Austin English Forward Institute

Austin Institute Group Photo

The English Forward recently completed the first English Forward Institute here in Austin, Texas! Participants from 8 different programs, including two here in Texas, completed the 3-day training and are now rolling out English Forward back in their communities. Thank you to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for their continued support and thank you to attendees for being such wonderful participants!

Humanities Institute Sabbatical Project

Justin at Humanities Reception

Last week Justin DeBrosse (right) presented his progress on the Humanities Institute Sabbatical Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Justin’s goal was to develop a plan to answer the question, “What is the effectiveness of the English Forward Curriculum?” In the photo above, Justin is standing with fellow program participants Max Reyneard (left) of The Telling Project and Charlie Lockwood (center) of Texas Folklife.

Justin laid the groundwork for evaluating the curriculum, including developing many of the materials necessary for creating partnerships with other agencies teaching with the curriculum and collecting data. While he didn’t collect or analyze data, the materials he created will work to inform the upcoming program evaluation for the Texas Family Literacy AmeriCorps program starting this fall.

To see the PowerPoint that Justin presented, click here. 

Introducing Helen Priest

HelenWe wanted to take this opportunity to officially introduce Helen Priest, Adult Education Support Specialist, to the Literacy Forward community. Helen has spent the last few months behind the scenes helping to prepare for this year’s English Forward Institutes and becoming more familiar with facilitating the English Forward Instructor Training.

If you’ve attended a local training in the last few months here in Austin there’s a good chance you’ve already met Helen and seen a little of the great work she does. Helen will be facilitating both English Forward Institutes alongside Justin DeBrosse, Director of Instructional Quality. We’re excited to have Helen as part of the Literacy Forward community!

English Forward at PAACE in Pennsylvania

PAACE 2016 brighter

Last month, Justin DeBrosse, Director of Instructional Quality, presented at PAACE, the statewide adult education conference in Pennsylvania, alongside our partner Literacy Council of Reading-Berks. Justin presented along with Ryan Breisch, Executive Director (left), Cathy Martin, English Forward Coordinator, and Laurie Dawkins, Associate Director. Literacy Council of Reading-Berks invited English Forward to present with them so that the state of Pennsylvania could learn about the great work being done with English Forward in Berks County. It was great to see everyone from Literacy Council of Reading-Berks as well as the other programs we work with in Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon!

Update - 2016 English Forward Institutes

Literacy Foward RGB

We want to officially announce the dates of the two English Forward Institutes for 2016!

This year, we will be hosting participants in an English Forward Institute here in Austin, Texas July 27-29! We have partnered with Austin Community College to host the Institute at the Highland Business Center

The second Institute will be in Chicago, Illinois August 31 - September 2. We will be hosted by Literacy Works in the Literacenter, which is operated by the Chicago Literacy Alliance


English Forward in the News!


Literacy Council of Reading-Berks is doing some great work with English Forward, and the community is taking notice! 

This week, the local newspaper for Reading, Pennsylvania, the Reading Eagle, published an article describing how English Forward has served the Literacy Council of Reading-Berks and their community. Click here to read the article, "Program gives volunteers tools they need to teach English".

Congratulations to Literacy Council of Reading-Berks. We are proud of all of the good work you are doing, and we’re glad that we can play a part.

Note: If you find that a subscription is required to view the article, it should be unlocked shortly so that it can be viewed. Check back soon.

2016 English Forward Institutes

Literacy Foward RGB

This year, Literacy Forward will again be hosting agencies here in Austin, Texas for the English Forward Institute! Agencies looking to adopt the English Forward Training System to use in their own communities will participate in the 3-day Institute to learn how the system works and how it can be integrated into their own programming to support their instructors and students. We will also be working with some agencies we already partner with to increase their ability to use English Forward.

In addition to the Austin Institute, we’ll be hosting another Institute in another part of the country. Stay tuned for details!

Thank you to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for their continued support of English Forward and our work with the national community! 

Getting Students to Think in English

bald man thinking

Our blogposts are typically centered on news and information specific to Literacy Forward, but today we wanted to share with you all an interesting idea – getting your students to think in English.

Of course, every class we have our students using English to complete a variety of activities. However, we may not always give attention to building fluency through actively encouraging students to mentally engage with English. To that end, we recommend reading the article “6 Ways to Think in English”, published by the International Language Academy of Canada. While the article is written for English Language Learners, we as educators can take the recommended activities and integrate them into our instruction as we see fit.

