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ESOL postage stamp

"Fight For Literacy..." (1981) from  Iranian Postage and Commemorative Stamp Gallery [now broken link] 

What's the difference between ESL (English as a second language) and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages)?

For many, ESOL is the preferred term as it does not assume that learners are necessarily taking on a second language (for many language learners, English is a third, fourth or even fifth language); it also shifts a sometimes invisible emphasis of the importance of English over that of other languages towards an explicit acknowledgement of the primacy of language and culture in all our lives.
Jo Gakonga further describes the distinctions in her recent (February, 2021) video and text; for yet more on the ESL/ESOL distinction, click herehere and here.

recently developed/posted resources

Dogme: nothing if not critical - How/is this different to/ aligned with learner-centered practices?

REEP World - resources for English language learners and practitioners from Arlington Education & Employment Program (REEP) of Arlington Public Schools in Arlington, Virginia.

The Study Zone - resources developed for students of the English Language Centre at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

A number of adult education practitioners learners, friends, and neighbors are frightened by recent events. Regardless of political stance or affiliation, there are facts (not alternative ones) that practitioners - particularly those of us working with English language learners /communities- need to know and understand. LR/RI's advocacy page offers links to resources providing information about status and rights, as well as teaching materials for practitioners' own knowledge and/or for framing critical and open conversations in classrooms and communities.

English Language Learning for Everyone - A Resource Manual for Teachers with Struggling English Language Learners

Civics it Up!, site designed to "help teachers plan and implement instructional units and lessons that integrate language learning with rights and responsibilities of citizenship, civic participation, and workforce training;" includes downloadble instructional planning tools, resources and a techniques bank, offering techniques, activities and approaches useful across multiple contexts.

ESOL/ESL/ELL Websites compendium

Language differences - information on main differences between English and other widely-spoken world languages. ESOL practitioners don't need to be able to speak other languages (although it is useful in Understanding language learning processes and strategies), an understanding of how other languages work can inform our own approaches and strategies to language teaching.

ESOL Excellence Gateway UK-based site "raising standards through staff development and the provision of effective learning resources." Includes resources for practitioners and managers as well as numerous useful external links.

LINCS ESL Pro Resource Collection: Tools and resources to advance instructional quality and to better serve ELLs. for teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs), program administrators, professional development specialists, policy makers, researchers, and other members of the adult ELL educator community.

ESOL Nexus - user friendly resource for learners, teachers, researchers and policy makers. While UK/British English-based, many pieces of the work translate to other English-speaking contexts; resources are adaptable as well.

101 best websites for ESL Students in 2016

3 myths and 3 possible reactions to LGBT inclusion in ESOL Blog entry from Laila El-Metoui

Online ESOL resources (word document), compiled by Martin Marguerie at the Speaking English with Confidence Project, with thanks to Laila El-Metoui and the ESOL research listsev

New Internationalist Easier English wiki - developed by Linda Ruas with self-access, simplified articles, ready lessons and quizzes for teachers.

overview - training resources for volunteers and novice teachers:

ESOL VIDEOS - from Jennie Cole, ESOL tutor

resources from MN that may be helpful for teachers working with low-literate English language learners - the Study Circle Guide For Teachers of Low-literacy Adult ESL Students:

New American Horizons Foundation's series of short, accessible teacher training videos addressing aspects of adult ESOL instruction.
Each video is about 30 minutes in length and uses classroom footage and instructor interview footage to illustrate topics in adult ESOL practice such as approaches to teaching each of the four skills, planning lessons, working with emergent literacy learners, and grammar and vocabulary development in context. Videos are available free of charge online, or DVDs can be purchased for a minimal cost-recovery fee. 
Evidence-Based, Student-Centered Instructional Practices - Joy Kreeft Peyton, Sarah Catherine K. Moore, and Sarah Young, Center for Applied Linguistics, April 2010
- brief discussing evidence-based and student-centered instruction; gives examples of instructional approaches supported by evidence, and describes how teachers of adults learning English as a second language can work in learning communities to increase their knowledge of and skills with evi

Transitioning English Language Learners (TELL) - brief compilation of resources addressing transitions issues for English language learners. Some resources appear on this page and elsewhere; the TELL page is a small repository of resources focusing only on TELL learners. dence-based student-centered instructional practices.
Promoting Learner Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Work: Developing Academic Readiness Skills From the Beginning -Betsy Parrish and Kimberly Johnson
Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, March 2010

- breif reviewing literature on the skills needed for adult English language learners to make transitions from adult education programs to academic study or work and offers examples of activities and strategies that can be used at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of instruction to help learners develop these skills.
Professional Development for Experienced Teachers Working With Adult English Language Learners  - Amber Gallup Rodríguez and Sharon McKay. Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC
May 2010
This brief describes the needs of experienced teachers that are different from those of novice teachers and describes features of effective professional development for them.
Working with Adult English Language Learners with Limited Literacy: Research, Practice, and Professional Development - CAELA network brief

Adult English Language Learners with Limited Literacy by Martha Bigelow and Robin Lovrien Schwarz

ESL independent study lab - pronunciation - compilation of online resources for pronunciation practice

Applying Research Findings to Instruction for Adult English Language Students - CAELA research brief

other Adult ESL Resources from CAELA - including work on policy, practice and the history of adult education.

