Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group


Taking a ‘literacies’ approach to grammar: Embedding support for ESOL learners in Functional Skills English (Sarah Freeman, RaPAL) – Sarah Freeman has worked in adult literacy and ESOL since the 1970s and seen many changes in provision in community and adult learning venues, further education colleges, voluntary provision, schools and prisons. Over the last ten years she has also undertaken various action research projects and a doctorate study among literacy learners and teachers, ESOL learners, and teachers involved in Additional Learning Support. 

This workshop is based upon (1) immediate experience of literacy classes (FS English) in a range of settings  education colleges, FE colleges, men and women’s prisons and family learning. Since 2010 when money was withdrawn from ESOL teaching in particular, but also drastically cut from literacy teaching, we a new profile for many literacy classes has emerged where students can be nearly all literacy with one or two ESOL, or half and half, or sometimes all ESOL.  This has been demanding of literacy teachers, and support with ESOL students’ learning needs has been hard to come by.  Lower level literacy classes are less provided for and this means ESOL students will sometimes join classes that are at a higher level than they can manage.

The workshop is also (2) drawn on recent research into the motives that draw students to both literacy and ESOL class, other than qualifications.  It was recognised how great a value adult learners put upon learning English, for many reasons.  It was also recognised that all students accepted that however diverse their classes might be, they were willing to work together when the class was meeting their needs.  In this way they form superdiverse communities who can support each other.

The workshop will focus on the syllabus which Functional Skills (Level 1 in particular) follows.  This will be used to draw out the instances when ESOL students struggle.  The workshop group will make lists of grammar areas, contextualised in overarching themes, which as teachers they need to prepare for either differentiation or a whole class activity with positive outcomes for all the learners e.g. subject/verb agreement; vocab building through collocation and chunking.


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