M.A. TESOL Community Service and Research

The Center for Immigrant and Refugee Community Literacy Education (CIRCLE)

SF State’s recently established Center for Immigrant and Refugee Community Literacy Education (CIRCLE) aims to strengthen immigrant families and communities, support practitioners who serve them and engage students deeply in the fabric of their communities with experiences that build their professional and leadership skills.

CIRCLE aims to address the needs of three important groups. Immigrant and refugee adults are supported as they navigate the linguistic aspects of their roles as parents, workers, citizens and as managers of their family’s health and wellness. University students, both undergraduate and pre-professional, are given the opportunity to bring learning to life and to cultivate tools for civic engagement with transformative community experiences. Community workers are invited to develop their professional skills, while creating a key link between University students and immigrant families. The needs of students and community-based professionals are addressed through three general sets of activities that address critical issues facing immigrants for daily living in four contexts.

CIRCLE addresses the needs of adult immigrants in their roles as parents, workers, citizens and managers of their family’s wellness through the following activities:

Community Service Learning (CSL)

Two community service learning projects offered are SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders) and SAIL (Students Assisting with Immigrant Literacies).

SHINE is a community service learning effort in which 200 student “coaches” from across disciplines at SF State and CCSF (City College of San Francisco) are placed in ESL classes each semester to help older immigrants develop language and literacy skills while also preparing for the citizenship test. 

Project SAIL, expands service placements beyond citizenship classes to ESL and native literacy classes for immigrants of all generations. Funding for SHINE and SAIL have been provided by the Corporation for National Service, U.S. Department of Education, San Francisco Foundation, VISTA and AmeriCorps.

Funding for SHINE and SAIL has been provided by the Corporation for National Service, U.S. Department of Education, San Francisco Foundation, VISTA and AmeriCorps.

For more information, please contact: projectshine@gmail.com.

Professional development

CIRCLE provides training and skills development to build the capacity of community-based organizations and to enhance the knowledge and skills of those who serve immigrants in the Bay Area and beyond.

One component of CIRCLE is the program for the certificate in Immigrant Literacies, which provides students from different disciplines with academic training in which they learn about the influence of language and literacies in a specific social context (e.g., health, family, work or community) and hone skills for meaningful advocacy and collaboration within the local community.

A second set of activities for professional development are the provision of 1 and 2-day intensive training workshops, winter and summer institutes, and online courses designed to follow up on in-person training for pre-professional students and Bay Area in-service practitioners.

CIRCLE materials and products

Relevant, timely language and literacy materials are created for use in local organizations, including those staffed by volunteers.

Training and technical assistance activities for Bay Area community-based organizations have been funded by the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Fund, resulting in the model called “Learners’ Lives as Curriculum.”

Additional information about CIRCLE can be obtained by contacting Maricel Santos: mgsantos@sfsu.edu

The Educational Discourse Archive

The Educational Discourse Archive is a digital video archive of ethnographic recordings of classes, tutoring sessions, and curriculum-related activities which can be made available to researchers, faculty and students who are interested in studying teaching and learning based on video recordings of classroom interaction.

Archive holdings include university academic ESL classes and writing conferences, University tutoring sessions and adult ESL literacy classes. The archive seeks to expand the range of classrooms and contexts represented through collaborative partnerships with schools and teachers, for professional development, reflective practice, and practical applications to teaching, learning, and communication in educational contexts.

For more information, contact David Olsher.

Project PILOT (Partners in Immigrant Leadership, Outreach and Training)

Project PILOT aims to:

  • Identify a cadre of motivated adult learners who are committed to taking community action around health disparities
  • Design educational materials for adult ESL programs that support the development of health literacy and leadership skills in adult immigrant learners so they are better poised to train others to navigate the health care system
  • Develop partnership models that facilitate collaboration between Bay Area adult ESL
  • programs and health care professionals.

Work on Project PILOT is supported by Award Number P20 MD000544 from the National Center on Minority Health And Health Disparities and grants from the Institute of Civic and Community Engagement and Professional Development Council at San Francisco State University.

For more information, contact Maricel Santos.