Karry Arsenault, Lise Blais, Katie Hosmer
There are two locations for ELL adult services in Concord; one downtown and the other on Loudon Road. Ascentria Care Alliance provides English classes for adult refugees brought into New Hampshire. “We are called to strengthen communities by empowering people to respond to life’s challenges” is Ascentria’s mission statement as found on their website. We were invited into one of the ELL classrooms located at 180 Loudon Road at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Center (IHM). The teacher, Lynn Clowes, is an ESOL and CO Instructor working with newcomers who have very little or no English background.
Concord is one of the cities in NH that regularly receives refugees. This project aimed to meet the civic needs of adult aged new Americans who have recently moved to the area. The goal was to familiarize the students with some of the important locations that they may need to visit and where they are located. We chose ten distinct locations in Concord to introduce them to: the Post Office, the Police Station, the Library, the Hospital, Concord High School, Rundlett Middle School, Broken Ground Elementary School, Shaw’s, Walmart and IHM. We spent a class period engaging in various types of instruction and activities to help achieve this goal.
We had previously visited the classroom and interviewed a number of the students. The group primarily consisted of Nepali and African adults. Knowing this helped us to formulate three lessons. The first lesson was an introduction to the ten sites using colored pictures and name cards of the locations. The second part familiarized the students with the locations on a map and introduced the terms “near” and “far.” We drew a basic map of Concord on the whiteboard and placed the pictures on their corresponding locations. The students then matched the photographs with their correct names. As the final lesson they filled out an “address book” labeling each location. These hands on activities were scaffolded parts of the lessons to make sure that the students were able to grasp the concepts being introduced.
The students were very receptive to our lessons and they seemed to enjoy our time with them. They were actively engaged and used each other as a resource to help navigate the activities. They spoke with each other in their home language and collaboratively completed their tasks. We circulated and assessed the students in the small group setting. It was apparent that the students benefited from this lesson as shown through their ability to name and locate the different community locations given to them. The “address book” is a resource they will take home to use as a reference for future excursions in Concord.