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Adult beginners not familiar with Latin Alphabet

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  • neilpollick
    31 October, 2008 at 11:29
    • Total posts: 1

    I am a English volunteer EFL teacher working at Tibet Charity in McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala) in North India.

    I am looking for a course book to use with the Absolute Beginners here.
    They are all adults and none of them are familiar with the Latin alphabet.

    Our students are Tibetan refugees who were not born in this country. The majority have no formal education even in their own language. Many of them are too old to take advantage of the free education programs available to new arrivals from Tibet. Coming to our school is the only way they have to advance their education and improve their prospects, since we offer our teaching without charge

    I have tried to adapt nursery materials designed for children but they are not really appropriate for 2 basic reasons.

    1. The content is aimed at children and does not engage adults.
    2. The books assume that the learners are acquiring vocabulary aurally outside of the classroom. They assume that the learners are in an English speaking environment and that therefore they will be familiar with the sound of vocabulary and structures before they actually learn how they are written. Consequently grammatical structures (simple verb forms in particular) are not presented in an explanatory, graded and systematic way that would allow new students to understand and absorb them.

    The students are not exposed to English outside of the classroom. The teachers here are native English speaking volunteers who are not able to stay for more than a month on average. We have introduced the New English File (NEF) series of course books from Elementary to Upper Intermediate so that the students are assured of continuous progress in the face of the high turnover of teachers (one teacher takes over exactly where the other teacher left off).

    It is proving very successful, not only do the books ensure continuity but they are so rich in teacher support materials that we can take on less experienced teachers if we are short staffed. Consequently the classes keep going and students are making progress as never before. We need to set up a similarly structured program for the Absolute Beginners. Since we cannot rely on the experience and ability of any single teacher, we must establish a self-sustaining system as we have done with NEF.

    However the NEF series does not cater for absolute beginners, so we need to develop a new syllabus for them. We are thinking of using the Cutting Edge Starters book for the second part of the Absolute Beginners course because it would prepare students appropriately for the NEF Elementary course, but even that book doesn’t teach students the alphabet or how to read.

    I am wondering if there are any books aimed specifically at adult beginners. These would be books for people who are new to the Latin/Roman alphabet, people who are not living in an English speaking culture.

    It occurs to me that there are millions of English students in the world (those using Chinese, Cyrillic, Arabic, Japanese writing systems etc) who fall into this category so there must be resources for our school. However my research on the Internet has produced nothing so far.

    I would appreciate advice on this matter. If you are not able to recommend any particular resources perhaps you would be so kind as to direct me to an agency.

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