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CAELA Currents October 2007


About CAELA Currents

This quarterly newsletter is published by the Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) at the Center for Applied Linguistics and is offered free of charge. CAELA was created to help states build their capacity to promote English language learning and academic achievement of adults learning English. (See About CAELA)

If you have questions about topics presented or information that you would like us to consider including in the newsletter, please contact the editor at

To subscribe to CAELA Currents, send a message to In the subject line write “Subscribe CAELA Currents.”

CAELA Currents is prepared with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, under contract no. ED-04-C0-0031/0001. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education.


October 2007 Articles

New and Upcoming from CAELA

Report on Adult ESL Instruction

Upcoming Literacy Summit

CAELA Database of Research-based Resources

New from CAELA – Professional Development

Professional Development for Adult ESL Practitioners: Building Capacity

This brief describes the need for professional development for teachers of adults learning English; reviews the literature on professional development; and describes a process for planning, implementing, evaluating, and systematizing professional development for teachers of adult English language learners. The brief concludes with recommendations to ensure that quality professional development is in place in programs across the United States. Read the brief at

New from CAELA – Workforce Preparation

Two new CAELA publications focus on workforce preparation for adult English language learners.

1) Workplace Instruction and Workforce Preparation for Adult Immigrants (September, 2007). This CAELA brief reviews three venues in which federally funded instruction is offered to help immigrants become successful at work -- at the workplace, in vocational classes, and in adult English as a second language (ESL) classes. The strengths and challenges of each venue are described, recommendations to improve the preparation are proposed, and an extensive bibliography is provided. Read the brief at

2) FAQ: What are factors to consider when planning for, setting up, and evaluating a workplace program for immigrant workers?

As immigrants join the workforce, especially in areas experiencing new and rapid growth of immigrant populations (e.g., Georgia, Nebraska, and South Carolina), teachers, program administrators, and employers are asking for help. Information about workplace programs for immigrant workers can be found in CAELA’s newest frequently asked question (FAQ #20). The FAQ discusses the question briefly and links to resources and references to help set up, teach, and evaluate a workplace program for adult English language learners. Read the FAQ at


Upcoming from CAELA – Professional Development, Teacher Credentialing, and Training Materials

 Look for these publications on our Web site in October and November 2007 at

Professional Development for Teachers of Adult English Language Learners: An Annotated Bibliography

This annotated bibliography, which accompanies and supplements the brief mentioned above, includes studies and resources on professional development in K-12 and adult education as well as trends in the provision of professional development in adult education. These resources provide practitioners with information needed to design, plan, implement, and evaluate high quality professional development for those working with adult English language learners.

Certification and Credentialing for Adult ESL Instructors

This brief describes the certification and credentialing that states have in place for teachers of adult English language learners. It reviews gaps in the field and suggests ways to further professionalize the field of adult ESL instruction.

The CAELA Guide for Adult ESL Trainers

This comprehensive guide gives professional developers guidelines and specific strategies for conducting workshops and study circles on a number of topics of importance in adult ESL instruction. Topics covered include conducting needs assessments, planning lessons for multilevel classes, instructional strategies for working with literacy-level learners, and teaching reading and writing.

Migration Policy Institute Report Published on Adult ESL Instruction

Tuesday, July 31, 2007, the Migration Policy Institute ( MPI) released their report, Adult English Language Instruction in the United States: Determining Need and Investing Wisely. The authors of the report argue that funding is needed over the next six years to provide all adult immigrants with the English language instruction necessary for them to participate in and contribute fully to the economic well-being of the United States. The report describes why this effort is needed, offers suggestions for ways to fund it, and estimates the return on investment of this effort. 

The report is available online at

It is also available on CAELA’s Web site at

On August 1, 2007, the  Washington  Post wrote about the report and its release. For as long as it is still available, the article can be read online at

The article ends with a quote from Brigitte Marshall, Director, Oakland Adult and Career Education, and a member of CAELA’s Technical Work Group (TWG). Ms. Marshall; Israel Mendoza, Adult Basic Education Director of Washington; and Heide Wrigley, adult ESL specialist were commentators on the report. 
Ms. Marshall said that in considering the education of immigrants, this country needs to "move from benevolence to business.... It makes good economic sense."

Upcoming Literacy Summit

On October 15 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, the National Literacy Summit.3 will convene global leaders to discuss and demonstrate how technology drives definitions of literacy and the skills required in a competitive global economy.

Sharon Darling, president and founder of the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), will join other leading educational experts’ examination of the global context that drives the urgency to improve literacy and educational achievement in America.

The summit, Competitive Literacies for Global Economies: Building Learning Communities, is organized and funded by the Verizon Foundation in collaboration with NCFL and other national and international literacy organizations. It will be accessible to a global audience via a live Web cast.

Dr. Fareed Zakaria, Editor, Newsweek International, will be the featured speaker for the summit. Dr. Zakaria will frame the discussion on literacy in the context of America's role in the global economy.

Learn more about the National Literacy Summit.3, including how to register for the Web cast, at

CAELA Database of Research-based Resources

The CAELA resource database has been developed over three years, and CAELA staff are eager to see it used by practitioners and researchers. The search engine makes searching easy – whether for lesson plan ideas or research into an adult education population.

For teachers: Typing the word “lesson” into the search engine yields several sources for developing lessons for adults learning English, including OTAN for teachers: English as a second language lesson plans and Adult ELL guide for all beginners. Type “Spanish,” and references come up such as “Inglés es loco:” Teaching English to Latinos who don't speak English and who have varying levels of literacy in Spanish and So, what’s behind adult English second language reading?

For graduate students: Graduate students in search of ideas and sources for a paper or a literature review will find dissertations, practicum papers, and theses. The term “dissertation” yields 15 entries; the term “thesis” yields 7 entries.

Access the database at