Adult Basic Education which is known by its acronym form ABE in most educational circles is focused on getting adult students a GED and preparing them for higher education while also aiding them in particular aspects of adult life such as, financial planning, family relations, and work placement. The area of adult basic education which will be focused on in this paper is the English language learner aspect of ABE, or ELL aspect of ABE. First we will cover the basic aspects of ABE here in Minnesota.

According to (“Minnesota department of,” 2012), each year over 500 delivery cites serve approximately 75,000 students and are assisted by more than 3,000 trained volunteers. Even though the majority of ABE students are above the age of 18, the minimum age requirement is 16 years of age and must not be enrolled in public k-12 or private school.

The goals of ABE ELL are to attain employment and or better their current employment, achieve high school equivalency (G. E. D or H. S. Diploma), attain skills necessary to enter post secondary education and training, exit public welfare and become self sufficient, learn to speak and write in English, master basic education skills to help their children succeed in school, become a U. S. Citizen and participate in Democratic Society, and of course to gain self-esteem personal confidence and sense of personal and civic responsibility. Many ABE ELL programs such as the Union Gospel Mission work mainly teaching students only English not specifically with the goal of helping students to attain a GED, their goal is simply to teach the students English.

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The basic ABE classroom is offered morning, afternoons, evenings and weekends although many classes prefer to set their times in the evenings as a large percentage of the students are working during the afternoons in minimum wage jobs they wish to upgrade to higher paying ones through ABE ELL. Students typically arrive and interact with each other and the teacher in a very informal way as the students are adults and there is less formality of respect for the teacher, meaning everyone in the room are adults and therefore students are more likely to interact with the teacher n a way that they interact with each other and vice-versa. A typical classroom lesson plan for the day may include topics that adult ABE ELL’s will find useful and relate to such as financial planning, workplace literacy or how to prepare for college. A good example of a classroom lesson plan is “Identify Entry Level Jobs and Workplaces” I found online on a website by Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning.

In this great example the materials needed are: Flashcards or pictures, sample employment application forms, tools – equipment, clothing and magazines and an Oxford Picture Dictionary. The objective for this lesson is for students to be able to recognize job titles and workplaces. The essential vocabulary used: Occupations, workplaces, employment tools and equipment, clothing for workplace (slacks, dress shoes etc… ) . As far as the actual activity goes, students will be presented with occupation flashcard (a picture of a doctor for example).

Next the student will go before the class with his card and use clothing and/or tools to mimic the occupation they received on their flashcard for the other students to guess. Students will then write the occupation on the board. Next students should write sentences about the occupation using the verb “to be” in order to emphasize important sentence structure for these prospective workers such as the sentence “I want to be a doctor”, “he is a doctor”, or, “in order to become a doctor I must…”.

The tense can vary depending on your student’s level of grammatical ability. This example is a good sample because it emphasizes the basic level of language learning most ELL ABE students are able to express and what kinds of content they need to learn. The reality of ABE ELL is that it is either funded by the state government or by nonprofit organizations and many times works with the help of volunteers. It has low funding and this has been an ongoing issue within the ABE ELL community.

The Union Gospel Mission had a teaching outreach in a North Saint Paul community that had a very high concentration of Latino immigrants that needed to learn English. I personally worked at this location. Each Tuesday night anywhere from 10 to 30 students would arrive at the small classroom and we would help them learn English through simple lesson plans that consisted of a main focus and a game all preceded by a biblical message from the area coordinator Ricardo.

Unfortunately that program had its last session this past Tuesday due to insufficient funding and cutbacks by the Union Gospel Mission which is a nonprofit organization. The idea behind ELL ABE is that it is an investment in the economy. Laurie Rheault , Grant Analysis Specialist of the Minnesota Department of Education told me over e-mail that “ Our state funding has not increased in a way that meets the needs of our students due to the gradual growth of ABE students since the implementation of our program”.

Students that learn English and gain a GED can then re-contribute to the economy by gaining better paying jobs, adding to the workforce and contributing to the consumer economy we live in today by being able to purchase more expensive things like cars, homes and other larger commodities. According to (Leland, 2004), “Educational attainment, especially attainment of an educational credential, is one of the most important influences on economic well-being.

Prospects for individuals with less than a high school diploma are not good. ” According to (Jin & Kling, 2009) of the United States Department of Labor, the average worker spends two hours of every workday reading and one hour writing. In addition, 80% of workers use some type of math on their job every day. Jin & Kling go on to say in their report that the limited literacy skills of employees cost business and taxpayers $20 billion annually in lost wages, profits and productivity.

Ricardo told me that “ the funding for ELL programs is just not sufficient to meet the needs of our hard working students” he went on to add that “Christian organizations like the Union Gospel Mission will continue to work towards gaining more funding for programs like this one because we know how much these guys need this kind of help. ”. With prayer and faith in God I am confident programs like the Union Gospel Mission will continue helping adults learn English and learn about Gods plan for their lives here in America.


Jin, Y. , & Kling, J. (2009). Overcoming the language barrier: The literacy of non-native-english-speaking adults. Retrieved from http://wdr. doleta. gov/research/FullText_Documents/Overcoming Leland, A. M. (2004). Abe impact report. Retrieved from http://literacyactionnetwork. org/sites/default/files/impactreport8-3_2. pdf Minnesota department of education. (2012). Retrieved from http://education. state. mn. us/MDE/StuSuc/AdultEd/index. html (n. d. ). Texas standardized curriculum framework. Retrieved from http://www-tcall. tamu. edu/taesp/resources/bakerlesson/baker1/1esllcpa. htm


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