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Promising Practices: Curriculum/Instruction

Agencies use curriculum and instruction in innovative and creative ways. Instructors use materials and resources to their fullest potential, leading to improved student performance and goal achievement.

ESL Literacy Volunteer Project

Promising Practice: Mt. San Jacinto College’s ESL Literacy Volunteer Project has helped to improve the ESL classroom experience and helped students to successfully ease into their classes. This project, which started at the beginning of the 2008-09 program year, places volunteers (90% of whom are current or former students) in ESL classrooms to provide additional help. These volunteers provide assistance to the instructors and instructional aides, paying special attention to students that enter the program late or have reservations about the classroom setting. Volunteers provide a variety of services, such as helping new students become oriented with the classroom procedures, teaching students about the assessment system so that they feel more comfortable, working one-on-one with students who are having trouble in the class, and setting up classroom materials and equipment. There are currently 25 volunteers helping in ESL classrooms.

Agency awarded: Mt. San Jacinto Community College District, 2009

Summary Description of Project:

Because all of the adult ESL programs take place off-site in locations throughout the community, the first goal of this program was to increase access to classroom assistance for instructors who frequently deal with new and incoming students. The constant flow of new students in the classroom was particularly challenging in lower level and multi-level classes. Yet due to limited financial resources, the agency was not able to hire more paid instructional aides. Using volunteers was a way to overcome this financial challenge. Another goal of the project was to address high dropout rates among ESL students. The agency has found that having volunteers to welcome students and explain the classroom and assessment procedures makes them feel more comfortable and less likely to drop out. The presence of volunteers has freed up more time for instructors and instructional aides to teach students, and has even benefitted the volunteers. Because most of these volunteers are former or current high-level students, they are able to participate in the learning process in a new capacity and with more responsibilities. By helping their peers, they stay engaged with the classroom experience, and are giving back to the community at the same time.

Evaluation Process/Results:

Mt. San Jacinto has seen the benefits of this valuable program through high student performance levels and persistence rates. Not only did the agency surpass state performance goals in all ESL levels in 2007-08, but also saw that lower level classes with volunteers showed improvements in student persistence over the course of 2008-09. The agency also increases in paired test scores for all ESL levels, and significant increases at the lowest ESL levels. Instructors have been very happy with the ESL volunteers in their classrooms. They reported that the presence of the volunteers not only frees them up to teach and carry out lessons, but that the students feel more comfortable when the volunteers can help to welcome them into the classroom and explain assignments or assessment procedures. This program has shown that, despite financial limitations, it is possible to create and implement programs that improve instruction and provide more support for adult learners.

For additional information contact:

Rhonda Dixon
Telephone: (951) 487-3710

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