“It’s a casual environment. I feel more relaxed than in another class. I like my new friends. It’s better to learn from my classmates too.”– from a learning circle participant.
English Now! learners meet in a virtual “face-to-face” group session facilitated by a volunteer, a librarian, or a teacher who incorporates peer learning and leadership development experiences into the English language learning activities. EN! provides a customizable framework through which programs offer online content for English language learners (ELLs) in weekly, virtual learning circles. With guidance from both the facilitator and peers, learners also work through online and/or mobile English courses and in the process, hone their digital literacy skills and develop self-efficacy as learners. Learning circles can help programs serve learners on waiting lists and onboard them to the general program when space permits, and serve learners who may not be able to attend a more time-intensive class.
Starting with a pilot four years ago in collaboration with Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), World Education’s EdTech Center designed and launched English Now! with five programs. Its success laid the groundwork for a national scale-up which extended access to English learning in a supportive, peer learning environment to over 250 ELLs at 10 programs in CA, DC, MD, PA, TX, IL and VA. For many of the programs, English Now! was the first time they had used mobile apps for learning English with their learners, so the learning circles became an incubator for ideas and innovation on how to scale the use of apps to their wider programs. See our February 2020 Implementation Guide and English Now! Scale-Up webinar in our Resources section for more information. When programs went remote in March 2020 because of COVID-19, learners from these programs seamlessly continued independent use of English language learning apps. Learning circles continue to operate as part of adult education programs in community-based organizations, community colleges, unions, libraries, and school districts.
Learn more about English Now! as we explore new innovations and best practices in remote learning through learning circles with our current cohort of programs including the Free Library of Philadelphia, Genesis Center in Providence, RI, Garces Foundation in Philadelphia, PA, Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center at Holyoke Community College, Literacy Council of Montgomery County, MD, and Literacy Volunteers at the Stoughton Library, MA. Look for us at national conferences. Dive into some of the finer points about English Now! on our blog posts, “Six Tips for Hosting Virtual English Now! Learning Circles”, “Learning Circles Address Waitlists for English Classes”, “Engaging Adult Learners on Waiting Lists Using Learning Circles” and “8 Tips for Implementing Learning Circles in Any Program.”
For more information and ideas about how you can get started with learning circles, contact the project director, Priyanka Sharma, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
English Now! is generously supported by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.