How DK’s English for Everyone Has Led ELLs to Proficiency

By Kaitlyn Spotts | December 13 2021 | GeneralEnglish Language Arts

English for Everyone is a smart, simple, and highly visual language course designed to help anyone of any starting level to learn English. Though originally created for learners self-studying at home, ESL teacher Katherine Fedor of Virginia Beach City Public Schools has seen great success in using the series as a classroom resource for children learning English as a second language. We spoke with her to find out more.

When veteran teacher Katherine Fedor discovered DK’s English for Everyone series online two years ago, it quickly became an invaluable resource in her classroom. With young learners from kindergarten to fifth grade coming to her from over 70 different countries of origin—all with different language-learning needs and a number of them having no knowledge of English at all—Katherine was looking for a resource that could cover all the fundamental areas in the English language continuum and help her pupils build a strong foundation. The English for Everyone books caught her eye because the series was the only one she could find that taught English “as a language.”

The results Katherine has seen since using English for Everyone in the classroom have been astonishing. She tells us of a pupil she had last year who, with some additional encouragement at home, sped right through the course books, managing to bring their language skills up from “zero English” to close to the Virginia Beach benchmark for “proficient,” in just a matter of months. The year before, another child in a similar starting position managed to test out of the ESL program entirely after progressing impressively well with the English for Everyone series.

Why has English for Everyone worked so well for Katherine’s pupils? Being a strong proponent of hands-on, tried-and-true methods of teaching and learning English, Katherine believes that the simplicity and accessibility of the series has been a major factor in the series’ success. For lower-level learners in particular, the sense of achievement gained from being able to get through the course materials has been a great confidence-booster, allowing the children to feel encouraged in building up to more challenging supplementary material.

A key highlight for Katherine is that her learners are inspired to want to learn English, not because they are told they have to, but because they are excited by it. The strong visual element in the English for Everyone course books avoids the pitfalls of over-explanation, making the texts user-friendly and easy to follow for pupils and teachers alike. The consistent nature of the course across all levels has also been a great help. With Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ ESL program rapidly growing, Katherine encouraged Kathleen Cahoon-Newchok, the Title III ESL Coordinator in charge of her department, to invest in English for Everyone materials because she felt they were easy to follow, easy to plan with, and—crucially—provided learners with a coherent core set of resources from which to learn. Outside the ESL classroom, too, the books have found a use: the pupils keep their English for Everyone texts in their desk, and if a task assigned during a child’s regular school lessons is out of their linguistic comfort level, the teacher might ask the pupil to complete a lesson from their course book instead, encouraging independence in their language learning.

Katherine’s particular favorite in the series is the English for Everyone Junior course book. Released in 2020, the Junior course was designed to be a fun and interactive beginner’s course for children, with online audio materials to support the text. Where the Level 1 book is just a little too challenging for some of her younger pupils, the Junior text provides an accessible and enjoyable way for the children to build their language confidence. In fact, especially with the online audio resources available, her learners have even been excited about taking their texts home with them, outside of their twice-weekly sessions, because they feel motivated by their progress.

For her part, Katherine sums up her own experience using the series as an educator: “I’ve loved it. I couldn’t believe it when the Junior version came out . . . I think I must have been the first person to order a copy and start using it. I was just so excited.” With Katherine’s enthusiastic recommendation, her department now provides a copy of the Junior Beginner’s Course to all new ESL students. For the future, she is looking forward to seeing what other English for Everyone resources she could use as the series grows: our upcoming partnership with online quizzing platform Kahoot! is met with an “Awesome—I’m excited!” from Katherine, and we end our conversation there with a promise to keep her updated on those plans.

Learn more about the main English for Everyone series of course and practice books.

Learn more about English for Everyone Junior.