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Focus On Basics

Volume 4, Issue C ::: December 2000

Why Integrate ESOL and Computers?

Students say that integrating word processing and ESOL helps them progress toward their goals. For example, one goal of many of our students is to improve their job opportunities. Our integrated approach teaches skills that help them with data entry and with such word processing tasks as creating professional-looking resumes and cover letters. They also learn other software commonly used in offices, such as PowerPoint. Others learners use these skills in pursuit of their educational goals. They learn the value of computing when they use instructional software, access educational web sites, and write reports for college courses or work assignments. Many have appreciated their newfound comfort with computing for personal benefit, including e-mailing, finding community information on the Internet, and assisting their children with homework projects.

We also believe that integrating word processing and ESOL meets many of the objectives set out by the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS, 1991). The Commission surveyed businesses and education leaders to find the skills important for adults to possess to succeed in the workplace. Among many workplace competencies and foundation skills, the basic skills related to language have a significant place in the combination of ESOL and word processing. Thinking skills such as thinking creatively, solving problems, and knowing how to learn new computer functions, such as using the Help menu, are life skills. These are developed when students work together on integrated computer and ESOL projects and activities. In the skill area of personal quality, we have seen how students who came into the lab initially frightened and nervous around computers, which they saw as mysterious, complicated and beyond their capabilities, have developed greater self-esteem after they gained the confidence to use computers independently. Students develop their interpersonal skills when they work in pairs or small groups, often with people from different cultural backgrounds. Because pair work encourages interaction, students teach each other constantly. Students learn to process information using a computer, to understand the technological system of the computer, and to apply technology to specific tasks through such activities as typing lists, writing memos, composing business letters and
structuring resumes.


Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (1991). What Work Requires of Schools: The Report of the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. Washington, DC: US Department of Labor.

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL