English For All A Complete Guide for Teachers with

English For All
A Complete Guide for Teachers
A Quick Start for Students
Jo Ann Intili, Heide Wrigley, Ed Kissam & Jim Powrie
Aguirre International
Technical Assistance
Fireteam Consulting
Welcome to English For All
English For All is a free multimedia
system for adults seeking to learn English
as a Second Language (ESL).
This Guide is an overview of what it is,
how it works, and how students and
instructors can use the program
Read through it first, then keep it handy as
you use the English For All Web site and
the accompanying print and multimedia
Section 1 What is English For All?
Learner Needs
Target Population
Instructors and EFA
The Materials
Learning Settings
Who Created EFA?
Included Resources
Helping Adults Get the Most
Out of EFA
Cyberstep Principles
Section 2 Using English For All
EFA Components
Technical Requirements
Using the CD-ROM
Section 3 Guide for Instructors
Quick Start
Instructor Tips
General Strategies
Stories, Content and Learning
Episode Summary
Section 4 Guide for Students
Quick Start
1 – What is English For All?
Modern life is increasingly complicated. Technology is changing the way we live, work, play and connect with
others. The need for adult basic instruction delivered with the aid of technology – any time, any place, and at
any pace – is more critical than ever.
Cyberstep English For All (EFA) materials are designed to meet this need. They can be used in multiple
venues, including school, home, workplace and community center, both as stand-alone lessons and as support
for existing curricula. EFA also can be used by learners who want to follow an individual plan of study.
English for All consists of five stories that feature a multi-ethnic cast introduced by a friendly wizard who
guides you through the 20 episodes and provides simple explanations of the basic points of grammar that are
Learner Needs
In the context of the 21st century information society, “literacy” encompasses a wide spectrum of
information-handling competencies. EFA focuses primarily on English-language proficiency. However,
English language proficiency encompasses a myriad of communication requirements, including not only the
reception, decoding, and generation of oral and written language, but also its accurate interpretation in the
appropriate cultural context.
Cyberstep product standards seek to ensure that our educational materials are relevant to the interests and
needs of a wide range of adult learners. We recognize that no single dimension of “competency” or
“educational disadvantage” reliably describes an adult learner’s circumstances.
The needs of adults are complex; they require language and literacy skills to get things done and to navigate
systems such as health care or the education and training system. Adults also need language and literacy skills
to give voice to their ideas and to advocate for themselves and for others. This range of language and literacy
tasks require not only individual competence in reading, writing, speaking and listening, but skills related to
problem solving and decision making – skills developed through engagement with ideas and interaction with
Target Population for EFA Materials
While a broad range of adults can use EFA for learning, the population for whom it was developed are those
individuals with fewer than 12 years of schooling, who speak little English, are generally low-income, and live
in an English-speaking environment. EFA materials support learners who just want to improve their English
skills, as well as those who come to:
foster their children’s education,
get a better job or get off welfare,
improve their ability to participate in their community,
simply lead a fuller life.
A Variety of Instructors Can Use EFA
A wide range of instructors working in different venues can use the EFA materials successfully, including
adult education instructors working in basic education, English as a second language or life skills; aides or
volunteers; the learners themselves; or even the learner’s families or friends. EFA can be used in classes or
learning labs, in tutoring situations, for providing support to learners who need to be away from class, or as
supplementary work for learners.
For any instructor, the EFA materials stimulate a dynamic interaction between learner, materials, and
instructor. The episodes center on compelling life issues. By reflecting real life situations, the EFA materials
offer opportunities for learners to think about and discuss what they hope to achieve and how they would
handle similar situations. Some of the materials are intentionally provocative in order to stimulate learning
through thought, debate and discussion.
We know that adults learn best when instruction reflects their interests and needs and is linked to the
language and literacy tasks they must tackle in their day-to-day lives. To maximize learning, instructors using
the materials must help learners integrate what they have learned with what they want and need to know after
they leave the learning environment. One of the most effective ways to initiate this process is to have
conversations with learners about their interests and goals, and engage them in discussions about when and
where they need English. The topics and skills addressed in EFA should help instructors develop these
discussions. Instructors should work with students to map trajectories for achieving learning goals (with side
trips that are fun along the way to help them discover things they might not have thought about). They can
also greatly help learning by using the Internet and other resources to find materials and activities that speak
to students’ interests and help them move closer to their goals. EFA can be a rich set of resources for these
The Materials
The EFA materials engage learners and instructors in applying language and literacy skills to real world issues.
They are a launching pad to encourage learners to enhance their language skills while they:
formulate, test, and refine hypotheses,
use and refine critical thinking skills,
practice putting forward ideas about topics and issues of interest,
engage in self-reflection and discussion with others,
and develop strategies to learn and practice new skills.
EFA episodes focus on English-language and literacy skills development anchored in the social contexts that
are likely to be encountered by the immigrants and refugees for whom the materials were designed. All the
situations depicted were suggested and field-tested by real learners. The use of diverse social contexts fosters
the verbal agility needed to cope with the broad range of communication requirements. As learners’ skills
progress throughout the course, they will be able to extend their skills to increasingly challenging situations.
Learning Settings
Enriching learning experiences can help accelerate learning. EFA takes advantage of developments in
technology by offering materials on the Web, in video and CD-ROM. The video and Web-based materials
can be used alone or can augment traditional classroom education. The electronic resources (video, Web, CDROM) are also useful for remote learners who cannot attend traditional classes and can benefit from selfdirected learning, ideally with guidance from an instructor or more knowledgeable peer. The next sections of
this guide provide tips on how instructors can use the EFA materials in ways that reflect current principles of
adult learning, second language acquisition, and literacy development.
Who Created EFA?
EFA is a product of the Cyberstep Project, a Federal grant by the United States Department of Education to
the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE). EFA was developed by the Division of Adult and
Career Education of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Visit Cyberstep at www.cyberstep.org.
About Cyberstep:
The Cyberstep project brought together four literacy service innovators: The Sacramento County Office of
Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, the Adult Literacy Media Alliance, and Aguirre International.
Under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the partners addressed the challenge of using cutting
edge technology to create and distribute multimedia learning materials for the hardest-to-serve ABE and ESL
adult learners.
The low-income adults who have the greatest need for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second
Language (ESL) instruction typically have little time and few resources to spend on education. Organizations
serving these learners also face limited resources and are always seeking creative low-cost ways to facilitate
learning. To meet these needs, Cyberstep products are designed to be used any time and any place by
independent learners as well as in more traditional classroom or library settings.
The Cyberstep product development approach follows an “assess, design and build” model based on
contemporary adult learning theory, projections of technology trends, systems for efficient multimedia
product development, and “real world” user assessment and product testing. This “systems approach” to
product and tool development is integral to the project as a whole. While each product is intended for realworld use by adult learners and educational institutions, each is also a proof of concept and a test bed for
learning principles and development procedures that can be applied to other projects.
The project proceeded through the following phases:
Specification of a theoretical pedagogical approach to identifying and meeting adult learner needs among
various subgroups within the low-literacy adult learner population.
Identification of standards to be used for product development that are based on the project’s adult
learning theory and understandings of target learners’ needs and capacities.
Creation of prototypes and final products is based on user testing, feedback and evaluation.
Distribution of products, publication of project documentation, provision of access to the project’s
development tools, and initial developer training.
Opinions expressed and content presented do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the U.S.
Department of Education. See Cyberstep at www.cyberstep.org.
Included Resources
English for All (EFA) materials include a set of videotapes, a Web site and CD-ROMs designed to provide high
quality videos when using the Web site. EFA can easily be augmented by using other Cyberstep products or outside
materials. It is loosely anchored to a set of principles that unify the Cyberstep products and provide a conceptual
and pedagogical grounding for the materials. This section describes resources available to assist instructors and
learning coaches in using EFA and other Cyberstep products.
EFA Videos and Learning Standards and Frameworks
EFA videos portray scenarios specifically designed to enhance learners’ language and basic life skills. Episodes and
assessments can be cross-referenced to the California ESL standards, as well as SCANS and CASAS frameworks,
to assist with finding related lessons or using EFA lessons to augment other resources. Such activities can be
developed using Cyberstep’s Internet authoring tool, found at www.thestudyplace.org which helps instructors
create and manage materials on the Web. Suggestions for how to use and supplement EFA appear throughout this
Learning Management
Each EFA video episode is accompanied by a lesson that includes activities, quizzes with automated scoring,
student progress management tools, and an internal notes system. These features provide instructors and learners
the opportunity to watch and learn from the video episodes, to track progress, document accomplishments, and
communicate with each other about issues raised by the video scenarios or in the learning activities.
1) Quizzes
The EFA video series is made up of 20 fifteen-minute episodes. A 10-item quiz is provided for each episode. There
is a translation utility available to assist learners with vocabulary problems. The audio capabilities of the application
extend the kinds of self-assessment possible. The quizzes include aural-writing matching (where the speaker selects
the written vocabulary alternative that matches an audio-produced oral version), as well as Yes/No and True/False
comprehension questions, and grammar questions that require learners to fill in the answers. Some quiz items test
specific skills related to the CASAS competencies. These questions focus on functional literacy represented by
graphics such as signs, advertisements, or maps.
While the quizzes don’t test all aspects of English proficiency, they provide instructors and learners with a quick
report on what has been learned through interacting with EFA.
2) Automated Progress Tracking and Scoring of Quizzes
EFA tracks the number of activities completed as well as the proportion of correct answers on the quizzes. Quiz
scores are calculated and appear as soon as the student clicks the “submit” button. This feature allows instructors
and learners to keep track of the work completed and provides immediate feedback on test results. Students may
repeat an activity, move on to the next section, or return to the beginning of the lesson to review. If the student
does the lesson more than once and takes the quiz again, the most current score is recorded in the system. For
example, if a student scores 90% and then repeats the quiz and scores 80%, the second score (80%) will be the
score maintained by the computer.
The next page shows screens that may appear after a student hits the “submit” button: the screen presents the
score achieved and prompts the learner to indicate how he or she wants to proceed. If the score is less than perfect,
the questions that were missed appear accompanied by the correct answers.
