Addressing Linguistic Isolation through Community Based ESL and Emergency Preparedness

Lisa Guay, University of San Francisco


Linguistic isolation acts as a barrier to the well-being and social integration of Limited English Proficient (LEP) adults. Community-based English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, designed with learner-centric curricula, may help LEPs gain access to social and navigational capital in the form of English proficiency, confidence and social integration. Community-based ESL programs provide adult English Language Learners (ELLs) with a path to English proficiency and social integration, but curricula should be geared toward ELLs’ needs. There is a need for ESL curricula focused on emergency and disaster preparedness, curricula which may contribute positively to adult ELLs’ speaking skills and pragmatic competence when navigating crisis situations. The purpose of this field project is to develop emergency preparedness ESL lessons for adult learners who attend community-based ESL classes.

Document analysis of current textbooks was conducted in order to determine where there were gaps in instruction for adult learners attending ESL classes. This field project is informed by the theoretical frameworks of Malcolm Knowles’s theory of andragogy and Tara Yosso’s theory of community cultural wealth as these apply to adult English language learners.

The form of the project is a student workbook, the themes of which are emergency and disaster preparedness. The workbook contains exercises in speaking, reading, listening and writing. This workbook is a potential resource for teachers who want to supplement ESL lessons with emergency preparedness exercises.