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Debunking the Myth of “Computer Literacy” in Adult Education Programs: Teaching Computer Skills to Adults vs. to Adult Literacy Learners

Teaching computer skills to adults in ESL/EAL classes is a challenging task in the best of circumstances.  Comments like teaching computer skills to ESL learners is an impossible task or “literacy learners” and “computer skills” don’t belong in the same sentence are the common reaction among ESL teachers, every time computer lessons are brought up. When it comes to teaching “computers” to non-literate learners, that challenge doubles or triples in scope.

After years of teaching adults in language training programs and developing curriculum guidelines for a number of literacy programs in Canada, Maria will demonstrate how easy it is to teach computer skills to adult literacy learners, no matter what the topic.  Through examples and demos, Maria will provide the participants with tools to take to their classroom, and to their learners, that will make learning “computers” fun.

Debunking the Myth of “Lack of Transferable Skills”: Teaching Adult Literacy Learners

Adult learners with no formal education or with interrupted education fall under the non-literate or literacy learners category.  The assumptions about why these learners fall behind in most language learning programs are usually based on studies done decades ago, where they were characterized as not having transferable skills due to interrupted learning or no education, and therefore they normally take more time to learn any type of skill. 

While the latter part is true, there are other reasons why literacy learners take more time to progress or to keep up with their literate colleagues. Through hands-on activities and the most recent research in the field, the participants will leave this workshop with a better understanding of the literacy learners’ needs and what the teachers’ expectations should be.

Assessment And Feedback – Empowering Our Learners (Or How To “Produce” Successful Learners)

When the time for assessment comes, we battle with a number of “big questions”: who are we writing the assessments for: the learner or their next teacher?  Also, what do we want to share with the recipients of these assessments: progress, lack thereof or both?  Do we want to empower them to continue to work hard or do we put them down so they give up?  To a certain extent, teachers acknowledge that the difference between constructive/positive feedback and berating the work of a student is the difference between success and failure.  Not only can we prove to our learners which skills they suck at, but we can also trick them and fail them by providing them with complicated and wordy questions so they cannot complete a simple task.  But, does this constitute best teaching practices?

In this 90 minute session, Maria invites you to participate in an open and honest discussion about why too many teachers employ such tactics that are not only detrimental to our learners, but ultimately to all of us in the teaching profession.  She will share different ways to give feedback for lack of progress by using encouragement and positive reinforcement and will demonstrate how easy it is to change the “negative” into “positive” while being true to the scope of our job.

Self-motivation – key factor in successful (adult) education

Self-motivation along with knowing your strengths and weaknesses are key factors in our development, from the first years of life to adulthood and beyond.  Changing the workplace, getting married or immigrating to another country shakes our self-trust to the point of denying our ability to function or perform successfully in the new environment. 

How many times did we see that happen in our ESL learners?  Every time a new type of task is introduced to the learners, or a new teacher greets them, learners relive the “starting over” process and doubt overwhelms them yet again.

Through examples from her teaching career on two continents, Maria will identify what makes our learners doubt themselves and what we, as teachers, instructors and facilitators can do, to help them trust themselves and welcome the new environment without fear of failure.

Using Cultural Intelligence in the Classroom

Bringing different cultures and learning styles in the classroom to a common denominator.  This is THE question teachers need to answer when teaching a culturally diverse group.  In a globalised and multicultural world, teaching to different learning styles is a remarkable effort, yet a rewarding job when done properly. Using her extensive experience, Maria will provide tips on communication strategies across cultures that will enhance your understanding of today’s Global Village – Planet Earth.