Beginning literacy

ESL teacher helping two learners categorize a set of pictures

We like to say that if there is something to support ABE instruction that hasn’t been created yet, MN ABE will make it happen! Continuing the amazing history of homegrown Minnesota resources, the Minnesota Literacy Council and ATLAS have responded to requests for ABE CCRS videos with a project that will benefit all ABE teachers, no matter what level of ELA you may teach.

Image of a abstract tree with letters on the leaves

In the classroom, how often do you hear the question “Teacher, how do I spell that?”

While it’s easy for teachers and tutors to quickly spell a word for learners, we want to make sure that learners are gaining the skills that they need to begin to sound words out themselves. For learners who are working on spelling, word families and rhyme is a way to help learners make educated guesses about how new words are spelled, based on other words that sound similar.

children's classroom poster of words that start with B

Learners connect familiar words from their own vocabulary with specific sounds to help them with strengthening their spelling associations.

Materials Needed: whiteboard, marker

  1. Choose a vocabulary word from the week’s unit.
  2. Write the word on the whiteboard, then go through the word letter by letter.
  3. For each letter, ask the learner/s to tell you what sound the letter makes.
  4. Have the learner/s verbally generate a list of words that start with the same sound.

Example: During the unit on community:

ESL teacher watching adult learner review vocabulary

Encouraging very beginning level learners to speak English and participate in classes can be a challenge, but setting speaking routines and planning activities that allow for lots of interaction can give even the lowest level learners opportunities to build their speaking skills. The new video Adult ESL Literacy Level Instruction: Building Speaking Skills features a pre-beginning level adult ESL class moving through a high-energy level speaking lesson.

hand holding a marker up to a whiteboard

Purpose:  A structured and supported way for beginning writers to develop their spelling skills while practicing vocabulary and writing full sentences.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes

Materials Needed:  handouts with a photo printed on the top part of the paper and lines for writing on the bottom half (see attached example below)

Procedure:

finger tracing the capital letter A

Wondering how to get started with phonics instruction? The Orton-Gillingham Approach to phonics instruction is a multisensory method that incorporates listening, speaking, images, writing and movement into basic phonics instruction. This approach was originally developed to support dyslexic students improve their reading ability, but it has also proved to be successful with adult ESL learners who are learning to read and write for the first time as adults.

woman's hand with henna typing on a laptop

The College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) were created by the U.S. Department of Education to align adult basic education and ESL instruction across the states. They also provide learners attending ABE and ESL classes with the academic and critical thinking skills to be able to be successful in careers or higher education once they leave those programs.

New resource for teachers and tutors! Now you can watch a video of this activity and print a PDF of the instructions at http://mnliteracy.org/classroomvideos

Purpose: To review and reinforce new vocabulary

Preparation Time:  5-10 minutes

Materials:  index cards, 8 for each pair of students in class

Hands holding up letters to spell the word tips in capital letters

Purpose:  To help beginning level learners develop phonemic awareness and increase spelling skills with a fun and interactive activity designed to get them out of their seats!

Preparation Time:  10 minutes to create a word list and letter cards

Materials Needed:  A word list with 6-10 words and letter cards (each card will have one of each letters from the word list).

Procedure:

four multi-colored stick figures with arms upraised

Purpose: Many students with limited literacy skills or learning challenges benefit from kinesthetic activities. Hands-on activities are minds-on activities.

Ideas:

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