Excelsior Online Workshop to Combat America’s Lack of ESL Writing Programs
By Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior Life News Staff
The foreign-born population in the United States currently stands at 37 million, accounting for nearly 12 percent of the American population with the vast majority of new immigrants arriving from countries in which English is not the native language.
This growth in the number of English Language Learners (ELL) has led to increased demand for language programs that has not been adequately met by government or private sector solutions. In the eyes of many, this struggle is part of an ongoing national crisis, especially among institutions of higher education.
Excelsior College understands the need for better language/writing training - non-native English speakers make up approximately 7.2% of its currently enrolled students.
That’s why Excelsior was elated today to announce the launch of its English as a Secondary Language Writer’s Online Workshop (ESL-WOW) – the culmination of a three-year project funded with $581,600 from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).
“Attempts are being made to address the national shortage of ESL services, however, the vast majority of these strategies are classroom-based and they often present access challenges to working adults,” said Claire Siskin, project director. “ESL-WOW will tackle the iron triangle of accessibility, scalability and affordability while offering 24/7 support to English Language Learners in both online and campus-based programs.”
Today’s announcement came as part of an event held on campus featuring online demonstrations and a keynote address by Professor Howard Pomann, director of the Institute for Intensive English at Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey. Pomann’s presentation, “Teaching English Language Learners How to Learn” focused on the increasing challenges faced by instructors and their students in using computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in ways that are effective for achieving language objectives.
ESL-WOW is intended to guide English learners along each stage of the pre-writing, while-writing, and post-writing process through interconnected and interactive modules.
The workshop was built in accordance with promising new strategies in adult second- language writing which include assessing learners’ needs and goals, acknowledging their prior writing experiences, incorporating content relevant to their roles as parents, workers and life-long learners and evaluating their performance on an ongoing basis.
“Our online workshop will be made available to all community colleges and workforce investment boards throughout the country,” said Dr. David Seelow, director of writing programs at Excelsior College. “We designed ESL-WOW with prevailing best practices in second language writing in mind.