According to the Adult Student Waiting List Survey conducted in 2010 by the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, seventy-two percent of programs had waiting lists across all 50 states. This equals about 160,000 potential learners who were not able to receive access to educational services.
World Education, in partnership with Peer2Peer University (P2PU), has taken up the challenge to pilot a program model to serve English Language Learners (ELLs) who are on waiting lists. English Now!, a project of EdTech Center at World Education, is supported by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to pilot a framework that utilizes blended learning in a facilitated learning circle format.
English Now! is working with five adult education programs: YMCA International Learning Center – Boston, The Immigrant Learning Center, and Notre Dame Education Center in Massachusetts, RIFLI in Rhode Island, and Portland Adult Education in Maine as they try out the learning circle model with their ELLs.
Learning Circles are a lightly facilitated peer-learning model for adults working through online course materials face-to-face, with a facilitator trained in blended learning approaches. Programs have been using various online learning tools such as USA Learns, Burlington English as well as DuoLingo, and Newsla. With guidance and training, the facilitators have been employing an adapted version of the P2PU lesson plan framework to structure the learning circle meetings. The pilot project is currently underway, and we are already seeing some promising results from the first round that ended earlier this year. In addition to the English language learning circles, some programs are now using the same model to engage students on waiting lists for citizenship classes.
The learners have reported that they like the peer learning, participatory approach of the learning circles. They appreciate the support they get from each other. One of the beginner-level ELLs noted that she felt better prepared to be in a formal class as a result of her participation in the learning circle. Another student shared that being part of a learning circle has given her confidence to talk to her daughter’s teacher for the first time without an interpreter. She was glowing with pride!
Stay tuned as we continue to finesse this learning circle model to accelerate adult students’ learning while they wait for a slot in a class and help them be more effective learners. For information about the English Now! Project, contact the project director, Priyanka Sharma.
Reference: McLendon, L., Jones, D. and M. Rosin. (2011). The Return on Investment from Adult Education and Training. McGraw Hill Research Foundation.