Sample: Perfect Score
Sample: Imperfect Score (below 100%)
3) Instructor-Learner Communication: The Internal Notes System
The Internal Notes (IN) system provides a means for direct communication between instructors and
students. Both can send and receive notes that appear on the their respective MyEFA page. The system does
not require a separate mail application, but it looks and functions like a regular email system.
The IN system provides a confidential way for instructors to check in with students. Students can use it to
ask questions, or communicate with their instructor in ways similar to more conventional “dialog journals.”
This screen shows a sample Notes section on a student page. The instructor’s “send mail” section is identical. The next time the
recipient signs in, the note written in the box will automatically appear.
1 – Type the message in this box 2 – Click here to send note
4) Student Self-Management
In their MyEFA section, students can see a summary of the work they have done by episode and section. A
screen appears showing work attempted and work finished, along with the scores achieved on quizzes. Learners
can quickly navigate to lessons or activities they have not completed. The chart below illustrates the kind of
information presented on the screen.
Sample: This screen shows how students manage their projects (note: only Activities are scored).
1 – The activity number is displayed in the upper left hand corner on the lesson and activity pages to remind
users what episode they are working in.
2 – The table shows a virtual table of contents for the activity being worked on. Column 3 on the screen
indicates, with a check, whether the activity was completed; and column 4 indicates the score on the quiz
associated with that activity. Note, if a learner takes the quiz multiple times, the most recent score is posted.
Instructors have access to all this information as well. All they need to do is click on the appropriate Class
Name, then the student’s name and to see a summary of the student’s progress. By clicking on an individual
episode, they can see a more detailed progress report of work attempted and work completed. The screen below
shows the overview of what episodes a learner has completed
Sample: This student has completed only Episode 1. Clicking on ‘Episode 1’ will show details of activities completed and quiz scores.
Relationships between EFA and Basic Skill Frameworks
Instructors can find a ‘crosswalk’ between various skills frameworks and specific EFA episodes in the menu
bar on the teacher’s homepage. Click on “Competencies” to see the available ‘crosswalks.’
Sample: This shows the standards frameworks referenced from the navigation bar.
1) ESL Competencies
When instructors select ESL from the Competencies list, they see a chart showing ESL Standards in the
middle column and references to the episodes, lessons, and activities on the right that address each
competency. The sample screen shows how EFA seeks to meet the California ESL standard “understand
and use verb tenses in meaningful communication.”
EFA Reference, the left most column in the table below, is provided for developers working with the system
and needing to track individual application elements with a consistent naming convention.
Sample: This matrix indicates verb structures covered with a given lesson and activity.
2) SCANS (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills) Competencies and
Foundation Skills
The following sample screen shows the relationship between selected EFA Episodes and SCAN skills.
Sample: This matrix indicates the thinking skills to which the episodes are oriented.
3) CASAS (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System) Competencies
Competencies are summarized in terms of EFA episodes and activities.
Sample: This matrix indicates CASAS competencies addressed by specific episode activities. The EFA
Reference column is for developers working with the system and needing a consistent naming convention.
4) LAES (Latino Adult Education Services) Modules
EFA also links to the adult literacy and ESL curriculum that is part of the Latino Adult Education Services, a
participatory education program originally designed to provide immigrants a voice in their community. The
screen below shows correspondences between (1) the skills and strategies taught through LAES along with
the LAES modules where they appear and (2) the EFA episodes, lessons and activities that seek to address
these strategies.
For more information on the Latino Adult Education Services where the LAES modules can be found, go to
Sample: This matrix shows the relation of English For All activities to the LAES curriculum.
Helping Adults Get the Most out of EFA
The EFA video episodes offer many opportunities for language and vocabulary development, and for discussion,
problem solving, decision-making and creative expression. Section 3, Guide for Instructors, provides ideas on how
student learning can be maximized using EFA video segments as a core activity and augmenting them with
additional teaching strategies. It also lists the adult learning principles that have shaped Cyberstep thinking and
shows the opportunities for learning that must be present if learners are to become proficient in English and
acquire the skills, strategies and knowledge to communicate effectively, navigate systems, give voice to their ideas
and advocate for themselves and others.
Extend EFA through Other Cyberstep Products
EFA is only one of a series of Cyberstep products funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Instructors who
want to build their knowledge base, are interested in additional teaching ideas, and are looking for online resources
to help them develop lessons should visit the products section at the Cyberstep site (www.cyberstep.org). A
description of some of the other Cyberstep products follows.
A) www.thestudyplace.org
The Study Place helps instructors create their own lessons or download lessons by others, and track lesson progress
through the use of the authoring tools on the Study Place site.
This product allows instructors to develop lessons on the Web that integrate their own or others’ graphic and audio
files; and they can include hyperlinks to other sites to enrich a lesson with additional learning opportunities. The Study
Place also provides instructors capabilities for generating Web-based learning activity assessments. It has a course
management system for tracking students’ performance and documenting their progress. An animated tour of the
Study Place is available on the site. It shows instructors how to use the site effectively and lets students see how they
can best navigate the lessons available to them.
Note: Both EFA and the Study Place have course management systems; however, the two systems are not linked, so
instructors will have to separately track student work on each site.
B) www.readtvnews.org
The Sacramento County Office of Education has partnered with News10 in Sacramento to make topical
news items available for adult literacy classroom use over the Internet. Read TV News includes some 50
stories that can be read, heard or viewed online via the use of "streaming media" technology. Learning
activities and assessments featuring these news stories have been organized into a self-contained online
learning resource at www.readtvnews.org.
C) www.TV411.org
Adult Literacy Media Alliance (ALMA) activities can be used to augment EFA materials for work on specific basic
skills issues, through the ALMA enhanced Web site: www.tv411.org.
D) Offline Materials
Cyberstep developed the English For All video and CD-ROM series for learners or learning contexts that do
not have high-speed access to the Internet.
Taking advantage of the additional resources like these will help to deepen the learning available through EFA. By
creating or selecting additional lessons and by providing access to online news-based learning for students,
instructors can offer students additional learning benefits like these:
using multiple sources of information to reinforce and accelerate learning
learning to interpret charts and graphs to build document literacy and provide opportunities to develop math
having access to various sites on the Internet to navigate the World Wide Web and foster information
processing skills
Cyberstep Principles
Two Cyberstep papers provided the foundation for the project. While there are a variety of papers that have
been produced for the project, the two listed below describe the reasoning behind the kinds of resources
provided and the organization of the learner experiences.
Much of the content of these papers is incorporated as part of Section 3 of this guide. However if the reader
wants the full treatment, the source documents can be downloaded from the Cyberstep site:
www.cyberstep.org/papers. The references are:
1) The design framework underlying Cyberstep project
Purpose: To guide the development of companion products
Date: July 1999
Format: Adobe Acrobat format
Title: Materials Development Framework for Courses Targeting Low-Literacy and Limited-English Speaking
File Size: 456K
2) The standards established for Cyberstep project products
Purpose: To guide the development of companion products
Date: February 1999
Format: Adobe Acrobat format
Title: Standards for Creating Multimedia Learning Modules for Low Literacy and Limited English Proficient
Adult Learners
File Size: 192k
We’re excited about these products, and hope they will provide tools for instructors and learners to use as
part of an e-community to foster development of language and literacy skills. If you have any feedback, please
send it through the Cyberstep site.
2 – Using English For All
English For All (EFA) is a multimedia system for adults seeking to learn English as a Second
Language and other life skills. It’s available on the Web, Web with CD-ROM, and on videotape.
Is EFA a Course?
EFA includes 20 video episodes with related exercises, learning activities and assessments. It can be
used as a self-contained course or modified to incorporate additional materials and exercises.
Additionally, episodes can be used individually to enhance other courses. EFA combines High
Beginning level of ESL (California standards) and the Skill Modules found in the Latino Adult
Education Services Project (LAES).Visit www.otan.dni.us/Webfarm/laes/ for more information.
EFA Components
English For All is a fully integrated learning system with the following components:
Twenty 15-minute video episodes including five compelling stories featuring a multi-ethnic cast
and hosted by a friendly wizard, who explains language and skill content.
Print materials downloadable from the Web site that contain supplementary exercises and activities
based on the content of the videos. Instructors can modify these documents to meet specific
instructional needs.
Five CD-ROMs that work with the Web site to provide fast access to high-quality video, even if
the user doesn’t have high-speed Internet access.
The English For All Web site, www.myefa.org, combines video and other supporting materials into
a powerful, user-friendly, interactive site.
Technical Requirements
What Do You Need To Use the Website?
You must have a computer with an Internet connection, sound card, video card, and speakers. English For All
works best with:
200 MHz or faster computer
64 MB or more RAM
Either: 56 Kbps or faster Internet connection and EFA videos on CD/ROM,
or a sustained T1 line or faster to view videos online
• Windows 98, 200 MHz or faster computer, or
• Macintosh PowerPC computer, System 8.6 or higher
Additional Software
You will also need a browser and plug-ins, downloadable for free at their home sites:
Internet Explorer
5.5 (Windows) or higher, www.microsoft.com/ie or
5.1 (Mac OS) or higher, www.microsoft.com/mac/ie
Netscape Navigator 6.0 or higher, www.netscape.com
QuickTime 5.0 Movie Player, www.apple.com/quicktime
Flash Player, www.macromedia.com/flash
Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, www.adobe.com
Using the CD-ROM
The English for All CD-ROM features digitized copies of the videos. It is designed specifically for instructors
and learners who do not have a fast connection to the Internet, and provides the video at higher speed and
quality than would be possible through their Internet connection. The advantage of the CD-ROM over the
stand-alone videotapes is the ability to interact directly with the resources on the EFA Website, which is not
possible when using just the stand-alone videotapes.
The EFA-CD automatically operates in conjunction with the Web site. The CD provides the computer with
direct access to the video clips. The Web site provides the user access to the exercises, assessments, and
management tools described in Section 2 of this manual.
Using the CD-ROM is easy. There are five CD-ROM discs, with several episodes on each disc. Once the
appropriate CD-ROM disc is activated in the CD-ROM drive, the CD itself triggers the integration with the
EFA Web page.
Copies of the CD-ROM are available from many state directors of adult education or they can be purchased
online. For purchase information, visit the Learn More About EFA section at
To get started with EFA using the CD-ROM:
Make sure you meet the hardware and software requirements previously outlined. Put the CD in a
computer’s CD-ROM drive, and it should run automatically.1 If you do not have all the needed software,
you will see an installation screen showing the software plug-ins you need to run the application.
