Jenna Altherr Flores Abstracts

Jenna Altherr Flores

Ph.D. Candidate

Second Language Acquisition & Teaching GIDP

 

TESOL International Convention

Chicago, Illinois

 

The session will focus on LESLLA (Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults) teacher and volunteer education. Recent political events in the United States have led to an increase in volunteers interested in working with resettled refugees. In Tucson, Arizona, grassroots organizations have begun working with refugees, in many cases without appropriate training. In response, four local TESOL professionals revised a 2014 training for emergent readers with refugee backgrounds developed by a local non-profit organization, and implemented it in innovative ways to meet the changing needs of new and established organizations. Our professional development sessions, concerned with training volunteer instructors and tutors of ESL adult emergent readers from refugee backgrounds, built upon past contributions for volunteer literacy tutor education (Schneider, 2003; Croydon, 2005; Literacy NOW, 2008), and study circles for pre-service and in-service teachers of ESL adult emergent readers (Vinogradov, 2012). The training aimed to help TESOL teachers and volunteers understand the unique language-learning needs of emergent readers and English learners with refugee backgrounds, practice a variety of techniques to help students develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, increase confidence about instructional priorities and practice, and to become familiar with strategies, materials and resources to use in classroom or tutoring contexts. The revised training was implemented with experienced refugee instructors in a local community college’s Refugee Education Program. Feedback from the experienced instructors was gathered and analyzed, and the training was revised for community volunteers unaffiliated with educational institutions. These iterations of the training were then executed as part of the grassroots community trainings for community volunteers and students engaged in service learning with the refugee community. The session will share relevant theory, best practices for TESOL teacher and volunteer training, comments from participants, and reflections on next steps for volunteer and teacher training and ongoing professional development.

  

 Abstract for Lay Audience

This paper focuses on LESLLA (Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults) teacher and volunteer education in the rapidly changing context of refugee education in Tucson, Arizona. Most refugee-background LESLLA learners have had little-to-no access to formal education in their home countries or country of origin prior to their resettlement in the U.S. They are faced with the task of learning English while also learning how to read and write for the first time. In general, teachers and volunteers working with these adult emergent readers often have not had training specifically tailored to working with learners who are simultaneously becoming literate and learning a new language.

As recent political events led to a swell in the number of volunteers interested in working with resettled refugees, and as grassroots organizations not associated with resettlement agencies or service providers began to offer English as a Second Language and English literacy classes without formal training for their volunteer educators, it became clear that there was a need for training within the Tucson community.  

In response, four local LESLLA professionals revised a 2014 LESLLA training developed by Literacy Connects, a local non-profit organization, and implemented the training in innovative ways to meet the changing needs of both new and established organizations. The project has been underway since October 2016, with implementation of the trainings commencing in March 2017. Tutors, teachers, and volunteers from around the state of Arizona have participated in the trainings.

The trainings aim to help LESLLA teachers and volunteers gain a deeper understanding of the unique language- and literacy-learning needs of LESLLA learners from refugee backgrounds, practice a variety of techniques to help students develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, increase confidence about instructional priorities and practice, and to become familiar with strategies, materials, and resources to use in classroom or tutoring sessions. The trainings also benefit adult emergent readers by providing them with access to trained teachers and quality language instruction.

The paper will discuss what has been learned from the six community and university trainings that have been completed thus far. This data includes recommendations for content, activities, and pacing when organizing and leading trainings for community volunteers and tutors who work with this population. The presentation will also reflect on next steps for volunteer and teacher training ongoing professional development.  

Last updated 5 Jun 2019