Getting Technology for the Classroom

Free Geek Logo

Some of the English Forward lessons require access to technology in the classroom. What do you do when you don’t have technology available, though? We’ve discussed how to work around lack of technology in a previous blogpost, but we thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss opportunities for getting technology for your classrooms. A few different options are listed below.

  • Apply for grants – many foundations and businesses provide grants specifically for adding technology to your classroom. Click here to learn about some good opportunities.
  • Many communities also have organizations, like Free Geek in Portland, OR, that re-purpose and donate/sell technology that has been donated to them. If you find such an organization in your community, consider partnering with them to add technology to your classrooms. You could also determine if your students would be eligible to receive personal computers for their homes.
  • Often, when businesses make cash donations to nonprofits, it has to be written into their budget in some way. This means that the lead time for a donation from a business can be very high and the process can be very slow. In-kind donations, on the other hand, can be much easier to get. Reach out to businesses in your community to ask about donating computers, especially if they are in the process of upgrading their own technology.
  • Finally, you could also reach out to colleges or universities in your community. Schools often have a program in which they sell or donate furniture and technology that has been transitioned out of use. Click here to be taken to University of Texas’s Surplus Property page and see an example of what such a program might look like.

English Forward at Austin Community College

ACC logoWe are very excited that earlier this month Literacy Forward trained 25 instructors using English Forward at Austin Community College  from the Adult Education Department.

We welcome the ACC staff to the Literacy Forward Web Portal! We’re glad to have you aboard!

Timely Lessons for the New Year

Pages from Timely Lessons Tax Day

Now that you’re preparing for classes to start back up, there are some English Forward Timely Lessons that you might find useful over the next couple of months. Once you’ve logged into the portal, click on Timely Lessons to find lessons on the following topics:

  • Daylight Saving Time
  • Earth Day
  • Tax Day
  • Spring Break

All supplemental materials for the lessons can be found there, as well! 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

happy new year

Thank you to everyone in the Literacy Forward community, both in Central Texas and across the country, for all of your contributions.

We look forward to continuing to support your great work in 2016!

Webinar Releases

webinar image

This fall Literacy Forward released two webinars on the Literacy Forward Web Portal. We have a 45-minute webinar on Integrating Health Literacy into the adult ESL Classroom. The webinar comes with an English Forward lesson on visiting the pediatrician and picture cards of Children’s Ailments, along with other strategies and tips for bringing Health Literacy into your classroom.

The other webinar that has been released is a five-part webinar on adapting English Forward to One-to-One environments. The webinar includes information on identifying ESL Literacy students, alternative assessments, and other helpful tools and techniques for teaching one-to-one.

Once you log in to the portal, click on the “Webinars” tab to take a look!

English Forward on Your Phone!

Literacy Forward Smartphone screenshot

Did you know that the Literacy Forward Web Portal is optimized for smartphones and tablets? If you are tired of taking the entire English Forward Curriculum with you, printing out individual lessons, or taking a computer to class so that you can reference the lesson, use your phone or tablet!

To learn about how to save the Literacy Forward Web Portal to the home screen on your phone, click here.

English Forward at USCAL

proliteracy logo

Last week, a few members of the local Literacy Forward team got to attend the US Conference on Adult Literacy , put on by ProLiteracy. While there, we were able to meet with many of the organizations using English Forward around the country. It was great to see so many of the programs we work with all in one location!

USCAL was a great opportunity to learn about what’s happening around the country in adult education, and the Literacy Forward team got a lot of great ideas for what to do next!

Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council

logo gplc home

This week Literacy Forward will be in Pittsburgh, PA providing a training for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council! We’re excited to be working with them! GPLC will be bringing the English Forward Instructor Training to their community and empowering their local instructors! 

Joplin NALA Read

Joplin Logo

Two weeks ago, Literacy Forward traveled to Joplin, Missouri to provide an English Forward Host Site Training for Joplin NALA Read and several other organizations in the area. The room was filled with new English Forward Instructors, many of whom will go on to become trainers for their community!

We want to thank Jopin NALA Read for inviting us to come and we look forward to working with them and all of the other organizations! 

Conversation with FOB

heide portrait new

This week we wanted to share with you an article published in the quarterly publication Focus on Basics (published by NCSALL) that provides the foundation to the English Forward Training System. The article, “A Conversation with FOB” was published in 2003 and is an interview with Dr. Heide Spruck Wrigley, who you may remember played a crucial role in developing the English Forward Training and Curriculum. In it, Heide discusses many of the principles that continue to inform the Literacy Forward team. Read this article for a more in-depth look at the foundation of what we do!

Click here to read the article, “A Conversation with Focus on Basics”