|Reviewers Comments: ||The intention of this unique curriculum is to promote healthy eating and physical activity as a part of a healthy lifestyle in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. It was designed following research in 2001 that demonstrated a need for nutrition education in immigrant populations, and a desire by ESL program participants to learn healthy eating practices. Adult ESL classes can provide an excellent setting for providing nutrition education within the context of language learning.
While the format and institutional approaches resemble established ESL curricula, an added component to this curriculum is a ‘behavior change’ objective. Activities and materials are included in the lesson plans to help students and teachers achieve and evaluate behavior change. Students learn to evaluate their own eating behavior and make changes necessary to meet nutrition needs.
“Eating Well, Living Well” lessons are intended to be integrated into existing ESL program curricula, but are flexible enough to be varied to meet the needs of different students, teachers and programs. Educators may choose to teach all or some of the lessons as a series, combine them with existing resources, or use their components as stand alone tools. A Lesson Summary Grid is available to help educators make decisions on which lessons to use and when and how to integrate the lessons.
The lessons cover a wide variety of topics of interest to the adult ESL learner based on the results of previous research. The curriculum is designed around six key nutrition messages or standards. They include teaching students how to:
- prepare healthy meals that are quick and easy
- eat more fruits and vegetables,
- influence children to eat healthy meals and snacks
- eat a balanced diet
- access resources for low cost healthy foods
- demonstrate food safety handling practices
Students are taught these messages, along with language and context skills using activities, interviews, projects, stories and other creative methods. There are four language competency levels of lesson plans (Beginning Low, Beginning High, Intermediate Low and Intermediate High), each containing six lessons that address one of the six standards. While the nutrition standards are the same for each level, the activities and instructional approach for each lesson differs based on the level of language competency.
A significant component of this program is the individual journaling activity that is conducted online. Each lesson has corresponding journal pages, which contain an overview of the lesson, and activities and things to do at home that are tied to each nutrition standard. ‘My Nutrition Journal’ also contains an interest survey, a pre/post survey, an assignment with a goal statement, activity and progress report, and a teacher’s report to the student. At each level, students are asked to reflect on their current behavior that is the result of instruction. These journal pages are a unique feature that may encourage students to make healthy changes.
Class length is provided in the lesson plan, and is generally 2 to 2 ½ hours per class. Lessons include a warm up, introduction, presentations, practices, quizzes and activities that can be used as transparencies or worksheets. Real situations and applications are used as examples. Lessons encourage language comprehension as well as nutrition by including many dialogues, repetition of phrases and modeling activities. Worksheets are simple, but clear. They use hand drawn cartoon drawings as illustrations. Hands on materials, including visuals, kits and posters, are not provided and may need to be ordered at cost. A handout is available online which lists materials for the curriculum that are not available on the program web site and how to obtain them. A textbook evaluation checklist for nutrition is also available online to assist educators in evaluating and selecting a textbook for their class.
Teacher training is an important aspect of the ‘Eating Well, Living Well’ curriculum. Training is available online through three Teacher Training Webcasts. Webcasts are not live, so they can be taken any time and be paused, stopped, and started whenever necessary. Completion of all three web casts takes between 2-3 ½ hours. To complete the Teacher Training Webcasts, it is required to register by entering a name, address, phone number and email address. The training is very detailed, and provides great deal of information, teaching tips, and videos of actual lessons. It is well paced and organized, and offers an introduction, background and overview to the program, nutrition education and the lesson format. There are review questions after every chapter to assess progress throughout the training. The webcasts help prepare teachers and other professionals to deliver the Eating Well, Living Well lessons, even those with little or no background in nutrition. In-person training and conference training presentations may also be available.
In addition to teacher training, Eating Well, Living Well lessons also contain a ‘Teacher Background’ portion, which provide basic information related to specific content in the lesson for educators to review prior to teaching the lessons. For more information on hot topics in nutrition, a starburst shaped link in the upper right hand corner of the site links to information about a current hot topic. An additional section of the Web site links to research, resources and other background information related to nutrition. These sections may be helpful for educators who feel uninformed on the nutrition content of the lessons.
This notable curriculum is a valuable resource that meets an important need. Materials necessary to teach the classes are available online through the user-friendly Web site. “Eating Well, Living Well” lessons were designed to be used with food-stamp eligible adults/families.