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					South Thames College ESOL Pathfinder

                                       Literacy Case Studies

This is an ESOL basic literacy class for beginners who have problems with
reading and writing. They attend a main ESOL class and come to this class
on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. This literacy class provides them
support with reading and writing as well as to cope with work in their main
ESOL Class.

The scheme of work is mapped to the national curriculum and to LOCN
assessment (Preparation for reading and writing). Those who complete the
assessment criteria successfully get a certificate at the end of the course.

The students who need particular assistance with reading and writing are
identified during enrolment.

The literacy class is more of a workshop because the learners have different
needs and work at different pace. Some can read and write a little whereas,
others cannot. There are also some students who are not literate in their first
language and some learners have to learn to write from left to right.

Case study part time evening class
Student A is 34 years old. He came from Afghanistan in 2001. He was a
businessman in his country. At the moment he is unemployed. He can read
and write a little, Pushto. He joined the evening Literacy class in September
2002. He needs a lot of help and support in reading and writing English. He
wants to learn to write basic personal information such as his names and
address to be able to fill in simple forms. He also needs to improve basic
writing skills as to write on the line, leave space between words and use
upper and lower cases.

In future he hopes to get a job or start his own business.

Student B is 50 years old. She has lived in England for 11 years. She is a
housewife. She can read and write a little Urdu. She has good speaking and
listening skills although inaccurate. She can recognise the alphabet and write
some words, but guesses most of the time. She is a carer for her son. She
needs to learn English to survive and to help her son and to be able to liaise
with different organisations. The evening classes suits her as she can leave
her son with a relative for couple of evenings.

Student C is a 41 year old man from Afghanistan. He is quite new to England.
He was a businessman in his country but he is unemployed at the moment.
He is illiterate in his own language, but keen to learn English. He could not
identify the alphabet. He wants to work when he can speak English.

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South Thames College ESOL Pathfinder

ESOL /Intro ‘Reading and Writing’class
Comments by Surryia Mahmood
This is a literacy class for ESOL students. The total of 7 hours teaching takes
place 3 afternoons per week. Few of the students attend the class two days a
week due to their ill health. Student M is the eldest student. She is 72 years
old and has been a very regular student for 4 years. She is now very
independent in speaking and lives on her own, and is active member of local
community club. She is learning to read and write now. She had never been
to any school until she came to South Thames College. College has given her
confidence and she is very proud of that confidence and provides support to
other students in class.

Most of the students are above 40 years of age and had never been to school
in their childhood and are not familiar with the norms of school and college. It
takes them longer to understand the teacher‟s instructions and what is
required of them. This Introduction class falls in the category of Pre-Entry
level of literacy /ESOL. Three out of 10 students are literate in their language
and had some primary school experience in their country. They learn quicker
as they can guess the teacher‟s instructions from the body language or from
the context of work. They make progress faster than the others who go
through the process of the very early stages of learning such as learning to
hold pens and paper properly, drawing lines, following the correct strokes of
pen for writing different letters of alphabet and beginning to write and copy.
Speaking and reading start straight away in the first week of induction into
college. Interviews and filling in the forms with the help of other students in the
Induction week give excellent opportunities for „sight reading‟ and becoming
familiar with the alphabet, words and many different type of real reading
sources, and also listening to teachers classroom instructions.

They learn to read, write and speak at the same time. Speaking and learning
vocabulary is considered to be the first step in guessing/recognizing/reading
according to the context, recognizing with the help of cues, pictures and
phonics. They are introduced to books, which they borrow from the teacher,
read in class loudly and take home. I believe in applying all the techniques of
teaching reading and writing, old fashioned and the latest methods. Any
technique can be useful to all the material we have. It depends how I use it
and with whom. Here I give you the profiles of a few students.

