The Game of Awesome Life (GOAL): A Curriculum for Adult ESL Students at Monterey Peace and Justice Center (MPJC)

I designed this curriculum for the adult ESL learners at Monterey Peace and Justice Center (MPJC).  The ESL program at MPJC is free of charge, and students do not have to register for the program or make appointments for classes.  At the beginning of each 10-week session (i.e., spring, fall, and summer), the coordinator of MPJC ESL program recruits volunteer teachers, primarily from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS).  This semester-long program provides weekly 2-hour ESL lessons during weekdays.  Last year, almost every weekday was taught by different teacher(s).  Currently, there are no course guidelines or teaching requirements from the program administrators; therefore, teachers are free to teach their desired topics. Based on past records, students who come to the program have been mostly native Spanish speakers.  Regarding their English learning background, some of them could be true beginners, and some might have lived in the U.S. for few years but worked or lived in an environment where Spanish was mainly used.  The number of students for each class varies from 0 to 10.

In designing this project, I followed Graves’s (1996) course development framework with seven components: (1) needs assessment, (2) determining goals and objectives, (3) conceptualizing content, (4) selecting and developing materials and activities, (5) organization of content and activities, (6) evaluation, and (7) consideration of resources and constraints.   The first two components include finding out students’ existing linguistic knowledge and skills as well as their needs and determining the intended outcomes of the course.  The next three components concern what will be the “backbone” of the course, what materials and activities will be included, and how to organize them.  The last two focus on the ways to assess the effectiveness of the design and what onsite resources and support are available. Based on the findings from the needs assessment, I designed a curriculum employing three primary components: (1) theme- and task-based instruction; (2) Sociocultural Theory and a Functional Approach; and (3) gamification.  To synthesize the three components, I built a syllabus around a board game, the Game of Life, as the backbone of the curriculum.

MPJC English Achievement Test (EAT): Food and Beverages

This test is designed as an achievement test for assessing the learning progress of the adult ESL students at the Monterey Peace and Justice Center (MPJC).  According to the needs assessment, which was conducted at the beginning of the program, the students want to learn vocabulary words that are related to their workplaces (e.g., restaurant, supermarket, and private properties, etc.).

As a result, the course units were formulated as theme-based.  This test is specifically designed for the unit (3 lessons; 6 hours in total) on restaurant in which the students learn vocabularies relating to vegetables, meat, dairy products, beverages, and condiments, etc.  In addition, two tasks are utilized in the lessons to facilitate students’ vocabulary learning and to allow them to use vocabulary in real-life situation.  The first task is recipe sharing in which the students find their favorite recipe online and share how to make the dish with the other students.  The second task is similar to the first task, but in this one, students write down how to make (their favorite) dishes using the vocabulary that they have learned and describe the procedures to the other students. Then the other students will guess the dish that the person describes.

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