First Literacy Lab: ABCD’s Summer ESOL Gardening Class

Our First Literacy Lab grants provide flexible funding to ABE/ESOL programs in Boston. We target innovative projects that are often not supported by traditional funding sources. Our goal is to give educators the resources they need to directly impact adult learners. We’re excited to share some of the projects we’re supporting in the 2016-2017 academic year, starting with ABCD‘s Summer ESOL Gardening Class.

ABCD Mattapan 3

ABCD developed this hands-on project after observing that many of their ESOL students had an interest in and experience with gardening, but did not know what plants grow in Boston and in many cases did not have enough room to garden.

We experienced this disconnect last summer when we brought our conversation class to City Natives for a tour. The students spent an hour and a half comparing plants in their home countries and here, learning the names of edible, medicinal, and decorative plants, and talking about the gardens that they had at home. They were excited about the topic and this engagement helped them to interact with our tour guide almost entirely in English. 

The gardening class uses the students interest in the topic to strengthen their English vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Potential projects include the following:

  • listening to and sharing a weather report
  • reading seed packet instructions
  • uses for different plants (medicinal, culinary, decorative)
  • filling out an application for a community garden,
  • and keeping a gardening journal

The timing of this class is also important, since it keeps students engaged over the summer, which, because not many summer ESOL classes are offered, can be a time when student’s newly learned skills can fall out of use.

We’re so proud to support this project, and the 14 other projects that are part of our 2016-2017 First Literacy Lab.