Student N (44years old)

She speaks Kuchchi language and started college in September 2002 with a
short-term goal of learning to speak, read and write English so that she can
lead her daily life more independently. She never went out of the house alone
but recently she lost her husband and feels that she needs to learn English
and has to do everything by herself. She was shy and with no confidence in
herself and kept on saying “Excuse me I‟m useless” in the first few days of
college. She was taught how to hold a pencil and paper and where to start
writing. She was encouraged and motivated. She enjoyed coming to class so
much that she was never absent. She has been the most

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Punctual and regular student in class in her first two terms. She has come out
of her shyness and has successfully achieved LOCN „Preparation for reading
and writing‟ and has made progress in reading. She can associate sounds
with each letter of the alphabet. I do give priority to phonics and use this
technique with „sight word‟ or „look and say‟ method.

Student O ( 54 years )

She speaks Arabic language and started college in September 2001. She had
never been to school in her country. She had achieved LOCN „preparation for
reading and writing‟ unit last year and this year she has achieved „Free
Writing‟ with minimum support. She still needs a lot of practice in speaking
and understanding. She is an intelligent lady who works very hard and is able
to read and understand simple words and sentence. She can identify all
letters and can associate sounds with letters. „Sight words‟ and the „phonic
method‟ are used side by side and a part of lesson consists of phonic practice
where students practise associating the sounds with letters and also practise
reading words as a whole. They practice recognising high frequency words.
Flash cards are used for „Look and Say‟.

All the class practice reading any new text with the familiar vocabulary and
some high frequency words which they had practised in class. They listen to
the teacher and watch carefully while she reads, and follow the text with their
fingers, pointing to each word as they go along. As the teacher reads from
right to left they come to know that print proceeds from right to left. They also
start recognizing words. They look for different words and tell the spellings of
the words when asked by the teacher. This gives them practice in recognising
as well as to know the names of all the letters while the new arrivals are also
helped to learn the names of letters. With the same type of process the
following illiterate students have made and achieved the LOCN unit
„Preparation for reading and writing‟.

Student P (40 years)

She speaks Tamil, and left education in primary school and she had no
English at all. She started college on 7th Jan 2003 and has been able to
achieve the LOCN „preparation for reading and writing‟ unit. She still needs a
lot of practice on phonics but has good sight reading. She needs to practise
speaking. Due to child-minding problem she cannot always arrive on time but
is very keen to learn.

Student Q (49 years)

She is Turkish and has no literacy in her language with no experience of

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She achieved „preparation for reading and writing‟ last year. This year she has
achieved „Free Writing‟. She has made excellent progress and can associate
sounds with all the letters and can put these together in words. She needs to
practice listening and speaking more. She can read new words and simple
sentences and needs to improve her vocabulary.

Student R (39 years)

She is Pushto speaking and illiterate in her first language. She started from
Pre- entry level literacy activities and now has achieved two LOCN units in
three years, „Preparation for reading and writing‟ and „Free writing‟. She still
needs to practice speaking. She is not very regular and attends the class only
two days a week due to her illness but is very keen to learn and make

Student S ( 48 years)

She has made an excellent progress and has achieved two LOCN units,
She is ready to progress into a higher group next year. She started college in
August 2001. She had left education in primary school. She is literate in her
language which makes a big difference,

Student T ( 20 years)

She is literate in her native language and left education in high school. She
was not able to attend many classes due to her circumstances at home. She
is a good learner but she needs to be in this group for this year to practice
speaking, reading and writing.

Student U ( 34 years )

He is a literate student‟s in his native language. He left education during his
middle school and had made quick progress and is ready to progress into a
higher level next year.

Student V (40 years)

She is also literate in her language and left education during her middle
school and now has made quick progress and is moving into higher level next

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South Thames College ESOL Pathfinder


It would be preferable to separate the ESOL literate and illiterate students.
The students who are literate in their native language and had experience of
school could follow the national curriculum for Entry level and work towards
attainment of Entry 1 from day one in class. The group of illiterate students
should follow the literacy curriculum for pre-entry as well as ESOL curriculum
for speaking, listening for Entry 1. They could start reading and writing
activities for Entry 1.