Because the CD-ROM is the source for the videos, the CD-ROM must stay in the computer during the
period you are using the EFA Web site. Because there are videos for only four of the twenty episodes on
each CD, you must use the CD-ROM containing the videos for the episode you wish to see. Once the
correct CD-ROM is running, you can use the Web site as you normally would, enjoying much faster response
and higher quality video.
If it doesn’t start automatically, the user can click ‘Run’ on the Start menu in their computer. Specify the drive name for the CDROM (usually D or E); and Start.Exe. Macintosh users should click on the EFA mac_0104_CD-ROM icon and then double click on
the Start icon.
Users who already have the appropriate Web browser and QuickTime5 resident on their computer proceed directly to use EFACD. There are only five steps required for installation. These are:
1. Confirm that you have an active connection to the Internet
2. Put the appropriate CD-ROM in the CD drive.
3. The EFA screen above appears
4. Click on the EFA icon
5. Software launches Internet connection and brings the user immediately to the EFA Logon screen, depicted in Section 3 of this guide.
If the user does not have either a required browser, or QuickTime 5 (and the software will alert the user to this), these will need to
be installed first. Follow the directions below.
1. Confirm that you have an active connection to the Internet
2. Put the CD-ROM in the CD drive, and close the drive door.
3. Click on the icon for QuickTime 5 or the browser, and follow the directions.
4. Click on the EFA icon
The user (instructor or learner) is now ready to log in and get to work. Because the use of the CD-ROM with
the Web site is so similar to using the EFA Web site alone, we will not repeat the description here. Follow the
steps described in some detail in sections three and four of this guide.
3 – Guide for Instructors
The Website Home Page
1 – To learn more about EFA and its use, click here.
2 – If you want to preview the site as a student, use this button.
3 – To use this site as a student in a class, you must register first.
4 – To use this site and set up classes as an instructor, you must register here.
5 – Once you’ve registered to use the site, every time you come back, you’ll sign in.
6 – Download Macromedia’s free Flash Player. This is required for audio playback.
7 – Download Apple’s free QuickTime Player. This is required to view the videos.
8 – Download Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader. Instructors need this to view and print written
materials. Students do not need to download the Acrobat Reader.
9 – If you have questions about this site, you can find answers here.
Quick Start for Instructors
If you are an instructor using the EFA Web site for the first time, you will need to register as
explained below. If you have already registered, click ‘Sign-in’, and you’ll go straight to the MyEFA
Registration for first time users:
1. Click on the “Teacher Registration” button at the top of the homepage.
2. Fill out the Registration Form.
(See a sample registration form on the next page.)
a) Provide your own ID.
b) Provide your own password.
c) Provide a class password to be used by students who will enroll in your class.
3. Click the “Done” button at the bottom of the registration form.
This action takes you to your My EFA page.
4. You will get a message that will tell you your ID and Password.
WRITE THEM DOWN and keep them in a safe place. You will need them to get back into the EFA
This is a sample registration form for Joe Teacher’s class.
Name:
When you click ‘Done,’ you are welcomed to your main MyEFA navigation page where you will see
news about changes to the site and information about purchasing EFA CD-ROMs.
5. MyEFA Page: Tools for Instructors
A variety of tools for facilitating navigation through the site are provided on the instructor’s Welcome
MyEFA instructor tools allow you to customize your experience on the Website.
The top navigation bar, circled in the screen depicted above, provides the following options:
Edit Profile – to change your personal information, password, school, etc.
Teacher Guide –to download a PDF of the instructor guide.
Manage Classes –for managing all aspects of your online classes.
Competencies – to see how the contents of English For All correlate to specific
competencies (ESL, SCANS, CASAS, and LAES). From these grids, instructors can click on specific
competency-related activities. This information can be accessed by episode or by competencies.
Email List –to post questions or observations or share supplemental EFA activities you develop.
Print Materials – to view or print coursework for EFA in PDF format.
Preview Courses – to access EFA as a student.
Help – to look for guidance or assistance.
Quick Start for Instructors, continued
Now you’re ready to set up a new class or
review those you’ve set up previously. You
can also get a copy of the print materials.
6. Click on the “Manage Classes” button. See
below the variety of things you can do from this
In the screen depicted below, one class is listed – the one
named ‘Cyberstep’.
7. To set up a new class, click “Add a Class”
8. Click on the underlined class name (e.g. Cyberstep), to change class attributes or to see the class
roster. Clicking on the class name leads you to the basic description of the class and the class roster.
Jump to Class Roster
Jump to Class Mail
You can go right to the class roster, by
clicking on the blue ‘Jump to Class Roster’
link (depicted with a ‘1’ in the picture to the
left) or read and reply to student notes by
clicking on ‘Jump to Class Mail.’
If you make any changes, click the the ‘Save
My Changes’ button (depicted with a ‘2’ to
the left). You will be rewarded by a notice in
red, on the top part of the screen, that “Your
changes have been recorded!”
If you want to review a student’s progress,
click on a name in the student roster.
9. After you click on a student’s name in the Class Roster, you will be able see how many episodes the
student has completed. If you click on the episode number (as shown below), you will be able to see the
activities completed, in progress, and not yet tried, for that episode, with the number of attempts and the
score on the quizzes.
An Episode is considered complete when the final test has a passing score. For more information, click on the Episode name.
View complete progress chart
10. If you want to run through the exercises as if you were a student, click on “Preview Courses”.
You will see the note ‘Welcome Visitor’ at the top of the page. Essentially, you are now playing the role of a
visiting student. Clicking on any episode in the screen below will begin your student experience.
Note: When you’re ready to
leave this page, you’ll need
to sign out. You will need
to sign in again as a teacher
to resume your work in
11. To leave the site, click on the “Sign Out” icon at the top of the page. This officially signs you out of the
EFA Website. When you want to come back to the EFA Website, simply click on ‘Sign-In’ and enter your ID
and password in the entry fields on the home page.
Instructor Tips
Language and literacy development are complex processes that bring together the linguistic, pragmatic,
cognitive, social and creative dimensions of learning. Cyberstep EFA materials are founded on the belief that
learners have the ability, desire and right to be creative and to play – but also a need to set priorities and
invest in confronting the problems they face.
In an effort to help developers design materials that reflect what we know about adult learning, Cyberstep has
developed a set of principles to guide both the development of technology-based curricula and the teaching
of adult literacy and ESL in the field. These principles are based on both theory and research in second
language acquisition and literacy development. The principles describe what it takes to develop language and
literacy skills and identify the opportunities for learning that must be provided if students are to become fully
proficient in English and become competent readers and writers.
Understanding the theories behind adult learning and finding ways to engage learners’ minds and souls in the
language acquisition process should help instructors to deepen the learning that happens when they introduce
students to EFA. The following section introduces learning principles, outlines learning opportunities that
heighten learning, and offers tips for using EFA.
Teamwork and Collaboration as Part of Learning Through Technology
Learning through technology can be a lonely enterprise when adults are isolated. Since language acquisition
and literacy thrive through social interaction, a technology-based course needs to maximize opportunities for
interaction with others through collaborative learning and exchange of information.
Not all students are eager to learn with and from others. Those who have been part of a traditional system of
schooling often see learning as a set of skill and drill exercises where writing equals copying and language
learning is achieved through memorization. The instructor is seen as the source of all knowledge and the
experience and opinions of other learners is discounted. These students need opportunities to work with
others on exciting projects or a chance to share ideas about topics that interest them. Group work just for
group work’s sake will not convince them of the benefits of social learning.
There is sufficient evidence from workplace learning that demonstrates that being able to work
collaboratively is the key to being promoted. Research in collaborative learning shows evidence that deep
learning occurs as students work together to obtain and share information. The current work being done on
“action learning” or “project-based learning” shows the benefits of collaboration in adult literacy and ESL
classes. Teamwork and Collaboration include the following elements:
learning with and from each other,
becoming a “community of learners” that engages all students,
helping others and using more knowledgeable peers as resources,
advocating for self and others to challenge irrational rules and unfair conditions, or fighting for the wellbeing of a neighborhood or community.
Teaching Strategies:
• Create opportunities for learners to work together in ways that are fun for them. Set up teams and play
games such as Jeopardy or Bingo or create TRUE/FALSE quizzes on American culture to create some
friendly competition, but make sure teams are evenly matched.
• Provide opportunities for students to take on a challenge and work together on projects that matter to all
of them. Students might review ESL software and survey other students and instructors about their
opinions. They can plan a graduation party and invite instructors, family, community members and staff.
They could undertake a community mapping project that shows where agencies and services are that
work with immigrants and refugees and provide them assistance. Such a project can also highlight the
gaps in services that exist and make recommendations for change.
• Involve students in inquiry projects that let them explore questions of interest and share the
results with other students. Students may want to explore which jobs pay a living wage and what
skills are needed to get these jobs, using a database such as O*Net (www.onet.com). They may
want to explore what training opportunities in technology exist in their areas. Helping students to
present their research in the form of questions and answers that others can read on the Internet
has shown a great deal of promise (see David Rosen’s inquiry projects online).
Principle 1: Adult Learning is Goal Driven and Oriented toward Solving Daily
Adults come to education with a purpose in mind (to get a better job, to help their children with their
homework, to meet people). They want to apply knowledge, skills and strategies in real life. Learning
proceeds better when it has a clear focus, and mirrors the student’s own circumstances. Literacy and language
skills grow when there is emotional engagement, and when learners can identify the returns from their effort.
Learners need the opportunity to:
explore where they are in their learning, where they would like to be and what keeps them from getting
identify short term and long term goals,
self-assess current knowledge and skill,
evaluate their progress,
be both challenged and supported as they upgrade their skills and acquire new strategies.
Tips for using the EFA materials:
If you have the opportunity to provide direct instruction, before or after the students view the video,
discuss what steps are necessary for the story character to reach his or her goals. In addition to covering
grammar, incorporate SCANS and EFF skills such as pattern recognition into supplemental exercises.
After testing, be sure students see their scores so that they know how well they are able to apply the skills.
