Monday, August 24, 2015

Writing Opportunities for Adult Learners

Here are three opportunities for Adult Learners to see their writing published:

1.  CATESOL Adult Learner Essay Contest.  Topic:  Tech in my old country and new country.  Due date:  September 4, 2015.   Get all the details here.

2.  Change Agent call for Adult Learner writing on the topic of race.  Due date:  November 6, 2015.  Get all the details here.

3.  Easy English Times has ongoing opportunities for the publication of Adult Learner writing.  Contact the Editor at easyenglish at   if you have a project or topic idea for student writing which you think might be good for their publication.  You can see samples of student writing in their Student Writing of the Month section and their Bonus Student Writing section

Here is a piece by San Mateo Adult School Student Jie Zhang about how to learn English.

Easy English Times Bonus Writing 2015

Our readers write from San Mateo, Calif.

(Editor's note: This story came from ESL teacher Cynthia Eagleton, San Mateo Adult School. It has been edited for length.)

Advice for ESL students

by Jie Zhang

How to learn English

First things first; you need an English teacher. Some people would say "I can learn English by watching a TV series and movies", or say "I can learn English from daily work". Yes, that is true. But I still need a teacher who can provide me with professional advice on English learning. Adult schools and community colleges offer ESL courses. The learning schedule is flexible. The tuition is affordable. You can learn at your own pace. The only thing you need is to keep on going.

Second, if you meet some difficulty, do not immediately seek help from your friends and family. Every difficulty is a great chance to learn. If other people do it for you, you will lose the chance.

Third, if your English teacher gives you some learning advice, give it a try and tell your teacher how you feel. Your feedback is important to your teacher and yourself. If it doesn't work for you, that is OK. You can discuss it with your teacher to find a more comfortable way.

I have some personal experiences to share. One idea is this. When I started to learn English, I would record my voice, replay it and compare it with the standard one. At first, I was ashamed to hear my voice. It sounded weird. But soon, I found my voice didn't sound so bad. Now I am sure that my voice sounds good when I speak English.

Another is my secret method, which comes from an article about how foreign language university students practice their listening in English. Every week, I have my new learning video. I usually watch it twice without the subtitles. Then I pick a 10 minutes segment, listen to one sentence, pause the video, write down the sentence, then play next sentence. When I finish them all, I turn on the subtitles and circle the mistakes in my writing. It is an exhausting job. But it not only benefits your listening but also grammar, spelling and even your pronunciation.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Resources for Teaching Social Justice Matters

World, national, and local events bring up discussion of social justice matters in the classroom.  These resources provide both teachers and students with vocabulary, context, and ideas that make for meaningful and rewarding discussion and learning in the classroom.

The Change Agent:   An Adult Education magazine for social justice.  Available in print and online.  Check back issues for needed themes.  Current issue:  Prisons and Justice.  Back issues:  Food, Technology, Immigration, Good Jobs - not just any job!, Tales of Resilience, What's Age Got to Do With It? - and more!       Note:  SMAS has a subscription.  Talk to Tim for more details.

Charleston Syllabus:  "Here is a list of readings that educators can use to broach conversations in the classroom about the horrendous events that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina on the evening of June 17, 2015. These readings provide valuable information about the history of racial violence in this country and contextualize the history of race relations in South Carolina and the United States in general. They also offer insights on race, racial identities, global white supremacy and black resistance. All readings are arranged by date of publication. This list is not meant to be exhaustive–you will find omissions. Please check out #Charlestonsyllabus and the Goodreads List for additional reading suggestions."

Cultivating Empathy  "Dr. Doty is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University.  He is Director and Founder of  the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, CCARE. His iconic status  as a cutting edge entity in the world of medicine and social evolution is rooted in what he experienced growing up in poverty,dealing with social inequity. James describes how his life changed for the better when a mentor offered to teach him  “something that could change his life”."

