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LAL - Literacy Centre

June 15, 2022

Churchill's Literacy Centre currently offers three courses for students with limited or no prior schooling.  These courses are designed for learners from war affected / refugee backgrounds, but they are also open to learners from regions where access to education has been limited by poverty or gender, or from school settings that were limited to one or two hours a day and / or taught a very narrow curriculum focusing on rote skills.  LAL learners are identified by their absence of or by their significantly limited primary language literacy.

In addition to learning English, students enrolled in LAL Programming develop foundational literacy, numeracy, and academic / subject area knowledge and skills.  LAL programming at the senior years level also provides life skills, and an orientation to school, community and independent living.  Students initially enrolled in LAL programming spend 75% of their time in the Literacy Centre.  Courses may take longer than one or two semesters to complete and are outcome-based.  Students enrolled in other Options courses and/or mainstream academic courses may be working on LAL programming.

LALR1F – Phase 1 – 1 credit

Prerequisite:  None

This course is for EAL learners who have had no prior formal schooling.  Students will develop foundational literacy and numeracy skills.  Students will begin to read and write text for required communication and foundational numeracy and subject area learning.  Students will use a limited repertoire of words and phrases, learn to organize, structure, and sequence simple texts.  Students will learn to use English for everyday schooling.  Students will be introduced to reading and writing strategies.  Students will be introduced to basic facts concerning Canada's peoples, geography, history and cultural traditions.

LAL21F – Phase 2 – 1 credit

Prerequisite – None

Learners who are entering LAL Phase 2 are typically students who have completed LAL Phase 1 or are new students who have had some prior schooling but are well below what may be expected for their age / grade.  They will have developed some foundational literacy skills in at least one language and will have had some limited literacy or subject area learning skills.  The goal of this course is to develop greater interpersonal communication and foundational academic English language skills.  Students will interact with a familiar topic, listen to oral presentations, respond with or without visual aids, read and gain meaning for short texts and answer simple questions.  Students at this age will be required to recognize and produce a limited range of simple text forms in guided situations: ads, menus, letters, narratives, reports, stories, graphics, charts and poems.  The primary emphasis of this course is to provide foundational academic / subject area knowledge in Science, Geography, and English.

NP1A1F, NP1B1F, NP2A1F, NP2B1F – LAL Numeracy – 0.5 credits each

Prerequisite – None

LAL Numeracy consists of four courses, each of which address topics within all four strands of the Manitoba mathematics curriculum. There are two sets of expectations for each topic – mathematical outcomes and language goals. LAL students will develop mathematical proficiency while at the same time building their linguistic abilities. In these courses, students will learn the English language while learning the language of mathematics. Instruction on vocabulary and the application of mathematical concepts to daily life will allow students to talk and write about what they learn in mathematics.

Literacy, Academics, and Language (LAL) at Churchill High School 

There is a famous quote which says "It takes a village to raise a child." In this line of work, it takes an entire learning community to educate our LAL (Literacy, Academics, and Language) students!  Room 59 at Churchill High School is the first stop for newcomer youth between the ages of 14-21 with interrupted schooling.  This room is a "home away from home," a place where students acculturate to the Canadian school system and get their educational moorings. Students in this classroom focus on literacy and numeracy instruction and gain foundational knowledge in content areas like science and geography in order to prepare them for the transition to mainstream classes at the high school level.  Learning is differentiated, "hands on," interactive, and thematically based.

At this time, students here at Churchill High School are arriving from the sub-Saharan region of Africa as well as the Middle East. They come from collectivist cultures enriched with oral traditions, where the importance of the group was more important than the individual. You can imagine what an abrupt change takes place when they come into a North American classroom, where individuality and personal "voice" are prized! LAL programming seeks to bridge this gap, fostering group work, "hands on" assignments that can be assessed orally as well as in written form, with lots of immediate feedback and explicit instruction.

Newcomer adolescent students with interrupted formal education often feel confused and overwhelmed at the difficulty of developing academic foundations along with the language and literacy issues needed to graduate from high school.  At Churchill High School these learners are supported in developing content area knowledge and competencies, along with critical thinking skills through an assets- based curriculum.  The focus for educational programming is holistic, encompassing social, emotional, and cognitive domains. The key elements of the Literacy, Academics, and Language (LAL) program here are: building a community of learning; developing critical thinking skills; providing varied experiences to find and build on "islands of competence" (Brooks).  The gradual release of responsibility is our model for instruction. We want students to celebrate their own voice once they have found it. (Pearson and Gallagher, 1983)

Working collaboratively is an integral part of LAL programming. There is an African proverb: "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."   Our students are succeeding because of our committed team here at Churchill High School that includes content area teachers, guidance counsellors, a school based clinical team, educational assistants, and volunteers… layers of foundational support.   ALL of this happens within a dynamic multicultural school that believes in the inclusion of all learners. Room 59 is indeed an oasis where cultures learn to tango and create a new dance. We hope our students will develop lifelong friendships and a belief in the power of education to shape their hopes and dreams. (In our school division our motto is "Investing In Our Future.")

Val Pierce, LAL Centre, Churchill High School

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