Provide opportunities to work with progressively more difficult materials. While we might start with
question and answer exercises, we can enrich the learning experience by drawing on what the learner
wants to know. Activities like polling other learners or family members about their attitudes provide
opportunities for social learning, reflection, and integration of skills in a larger context.
Teach students to pick up cues that can help them measure their own performance when communicating.
For example, when explaining to a police officer why you were speeding, how can you tell if
miscommunication is taking place?
Principle 2: Language and Literacy are Social Processes
Learning new skills is something to be proud of, not something to hide in a dark closet. Many adults without
a high school diploma do not think of themselves as learners, and tend to be shy about trying out the targeted
skills and competencies. It is not always clear to them how to make use of feedback or how they can build on
what they learned. Building a ‘learning community,’ can help extend learning beyond the confines of
classroom or computer.
Learners need the opportunity to:
process information by talking about ideas and discussing them with others,
think about how they learn: what helps them and what gets in the way,
receive meaningful feedback from both peers and experts,
see how others similar to themselves deal with challenges,
observe someone more experience tackle tasks,
work in groups to learn collaboratively.
Tips for using the EFA materials:
By having students work in pairs or small groups at the computer, you can take advantage of the benefits
that come from interaction with others: processing information by talking about ideas, getting meaningful
feedback from peers, and observing others tackle similar tasks. Learners who see others process or create
texts go through a cognitive apprenticeship. As a result, they can see new patterns; for example, how tone
of voice affects persuasiveness in different situations.
Make use of diverse activities such as developing an email community or projects related to finding out
what others think. Involve students in a group to define successful outcomes in the situations presented
in the EFA materials.
Help learners understand how to tell their own stories and how to find out what others think. Show the
students how they can actively seek input to overcome communication problems.
Principle 3: Hypothesis Testing and Risk Taking are Crucial Elements in Learning
Even at low literacy levels, learners should see language as a system and be encouraged to discover patterns.
They can generate their own rules for how language works, and use cues from formatting and background
knowledge to decode meaning. Learners are faced with multiple language and literacy requirements in daily
life. They’ve developed strategies for handling these demands. How these strategies work will impact how
they can make use of skills demonstrated in the video. Learners need to be conscious and deliberate in the
learning process.
Learners need the opportunity to:
see language as a system and discover patterns,
generate their own rules of how language works,
speak and write spontaneously even at very low levels of proficiency,
guess what a text (oral or written) is about based on background knowledge and context,
use language and literacy in a supportive environment that encourages experimentation.
Tips on using the EFA materials:
If you have the opportunity to provide direct instruction, you can integrate analysis of language
patterns into the EFA episodes. Role-play using the analysis, and apply patterns of language and
grammar in different contexts. For example, how does writing a letter to a child’s instructor
compare with writing a note to one’s boss? How does documenting activities (for the insurance
episode) compare with preparing a work plan for a construction crew?
Provide opportunities for learners to move beyond their comfortable level of language use. Examine
different elements of language that affect interpretation of meaning, such as intonation, emphasis, and
context. Explore the language patterns students have been using and how they might be changed to be
more effective.
Help learners play with language productively and then get feedback on their success. Learners need to
understand what hypotheses are and how to take risks for the purposes of learning.
Principle 4: An Individual’s Levels of Language and Literacy Skills Are Not
Learners know they need to handle multiple language and literacy levels in daily life. Even learners who seem
to fall into similar levels of proficiency can differ greatly in the tasks they are able to handle. Requirements
inherent in verbal and written materials vary in different contexts. Each learner is multi-level, depending on
the context; and each context brings new challenges. Background knowledge of the topic and experience with
how things work influence competence in handling particular challenges.
Learners need the opportunity to:
work with different types of texts (oral and written) created at different levels,
deal with challenging material that they find interesting and compelling although it appears to be above
their level of proficiency,
work with tasks and materials that take advantage of their background knowledge,
tackle a wide range of tasks, so that both boredom and frustration are minimized
recognize that skills they have mastered in a lesson might still be difficult to apply in daily life.
Tips for use of the EFA materials:
Find ways to develop recognition of different language requirements in various scenarios. EFA supports
supplemental tasks and materials that take advantage of learners’ background knowledge. Incorporate
different kinds of literacy tasks into your use of EFA episodes: reading, listening, speaking, writing, etc.
Provide opportunities to gain experience with both functional literacy and more expressive styles. For
example, what are different ways to express appreciation; how does one know when appreciation was
expressed; and what does one do to acknowledge it? Questions like these could be used in exercises to
draw out students’ own experiences and build their language facilities.
Help learners identify benchmarks for success. The use of benchmarks includes judging where they are in
reaching their goals for using literacy and language effectively, and what experiences will help them build
on their current skills. Recognize that the skills they have mastered in a lesson might still be difficult to
apply in daily life.
Principle 5: Language and Literacy Development Require Focus, Engagement and
Language and literacy improve through both serendipitous and explicit learning. Learners need a chance to
immerse themselves in varied work that interests them. They also need enough time to gain a new skill, and
to reflect on what they are learning. Practice involves using a targeted skill in different contexts. This process
includes assessing performance in a comprehensive way, and learning how to make use of feedback about
one’s progress.
Learners need the opportunity to:
understand what a unit or lesson is about before getting involved in details,
spend sufficient time on a skill to comprehend it fully,
select and stay engaged with tasks that interest them,
alternate between focusing on meaning and fluency, and between fluency and correctness
practice skills using tasks that are compelling so that learners remain engaged.
Tips for use of the EFA materials:
Use episode introductions to draw out how students see the issues being addressed, what interests them
about the episode, and what might cause them difficulty. For example, in the episode on supervision,
what do they think about working with others, taking direction, and working with difficult co-workers?
Practice concepts in different literacy venues and SCANS contexts. Supplement episodes with exercises
using complex texts; for example: graphic materials, e-mail messages, Web sites, or survey results.
Interviews, problem solving, and informal communication are other possibilities.
Help learners understand the variety of resources available to help them make sense of tasks, including
people, magazines, the Web, etc. Point out the different aspects of a topic and what might interest them.
Help learners pinpoint how they have made progress and what they can do now that they couldn’t do
Principle 6: Language and Literacy Are Multi-dimensional
Developing language and literacy skills requires interaction with different kinds of literacy and language tasks.
These tasks require fluency and accuracy – but not necessarily at the same time. Skills can develop unevenly.
Materials that employ a host of ways to meet language and literacy requirements allow learners to understand
how language works.
Learners need the opportunity to:
gain experience with both functional literacy like reading a lease agreement and more expressive styles like
disagree with the landlady,
interact in different modes (reading, listening, speaking, writing),
engage in tasks that address the various dimensions of literacy.
Tips for use of the EFA materials:
Promote development of writing, mathematical, and other literacy skills by using topical material. In the
episode on developing supervisory skills, for example, learners might examine workplace rules and
individuals’ legal rights, listen to work-themed poetry or music, or share stories about how their friends
and family have learned about their rights in the workplace. Addressing issues in this manner improves
reading and writing skills and contributes to SCANS information and analysis.
Provide opportunities for learners beyond paperwork and question/answer dialogue. Include non-verbal
exercises that may include artistic, graphic and scientific expression. Let learners be active in formulating
hypotheses and synthesizing what they already know with the topics at hand.
Help the learner understand the different aspects of communication that affect interpretation. For
example, how non-verbal cues may be interpreted differently by workers of another ethnicity, gender, or
by those in different workplace roles.
Principle 7: Learners Need to Apply New Knowledge, Skills and Strategies in
Compelling Contexts
Learning language piecemeal makes it difficult for learners to see a system and to remember what they learn.
If learners make associations and are able to see connections between discrete concepts, they retain
knowledge by attaching it to what they already know. Adults learn best when the subject is related to real life
in a comprehensive and familiar way.
Learners need the opportunity to:
make connections between what is familiar and new ideas,
see how skills relate to an overall theme,
associate skills and strategies with real life,
select from a variety of themes so they can engage with topics they find compelling,
use different modes and learning styles.
Tips for use of the EFA materials:
Integrate into the episodes learners’ personal objectives and ways of measuring success. As shown in the
episodes, learners can discuss how their own situations might be different today if they had made
different decisions in the past. In this way, they can identify what helps them use language and literacy
skills effectively, and what obstacles they face.
Provide opportunities for learners to think about how they learn. Give learners a chance to see how
others similar to themselves deal with challenges, and learn how to give and receive feedback. Observing
others is one way to do it. Another is to synthesize information garnered from reviewing articles,
interviewing others and searching online.
Help learners assess their current knowledge and skills, and to evaluate their progress over time. It is
difficult to set goals that are both realistic and suitable for measuring progress. At one end of the
spectrum, the goal of ‘I want to be a lawyer’ is too high a mark. At the other end, measuring progress
against the learner’s ability to read a bus schedule is too low a mark. Instructors can help learners
establish appropriate benchmarks for success.
General Strategies
Cyberstep principles promote engagement in the learning process as well as learners’ retention of acquired
skills and understanding. Learners should know how to derive the most benefits from the process and how to
figure out which strategies work for them under various circumstances and why. The principles articulated
here can be a guide to examining what kinds of learning activities might be useful and how to blend them
with an individual learner’s educational plan.
Extending the Video Episodes
Watching the EFA episodes offers learners a multitude of opportunities for developing necessary skills,
including those they need as family members, community members, workers, and life-long learners.
The following tips show how instructors can take advantage of the videos to teach strategies related to
interpersonal communication, problem solving, decision-making, team work and navigating systems. The
videos give students a chance to develop technology skills while gaining a better understanding of how
English works. If used creatively, instructors can address those skills areas that are outlined in many of the
national frameworks meant to shape adult literacy so that students are ready to meet the challenges of a
changing society. For a full discussion of these concepts and strategies see:
Cyberstep Papers at www.cyberstep.org/papers
Standards for Creating Multimedia Learning Modules for Low Literacy and Limited English Proficient Adult learners (192K
PDF) Feb 99 www.cyberstep.org/pdfs/multimedia_standards.pdf
Materials Development Framework For Courses Targeting Low-Literacy and Limited-English Speaking Adults (456K
PDF) Jul 99 www.cyberstep.org/pdfs/multimedia_devStandards.pdf
Features of EFA video stories:
Excellent supplementary material, especially for a civics-oriented curriculum.
