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  • Research Report

    English for Speakers of Other Languages(ESOL) - case studies of provision, learners needs and resources

    Celia Roberts, Mike Baynham, Paul Shrubshall, David Barton,Priti Chopra, Melanie Cooke, Rachel Hodge, Kathy Pitt, Philida Schellekens, Catherine Wallace and Shelly Whitfield

    Kings College London, University of Leeds, Institute ofEducation, University of London and Lancaster UniversityAugust 2004

  • Published by the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy

    This report may be downloaded as a PDF document from the NRDC website at www.nrdc.org.uk

    We welcome feedback on the content and accessibility of this publication. This should be sent to:PublicationsNRDCInstitute of Education20 Bedford WayLondon WC1H 0AL.

    Telephone: +44 (0)20 7612 6476Fax: +44 (0)20 7612 6671email: publications@nrdc.org.uk

    ISBN 0 9546492 73

    Crown Copyright 2004

    Extracts from this publication may be used or reproduced for non-commercial, research, teaching or training purposes oncondition that the source is acknowledged.

    NRDC is a consortium of partners led by the Institute of Education,University of London (see back cover for a list of members) and isbased in the Bedford Group for Lifecourse and Statistical Studiesat the IoE. www.ioe.ac.uk/bedfordgroup

    Design: Chapman Design LimitedPhotography: Phillip MeechPrint: Bradell

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages(ESOL) - case studies of provision,learners needs and resources

    Celia Roberts, Mike Baynham, Paul Shrubshall, David Barton,Priti Chopra, Melanie Cooke, Rachel Hodge, Kathy Pitt, Philida Schellekens, Catherine Wallace and Shelly Whitfield

    Kings College London, University of Leeds, Institute of Education,

    University of London and Lancaster University

    CONTENTS

    PREFACE 5

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 6

    SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS ARISING FROM THE CASE STUDIES 7

    Other research on ESOL 7

    INTRODUCTION 9

    Aim and research questions 9

    SUMMARIES OF THE CASE STUDIES 10

    Case study one - Asylum 10Case study two - Heterogeneity 10Case study three - Numeracy and ESOL 11Case study four - Reading 12Case study five - Advanced learners 12

    OVERARCHING THEMES 13

    Learners and learning 13The ESOL classroom 14Language and the ESOL curriculum 14The teachers 15Conclusion 16

    METHODOLOGY 17

    REFERENCES 19

    CASE STUDY ONE - ASYLUM ISSUES 20

    Introduction 20Snapshots of EI class 21What is everyday life like for a new student seeking asylum? 23Analysis 25Lessons and implications 39Recommendations 42Postscript 43References 44Appendices 45

  • CASE STUDY TWO - HETEROGENEITY 51

    Introduction 51Green Dale Class 52TRAG 59Issues and Implications 67Methodological reflections 69References 70Appendices 70

    CASE STUDY THREE - NUMERACY AND ESOL 72

    Introduction 72Context 73Main analytical focus 76Issues and themes 90Reflexive account of methods 91Lessons for other NRDC Research 92References 93

    CASE STUDY FOUR - READING 94

    Introduction: the research question 94Class A 95Class B 95Research Methodology 96Reading 96Framing 97Texts, topics and tasks 98Topics: Dont talk about the war 98Tasks: Correct or negotiated meaning 99Lesson procedures 100Activating scemata/pre-reading 100While-reading tasks 104Bringing the outside in 109Use of context and other resources 111Conclusions and recommendations 112Bibliography 113

    CASE STUDY FIVE - ADVANCED LEARNERS 114

    Introduction 114The students reflections on their language and job skills 117Addressing the learners needs in the classroom 118Bringing outside language into the classroom 122Making use of communication encountered outside the classroom 123Conclusions and recommendations 127

    We would like especially to thank all the students and staff in colleges and thecentres who gave their time and thought and contributed to the research.

    This report is funded by the Department for Education and Skills as part of Skills forLife: the national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy skills. The viewsexpressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of thedepartment.

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) - case studies of provision, learners needs and resources 5

    Preface

    The ESOL classroom is a complex and varied environment. "English for Speakers of OtherLanguages (ESOL) - case studies of provision, learners needs and resources" is both acelebration and an examination of that diversity.

