The Starting Points framework allows tutors to focus on learning that happens at or before koru/step 1 on the Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy. This is often in an ESOL context.
Where does it come from?
The ESOL Starting Points were created by The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). This was in response for a guide for working with learners who are pre-literate or very low level literacy learners.
What’s it for?
If we work with ESOL learners, the Starting Points allows us to focus on seven important areas that:
provide support for working out how to read and write words (decoding written words, forming letters, and writing or encoding words) to enable learners to access and work within the first steps of the learning progressions.
They represent critical skills and knowledge that are essential for supporting adult literacy development.
Without these skills and knowledge, it is unlikely a learner could advance significantly through the progressions for reading and writing (Starting Points, p. 3).
What is it?
It’s not represented by grid with strands and steps like the Learning Progressions. This is because the skills and knowledge are closely related and cross over.
Here are the seven knowledge areas:
- Listening vocabulary. This includes the words a person recognises when they hear them in spoken language.
- Phonological awareness. This refers to a learner’s ability to hear, recognise, and use the sounds that make up spoken words.
- Sound-letter relationships. This is ability to make connections between sounds and the letters that represent them.
- Print and word concepts. This refers to the rules that govern the use of the written language.
- Letter formation. This relates to how well someone can form letters so they can write down words.
- Environmental print. This refers to the words and images found out and about. This can include billboards, advertising, signs and labels.
- High-interest words. These are words that are personally important that learners might recognise on sight. An example would be someone’s own name or a brand like McDonalds.
How is it relevant?
The ESOL Starting Points will not be relevant for everyone. For example, if you are teaching a trades or vocational training programme it’s unlikely that you will need to use the Starting Points.
However, if you are teaching a workplace literacy programme that involves new migrants, refugees, or other pre-literate learners then the Starting Points could be very relevant and useful.
What does it mean for me?
If you do have low-level ESOL learners, you will probably need to use the Starting Points reading assessment. This is part of the LNAAT.
If you’re unsure about this it could be a good idea to talk to the person in your organisation that administers the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (LNAAT).
This assessment generates a report similar to the one’s we looked at earlier for the Literacy Progressions. For some courses, such as workplace literacy, doing this assessment will be a condition of your funding.