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ESL - Essential Conditions

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago



ESL - Introduction

ESL - Challenges

ESL - Essential Conditions


1. Supportive leadership - Essential


I found the following article written by Andy Hargreaves and Dean Fink, called The 7 Principles of Sustainable Leadership (http://www2.bc.edu/~hargrean/docs/seven_principles.pdf).

  • Sustainable leadership creates and preserves sustaining learning.
  • Sustainable leadership secures success over time.
  • Sustainable leadership sustains the leadership of others.
  • Sustainable leadership addresses issues of social justice.
  • Sustainable leadership develops rather than depletes human and material resources.
  • Sustainable leadership develops environmental diversity and capacity.
  • Sustainable leadership undertakes activist engagement with the environment.


"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be"-Rosalyne Carter


Definitely, leadership is an essential condition.  Where to get funding and financial support?  How to distribute limited resources?  How to organize staff arrangement?  Especially for non-profit organization.  Those are the key issues needed to be done before they run any programs. 

2. A learning, risk-taking culture among staff - Essential


One of the characteristics of ESL program in non-profit organization is multi-cultural environment.  Staff come from different countries and students come from different countries as well.  For second language teaching, a lot of schools employ teachers whose native language is not English, because, to some extent, they know more about how to teach second language, they know what second language learners need and what aspects are their shortcomings. 


Al- Hathi (2005) found that the Arab students prefer the distance learning way, because “it provided a reduced risk of social embarrassment” (Al-Hathi, 2005).   Actually, in traditional ESL programs, teachers also may face with this cultural conflict.  Teachers and students come from totally different cultural backgrounds and have dramatically different values which is a potential risk-taking element.


On the other hand, ESL program in non-profit organization is a very positive learning culture.  Teachers learn customs and cultures from students and other teachers.  Meanwhile, teachers learn how to improve their teaching from each other as well. 


3. A colleague, from within or without the school, to walk the road with the teacher (a mentor or critical peer) - Not Essential


Colleagues and teachers for ESL programs do need a sharing environment, but this is different with a mentor or a critical peer, I think. "This is the source of the modern use of the word mentor: a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. (Wikepedia)"  Almost everybody has more experience in at least one aspect than other people, which is a very cozy and easy situation in almost all the learning environments.

4. Ubiquitous access to reliable technology - Essential


With the development of high technology, we can not ignore accessibility of technology in non-profit organizations.  In ESL programs, we can say CD player, DVD player, TV, computer, projector, internet etc. play a key role in supporting language teaching and learning.  Students do admit these multi-media tools attract them a lot.  For example, movies or online resources give them more choices to enjoy English learning.  Except that, E-mail, blackboard and other online communication tools are also vital in ESL programs, which help students solve the problems or get answers of questions when they need help from instructors or peers. 


5. Time for professional dialogue and connections - Essential


Time to learn and share is essential in ESL programs.  Closing the door to teach is not a good idea in any teaching environment.  In my personal experience, I do communicate with other instructors often, as I am not in this area for a long time.  I used to teach K-12 students, therefore, it is a challenge for me to teach adults (95% of target students of ESL and LINC programs are adults).  I do need their suggestions and rich experience to guide me and help me. 


Also, teachers there have staff meeting every week to discuss the issues they have and exchange ideas of teaching different levels of students.  The other character of ESL program is how to test students.  Every month, the place I am working in gives students a test to exam what they have learned and decide which class they are going to switch for next benchmark.  During this time, teachers need to get together to discuss why some of the students improve a lot, but some of them don't.  That's the problem of teaching or the problem of learning.

6. Community and family support - Not Essential


If ESL/LINC program in non-profit organizations can get support from community, that would be an ideal situation.  As a matter of fact, it is very hard to get help from community or family.  First of all, it is non-profit organization, which is not that easy to attract people's attention and can not bring benefits to community or individual.  Secondly, ESL program is a language training program.  The target audience is very specific, who are new immigrants or second language learners.  Those are still a small percentage of the whole population, which means this is not a huge market. 


The organization I am working with only can run the program when they get funding from government, otherwise, they cannot.  That's the only channel to get financial support.

7. Secured sustainable sources of funding - Essential


Without funding, there is impossible to run ESL program in non-profit organizations.  The other aspect is some of the students with low earnings can apply for funding from government as well, because they are not able to get a job with the limitation of their language skills.  Without this support, they can not sit in the classroom to improve their English, which means they have to find a job to support themselves and no time to learn English to find an appropriate job.  That is a vicious cycle. 

8. On-site capacity and leadership - Not Essential


I do not think this is essential in non-profit organizations, as this is not an effective and efficient way.  The core financial distribution is used to set up main technology equipments, like computer lab and others to facilitate languages learning.  Also non-profit organizations can not afford to hair technicians to maintain and support those equipments.

9. Interest in innovation spreads as new people understand technology's benefits - Team Centered - Essential


  • Technology is a part of ESL/LINC program in Canada.  Instructors teach how to search the information you need from internet and also how to type and use functional software, which are all basic skills to find a job here.
  • Plenty of online resources on ESL learning is available from internet, which is very helpful and useful not only to ESL learners but also for ESL teachers.
    For instance: Interesting things for ESL students http://www.manythings.org/
                            English for all http://www.myefa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=welcome
  • Innovation of technology is another way to share instructors' ideas.


10. Technology proves itself as superior to the previous ways of doing things - Essential


Without technology, ESL programs can not achieve current goals.  We have distributed online learners who are from different countries, and they even can get diploma or certificate via online learning.   

Summary of Conditions 


The 10 conditions for technology adoption

and sustainability in ESL programs

Essential Not Essential
Strategic Leadership

Learning Risk-taking culture


Reliable Technology

Time for review/sharing

Community support  

Funder support

On-site capacity  

Diffusion of interest

Technology proves itself as superior (Resistance is futile)


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