Springboards for discussion to enhance learners’ abilities to deal with life in the United States.
Recommendations and guidance are given in managing common situations encountered by new arrivals
and/or limited English proficient citizens.
Vivid illustrations of how to actively participate in American life, how to be an advocate for civil rights,
and how to be a responsible citizen and worker.
Real-life conflicts leading the main characters to decide between two opposing courses of action and
allowing the learners to interactively choose between options and view the consequences of each
Intriguing plots with comical scoundrels.
Situations that allow learners to identify with the protagonists and their dilemmas.
The Pace of Learning
The pace of learning is of crucial concern. Language and literacy develop when the target skills are slightly
above the learner’s current level of proficiency. Tasks that are very challenging can be frustrating. Tasks that
are very easy may be comforting at first, but eventually can be equally frustrating. Learners need to be able to
express frustration, to solicit help from coaches, and to be encouraged to examine their progress and what it
takes to move forward faster.
Plan on watching each episode several times, asking students to focus on different aspects of language,
behavior, culture or strategies. Students at lower levels of English proficiency often are more comfortable
watching the same videos several times, since they have difficulties taking in several language aspects at once.
To avoid frustration for these learners, consider turning off the sound to let students focus on the visual
images and get a sense of the themes underlying the episode. They can follow along with the scripts provided.
However, it’s important to be sure students get the sense of the whole story and use the video episodes as a
stimulus, not just an oral/aural exercise. The short synopses in section 3 of this guide also may be of
As students watch the video, either with the sound on or off, ask them to guess what they think will happen
next, or what the character really wants to see happen. Groups of students can work together to write down
their predictions and confirm them as they listen to the episodes. Providing students with grids for capturing
what they think a character will do or say will help them deal with various forms of “document literacy”. As a
follow-up they can create other documents such as flow charts that show a sequence of events.
The episodes have a lot in them, so it’s helpful to focus attention on specific aspects– for example, the
highlighted verb form, non-verbal communication, tone, etc. Before each viewing, let students know which
aspects they should pay attention to, and then, directly afterward, discuss what they see and how they
interpret it.
Make sure you connect what students see in the videos with their own experiences, asking them if something
similar has happened to them or to someone they know. If so, ask them about the outcome.
Invite students to take a critical stance vis-a-vis the videos. Ask them to discuss what is going on in the
episodes and encourage them to express their opinions. Talk about the roles that people with power and
those without it play in these episodes and to what extent these roles reflect current society. Encourage them
to talk about alternatives, asking questions such as “What is going on here? Why are these individuals doing
what they are doing? What are the options presented in the videos? Are there other options? If we wanted to
changes the possibilities open to poor people, what would we have to do?”
Note: During national presentations, a number of instructors have expressed concerns that videos included in
“English for All” or “Cross-roads Café” present a stereotypical view of language minorities that must be
challenged. We encourage instructors to raise this issue as part of the viewing process. View the videos with a
critical eye. Discuss different perspectives on the characters, what aspects of the character’s behavior makes
him or her seem stereotypical or not. Discuss learners’ different experiences of an episode’s theme.
Learning How to Learn
The EFA episodes are not explicit in teaching learning how to learn. However, the characters within each
episode demonstrate behaviors associated with learning how to learn and model certain characteristics that
help students be successful in learning and training. Instructors can highlight examples of characters who lack
these skills but would be well-served by using the strategies associated with academic or vocational success
and lifelong learning.
Watching others and learning how they do things is often referred to as “cognitive apprenticeship”. Skills and
strategies associated with learning how to learn include:
thoroughness (thinking through a problem, systematically gathering information before addressing it),
persistence (sticking with a problem to try to solve it),
risk-taking (taking a chance on making mistakes),
flexibility (the willingness to try new ways of approaching a problem),
curiosity (interest in and engagement with a task or a topic).
Note: Because beginning level students are not likely to have the vocabulary for many of the behaviors
associated with learning how to learn, it is best to introduce only one or two characteristics at a time, those
demonstrated by the characters in a particular episode exhibit.
Teaching Strategies:
• Ask learners what it takes to be successful in school, in a training program, or in learning new skills in
general. Ask them to list these skills and indicate in which areas they themselves are strong, and where their
habits might need some work.
• Encourage learners to create learning logs that let them capture what they do when they get stuck in their
work or when they don’t know the answer. The log can include how they use the help that is available to
them in the form of peers, the instructor, or family members, or in the form of learning resources such as
bilingual dictionaries or on-line help.
• Ask students to pay attention to what the characters in EFA do when they are not sure what to do or need
information and advice. How do they handle the situation? Whom do they ask for help? What do they do
when they hit a dead-end? What happens when things get difficult?
Students can address these and other questions with charts, logs documenting their work, or reflections on
what they can do now that they couldn’t do before.
Listen, Speak Up, Read, Write and Think Critically
There is a growing consensus in the field that communication is a complex process that reflects various
dimensions of literacy, including the linguistic, cognitive, social, and creative dimensions of learning.
Elements of these dimensions include:
listening actively and effectively,
reading with understanding (prose, signs, technical documents and graphs),
responding appropriately on forms,
conveying ideas in writing,
speaking so others can understand,
attending to visual sources of information that can help determine meaning.
Teaching Strategies:
Take advantage of the rich opportunities for learning that each episode represents. Connect listening and
reading (receptive skills) with speaking and writing (productive skills).
Encourage students to summarize what they see both in spoken language and in writing. Ask them to
focus first on the overall message of the episode (“What is this episode all about?”) and then provide
details. Lower level students can start with simple questions, such as “What do you see?”
Focus on both verbal and non-verbal communication. Ask students to pay attention to the non-verbal
clues, including body language and tone. Ask what messages are conveyed through such communication
and discuss ways in which we invite others into a conversation and in which ways we shut them out.
Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication is more than just speaking and listening. It includes interpreting and clarifying
meaning, using non-verbal clues to facilitate or impede communication, using persuasion and dissuasion, and
understanding how to manage possible conflicts in information or opinions. Specifically, interpersonal
communication includes the following:
persuading others (e.g. to caution, request, advise, convince, negotiate),
participating in general social situations (e.g. to greet, introduce, thank, apologize, compliment, express
pleasure or regret, write an invitation or personal note; converse about personal interests; tell a personal
navigating official contexts (e.g. to respond appropriately to information requests, interpret and write
official correspondence; leave a message on a message pad),
mediating between those with differing opinions or perspectives (e.g. to express an opinion, recognize a
difference in opinion, to acknowledge that difference, to make suggestions).
Teaching Strategies
When working with beginners, spend a good deal of time teaching and practicing “conversational
gambits,” such as saying hello, and asking questions to show interest (“Where are you from?” “Is your
family here with you?”).
Focus on small talk (weather and traffic always work) until students feel comfortable talking with each
other and with those outside of the classroom.
Encourage students to listen for the phrases that are used in the episodes and to identify others that they
have heard.
Discuss differences in tone (when does someone sound bossy or rude) and in register (we feel free to tell
our children what to do in very direct terms but are more circumspect with our bosses and with authority
Discuss language that is perceived as “challenging authority” and discuss ways in which people can speak
up that does not immediately engender conflict. Trying to talk a policeman out of giving you a ticket
often works well as a role-play to highlight differences in language and tone.
Make it clear that language differs depending on the urgency of a situation. Rules change as emergencies
arise. You are free to yell at your boss if she steps in front of a speeding truck and it makes sense to say
“This has to stop!” when there are noxious fumes in the school or at a work place.
Connect “functional literacy” to social communication. Examine the kind of writing that is done (or not)
within the episodes and discuss how people communicate at work. Use students with work experience as
examples. Did they read notices, safety warnings or MO’s (manufacturing orders that tell a factory worker
what to do each day)? Can they interpret paychecks, fill out vacation requests or read insurance forms
(none of us can)?
Watch the episodes that pertain to employment and work. Discuss with your students how people
actually get jobs in the real world and what their experiences have been. Develop a short True/False test
and ask students to agree with common assumptions such as “you need a resume to get a job” or “you
can’t get a job without speaking English” and use both the information in the videos and the experience
of your students to guide the discussion. Use examples from other sources as well.
Use other Web sites to provide opportunities to involve students in framing responses to speakers or
writers in different contexts. For example, students can communicate with others by using email
capabilities to send messages, ask advice and share information with other students. Consider the
possibility of setting up sister programs across town that serve a different language groups and use the
Internet to create “virtual visits” of their program, where they post pictures and stories and exchange
messages with students from around the world.
Provide plenty of opportunities for students to use English outside of the classroom. Design structured
activities, such as asking students to work in teams to talk with strangers (“Can you tell me where the
post office is?”), shop keepers (“What time do you close? Do you have Goya products?”) or pharmacists
(“My child has a fever. What should I do?”).
Use class time to do a neighborhood walk so that students can use language as part of a group or in pairs
(only one person needs to talk initially). As part of a group, they can provide moral support for each
other. Teach communicative functions such as interrupting (“Excuse me, can I ask you a question?”) and
giving explanations (“We are part of an ESL class and we are practicing English.”).
Make it possible for students to create literacy materials. Encourage them to write birthday cards for each
other in class; arrange parties and bake sales and produce flyers, posters, and invitations; make up a set of
“class rules” that govern how they want the class to work (When should the native language be used?
How many absences are ok? How do we want to help those who are having difficulties in the class?). Ask
students to conduct surveys and interviews with others (“How did you get your job?” “Have you even
been stopped by the police?” “What for?”). “One Question Surveys” and “Information Grids” around
topics addressed in EFA are an excellent way to connect listening, speaking, writing, and math as results
of inquiries are tallied.
Reflection and Self-Expression
Knowledge becomes obsolete over time, and the tasks required by daily life change. Witness changes in
technology over the past twenty years. Essentially everybody’s a learner – whether she or he is a coach or just
starting out. We all need to stay current in what’s required to ‘compete’ (i.e. to advocate effectively for
ourselves and our families), and to examine the status of our skills in this context. This process requires selfexpression and reflection.