Educolor:  "EduColor seeks to elevate the voices of public school advocates of color on educational equity and justice. We are an inclusive cooperative of informed, inspired and motivated educators, parents, students, writers and activists who promote and embrace the centrality of substantive intersectional diversity."

Education Week article about Educolor, "Grassroots Educolor Group Spotlights Racial Inequities."  "Yet, EduColor members say, much of the education policy debate has become rooted in ideological positioning around such topics as the place of testing, the role of charter schools, and teacher evaluation, while neglecting the role of race in schools and failing to examine how favored policy issues affect nonwhite students."

Office of Refugee Resettlement   and  Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center   Immigrants come to the US for a variety of reasons.  Some immigrants are refugees who bring with them loss and trauma, as well as strengths and coping strategies.  Seeing both is important. 

PERE - Program for Environmental and Regional Equity - "Talkin' Bout Our Generations:  Data, Deliberation, and Destiny in a Changing America."  Provides facts and insight into the changing demographics of the US.

Rethinking Schools - Resources for Teaching about War.

Teaching While White   Adult Ed teachers and students come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds - all of which exist inside larger contexts of privilege systems, racial hierarchies, and histories of conflict and conquest.  Whiteness holds certain privileges in US culture.  It is beneficial to consider how this impacts the classroom.

VALUE USA is an organization of current and former Adult Learners.  It includes a leadership training and a social change initiative.

Teachers, Professors, and Students who blog about education and social justice

Cloaking Inequity - Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig is a Pfofessor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Sacramento State University

The Idealist Critic - Education news, critical theory and social justice education from Lauren Stark, a doctoral student specializing in the Cultural Sociology of Education and critical policy studies at the University of Virginia. 

The Jose Vilson - Jose Luis Vilson is a math teacher, writer, and education activist

Every person's individual story is grounded in a larger group story.  These resources expand our knowledge of those stories:

Local Resources:

Domini Hoskins Black History Museum

San Mateo County History Museum

Web Resources:

African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross - PBS

Asian American History Resources - PBS

Latino Americans - PBS

Middle Eastern American Resources Online

Do you know of more links to add to this resource list? 
Tell Teacher Cynthia and she will add them to the list.

Monday, November 3, 2014

EL Civics - Now Hiring! Fall 2014

El Civics Objective 33.9

Identify and access employment and training resources needed to obtain and keep a job.

Teacher Overview and Notes

Task 2 - Applications

Adapted applications for BEG

Monday, October 27, 2014

Materials from CATESOL 2014 State Conference

The 2014 CATESOL State Conference had many great workshops including:

1.  Using an interactive CCR (College and Career Readiness) approach in the classroom. 

  • CATESOL 2014: Adult Level Workshop Transferable Skills, Interactive Activities & the CCR
  • CATESOL 2014: Adult Level Workshop Transferable Skills, Interactive Activities & the CCR (handout)
    Donna Price and Rona Magy put on this workshop.  You can see more of their work here.

    FYI to those who don't know:  CCR and Common Core are not just for kids. 

    Here is the link to the new College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Ed.
    2.  "Stepping Down" - a quick fix Hollywood approach to get an American accent.
    Ellen Lange explained the modifications she uses with David Alan Stern's "Breaking the Accent Barrier" method.   It can a bit awkward for the teacher but very helpful for the learner.
    You can see David Alan Stern in action here:
    3.  Encouraging Adult English Learners to Help Children Become Bilingual.
    Juliane Rosner and Marsha Chan (the Pronunciation Doctor) explained the value of framing bilingualism as an asset rather than a deficit.  They walked us through a classroom project in which Adult Learner parents help their kids write about their lives in both English and their home language, using sentence frames.

    4.  Top Policy Issues for California ESL

    Lots of important stuff from four Community College folks, including Leigh Anne Shaw, who is on the Steering Committee for ACCEL, our Regional Consortia.  The four urged everyone to mobilize. 

