IILT Provision to Adult Learners
Although IILT’s learners come from very diverse cultural and educational backgrounds, they share common learning goals – they need language skills and information to live and work in their adopted country.
IILT is involved in all stages of language and integration training provision to holders of Stamp 4 from induction courses for newly arrived programme refugee groups in centres around Ireland designed and delivered by IILT for the Reception and Integration Agency, through English with Literacy classes and English for Living and Working in Ireland courses delivered in IILT centres and in partnership with local agencies around the country to Pre-Vocational and Academic courses, all designed to enable learners to make the transition to the workplace or mainstream training and education as efficiently as possible. The focus throughout is on fostering learner autonomy with each learner defining and refining their career and integration plans and taking responsibility for working towards these goals, regularly recording progress and defining concrete shorter term goals during their progression towards greater familiarity and comfort with the social, cultural, training and work environment in Ireland.
This section briefly explores several important facets of IILT’s provision to adult learners. Click on topics to read more.
Learners are given an initial assessment based on IILT’s benchmarks developed with reference to the Common European Framework for Languages which identify for basic English, pre-vocational English and direct entry to vocational and other training. All eligible applicants who wish to attend English language classes are tested and assessed to determine their current level of proficiency.
The test is divided into two parts and the duration is ninety minutes to two hours depending on the number of participants. The first part of the test identifies applicants’ language abilities under the four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. There are applicants with more fluency in some of the language skills and less or none in other skills. A typical example would be a non-national from a non- Roman script language who may have lived here for some time with no formal language training. This applicant could have excellent oral fluency but huge problems with written production. Other applicants may present themselves with little or no formal education and, depending on their needs for further training and employment, will probably require language training beforehand. The second part of the test is a thorough one-to-one interview.
This interview and the test result in a detailed profile of each learner’s language abilities and their skills, qualifications, wants and needs in relation to training or employment.
Candidates with level B2 or higher are considered suitable for mainstream courses as they have the necessary threshold level of English to cope with the demands of these courses.
Candidates who are assessed at B1 and B2 are ready for prevocational training. They could also be placed in general English language classes to enable them to reach the level required mainstream courses. Candidates who achieve less than B1 will need placement in general English classes to enable them to reach the threshold level needed to progress to pre-vocational courses.
The language and information needs and learning goals expressed by IILT’s clients form the basis for what is covered in class. Learners and their class teacher negotiate content for their courses, with learners reflecting on what they need to do to progress in Ireland and the language skills and other knowledge needed to achieve their goals. Early in their course each class holds sessions where learners think about the situations they encounter in daily life and will encounter as their career plans progress. This reflection provides the topic areas of interest to each learner. Common examples would include Dealing with Officials (form-filling, phoning, the Irish system...), Health (emergency calls, making an appointment, describing symptoms, the Irish health system, healthy living...), and Work (career choice, the jobs market in Ireland, CV and interview preparation...). The topic areas nominated and the order in which they are tackled are discussed and then voted on by the class and the outcome is the course curriculum. This curriculum can evolve throughout the course as participants reflect on their progress and refine their learning goals.
Classes are highly communicative and draw on an extensive bank of resources developed in-house by teachers working with adult refugees over several years. Learners are engaged in real-world tasks and contexts from the beginning. The language skills needed to live in Ireland are developed naturally through a process of learning by doing. For example, in a class based on the theme of Education, learners may find out about the education system in Ireland and tasks could include writing a note to their child’s teacher, role playing a parent teacher meeting, researching available courses or joining a local library.
There is a strong focus on developing learner autonomy and providing learners with the skills needed to continue to improve their language skills independently. Regular reflection and target setting are facilitated by in class use of the Milestone European Language Portfolio, weekly in class reviews with target setting for following weeks, and by an individual self-assessment interview at least once a term.
The Milestone ELP is a document belonging to the learner with sections where learners can examine their own language skills and abilities, with language and communicative goals expressed as a series of ‘I can..’ statements which learners use to plan and record their progress, and where examples of work can be kept for future reference (see box for more information).
The self assessment interview takes place in private between learner and teacher. During the interview, learner and teacher discuss a questionnaire and target setting pack completed in advance by the learner in which progress is reviewed and new short term and medium term learning and integration goals are set. These self assessment packs have been developed for learners at different levels. Learner and teacher discuss how these goals can be achieved and both commit to actions in a defined timeframe which will further the learner’s progress inside and outside the classroom.
A report on each self assessment interview is kept on file by IILT for each learner in addition to end of term progress reports. This information is invaluable for teachers in later classes attended by the learner and for planning of future courses.