SCANS and EFF frameworks recognize that being deliberate in learning is essential to being effective with
language and other foundation skills. Learners need to understand what they can do well and what they want
to improve, and to be able to accept and make use of feedback. Sometimes these abilities are referred to as
personal skills or cognitive skills. They include what we already have referenced (self-understanding,
confidence, openness and flexibility), as well as self-assessment, and commitment to self-improvement and
learning management skills. Specifically, the learner has to be encouraged to:
reflect on how language and basic skills influence how one achieves objectives,
identify and use resources to accelerate learning,
practice using newly acquired skills in real life contexts,
take steps to monitor progress and accomplishments,
solicit and make use of feedback in improving skills and learning strategies,
have fun with learning and celebrate accomplishments.
EFA materials model reflection and self-expression in the very structure of the materials.
Teaching strategies:
The learner should reflect on alternative scenarios and be asked to identify patterns of language and
behavior that influence outcomes. How would the learner introduce an EFA scenario, and summarize
what happened in it?
Learners should assess their own proficiency in using English and other literacy skills to accomplish their
objectives. Learners can be asked to write their own brief scenarios for getting a job, renting an
apartment, going to the doctor, etc. Focusing on those scenarios, they can then analyze the specific
language and basic skills that communicate the meaning intended and those that do not. Engaging
learners in outlining what works and doesn’t work helps develop consciousness of the learning process.
Learners can be asked to identify the specific barriers in a communication context and then
brainstorm appropriate language strategies with the instructor and other learners. Deliberate
learning requires a realistic family of objectives and an understanding of what it takes to overcome
Ask learners to review an EFA episode, identify issues that they would like to work on and set priorities.
Learners might rate issues in terms of the level of challenge for them.
EFA episodes identify resources to assist with learning outside the classroom and ways of recognizing
and celebrating accomplishments. EFA materials are designed to engage learners in self-reflection and to
remind them that they constantly confront choices about how to manage resources.
Understanding How English Works
One of the keys to becoming proficient in English is understanding how English works: how sentences are
formed, how past tense or future tense is expressed, how an adjective becomes an adverb or how regular
plurals differ from irregular ones. But proficiency involves more than just the linguistic aspects, it also
requires a good understanding of how language is used by native speakers of the language. If students are to
be successful, they will need a good sense of the various aspects of English.
Important Elements of the English Language:
vocabulary (highly important for beginning learners),
syntax (structure of sentences) and morphology (word endings etc),
pragmatics (how English is used, along with the socio-linguistic rules that govern such use), and
semiotics (what symbols mean, such as the flag; a plus sign; a skull and cross-bone; hands raised in the air;
shaking of the head).
Remember that students have different levels of readiness when it comes to understanding grammar
explanations. Individual learners are only able to absorb a rule when the “language acquisition device” in their
minds is ready to take in that rule (Have you ever tried to teach present perfect to beginning students? How
many have been able to use the rule correctly?). Given the idiosyncratic nature of second language acquisition,
it is best to introduce a few simple rules that most students are ready for and focus on using the language for
a variety of purposes the rest of the time. Students who have a mind for grammar and are ready to take in
further rules will have many opportunities online to work on these skills.
Teaching Strategies:
Highlight the key vocabulary that appears in the episodes. You can list key words before students watch
and ask them to listen for them (this works well for beginners who get overwhelmed) or ask students to
listen and then tell you some of the key words that they have picked up. Alternate these strategies as you
go along.
Ask students to identify words that they really like, words they can never remember, or words that give
them trouble (“recipe”, for example or “receipt”). Encourage them to put these words into “Personal
Dictionaries” and create flashcards so they can study them at home, during work breaks or on the bus.
Present grammar in context. Focus on the message of an episode during the first viewing (What do you
see here? What is this about? Who are these characters? What are people trying to accomplish?). In
subsequent viewings, ask students to listen for certain structures that can help them to communicate and
understand what others are saying.
Take advantage of the many opportunities for independent learning that the EFA video and online
materials present in respect to grammar. Spend class time on some of the other aspects of English: using
English inside and outside of the classroom and helping students to understand not just what to say, but
how and when to say it (or when to just keep quiet).
Help students uncover many of the hidden communication structures that are part of living in the United
States. Invite them to discuss the visual and print-based messages that they see in ads and in TV shows,
and “unpack” the symbols that those new to the U.S. may not be familiar with (recycling signs; symbols
for hazardous waste).
Include cross-cultural comparisons in your discussions: What does it mean when someone slips
policeman a five dollar bill along with a driver’s license? When an instructor calls a parent in for a
meeting? When workers go on strike?
Problem Solving and Decision Making
Problem-solving and decision-making are part of everyone’s life. To link the learning of another language to
the cognitive challenges inherent in problem-solving makes language learning real and provides opportunities
for exploring the cultural dimensions that are part of problem solving. For students with only a few years of
schooling, formal problem-solving can present new cognitive challenges. Being proficient in solving problems
that call for experience and intuition, they may need opportunities to work with the more formal problemsolving processes that are used in academic work and in the workplace. Formal problem solving includes the
following elements:
analyzing a situation and articulating what the problem is,
dividing the problem into its component parts where necessary,
brainstorming ideas for possible solutions and presenting them as options,
outlining benefits and disadvantages of a certain course of action,
predicting possible consequences, both positive and negative,
considering feelings and values and principles to decide which course of action makes sense,
deciding if the decision in question reflects a “high stakes” decision that is not easily reversed (getting
married) or a relatively low stakes one (eating a favorite food although it gives you heartburn),
making a decision.
Teaching Strategies:
Take advantage of the many scenarios that the episodes present. They are ideally suited for problemsolving. Show several to your students and let them select the ones they want to discuss. Involve students
in discussion before showing the options on screen to encourage maximum language use.
Make sure you make connections between the scenarios on screen and the problems your students have
faced or are facing. Allow students to discuss their problems and give them a chance to ask others for
Write up several of the scenarios in simple language and ask students to decide what they would do,
asking “What would you do? What would you say?” Ask students to write additional scenarios based on
their experience and that of their friends. Use email to post these scenarios and encourage all students to
give advice and present their ideas.
Don’t move too fast through the decision-making process. Allow students time to think about these
problems, consider options and make decisions. Encourage students to check with others at home or in
the neighborhood regarding possible solutions and give them time to shape their answers, orally and in
writing. Have students solve problems as a group some of the time and as individuals at other times.
Encourage students to consider multiple perspectives and consider why people might want to
act in a certain way. For example, ask students why the policeman in the episode reacted a
certain way, or why the employer made the decisions that he did.
Allow students to challenge some of the decisions they see in the videos in order to make it clear
that there is more than one way of handling a situation. Emphasize, however, that in cases where
laws or regulations are concerned, violating them has serious consequences. Be aware of “red
flag issues” and avoid projecting the attitude that one decision is as good as another. Lying on
one’s citizenship application form, for example, can result in deportation. Students have a right
to know that certain actions can get them into trouble, although the final decisions are clearly
Don’t forget about language development as your students
engage in problem-solving and decision-making.
Highlight the language and the communicative functions that are used in these situations, such as “I think you
should….;” “Why don’t you?” and “If ..., then” constructions. For lower-level students keep the structures
simple; e.g. “This is my advice: Don’t drink and drive; don’t talk back to the police,” etc. or “If you don’t pay
the rent, they can evict you.”
Using Technology to Navigate Systems
Immigrants and refugees need more than just language proficiency and communicative competence. To get
things done, make their voices heard, gain access to good jobs, and to keep their families thriving, they will
need to understand how things work and acquire strategies for navigating the various systems that shape our
life in the U.S. Getting things done often requires knowing which individuals, agencies or services can help
with a problem. Many adult learner groups don’t know about the variety of services that are available to
them. Even if they are familiar with some of the agencies that can provide support, they may be too
embarrassed about their lack of language and literacy skills to take advantage of what is being offered.
Increasingly, navigating systems requires knowledge of technology. Getting money from the bank, buying a
ticket for the train or the bus, finding out about the hours an agency is open, getting information in the native
language, dealing with bills or just calling the INS for information requires a grasp of technology. As ATMs,
information kiosks, voice mail and phone trees replace receptionists, face-to-face contact becomes
increasingly difficult. Finding information on the Internet and navigating a Web-based system requires
another set of skills. Using technology to navigate systems requires the following:
knowledge of available resources that can provide help in addressing the challenges immigrants and
refugees face,
access to a network of “literacy helpers” or “cultural brokers” who can explain things and provide
strategies for accessing these services and finding people within the system who can provide assistance,
skills needed to negotiate the various technologies, including phone systems and information
terminals, and
background knowledge of how Web sites function and how they are navigated.
Teaching Strategies:
As you watch videos with your students, take note of the systems that come into play in the various
episodes. These systems include the criminal justice system, landlord/tenant relationships, the education
and training system and others.
Ask students to discuss how these systems work in their experience, using both a problem-solving
approach (“What do you need to do when you get a ticket? What are your rights?”) and problem posing
(“Who goes to jail for traffic violations and why? Do you know anyone who ended up in jail because they
did not pay their speeding tickets? Who is able to get a driver’s license and who isn’t? What happens
when you get caught driving without a legal license?”)
Invite guest speakers to come to the class to discuss “how things work” and how students can
get access to services. Be sure to prepare students sufficiently for these talks by providing
background information and studying key vocabulary. Ask students to discuss the questions they
have and the topic areas that interest them the most, and ask the guest speakers ahead of time to
address those topics in simple English or with bilingual support. To deepen learning, link these
talks to both student experiences and to the EFA episodes.
Encourage students to discuss what they know about systems and services in the community and identify
those agency individuals who are particularly helpful. Help establish a community within the classrooms
where such information is discussed and shared. Work with teams of students within the class or the
program to create simple brochures so the information can be shared with others. Finding out about
local services and community resources can easily be linked to the EFA episodes.
Provide tutorials for students to help them navigate the EFA system online. Set up groups of
students who can help each other and involve them in writing down the key steps for getting on
and off the computer, along with negotiating the language learning system. It may take quite a
bit of time to get beginning students comfortable with email or other functions of the system.
You may need to “prime the pump” by posing questions for students to answer, creating a
dialogue with the class, or by encouraging individual
students personally to share their ideas and
ask for feedback from other students.
Have students visit Web sites that provide information about local communities, including agencies or
organizations that offer services or act as advocates for refugees and immigrants.