    Leigh Anne Shaw.  CAI = Common Assessment Initiative.  CAI and AB86 are not talking to each other. Discuss assessment with your department and develop values and principles of assessment. Go to and give feedback on competencies for ESL. The deadline is November 14. Speak up at your local AB 86 discussions about the need for AB86 to be in the CAI discussion.
    Lane IgoudinModels for Collaboration between ESL and English.
    *  Kathy Wada.  She explained the difference between Data Mart (the chocolate chip cookie) and Scorecard (chocolate cake).    The Accountability Scorecard for the California Community Colleges.
    * Susan Gaer.  AB86 and you.  Susan carried the message:  GET INVOLVED!
    * Nancy Sander.  "Keep the focus on 2nd language acquisition.  Work with Institutional Research to track ESL Students in General Ed classes."
    5.  Dr. Francisco Jimenez spoke as plenary speaker on Friday.  He also gave a workshop on Saturday titled "The Discovery of Self, Purpose, and Place through Creative Writing."
    Francisco is the Fay Boyle Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Santa Clara University.
    This description from Castro Valley Adult School says it all:
      Perhaps the highlight was a special session with Dr. Francisco Jimenez. As the son of migrant worker parents, he worked in California fields picking grapes, living in camps and missing lots of school. He spoke about the kindness of teachers who spent extra time with him and encouraged his talent in writing by introducing him to literature. He grew up to march for justice with Cesar Chavez, write 4 books about his life and become a respected faculty member at Santa Clara University. He says, "The most important quality to be a good teacher is to love your students." There's a lot of love between our students and teachers here at CVACE, so we think he is pretty spot on.
     These four books tell his life story and are available in many translations.
    After dark in a Mexican border town, a father holds open a hole in a wire fence as his wife and two small boys crawl through.So begins life in the United States for many people every day. And so begins this collection of twelve autobiographical stories by Santa Clara University professor Francisco Jim�nez, who at the age of four illegally crossed the border with his family in 1947. "The Circuit," the story of young Panchito and his trumpet, is one of the most widely anthologized stories in Chicano literature. At long last, Jim�nez offers more about the wise, sensitive little boy who has grown into a role model for subsequent generations of immigrants.These independent but intertwined stories follow the family through their circuit, from picking cotton and strawberries to topping carrots--and back agai--over a number of years. As it moves from one labor camp to the next, the little family of four grows into ten. Impermanence and poverty define their lives. But with faith, hope, and back-breaking work, the family endures.

    At the age of fourteen, Francisco Jiménez, together with his older brother Roberto and his mother, are caught by la migra. Forced to leave their home in California, the entire family travels all night for twenty hours by bus, arriving at the U.S. and Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona. In the months and years that follow during the late 1950s-early 1960s, Francisco, his mother and father, and his seven brothers and sister not only struggle to keep their family together, but also face crushing poverty, long hours of labor, and blatant prejudice. How they sustain their hope, their good-heartedness, and tenacity is revealed in this moving, Pura Belpré Honor-winning sequel to The Circuit. Without bitterness or sentimentality, Francisco Jiménez finishes telling the story of his youth.

    From the perspective of the young adult he was then, Francisco Jiménez describes the challenges he faced in his efforts to continue his education.
         During his college years, the very family solidarity that allowed Francisco to survive as a child is tested. Not only must he leave his family behind when he goes to Santa Clara University, but while Francisco is there, his father abandons the family and returns to Mexico. This is the story of how Francisco coped with poverty, with his guilt over leaving his family financially strapped, with his self-doubt about succeeding academically, and with separation. Once again his telling is honest, true, and inspiring.


    This is his newest book and comes out soon.

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    Fall 2014 Civics - Community Advocacy

    EL Civics 2014 - 2015

    Community Advocacy Fall 2014

    Objective 8.5 Identify a local community need or civic-oriented complaint; research and address the issue.