The 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners:  Adult education and workforce development.

The 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners:  Adult education and workforce development. TESOL International Association (2019)

TESOL International Association have recently published 2 more books of interest to ESP teachers in their 6 principles for exemplary teaching of English learners series. The second book in the series focusses on teaching English in Adult education and workforce development programmes.

The book consists of a preface and 5 chapters.

The preface introduces the 6 principles of exemplary teaching on which the series is based and describes the intended audience for the series. The 6 principles provide a solid foundation for any ESP programme, and, though they need a some localised refinement for the wide diversity of ESP contexts, they are an excellent source of
reflection on current teaching practice.

The 6 principles provide a basis for decision making, planning and teaching. They are:

  1. Know your learners,
  2. Create conditions for language learning,
  3. Design high-quality lessons for language development,
  4. Adapt lesson delivery as needed,
  5. Monitor and assess student language development,
  6. Engage and collaborate within a community of practice.

The first volume in the series addresses teaching for English learners in K-12 schools in the United States of America. This – the second – volume applies the same principles to teaching English in adult education and workforce development programs.

The third volume focuses on teaching English for academic and other specific purposes in a range of international contexts.

The intended audience for this book includes:

  • teachers in adult education programs in countries where adults have a reason to learn English as a new language,
  • instructors who work with English learners in workplace education and career preparation,
  • teachers in integrated English language and citizenship education programs,
  • ESOL and literacy tutors who serve adults,
  • volunteers in faith-based and community-based English language programs, and
  • staff and volunteers at agencies that serve adults who need to learn English.

The secondary audience is

  • teacher educators in TESOL and adult education programs,
  • consultants who deliver professional development to teachers of adult English learners worldwide,
  • trainers of ESOL and literacy tutors,
  • creators of English language teaching materials for adults, and
  • administrators of adult and workplace education programs.

The five main chapters are:

Chapter 1: Teaching Adults English Language and Literacy with the 6 Principles.

Chapter 2: What Teachers Should Know about English Language and Literacy Development to Plan Instruction for Adult Learners.

Chapter 3: Teaching with the 6 Principles

Chapter 4: Addressing the Challenges with Adult Language Learners.

Chapter 5: The 6 Principles in Different Program Contexts

Chapter 1 opens by presenting a teacher in an adult English language centre. It then introduces the basic principles behind teaching English language to adults. It then moves on to discuss the diversity of English language learners. The next section looks at the wide range of programmes and programme development available for English language for literacy and workplace development. The chapter ends with an outline of the 6 principles for exemplary teaching.

Chapter 2 discusses the main principles behind second language learning. First, it describes what adults bring to the classroom, drawing on the research on adult learners in general, but also making specific reference to adult learners and how adult learners learn best, and characteristics of the English language needed in workplace contexts.  The chapter finishes by looking at English language proficiency.

Chapter 3 focusses on teaching with the 6 principles. Every principle starts with a classroom setting. Chapter 3 starts with the 1st principle; getting to know your learners. It provides some insight into the different tools and resources that teachers can use in order to find out about the learners. The chapter continues with the 2nd principle of creating conditions for language learning. It includes several examples of activities to make the classroom more supporting with hands-on activities that the teacher can use. The 3rd principle – design high quality lessons for language development – follows with good examples and activities for preparing lessons with clear objectives at appropriate levels, enhancing input with a range of approaches, use of authentic language and materials that is relevant and meaningful, as well as promoting the use of learning strategies and critical thinking. Principle 4 addresses the importance of adopting teaching methods and materials as needed. In order to do this, teachers need to check comprehension frequently and adjust their teaching accordingly. The 5th principle – monitor and assess learner language development – is then addressed, with good examples and activities given for monitoring and feeding back on learner errors,  both formatively and summatively. assess learner language development. And finally the 6th principle – engage and collaborate with the a community of practice – is dealt with. Suggestions include being fully engaged in the profession by reading journals and attending conferences as well as team teaching.

Chapter 4 addresses the challenges of teaching adult learners. It gives useful advice on dealing with non-participation, and dealing with cultural adaptation.

Finally, chapter 5 revisits the 6 principles and analyses them in different contexts, settings, programs and classroom. It starts with a teacher in a workplace environment, teaching mostly Spanish language speakers, and continues with a Canadian employment preparation programme, an Australia government-funded employment preparation programme, a US affordable housing organisation and an adult basic education programme in a community college.

The appendix includes a glossary, a list of resources  and useful references.

Overall, it is a useful little book for people starting with workplace ESP. It particularly stresses the importance of knowing the learners, their situations and their needs. It could also provide guidance and inspiration for more experienced ESP teachers.


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