Saturday, April 07, 2007

Two Miles But Quite a Distance

Come to my session at CATESOL in San Diego, "Two Miles But Quite a Distance," on Saturday, April 14th from 11:15-12:00 noon in Royal Palm Five.

Abstract for Program:

After 15 years in adult education, last September the presenter became a full-time college ESOL teacher. In this paper, she will share reflections on her transition and the implications for adult education and college teaching. Participants will be invited to reflect and dialogue. Handout with sample materials will be provided.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Catching my breath

In one week I'll be presenting at CATESOL on this subject . . . my transition and adult ed. students' transition to college. What will I say? During these past months, several questions have been asked or implied: What can adult ed. ESL teachers do to prepare their students for college? Does the college ESOL curriculum meet the needs/goals of its students? At what point should non-native speakers leave ESOL behind? How can or should adult and college faculty collaborate? How can or should ESOL and content faculty collaborate? These are big questions, but they also suggest an agenda. If we are to facilitate adult ed. students' transition, we need to engage in curriculum review and dialogue. The conversation should include ESL faculty from both divisions, English Department faculty, ESL learners, counselors, and subject matter faculty.

In fact, this need became apparent at our last English Dept. meeting as we began a serious discussion of learning communities (paired courses in which students enroll in both sections, for example a developmental reading course paired with a developmental writing course, or an English course paired with a history or math course). The advantages of these pairings are multiple: improved retention/persistence; increased learning; renewed curriculum, and energized instruction. Some faculty argued strongly that there should be compensation to participating faculty because of the extra preparation and collaboration time. Then came a plaintive request from our Assistant Dept. Chair -- In our enthusiasm for learning communities, let us not forget nor neglect the need for curriculum review in all our basic courses, especially English 51 (the developmental writing course prior to English 101 which requires passsing a timed five-parapgraph essay on a topic agreed upon by all three college campuses within our district). The discussion then became focused on this need, the need to re-do English 51. Soon, we realized that if we revamp pivotal English 51, we will need to scrutinize all developmental courses, including ESOL. The discusssion gave me a chance to voice some of the questions and concerns that have been populating this blog. I expect that curriculum will be an emphasis in the coming year in our department, and I say, the broader and more inclusive the conversation and the participation is, the better.