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Getting ready grammatically for this fall’s adult literacy classes

Cover of Azar's Fundamentals of English Grammar, 4th Ed.
Betty S. Azar

Throughout New York City, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and adult basic education (ABE) programs and teachers that had the summer off are preparing for fall classes. For teachers, the ever-present challenge is to teach familiar curricula with novelty and zest.

The curricula reflect the goals of the adult literacy programs, and those goals reflect the needs of the adult learners. Although the personal goals and skill levels of adult learners vary, fundamentally there is a shared aim: to improve English-language proficiency (speaking, comprehension, and writing skills). With improved language skills, adult learners gain more success in the workforce, are better at helping family members, and become more active in their community.

Improving English-language proficiency points to grammar. Therefore, grammar will be at the core of any curriculum whether the focus is oral (ESOL) or written (ABE). This is not surprising because grammar comprises language rules and sentence structure. Teachers will prepare lessons that integrate grammar and numeracy, math, or technology in creative, engaging ways that help to motivate adults to learn.

In addition to using program-required grammar textbooks (e.g., Betty S. Azar’s Fundamentals of English Grammar, Fourth Edition), teachers may use realia in the classroom as teaching material to crystallize concepts. However, regardless of the medium, print or digital (e.g., SmartBoard™, computers, or cell phones), the significance is the content of the lessons and, like it or not, grammar is integral to ESOL and ABE adult literacy classrooms.