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South Thames College ESOL Pathfinder

                              PATHFINDER PROJECT-LITERACY

Intro M2 is a basic reading and writing class, which meets five mornings.
Class is 13 hours a week. The class is shared by two tutors and it is double
staffed for 5 hours a week.

Profile of Learners

Intro M2 consists of students with a range of abilities. In September four
students were identified who needed particular assistance with reading and
writing (Noori, Nazir, Zahara and Askelu).

Noori Abdul Mobin is a man in his forties, from Afghanistan. He has just
arrived in England and is illiterate in his own language. He is keen to learn,
but has little experience of education. When he joined the class in
September, he could not identify the alphabet. He wants to work as a taxi

Nazir Minhas is a thirty year old woman from Pakistan. She has lived in
England for twelve years. Her speaking and listening skills are good although
not accurate. She can recognise the alphabet, but cannot associate with
sounds to read words. She has survived by guessing for twelve years and it
is a difficult habit to break.

Zahara Osman is a twenty year old woman from Somalia. She is quite new to
England. She did not have any education in her own country, so she is
illiterate. She lacks confidence and is shy. She can identify letters, but
cannot put them together to read words. She wants to work when she can
speak English.

Askelu Towelde is an Eritrean woman in her thirties. She has lived in England
for several years. She is a confident speaker and listener, but can‟t read.
She can identify letters, but has difficulty associating sounds with letters to
decipher words. She wants to learn English to help her children and to

Model for delivery

The additional support teacher sits in class with identified students and helps
with reading and writing tasks. She performs additional assessments on
these students. These assessments are quite informal and are designed by
the teacher. One class which is doubled-staffed, is a computer class. The
additional support teacher helps anyone who requests help. She tries to sit
with students to help them read what they are typing.

This model is not ideal. Help for students are limited. Students are
completing work which is set for the whole class rather than specific for their
needs. The additional support teacher has no control over what is being
taught in each lesson. It would be more useful to take the four students out of

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South Thames College ESOL Pathfinder

the class to give them more individual literacy tuition for those five hours a


The national curriculum is used to set goals for the AS of the students, but
rigidly. The students do not really understand these goals, it is more for the
teacher to use. The students are below Entry 1 level and so are working
towards these targets. The goals set are only used at the assessment times
as a benchmark to record achievement.


Each AS student has an interim and final assessment. Initial assessment is
done as a normal ESOL student and then through observation at the
beginning of the course.

The interim and final assessments are conducted by taking the students out of
the class for thirty minutes and just doing little tasks. The tasks are created by
the AS teacher and are not from any other resources. No resources have
been made available which are related to the National Curriculum. The
teacher just makes a note of what she thinks has been achieved. This is very
subjective. No other evidence of achievement is kept, other than teacher‟s

The students do LOCN work with the main course tutors.

Scheme of work
There is no special scheme for AS students. The class tutor creates a scheme
for the whole class. A more specialised scheme for ESOL literacy students
would be useful if they could be given separate lessons.

Example of Good Practice
It is not good practice to bring illiterate students into a class more than half
way through the course, as any progress that has been made has to be

AS is not really needed in computer classes where students are able to work
more independently.

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Good afternoon my class

Good afternoon

How are you?

Fine thank you how are you?

Yes I am fine

I would like to talk to you and see what do you think about the course one year has gone I want to start
speaking to you.

What is your name?

My name is Sola

Where do you live?

I live in tooting

In Tooting, on Garrat Lane?


Why do you come to college?

To study English

That is good. What will you do when you have learned English, what will you do?

I will go to the doctor

Very good you are going to go to the hospital alone, how old is your daughter?

My daughter is 9 this year she will be 10.

What school does she go to?

She goes to ***** school

She goes to ******** school, I used to teach at that school

What do you think about the course? This was your first year in this college.

