On Pinterest, I saw a wonderful thought: "Every child in your class is someone's whole world!". It is so beautiful and so true... Is this idea of any use in my adult ESL literacy class? Some might think it doesn't apply to me but it does, and I believe, in the most significant way.
A special thing about teaching ESL literacy is that for many of of my students I am their first encounter with formal education, and almost for all of them, their first Canadian teacher. Due to some cultural considerations, many of the students consider the teacher a supreme authority. Therefore, there is a very good chance that the way I treat them this is how they are going to treat their little ones. If I show them a gentle and caring way to teaching they might take it home. If I respect their opinions and listen to them, give them choices and show them that making mistakes is not a bad thing at all, there is a big hope that these things will penetrate their minds and, eventually, homes, too.
I have realized that what I do in class affects many more people than just the number of students on the list.
It’s the end of the year, and I am absolutely delighted to see that my students have developed a strong sense of autonomy and finally have mastered pair and group work. I decided to print out some of the ESL Literacy readers (a fantastic resource by Bow Valley College), staple them into individual books and give them out to students as a part of their morning reading routine. Zah can not read on her own yet, so she works with the partner. Today she grabbed a reader about a hairdresser Inge. The moment she looked at the cover she lit up. I have never seen her as interested in reading as this morning. She did not even want to return the book to me: she asked the permission to take it home and read it with her family. She told me that she used to be a hairdresser and they owned a barber’s shop in their country. She was happy to read and speak about it. English was not a problem anymore...
Give each of your students a chance to shine! Make their learning meaningful. Do not forget that we all, in fact, are someone's whole worlds.
These pictures are inspired from the work of Angela Maiers an advocate of children's rights. I strongly believe that these ideas are universal and so very much apply to my adult ESL literacy