Work with guest speakers and learners to help students develop the skills associated with “English for
Self-Defense.” Discuss what they can do when they feel they have been treated unjustly, when they don’t
get the information they should, or when services using Federal monies don’t provide translation or an
interpreter when necessary.
Provide access to information about rights and responsibilities under a particular system (e.g. informed
consent, Miranda rights, search and seizure, evictions, child abuse, etc.). Even short-answer tests and
quizzes, mix-and-match exercises, and scenario summaries can support an orientation to systems and
how they work.
Both the video and the online versions of EFA provide multiple opportunities to discuss how systems
work and how one can work with them. Learning English online also provides students with the
computer knowledge necessary to deal with other online resources successfully. Finally, having access to
the Internet at school, at work, or at home offers students the opportunity find out more about services
and systems, including the learning resources such as dictionaries and encyclopedias available online.
Organizing, Summarizing, and Presenting Information
Fundamental to the successful development of second-language and basic skills is the ability to synthesize and
present information. In EFA, the structure of each episode, with the wizard presenting alternative endings
and consequences, demonstrates the importance of the organizing and presentation skills listed below. The
wizard often demonstrates one approach, but there are many others. Some of the alternatives might be
articulated by other story characters; some the learner can provide. Organizing, summarizing and presenting
information requires the following:
Clarity: Can the summary be understood? Is it useful?
Comprehensiveness: Were the key facts and issues covered?
Accuracy: Does the summary differ in tone or implication from the fuller story?
Persuasiveness: How are different audiences’ information needs addressed?
Interest: Is the summary, synthesis and presentation appealing?
Format: Is the learner comfortable with spoken, written, graphic, chart, and numeric formats?
Teaching Strategies:
Ask students to diagram the various elements comprising an episode. Can they transform an episode into
a series of headlines in a newspaper; can they make a chart of do’s and don’ts from the information
presented or differentiate the opinions from the facts?
Ask students to summarize reports from other students about their experiences with situations like the
one shown in an episode. This sort of exercise might then segue into one on analytic thinking, in which
students review postings after a week and write a short compare/contrast piece.
Replay EFA segments that differ in tone, urgency and register. Involve the learner in synthesizing the
meaning; then checking out with others whether the meaning conveyed was strengthened using the
organizing and presenting strategies previously listed.
These quintessential information manipulation skills are key to functioning effectively in the community.
Therefore, tasks should involve learners in trying out their prowess with neighbors, in interactions with
shopkeepers and/or at work. This process requires risk-taking and considerable attention to be effective.
Numeracy – Mathematical Concepts and Operations
Mathematical reasoning skills might seem like a world apart form language learning, but they are critical
elements in acquiring and managing information in contemporary society. Examples of the importance of
mathematical literacy abound in daily life, from the ability to interpret percentages in a blood alcohol chart
for the DMV, to reading schedules and calculating the probability that something described in the news will
happen. People with limited literacy or basic skills may feel comfortable with simple arithmetic, but their
comfort level probably drops severely when it comes to dealing with charts and graphs showing probability or
Cyberstep’s EFA materials provide a rich backdrop against which to develop these quantitative skills. Some
of the ways in which numeracy is included in EFA scenarios relate to discussions of:
likelihood something will happen (e.g. probability),
incidence of an event occurring (e.g. frequency of promotion right after getting a diploma),
determining cost factors (e.g. how to determine the cost of ignoring safety signs for washing floor),
status (e.g. charts or percentages showing where the character is in his career path),
process description (e.g. graphs and diagrams showing the process for settling a legal dispute), and
progress achieved (e.g. summary of accomplishments in achieving objective or solving a community
Learners progress better when motivated by things that are important to them, so calculating the likelihood
that a situation will affect them is crucial; and this process of calculation is at the heart of numeracy.
Teaching strategies:
A character in one of the episodes says “Forty-five percent of people really believe this, you know.” What
does this statement mean? Have learners work together and rate the episodes in terms of utility for their
learning, then translate the rating into narrative.
Part of an open discussion of the EFA episode characters includes whether the experiences and the
characters are good examples and helpful contexts for applying English skills. Learners can find out from
their peers how often a situation has occurred to them and what impact it had, and then portray the
results in mathematical terms.
Contrast and comparison is crucial for appropriate self-expression and communication. Ask
learners to point out how episode elements are the same as or different from other learners’
experiences. The EFA episode on job advancement is a good example of how multiple
mathematical operations can be relevant. In addition to the increase in salary, one must consider
advancement opportunities and the consequences of stress from increased responsibility as well
as the different weights that are likely to be assigned to each of these.
Examining bills, official letters, forms and flyers can supplement an episode, bringing
mathematics to bear on problems related to money, space or time.
Stories, Content and Learning Elements
The following tables provide a synopsis of each story by episode. It was adapted from the materials
developed by Nancy Faux of the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (2001). A summary table with all
the stories, their topic and grammatical focus by episode appears on page 44.
Story # 1 – Workers and the Work Place, 4 Episodes
Episode 1 – Job and Career Advancement
Synopsis: Alejandro Cordero is an unhappy bus boy who works for a difficult and unfair restaurant owner. After
experiencing the disappointment of missing a promotion, he must decide whether he should apply for the position
of assistant manager in another restaurant or not and risk the possibility of another disappointment.
Grammatical Structure
Auxiliary verbs: Use of
simple present verb forms:
want, need, like, hate +
infinitive verb form
Linguistic Functions
* Expressing personal tastes and desires
* Expressing agreement
* Introducing yourself
* Asking yes/no questions
Workplace/Life Skills
* Job skills
* Looking for employment
* Reading and understanding want ads
* Applying for a job
Episode 2 – Job Health and Safety
Synopsis: Before leaving his old job, Alejandro warns his boss of some potentially hazardous conditions at work. His
boss, nevertheless, ignores and tries to intimidate Alejandro, which may lead to difficulties for everyone.
Grammatical Structure
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
*Future tense: Going to, will
*Imperative: Let’s
*Expressing future plans
*Making promises/predictions
*Giving/responding to commands
*Scanning documents such as manuals and
signs for specific information
*Being aware of safety precautions
and taking responsibility to maintain
safe conditions
*Reporting unsafe conditions in the
Episode 3 – Support Systems for Injured Workers
Synopsis: Alejandro suffers an accident at work and learns about Worker’s Compensation. Since his boss refuses to
pay, he must appear before a judge who will decide his case. Alejandro must tell the whole truth before the judge can
award him his compensation.
Grammatical Structure
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Past tense: Simple regular and
irregular verbs
*Describing past events
*Responding to a request
*Answering questions
*Convincing others
*Workers’ Rights
*Workers’ Compensation
*Seeking legal/ professional assistance
*Appearing in court
*Effects of perjury
Episode 4 – Supervisors and Teamwork
Synopsis: As the new assistant manager, Alejandro must be able to effectively supervise other employees, which is
not always easy. He must also learn to ask for advice and recognize the benefits of everyone working as a team.
Grammatical Structure
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Imperatives: let’s
*Making suggestions
*Asking for and giving advice
*Giving commands
*Giving and accepting thanks
*Supervising the work of others
*Working as a team
*Learning to ask for help
*Recognizing a problem and devising
and implementing a plan of action
Story # 2: Housing and Family Life, 4 Episodes
Episode 5 – Managing Family Life
Synopsis: A young couple from Russia looks for an affordable apartment in the same neighborhood where they
work. The apartment needs to fulfill certain requirements and standards. One landlord tries to intimidate them into
signing a lease before they have had time to completely read through it. Then they find an apartment that they do
like, but the manager refuses to rent to them on the grounds that they have a child.
Grammatical Structure
Linguistic Functions
Life Skills
Verbs of necessity: have to vs. must
*Interpreting rental ads
*House hunting
*Signing a lease
*Tenant’s responsibilities
*Civil rights
Episode 6 – Using Information Services to Resolve Housing Issues
Synopsis: After the Pushkins find the ideal apartment, they must take legal action to force the manager to rent it to
them. First, however, they must access resources in the local library, contact government agencies, and meet with
helpful officials.
Grammatical Structure
Life Skills
Can, could, to express ability in the
present and past
Expressing ability to do
*Identifying procedures the consumer
can follow if merchandise or service is
*Accessing resources at the local
*Contacting and having confidence in
government agencies
Episode 7 – Accessing Services (Telephone, electricity, etc.)
Synopsis: Now that the Pushkins are renting the new apartment, they must have all the services installed, including
the telephone. They set up an appointment time for the service man to install the phone, but are unable or
prevented from keeping the appointment. Karina must attempt to make a new appointment, which proves to be
extremely frustrating and time-consuming.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Modal auxiliaries (may, would, can,
could) used to make formal and
informal requests and offers.
“Would you like…?”
“May I help you?”
*Requesting/offering services
*Making phone calls
*Listening and responding to
telephone menus
*Asking for clarification
*Requesting services for utilities
*Dealing with automated voice systems
*Lodging a complaint
*Deciding on a course of action and
Episode 8 – Men’s Changing Roles
Synopsis: Karina is unhappy that she must do all of the housework, since she works outside of the home as well.
Victor, her husband, learns to share the responsibilities around the home. This story is excellent for demonstrating
the uses of “make” versus “do” in context.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Life Skills
Action verbs: Make vs. do
Complaining orally and in writing
*Describing daily activities
*Writing memos
*Sharing house chores
*Overcoming gender stereotypes
* Communicating housing problems to
Story # 3: Dealing with Federal and Municipal Officials, 4 Episodes
Episode 9 – Dealing with Taxes
Synopsis: Tshombe operates a sidewalk lemonade stand on a busy street. He seeks advice from a tax consultant
after he receives notification from the IRS about the tax form he had filed. He must make a choice between
declaring his correct income or lying about it to avoid paying extra taxes.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Nouns: Count and non-count
nouns, formation of plurals
*Specifying quantities
*Interpreting public signs and written
*Paying taxes
*Seeking tax advice
*Filling out IRS forms
Episode 10 – Dealing with the Law
Synopsis: Tshombe needs to have his lemonade stand open longer than his municipal permit allows in order to
make more money for the extra taxes that he owes. When he refuses to close down at 5:00 p.m., he gets into a
serious argument with a police officer.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Life Skills
Quantifiers: much, many, some, a
few, any, a lot of, a little
*Expressing quantities
*Understanding items and
quantities on a shopping list
*Cooperating with representatives of
the law/ police officers
*Lesson provides guidelines to follow
when dealing with police officers.