English for Living and Working in Ireland is provided at 5 levels from A0 to B1. Pre-vocational courses concentrating on job seeking and preparation for the workplace are offered for learners at B2 or above, while learners at this level wishing to enter 3rd level education or who need to take exams to ratify their existing qualifications can take an Academic Preparation course concentrating on preparation for IELTs or TOEFL exams, interview and application preparation for college entry or qualifications ratification, and language skills necessary for successful integration to higher education and professional life in Ireland.
As the curriculum for each course is decided by the participants, IILT does not have a set ‘course’ at any level. However, over the years, many themes recur at each level. Below is a list of topics frequently proposed by learners and FETAC modules covered on each course.
Course content areas most frequently encountered at curriculum negotiation
English for Living and Working in Ireland 1
Introductions Alphabet and numbers Family Hobbies Food House People Time and Routine Work Daily Routines Shopping The Past Computers
English for Living and Working in Ireland 2
The Beginning Education Daily routines Family Body Clothes Work Money People House Weather Officials Learning to Learn Transport Food Time Telephone Computers
English for Living and Working in Ireland 3
Personal Information Daily Routines Shopping Cultural Awareness Work CV Preparation Money and Banks Media Health Dealing with officials Transport Education Accommodation Learning to Learn Computers Telephone
FETAC Language 3
English for Living and Working in Ireland 4
Personal ID Learning to learn Education Health Shopping Money and Banking Computers Phone Media Travel and transport Dealing with officials Leisure and hobbies Work Accommodation Food Telephone Cultural Awareness FETAC Language 4
FETAC Computer Literacy 3
English for Living and Working in Ireland 5
Education and training Money Health CV and interviews Jobs and Careers Media Dealing with officials Accommodation Computers Learning to Learn Cultural Awareness
FETAC Preparation for Work 3
FETAC Computer Literacy 3
Career Planning Cultural Awareness Learning to Learn Orientation to training Personal Identity Money Preparing for Interviews Telephone Work and Careers Computers
FETAC language 5
Career Planning CAO and applications to colleges Education and training in Ireland Learning to Learn Orientation to study Note taking IELTS preparation TOEFL preparation Preparing for Interviews Computers
FETAC Language 5
Commercially produced ESOL and EFL material tends to be unsuited to the needs of adult migrants in Ireland. Therefore, since IILTs inception, teaching material responding directly to the needs of adult learners has been created in-house, building an extensive bank of material at various levels covering English for Living in Ireland, Pre-Vocational and Academic English, Literacy for ESOL Learners, as well as FETAC assessment and support material for ESOL modules and assessment material for mainstream modules specially tailored to speakers of other languages.
Some of this material has been incorporated into two successful resource books, Anseo - English for Living in Ireland and Féach - Looking at Language and Literacy. Since 2005, newly created material has been uploaded to an online materials database on IILT’s website for use by tutors in centres around Ireland. Much of this material is available free to download to registered members of this website, who currently number over 1000, allowing tutors working in other agencies around Ireland access to material relevant to their learners’ needs. There are currently over 350 downloads available to tutors of adult learners ranging from short activities to complete modules. .
- Material is available at 6 levels mapped to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages A0/A1 (Beginners) to B2, covering a large variety of topics relevant to newcomers.
- FETAC support and assessment material for ESOL Level 3, 4, and 5, Computer Literacy, Preparation for Work Level 3 material suitable for ESOL learners.
- Material is graphics light and produced to be easily photocopied in black and white, for tutors with limited printing/copying resources.
- IILT is currently developing a body of authentic listening material with exercises which will be available in late 2007.
- Material includes ESOL Literacy material with sound files, exercises, and teachers’ notes, and 9 units of induction to Irish life material for programme refugees designed by IILT for the Reception and Integration Agency.
- The materials database is updated with new material weekly.
FETAC accreditation in ESOL, Computer Literacy, Preparation for Work, and Personal Effectiveness is provided by IILT as part of its courses. FETAC assessments are carried out twice a year, and lead to nationally recognised certification of learners’ achievements.
Computers and the Internet are used in IILT courses as they are used in daily life – as a tool to facilitate communication and gather and exchange information. Computer classes are provided as part of IILT’s courses wherever possible. In these classes learners acquire the basic computer skills necessary for life in today. Classes are focussed on using computers and the Internet – learners research career and further education opportunities, find information from public service websites, access interactive learning sites to improve their language skills, in addition to learning to use word processing, email, and common office and educational applications. IILT is an accredited FETAC and ECDL centre and certification is offered in FETAC Computer Literacy and ECDL’s Equalskills programme.[Back to top]