Reading and Interpreting the EFF Standards with Students

to share clear expectations with the students, helping them understand what they need to learn and why.

The extent to which you can read and discuss the standards with students will depend on their English language abilities. The following list of strategies begins with those that pertain to all students and progresses through strategies that require an increasing mastery of oral and written English.

  1. Consistently encourage students, even in the most limited English, to describe their activities and articulate how they use their skills. Over time, this will develop students' ability to reflect metacognitively on what they are doing (and how), and will prepare them to understand the EFF Standards. Look in the Support section under "Metacognition" for a list of questions you might use with students.

  2. Introduce and build key vocabulary that appear throughout the Standards ("purpose," "strategies," etc.). Build student familiarity with these words before they encounter them in the Standards.

  3. Read a Standard together, discussing what each component means, drawing out examples from real life, and paraphrasing the component in the students' own words. If helpful, discuss the meaning of the components in terms of a particular goal/activity (see examples below).

  4. Discuss real life examples that illustrate the entire Standard, so that students understand that all the components are necessary. Note that some components may happen so automatically that we aren't always aware of them - for example, when we look through a pile of mail, we may not consciously think "My purpose is to scan quickly to see which ones are for me (or which ones I want to open)," even though that's what we're doing.

  5. You might compare two instances of using a Standard - for example, reading a story to your child and reading a work notice - to illustrate the way purpose affects the way you use the skill.
GED student example:

Take Responsibility for Learning

What this means to me

Establish learning goals that are based on an understanding of one's own current and future learning needs.

Knowing why I am here. Having a purpose for taking a class that will help me meet my goals.

Identify own strengths and weaknesses as a learner and seek out opportunities for learning that help build self-concept as a learner.

Lean on my strengths in order to learn, and improve upon weaknesses that may hinder advancement.

Become familiar with a range of learning strategies to acquire or retain knowledge.

People learn in different ways. Try a variety of ways and use more than one type of learning tool.

Identify and use strategies appropriate to goals, task, context and the resources available for learning.

Apply what works specifically for that situation.


Monitor progress toward goals and modify strategies or other features of the learning situation as necessary to achieve goals.

Keep track of what you're doing and how you're doing it. Make changes when something isn't working. Take small steps so you have success.

Test out new learning in real-life applications.

Test out what you learned outside of class to see if it works.

Low level ESOL class

Listen Actively

What this means to me

Attend to oral information.

Pay attention.

Clarify purpose for listening and use listening strategies appropriate to that purpose.

Think why you are listen. If very important, listen hard to remember everything. Write new words. If not so important, relax. Ask to repeat.

Monitor comprehension, adjusting listening strategies to overcome barriers to comprehension.

If you are confused, ask person to speak again or speak slowly. Get help from friend. Say you don't understand.

Integrate information from listening with prior knowledge to address listening purpose.

Use what you listen to do right things (like take the right bus or go to right office or give the right medicine) or make your opinions.

Higher-level ESOL class, in the context of speaking in a job interview.

Speak So Others Can Understand

What this means to me

Determine the purpose for communicating.

Think about your goal. You want to be calm and confident, but not too much.

Organize and relay information to effectively serve the purpose, context, and listener.

Answer the questions clearly. Focus on your abilities and your experience. Be prepared with questions.

Pay attention to conventions of oral English communication, including grammar, word choice, register, pace, and gesture in order to minimize barriers to listener's comprehension.

Don't talk too much; answer for 1-2 minutes and then ask if they want you to say more. Look at the people. Try to speak correctly and clearly.

Use multiple strategies to monitor the effectiveness of the communication.

Watch to see if they understand you or if they look confused. Watch if they stop listening (maybe you talk too much) or if they wait for you to say more (maybe you talk too little).

Used in Teaching/Learning Example:

Conducting a Survey About Rap

Tension in Class