Adult ESOL Learners and Special Needs

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					Adult ESOL Learners and
Special Needs



      Challenges


              Directions
First Challenge: It is an invisible
population –except in numbers
   English learners are just about 5o % of the adult ed
    enrollment* --many places they are 80 or 90 % of
    programs (does not include NNSE in ABE or GED)
        If we include CLD, the% is much higher
        % of special needs averages the same as in English
         speaking population –maybe higher

   ESOL is 5% (maybe?) of the conversation
        How many sessions on ESOL at COABE? AAACE?
         CEA? LDA? IDA? ( On adult ESOL, none)
        Bridges to Practice has not yet included ESOL in
         their training

   Special needs are even more marginalized
      Virtually NO statistics on what % of NNSE have disabilities
    * National Family Literacy Act, Report to Congress 2004
Second Challenge: The ESOL
Population is Extremely Varied

   Language and culture backgrounds
   Literacy levels/educational backgrounds
   Health/ mental health
   Socio-economic status
   Reasons for coming to adult education
   Age
   Family situations
   Stability
Third Challenge: Cultural
Differences
   Generally speaking, cultural differences towards
    special learning needs are significant: Adult
    ESOL learners
       Will not expect or seek out accommodations for
        any special need—and therefore frequently do
        not self-identify
       Are not familiar with the concept of LD
       May not be comfortable with accommodation–
        feel it is unfair, (high context cultures) or
        unnatural, or will taint family
       May leave if focus on special need is
        uncomfortable—will not tell anyone
Fourth Challenge: Many, Varied
Causes of Learning Difficulties

   In Eng. Speaking population in adult ed.,
    problems with vision, hearing, attention,
    scotopic sensitivity are more prevalent than
    LD– we don’t know in ESOL population– but
    no reason they are not high there, too.
   Health problems may be more
    severe/prevalent even than that of native
    Eng. Adult education counterparts:
       Poor health care
       Different kinds of diseases
       More trauma in general
Varied Causes of Learning
Difficulties, cont.

   Barrier of Low or no literacy is significant,
    but frequently underestimated
   First language influences may be strong
       If first language is different in sounds and
        structure and learner is not very literate, learning
        English very difficult
       If first language is not written, becoming literate
        can be extremely difficult
Varied Causes of Learning
problems, continued
   Cultural differences impact
    learning/educational/training situations
       Expectations of teachers/class
       Understanding of learning/study
       Classroom/training interactions
       Understanding/interpretation of materials
       Adults—especially those who are not very
        educated and out of their country for the first
        time– have a hard time adjusting to new culture–
        Culture shock estimated to last up to 3 years–
        for some longer.
Varied Causes of Learning
Problems, cont.
   Normal language learning causes difficulties
    often mistaken for LD:
       Adult language learners have much harder time
        hearing sounds of new language
       Oral language (referred to as BICS) and literacy
        (referred to as CALPS) develop in different
        ways, different speeds– normal lag between two
        is poorly recognized in adult ESOL
       Order in which language is learned dictates what
        learner can learn cognitively about new
        language
Fifth Challenge: Limited
means of identification
   Testing for LD/ Learning problems directly is
    impossible:
   Learning problems stemming from LD cannot—SHOULD
    NOT—be directly identified as NO CURRENT testing tools—
    including screening tools– are fully valid and can be
    misleading and harmful, even in the extreme, because:
       Language difficulties– CALPS not sufficient for testing in
        English—even those who have lived here and gone to school
        here must be tested with great caution and skill
       Cultural differences—format, content, purpose of testing
Testing Problems, Cont.
   Tests for other kinds of difficulties—e.g for degree
    to which a physically handicapped person is self –
    sufficient– are biased for similar reasons—cultural
    differences/language
   Most tools for ESOL learners are NOT looking at
    key issues of learning difficulties in foreign
    language learning: phonological skills–
       Phonological awareness– awareness of the sound chunks
        of a language and how they are manipulated– key to
        literacy in first or second language—weakness cause of
        phonological dyslexia
       Phonological memory—how we remember new/unfamiliar
        sounds and process them– oral/aural skills
Testing Problems, cont.

   Testing for LD in many states still
    requires a discrepancy score-
       Not possible to obtain a valid intelligence
        score across cultures and languages
       Verbal portions of IQ are heavily
        language biased
       Non-verbal portions are culturally loaded
Testing Problems, Cont.

   Testing tools for ESOL do not
    differentiate problems
       Language?
       Phonological skills?
       Cultural barriers?
       Physical problems?
   They just tell you there is a problem
Testing problems, Cont.

   Who will test them??
       Few diagnosticians are well versed in
        evaluation of learning problems in adults
       Even fewer have any notion of
        challenges of evaluating a person from
        another culture/language background
Sixth Challenge:      Lack of
Informed Teachers and Tutors

   Teachers and Tutors
       Tend to assume learning problems are the same
        as in the Eng. Spkg population– and refer ESOL
        learners for the same reasons
       Are not well versed in normal language
        acquisition issues—
           Mistake them for LD
           Wait too long to do anything
       Not versed in the needs of very low literate
        persons– learners can’t do what teachers are
        asking of them
Teachers and tutors, cont.

     Not trained in language instruction–
         not aware of language challenges of
          materials;
         do not know how to explain language issues;
         do not know grammar of English to explain it
          to someone with little English
     Have little sense of impact of nature and
      impact of cultural differences--
Teachers and tutors, cont.
   Have few useful resources to help them
       ONE manual has appeared in US– Two in
        Canada,--about adult ESOL learners with
        learning problems
       No courses, textbooks
       2ND Lang. acq. lit. still not addressing issues
       TESOL as a profession ignores special needs–
        Bilingual Special Ed addresses them– at K-12
       Special needs professions generally do not
        address needs of ESOL learners
       K-12 models of special needs in ESOL do not
        work well for adults as for ALL Adult ED
Directions for Professional
Development

Where to Begin?
 We must FIRST

     INCLUDE ESOL IN EVERY
      DISCUSSION OF SPECIAL
      LEARNING NEEDS IN ADULT
      EDUCATION
     (remember those numbers????)
Directions for Professional
Development:
Where to Begin?
 We must THEN

       Reframe
         how we think about Special
           Learning Needs in this population
   We cannot just apply paradigm we use for
    native English speakers/persons from this
    culture
Directions for Professional
Development:
        FOUR areas to target:

ONE: Teachers/tutors need general
  orientation to ESOL populations—
              Cultural differences
              Language challenges
              Values differences
              Culture shock


        And specific orientation to cultural group(s)
         they are likely to be working with

    1.
Areas to Target in
Professional Development

TWO: Teachers need general awareness
  about identifying special needs in the
  ESOL population
   Difficulties in identification
   Cultural attitudes towards special needs
   Guidance in looking at a large range of causes of
    problems
   Implications of low/no literacy
   Training in evaluating and targeting phonological skills
Areas to Target in
Professional Development

THREE: Programs must require MINIMAL
  standards for training in ESOL and
  language teaching for teachers and
  tutors:
       Rudiments of language structure
       Rudiments of language acquisition and
        terminology
       Training in Multisensory Language
        Instruction
Areas to Target in
Professional Development

FOUR: Teachers/tutors programs need
  adequate materials
     Resources
         Information
         Materials
     Guidance on choosing/creating
      materials (E.G.– reading programs for
      Native English speakers Do NOT work
      for ESOL!!)
WHY PROFESSIONAL
DEVELOPMENT?
   ALL ESOL learners will profit
   Efficacy of teachers—and therefore
    satisfaction– will increase
   Programs will be more effective:
       Completion rates will increase
       Speed of completion will increase
       Placement into employment can happen faster
       Learner goals will be met more effectively
   The learners deserve it! ( and they are—or
    soon will be– the majority…)
A few resources to support
this:
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/mental.html
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/beginQA.html
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/pdQA.html
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/natlit2.html
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/reading.html
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/litQA.html
   http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/SLA.html

				
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posted:8/28/2012
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