    The five case studies in this report show some of the formal contexts in which ESOL learningtakes place. They look at community-based and FE classrooms with learners ranging fromEntry 1 to Level 2.

    Despite the heterogeneous nature of ESOL learners and the ESOL classroom, commonthemes emerge. In all the case studies it is clear how successfully the ESOL teachers createsafe and productive environments for their learners. However, it is also clear that many needto develop the skills and knowledge to provide the wider support that many of their learnersrequire. There is an urgent need for a more strategic approach to cross-agency support forESOL learners. Another recurring message is the intuitive notion that in an ESOL class, groupwork is the dominant mode and that all talk is of value; to quote from the report "talk is workin the ESOL classroom". The tensions between this and the increasing individualisation ofESOL teaching through Individual Learning Plans are also addressed.

    "English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) - case studies of provision, learners needsand resources" also highlights some of the distinctive features of ESOL learners, both in whatthey bring to the classroom and the implications of this for teaching. ESOL teaching is morethan language tuition and the case studies highlight this in a number of different ways. Theygive an insight into the differing barriers ESOL learners face and the motivation and supportthey need to overcome them.

    These case studies will be of interest to all those involved in the delivery of ESOL or thesupport of those for whom English is not a first language. They present a recognisablycomplex picture of the classroom and the factors that bear on the success of those within it.

    The NRDC is committed to further research on ESOL and on issues relevant to ESOL learners,including refugees and asylum seekers, citizenship, and the relationship between ESOLlearning and literacy and numeracy learning. We have embarked on a three year study:Effective Practice in Teaching and Learning ESOL which will deepen our understanding of theissues raised in the case studies which illuminate this report.

    Ursula HowardDirector, NRDCInstitute of Education, University of London

  • Research Report6

    Acknowledgements

    We should like to thank all the students and staff who contributed so enthusiastically to thecase studies and from whom we learnt so much. In particular we want to thank:

    Andrew Barrass of Acton and West London College and Anne Candan of WestminsterKingsway College and the students from both colleges; Wendy, Patrick McKinley, JaneHassall and Leslie Prosser of Blackburn College and all the students from the college; MahaRahwangi of Brent Adult and Community Education Service and the learners and the schoolat Greendale; Louise Taylor, Mr Caro, Mr Nava and Ms Sugi and all the students at TRAG;Elizabeth Goldman, Maggie Stockton, Dawn Henchey and Cheryl Dunn from CETS and thestudents on the CETS course; Heather Campbell, John Callaghan, Carol, Rachel Gooch, MaryWeir and Pat Whittle of Park Lane College, Leeds and all the learners in the ESOL, numeracyand Return to Learn classes.

    We would also like to thank the following who read earlier drafts of the case studies and gaveus invaluable comments:

    Elsa Auerbach, Sam McCarter, Bonny Norton, Amos Paran, Margaret Robson, Wendy Simms,Mary Simpson, Marina Spiegel, Jill Stephenson and Helen Sunderland.

    Peer ReviewThis text was independently peer-reviewed.

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) - case studies of provision, learners needs and resources 7

    Summary of key points arising from the case studiesAlthough several of the insights into classrooms and learners lives will be familiar to highlyexperienced ESOL practitioners, the aim has been to shed light on what is routine and taken forgranted by looking at it in new ways. The tacit knowledge and daily expertise of ESOL teachersare under-researched and under-celebrated. This has meant that wheels are reinvented andgood practice goes unacknowledged. These case studies will help to refocus on the detail ofclassroom life and to value the teachers and learners who help to produce a creative learningenvironment. The case studies project suggests that:

    An emphasis on individualised teaching and learning may not support the needs of adult ESOLlearners. Talk is work in the ESOL classroom and the most significant mode of learning forESOL learners is through group interaction and opportunities to practise speaking and listening.

    Effective teachers of ESOL employ a series of measures to support the needs of ESOL learnersin the classroom. Mainstream teachers need to learn from these approaches to better supportthe needs of ESOL students in their classrooms.

    There is a need for more pro-active cross-agency support for refugees and asylum seekers.ESOL teachers in most classes were juggling a number of roles and lack institutional supportand specialist knowledge to do so.

    The use of everyday, culturally-specific situations to contextualise maths problems may act as abarrier to attainment by ESOL learners in numeracy classes.

    Learners use their other languages in concrete and strategic ways to