Retention and Teaching Strategies for Low Literacy Students in the Online World

Session 2: 8:30–10:00 AM, Zoom Room 4


Providing easy access to ESL class: Using tools students already have As the pandemic continues on, teachers have continued to adapt to teaching in an online environment. There are so many online resources, platforms, and applications, that it can be quite overwhelming to choose which resources to use. This decision becomes compounded when factoring in students’ low digital literacy skills and oftentimes a lack of access to a computer. A crucial aspect of retaining students is using applications that students already have access to. Using WhatsApp in the classroom was actually a student’s idea. She wanted to create a group to plan for a class party. She added me to the group as well, and I soon saw how useful it could be. WhatsApp is a free text messaging application that most of my students already have and know how to use proficiently. It does not require the Internet, and users can send links, videos, and voice messages. Though not created for language teaching, it has several features that make it an excellent choice for engaging adult students. In my proposed presentation, I will discuss how WhatsApp can be used successfully to help retain students in an online environment. I address potential challenges and concerns, and I share instructional strategies that empower students to use their new language skills in a safe, virtual environment.


Lindsey Helms

Salinas Adult School

Type of Presentation

Demonstration (90 minute)



Program Strands

  • English as a Second Language

Category Strands

  • Distance Learning
  • Digital Equity and Access
  • Online Engagement and Assessment