Episode 11 – Analyzing and Debating Community Issues
Synopsis: After Tshombe and Jose meet with the police and a city official, they try to organize their fellow street
vendors to defend their rights as street vendors. A shop owner wants them to leave her street and has arranged for a
public hearing to be held.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Singular expressions of
quantity: each one, another,
others, other
*Persuading others
*Expressing an opinion
*Agreeing and disagreeing
*Participating in a group
discussion, meeting
*Being part of a team
*Collaborating with neighbors to solve
community issues
*Being informed
*Challenging existing procedures and policies
Episode 12 – Civic Participation
Synopsis: Tshombe appears at a court hearing to defend the street vendors’ rights to sell their merchandise. He
must produce documented evidence to support his case.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Object pronouns,
Indefinite pronouns
*Expressing an opinion
*Interpreting written public
*Dealing with court proceedings
*Defending your case before a judge
*Creating strategies to solve community problems
*Providing evidence for an argument
Story # 4: Parenting and Women’s Changing Roles, 4 Episodes
Episode 13 – Parenting in the U.S
Synopsis: Marta, a single working mother, feels that her teenage daughter, Viviana, is becoming disrespectful and
wants to send her to live with relatives in Mexico. Viviana, on the other hand, feels that her mother does not
understand her and will not listen to her problems.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
*Asking for/ giving permission
*Convincing others
*Hesitation strategies
*Dealing with sexual harassment
*Understanding teenagers
*Showing respect for parents
Episode 14 – Women’s Changing Roles
Synopsis: Benjamin, Marta’s ex-husband, loses his job and faces an eviction from his apartment. He wants to move
in with Marta and Viviana and promises to do the cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc., while Marta is at work.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Life Skills
Adverbs of frequency*
Expressing frequency of
*Describing usual and unusual
*Refusing to accept an offer
*Ignoring gender roles
*Obeying rules and regulations in the
*Being a responsible worker
Episode 15 – Women’s Work Issues
Synopsis: Marta struggles with sexual harassment from her supervisor who will drop charges, which he has falsely
placed against her, if she consents to go out on a date with him.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Adverbs of manner
*Recognizing sexual harassment and misconceptions of
women’s behavior and preferences
*Dealing with sexual harassment
Episode 16 – Women in Non-traditional Roles
Synopsis: After accepting a position at work as the new manager, Marta must face the possibility of firing Dora,
her best friend. Dora has not been able to keep up production ever since the new written instructions have been
circulated, but refuses to admit that she is illiterate.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Comparative and superlative forms
of adjectives
*Comparing abilities
*Women becoming leaders
*Defining the qualities of good leaders
*Overcoming illiteracy
*Supporting friends/teamwork
Story # 5: Learning, Education, and Educational Credentials, 4 Episodes
Episode 17 – Accessing Learning Opportunities
Synopsis: Tony Park, recently arrived from Korea, has inherited his father’s sandwich shop in California. Even
though he has an advanced degree from a university in his home country, he has limited skills in English. This
inability to communicate with customers begins to hurt his business. Complicating the situation, a gangster wants to
buy the sandwich shop property for real estate investing purposes and begins creating problems for him.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Asking questions with “wh”
*Asking for information
*Describing future plans and
*Giving excuses
*Recognizing the need to learn English
*Participating in life-long learning
*Learning on your own
*Adjusting to a new role in an unfamiliar culture
Episode 18 – Investing in your Children’s Education
Synopsis: Tony becomes interested in a young woman and must decide if it is more important to keep a date with
her or talk to his son’s instructor about his son’s problems.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Life Skills
Prepositions of time, place and
Scheduling appointments
Interpreting maps
Getting involved in your children’s
Episode 19 – Transferring Professional Degrees and Licenses
Synopsis: The sandwich shop is robbed, which obligates Tony to reevaluate what he wants to do in life. In order to
be certified as a pharmacist in the U.S., he must take the TOEFL exam, which becomes a difficult challenge for him
that he can either accept or turn away from.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Use of simple past tense with
common regular and irregular verbs
to ask questions (use of did)
Asking questions about the past
Giving encouragement
Obtaining professional credentials in U.S.
Confronting a difficult challenge
Episode 20 – Learning to Learn
Synopsis: Tony must decide whether he should sell the sandwich shop or not. He and his uncle have been
intimidated by the gangster who tries to force them out of business. In cooperation with the police, they plan to
catch the people who are robbing the shop. Tony, however, must first learn about cameras and technology in order
to set up a surveillance system.
Grammatical Structure(s)
Linguistic Functions
Workplace/Life Skills
Past tense forms of verbs
Talking about events completed in the past
Scanning a restaurant menu for specific
information (prices)
Knowing where/how to access
information that you need
Overcoming pride
Story Episode Title and Main Focus
Job and Career Advancement
Job Health and Safety
Support Systems for Injured Workers
Supervisors and Teamwork
Managing Family Life
Information Services
Accessing Services (Phone, utilities, etc.)
Men’s Changing Roles
Dealing with Taxes
Dealing with the Law
Analyzing and Debating Community Issues
Civic Participation
Parenting in the U.S.
Women’s Changing Roles
Women’s Work Issues
Women in Non-traditional Roles
Accessing Learning Opportunities
Investing in your Children’s Education
Transferring Professional Degrees and
Learning to Learn
Auxiliary Verbs: Want, need, like, hate
Future Tense: Going to vs. will
Past Tense: Simple regular and irregular verbs
Imperatives: let’s
Verbs of Necessity: have to vs. must
Expressability: Can, could- present and past
Modal auxiliaries: formal and informal requests
Action Verbs: Make vs. Do
Nouns: Count and non-count; plurals
Quantifiers: much, many, some, a few, any, a lot of, a little
Singular expressions of quantity: each one, another, others,
Object pronouns, indefinite pronouns
Adverbs of Frequency
Adverbs of Manner
Comparative and superlative adjectives
Asking questions with “wh” words
Prepositions: Time, place and direction
Use of “did” in simple past questions
Past tense forms of verbs
Quick Start for Students
If you are a first-time user of the EFA Website, you need to:
1. Click on the “Student Registration” box at the
top of the homepage.
2. Fill out the Registration Form
a. Type in all the requested information. The class
password comes from your teacher. (If you are not
in a class, select “Visitor” from the top of the EFA
homepage. You can do all the EFA activities, but
your records will not be saved.) Be sure to write
down your sign-in name and your password and
keep them in a safe place. You will need them to get
into MyEFA.
3. Click the “Done” button at the bottom of the
Sample Completed Student Registration Form for Stuart Dent
Once you click the ‘Done’ link, you arrive at your MyEFA page.
After you have registered, to begin using MyEFA you need only sign in. Select “Sign In” from the
main menu bar at the top of the EFA homepage:
Enter your sign-in name and password in the form and click the “Sign In” button:
The My EFA Page
After signing in you will see your own MyEFA page like the one shown below. On this page you will see all
the work you have done and the work yet to do in the course. You can use this page to chart your progress
through EFA.
In this example, the student’s name is Juan; and this is Juan’s EFA home page. The numbers in the
illustration refer to the following:
1 – There are new e-mail messages waiting for him
2 – He is enrolled in the EFA class called EFA Documentation.
3 – His teacher’s name is Erik Schmidt.
4 – He can click here to read email from the teacher, to get a personal message explaining his homework, or
inquiring how he is doing, or providing ways to expand on his learning.
5 – Clicking on the link ‘Email my teacher’ enables a reply or writing a question to the teacher.
6 – In the second block of blue and gray boxes, all the episodes are listed. Juan is new to the class and hasn’t
done any work on any of them; so none are checked. If he had done work on episode one, the box to the
right of the episode number would be checked.
Click on “Episode One.” You will see an activity grid that shows all the activities and your scores for each
episode. Everything will be blank if you are a new student. Click on any of the items to go to that point in the
Click on “Introduction” to go to the beginning of the episode. If your computer is set up
properly, a video window will appear and you’re ready to start working:
You can see:
1. The episode you are working on.
2. The type of activity you are working on.
3. The place to click if you want to see the script for the episode. That way you can follow along with
what the characters are saying.
4. The place to click to start the movie. This may look different if you’re on a Mac. When you click it, the
movie will start, so your screen will look like #5 on the previous page.
5. The video. Note it may take a few moments for the movie to play, so you’ll have to be patient. Wait 3
or 4 minutes, just in case you have a slow connection.
Note: Don’t forget, if your connection is very slow, you can use the CD-ROM that has all the movies
on it, and it works with the Web site to give quick access to quality videos.
Note: If you don’t hear the sound, be sure your speakers are on.
6. This area provides access to translation. Enter a word in the blank box, select a language, click the ‘Go’
button, and it will translate the word for you.
Follow the directions to complete the lesson.
a. The objectives of the lesson. There
are many things you can learn from the
lesson. Your teacher will point out
some of these things to you.
If you decide to continue with the
lesson, you click the right arrow. If you
decide you’d rather do another lesson
instead, click the left arrow, and you’ll
return to the screen shown in #6.
b. The vocabulary for the lesson.
Click on the speaker to the left
of each word to hear it. When you
are done, click ‘Next.’
c. Activities to help learn. In this
example, it’s a vocabulary activity.
Click on the speaker to hear the
correct word. When you are done, click
After you submit your work, you see your score (as shown with the red circled text in the screen depicted below).
This student got less than 80% correct on the activity, and is advised to do the activity again. If he or she
wants to do that, he or she could click one of the links at the bottom of the screen or leave the lesson and try
another activity, try another episode, or sign out of the Web site.
If you want to check your progress, click on “My EFA” at the top of the page to go to your own
home page. Once there, click on “Episode One” again. You will see how many activities you have
completed as well as your scores on the activities. .
If you want to send a note to your teacher, click on “Email my teacher.”
Then, fill in the subject and write your message in the form.
If you want to leave your own EFA pages, click “Sign Out” at the top of the page. You will return to
the public EFA homepage.