The first year to me starting this, nice my teacher.

This is the first time you came to college?


But when you were small did you go to school?

No class no

So do you remember Sola when you came to my class were you able to hold a pencil?

No I tried a lot

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But you were very good you were never absent and I’m so happy that you always came on time. What
do you think now, what is difficult in class what is difficult?

Not difficult here I am liking it here. For the first time my husband is not always with me and my son.

Your husband used to be with you to help you with your English?

Yes my husband is good with languages

He was good with languages so he was with you all the time?

What happened to him?


He died of cancer I am so sorry, but now you are very brave and you look smart and you are doing this
now. Do you understand some listening and speaking or reading and writing is better, what do you
think is better?

This time I understand a bit of talking

You understand a bit, very good

English very hard

English very hard? What other languages do you speak?

Speak Gujurati and understand a bit of Urdu and my own language kachi

Well done Sola

English very hard thank you

You have done very well and keep working hard

So now I am coming to, what is your name?

My name is Yasmine
Where are you from?

I’m from Lebanon

Which language do you speak?


How long have you been coming to my class?

2 years

What is difficult for you in class? Listening? Speaking?

Speaking a little bit

What is easy for you?

I like reading and I like writing

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When you came in my class where you in school when you were a child in your country, did you go to


You never went to school, this was your first class?


Very good so are you happy with your reading and writing now? You are making progress?


And next year are you going to continue?


Okay thank you very much Yasmine well done

Thank you

What is your name?

My name is Reka

Reka where are you from?

I am from Pakistan

You are from Pakistan, what language do you speak?


And another language also?

Yes Rakut

Rakut, so in Pakistan they speak many languages?


Can you speak English now?


Do you think it has improved?


Can you say it in a sentence?

Yes it has improved

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What skill do you like best? Reading, writing, listening speaking, which one do you like best now?


Reading you like?


Do you think you have improved in reading?


And what is happening with your writing now? You are learning some grammar?


And that is new for you? And can you read signs on the road?

What do you want to do after you have improved your English?

I want to do a job

What type of job do you want to do?

A morning job


In a shop

So you want to work in a shop


Are you going to come back to class next year?


You are going to continue

How many children do you have?

One daughter

How old is she?

She is fourteen months old

So you would like to continue English that is good. This year you had problems and you could not
come to college?

My mother in law went to Pakistan for 2 months so nobody could look after my baby

Okay well hopefully next year she will be here and you can come to college

What is your name?

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My name is fatma

Where are you from?

I am from Turkey

You are from Turkey, I have such an international class, which language do you speak?


You speak Turkish okay; when you were small did you go to school?


This was your first school


You work very hard your writing is very good, what do you like best in class?

Reading, writing, talking

And what do you think is more difficult and what is easy? Listening, speaking is difficult or reading,
writing is difficult?

Listening and understanding

So next year we will practice that more

Do you enjoy reading now, do you understand some words, you can read some words?


Do you know the sounds of all the letters? The sound of the letter helps you to read?


Everyone tell me do the sounds of the letters help you? Do they help you to read?
When you read the word what do you look for first? The first letter or the end letter?

All letters

So the first letter helps you to read? Or the whole word?

What do you want to do when you finish your English classes? Why are you learning English?

I want to help reading and writing

What will you do once you learn?


You will go to the doctor and go shopping
What do you do now? You help your husband?

I help in a restaurant

So your English will help you in the restaurant, you will speak to the customers.

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So next year you are going to come?


What is your name?

My name is Davina

Where are you from?

I am from Pakistan

What language do you speak?

I speak Urdu


Listening, speaking, reading and writing, what is the best thing you have improved on?

I have improved writing and listening and reading

Can you read something? What is the last thing you read outside?

I read all the time

You read all the time. And can you recognise the post that comes to the house, what is a bill and what
is a letter? Before the course were you able to recognise them?


Do you think you have improved in reading the letters now?


