time to break the code
  • Low levels of confidence in their own ability to
    learn and remember
  • Acquiring English language skills while trying to
    master the print system is cognitively very

Learners Views
  • Reading means reading aloud fluently and
  • Writing means copying and having nice
  • Reasons for wanting to acquire literacy differ
    (Tenants rights, Catalogue)
  • Want to know every word before they attempt to
    make meaning

Students in the Study
  • 500 Literacy students defined as having fewer
    than six years of formal education and little or
    no literacy in any language (verified with a
    writing sample)
  • Over 20 languages represented but most students
  • Spanish speaking from Mexico (58)
  • Spanish speaking from other countries (10)
  • Hmong (7)
  • Somali (8)
  • Average age 41, most students female (74)
  • Average formal education of 3.1 years, but Hmong
    and Somali had almost no education (0-1 year)

Things We Know For Sure
Literacy is Multidimensional
  • Emergent literacy (for non-literates, print is
    like wallpaper)
  • literacy for self-expression (refrigerator
  • functional literacy (create functional print)
  • literacy for self-defense (legal issues)
  • I lost 20 lbs in 3 weeks (critical literacy)
  • literacy as a tool for social change (civics)
  • literacy for new times (technology)

Language, Literacy Learning
  • The brain is not pre-wired for reading and
  • Reading and writing are school-based skills
  • You need to learn to read just once
  • Learning takes
  • Engagement
  • Focus
  • Practice

What it takes to read write
  • Bottom-Up Skills
  • associated with decoding
  • Top down Skills
  • Associated with meaning making and comprehension
  • The mind recreates (or constructs) a message or
    text it does not remember as is
  • Bottom-up and top down skills work together. Both
    are necessary. Neither is sufficient.

  • They are all over my house!
  • Most are little, but some are huge.
  • The baby loves them.
  • I hate them and wish I could get rid of them.
  • But its not that easy!

Components of Reading Writing
  • Alphabetics
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Fluency
  • Accuracy
  • Rate
  • Rhythm and expression
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Capturing the Teaching/Learning Experience
  • Learning opportunities
  • Do students get a chance to
  • express their own ideas
  • solve problems
  • practice new skills
  • see patterns and understand how things work
  • Instructional strategies
  • Does the teacher
  • link classroom learning to students lives
  • give clear instructions and provide feedback
  • Offer multiple opportunities to get it

English Language Development
  • ESL Focus, including
  • Controlled practice and open-ended communication
  • Vocabulary development and idioms
  • How English works
  • Connecting oral and written English
  • Language functions
  • Socio-cultural knowledge
  • Learning the language of math

Elements of L2 Reading
  • Initial or emergent literacy (focus on enabling
    skills, related to phonemic awareness or fluenc)
  • Literacy for school (structured school-based
  • Literacy for self-expression (personal stories
  • Functional literacy
  • Critical literacy (to question to challenge)
  • Literacy for new times (technology-mediated)

Learn German in Five Minutes
My Brother Harald
Mein Bruder heisst Harald. Er wohnt in
Heidelberg. Er hat drei Kinder, Judith, Simon und
Gabriel. Seine Frau heisst Gisela. Jedes Jahr,
im Herbst, gehen sie aufs Octoberfest. Sie essen
Wurst und Sauerkraut und Rotkraut und trinking
viel Bier. Dann tanzen sie. Alle freuen sich!
Methods to Capture Literacy
Methods to Capture Literacy
Observation Guide
  • Class is described
  • Observer keeps running record
  • Observer codes, using glossary and examples as
  • Monitor double checks
  • Background variables and codes become part of the

Key Findings Attendance
  • Students attend about 2/3 of the time (average),
    even if class is mandatory
  • If class meets more often per week associated
    with positive growth
  • Students who enrolled during the first three
    weeks of class attended more hours per week and
    attended longer
  • In terms of outcomes, rate of attendance ( of
    time) makes a difference rather than total
    number of hours

Findings Basic Reading Skills
  • Growth in reading basic skills (WJR-BRSC)
  • Connection to the outside strategy
  • Younger students have higher growth
  • Years of formal education (proxy for native
    language literacy), but fades over time
  • Initial English oral proficiency (BEST score)

Findings Reading Comprehension
  • Growth in reading comprehension skills (WJR-RCC)
  • Use of students native language in instruction.
  • Rate of attendance (proportion of hours student
    attends weekly by hours offered weekly).
  • Initial basic reading skills (BRSC score)
    effect emerges slowly over time (quadratic

Findings Oral English Skills
  • Growth in Oral English Skills (BEST)
  • Use of students native language in instruction
  • Oral communication instructional emphasis
  • Varied practice and interaction strategy
  • Higher rate of attendance
  • Student age (younger students have higher growth)
  • Initial basic reading skills (BRSC score)

Summary Instructional Findings
  • Bringing in the Outside growth in basic reading
  • Direct connection to students lives makes
    instruction meaningful.
  • Use of Native Language growth in reading
    comprehension and oral English skills.
  • Removes comprehension barriers.
  • Comfortable learning environment.
  • Allows critical thinking skills.

Implications for Practice
Bringing in the Outside
  • Connect the classroom to the community
  • Highlight links between learning and living
  • Provide a context (using visuals to set the

Bringing in the Outside
  • Use of realia (real foods household items)
  • Environmental print (flyers inserts labels
  • Mailbox items (bills notes from school letters
    from the INS)
  • Tasks for neighborhood contexts (visit to store
    laundromat fast food place)

Varied Practice and Interaction
  • Dont try to do too much but vary modality
    layer instruction
  • Give students a chance to try out English in
    different ways help them gain confidence and
  • Use (some) direct teaching draw students
    attention to patterns and rules (discovery
  • Allow sufficient opportunities for practice,
    particularly for those new to literacy

Use of the Native Language
  • Preview/review
  • Short explanations
  • Focused tasks in English or L1
  • Extended opportunities to think in English and
    use English
  • Opportunities to discuss a topic in L1
  • Opportunity to ask questions in L1

Implications for Programs
  • Provide staff development on ESL literacy
  • Find ways to assess for levels of native language
    literacy, not just English proficiency
  • Offer shorter, more intensive classes and
    consider managed enrollment

What About the Men?
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the
lighting of a fire. William Butler Yeats
GOTTAGO See You Next Time
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