There are currently two ESL literacy classes:
- Beginning ESL Literacy 1
- Beginning ESL Literacy 2
- Miltilevel ESL
Both of these classes are within the same National Reporting System (NRS) Educational Functional Level Beginning ESL Literacy. Most of the learners at CIRF have either a pre-literate or non-literate cultural/educational background. Oral and spoken proficiency according to the Student Performance Level (SPL) Descriptors for Listening Comprehension and Oral Communication primarily range from SPL (approximately A1 – A2 in the Common European Framework).
Three primary instructional goals for these ESL literacy learners are summarized below. The first two goals, first language scaffolding and an emphasis on the development of listening and speaking are both critical for the literacy development of preliterate and nonliterate learners.
First Language Scaffolding
Scaffolding with first or familiar second language is particularly important for pre-literate and non-literate learners with the lowest levels of listening and oral proficiency, who have often never communicated by another means. When possible, their first language is therefore utilized to bolster comprehension and the development of critical concepts such as phonemic awareness, which can be particularly challenging for pre- and non-literate learners. A learner might, for example, know that the letter ‘b’ is associated with the sound /b/, but be struggle to understand the concept of a phoneme as syllable onset or “beginning sound” in an actual word such as ‘bird’.
Listening and Speaking Emphasis
Listening and speaking skills are also essential for pre-literate and non-literate learners in particular. Where a learner’s first language can provide a useful support for understanding critical concepts in English, the development of speaking and listening is a bridge between the first language meaning and reading and writing in English.
Systematic Reading Instruction
The development of reading skills is the central goal of instruction. In combination with first language scaffolding and an emphasis on listening and speaking, among other goals, systematic instruction of core reading skills is indispensable for literacy development.
Core Reading Skills:
- Phonemic awareness
- Letter formation
- Grip and fine motor skills
- Spatial awareness
- Writing conventions
- The Laubach Way to Reading series is used together with the series Focus on Phonics as the main course texts.
- Ventures Basic (2nd Edition) is also used for the listening and speaking lessons.