Do you know which is a doctor’s letter and which is a solicitors letter?

Yes I do

So you know which letter has come?

Which is very good I am happy, are you happy?

Yes I am happy

And next year what is your plan for the next year? I heard you are getting a job also next year, what is
the job?

In a child’s nursery in the cooking

Is it a part time job?

Yes part time, every day 4 hours

And the first time you went for the job you went into the kitchen and you were telling me that you
could read something there you were very happy, what was written in the kitchen?

Wash hands after cooking

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That is very good and you can read all the safety instructions too


Thank you very much Jamira

What language do you speak at home?

Hindi and French

And what do you think about the courses you have done?

I am very happy with the courses because they make me free to go where I want to go I can understand
and speak with someone

And when you go to the hospital do you take anyone with you?

No I go by myself I understand what the doctors say and I understand where to go and I can answer
questions about my problem

How many years have you been in college?

6 years

But you were about 65 when you joined and did you go to school in your own country?

No never

Never this is your first college?

Yes my first

You are happy about college?

Yes I am very happy with your class I am understanding I can speak I can read the price and everything

Read the price? I am happy because when I joined the class, I joined late, you were already speaking
you might have improved now but what do you think about reading and writing which I started?

I really like to read but sometimes I forget

But it comes to you, and that can sometimes be your age but you are very intelligent and still I think all
the sounds of the letters you can match? You don’t have any problems matching the sounds with the


It helps you in recognising when I give you pictures and words that you are able to recognise?

Yes it helps me to choose

How do you choose? How do you choose that this word will go with this picture? How do you choose,
by looking at which sound?

I match the first sound

This matching this is your favourite exercise, because you are always very good at it because you are
always very good at your vocabulary

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There are many words which you can read now? Can you think of any words that you can just read

He, she, then, there

And you can read them also? And small preposition words, 2 letter words like in, on, at, the, you
recognise everything and you can write them?


Can you recognise any signs in college like reception and exit?


You don’t ask where is the toilet?

No I can find it by myself, I follow the signs

Because you can read? So you don’t ask anyone’s help?

No before I asked for somebody to show me but now I can read it and follow the signs

Very good I’m very pleased with you keep on coming and even though you are not taking a graduation
or anything you are still learning

Yes thank you it is very necessary for me understanding ans speaking I didn’t come here to joke, you
meet people you are talking you are happy

And you get help also?


People want you to be here

Yes the young people come in and I am learning and I am old I am learning a lot at school I learn a lot

She is never ever absent she has been ill but before when she was never ill she was never assent and
she got an award for that

Where are you from?

I’m from ***

And when did you join my class?

3 months

Only 3 months yes, but you have been to college or school your country?


Which class did you leave school, middle school, which class did you go to, how old were you when
you left your school?


You were 8 years old?

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How long have you been living in England?

4 years

4 yrs, lovely place, when did you start learning English, was this your first time in college or did you
used to go to classes?

And what is your wish now, do you want to learn more English, do you want to do a job?

I want to do a job

What job did you do in your country?

In my country I was a driver


Are you going to learn to drive here?

Yes I want to be a bus driver

Do you think English language is going to help you for the job?


And have you improved in these 3 months? Do you think you have learnt a little bit more English here
in the 3 months?

Yes everything is good, reading and writing

Yes this class is more reading and writing but you want to do more speaking because the problem is
speaking. Next year we are sending you to a class where there is more speaking and you can join the
class in the evening because if you get a job you will need the evenings. But these 3 months we were
happy to have you, were you happy?


What is your name

My name is Iza Khan

What language do you speak?

I speak Pashto

Where are you from?

I am from Pakistan

It is very beautiful lots of mountains


Did you got o school in Pakistan?


Is this your first school or college?


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Do you like the college?

I like yes

And now can you read and write a little bit?


And do you know all the letters of the alphabet?

Yes A, B, C, D…

Spell me

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