- Program Considerations
- Classroom Strategies
- Levels of ESL Literacy
Identifying Learners with Barriers
When learners are in a safe, supportive, welcoming and open environment, they will often volunteer information about their lives, including problems they are facing. Some learners feel comfortable asking for help. Other learners may not be able to discuss what is bothering them. Not all barriers to learning are obvious.
In an ESL literacy program it is not enough to sit back and wait for learners to say when there’s a problem. All those who work in the program must be proactive.
Look for external signs
- Regularly exhausted or fatigued
- Often late for class
- Poor attendance
- Inappropriate behaviour in class
- Homework never done
- Struggling to see and hear in class
- Frequent sickness
- Signs of stress or high anxiety
Be careful. Do not assume that these signs are proof of barriers. Investigate respectfully and intervene when appropriate.
Listen to learners
They may volunteer information, including problems they are facing. They may ask for help if they feel comfortable, if they have higher oral skills, and if they are able to identify problems.
Be careful. Not all learners will offer this information. They may:
- Be proud or embarrassed.
- Not know if it is appropriate to ask for help.
- Not be able to express the problem.
- Not be able to identify the problem.
Talk about barriers with all learners in the classroom
Regularly show and tell learners that it is safe and appropriate to ask for help. Normalize the idea of barriers to learning by discussing them during class. If possible, incorporate barriers to learning and ways to reach out for help as class content. Refer learners to supports that are available and appropriate.