Promoting Learner Engagement When Working with Adult English Language Learners, CAELA Network Brief, Susan Finn Miller

ESOL and EFL, an unhelpful distinction? - [pdf] A report commissioned by CfBT Education Trust, 2007.

Learners' Lives as Curriculum - instructional approach utilizing learner texts (e.g. language experience dictation, poem, story, folktale, or interview) as catalysts for discussing themes of interest or concerns with learners.  (also see this, from the work of the late Gail Weinstein)

The Providence Granola Project/Beautiful Day RI, mobilizing refugee employment through business innovation

Color, Race and English Language Teaching: Shades of Meaning - edited by Andy Curtis and Mary Romney,  exploring the intricacies of being a TESOL professional of color.  Whose language?  Whose authority?

ESOL research at the University of Leeds including information about the ESOL Research Group at Leeds, instructions for joining the ESOL-Research email list and links to other organisations with an ESOL connection.

BBC Skillswise - Factsheets, worksheets, quizzes and games across a range of topic areas.

CBC Ottawa ESL - interactive listening, reading exercises.

ello - online listening practice for language learning -  free English lessons online

The Everyday Life Project - interactive, online demos involving both computer skills and application of daily tasks

ITVS Educators' resources- Independent Television Service, linking to programs and resources about a number of national and international cultural, lingusitic and socioeconomic issues

LessonWriter - while worksheets may not be the answer, they can provide ancillary support.  This site (with a brief demonstration) provides a template for developing worksheets based on written texts.

English for Action's lesson plan collection: Taking Care of Health Care, Writing for Rights, Our Neighborhood, Our Safety, and Parents and their Children's Education.

The Center for Applied Linguistics' Cultural Orientation Resource (COR) Center - provides important orientation resources for refugee newcomers and service providers throughout the United States and overseas. - The ESL Site for everyone learning English Comprehensive site including forums, realtime chat, grammar, writing, interactive quizzes and games, flashcards, phonics, streaming audio materials, world news, TOEIC modules, helplines, multi- lingual content.

My American Girls - PBS documentary focusing on a year in the life of the Ortiz family; representing perspectives of life in America through the multiple lenses of members of one family and those in their communities. Includes extensive links to supporting information and resources.

My Journey Home - web site supporting the PBS series exploring notions of home, race, identity and culture.

ESL Materials for Pre-literate Students  from Multi-Cultural Educational Services, developed in collaboration with the Minnesota Literacy Council.

What matters to learners? (downloadable word document) by Heide Spruck Wrigley and Jim Powrie. The authors recommend that practitioners sit down with the chart (or without) and decide what pieces are important for their program - where they are strong? Where they are weak? - and then develop a few theme based units around topics that matter to learners, connecting the skills pieces in various ways ; you clearly can't teach all of those skills all at the same time, but you can provide opportunities for learners to use these skills as they grapple with hot topics or talk and write about themes that engage them.

ESL miniconference online

The Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE) unique coalition of agencies representing immigrant groups and seniors. Rich collection of resources and immigrants' statements.

Adult English Language Instruction in the 21st Century - (PDF) overview of the field of adult English as a secondlanguage instruction in the US today; Spanish language version here.

Adult ESL Practice in the New Millennium - proceedings of the February 15, 2001 panel discussion touching on a range of issues critical to adult ESOL learning and teaching.

Jim Cummins - Second Language Learning and Literacy Development - resources for language minority education.

English Forum, resources for students and teachers, ESOL and EFL.

EL Civics. The EL Civics page contains a number of resources from this and LR/RI's advocacy page.

ESCORT - national resource center dedicated to improving the educational opportunities for migrant children; includes resources applicacble to adult education / ESOL work.

English as a Second Language - starting point for ESL learners who want to learn English through the Web.

Beginning ESOL Learners' Advice to their Teachers - by MaryAnn Cunningham Florez from Focus on Basics, Vol 5, Issue A • August 2001.  What can we learn by listening to student feedback?  A lot.  Florez writes clearly and accessibly for teachers of learners at any level, and with particular focus on learning at beginning levels.

Civics Education for Adult English Language Learners - NCLE digest, including online and print resources related to civics and citizenship preparation for ESOL learners.

A word about citizenship and immigration for ESOL educators -- please remember that we are not lawyers; we're teachers.  While much of the information on line may be of great use to adults preparing for the citizenship exam, we need to not make recommendations about immigration processes, but rather assist learners in connecting to whichever legal/immigration resources will best assist them in answering questions about immigration status.

Minigrant projects: Sandy Jacobi and Debby Venator and Amanda Huling-Hanley submitted ESOL-related minigrant project proposals, to be completed during the summer of 2000.

Perspectives on CALL for Project-Based Learning Principles and Opportunities - created by Heide Wrigley, with assistance from Jim Powrie. The site links principles of language/literacy learning to specific websites through which these principles are demonstrated/can be enacted. A brilliant resource.

Language Acquisition and Acculturation efforts for Immigrants and Refugees in Minnesota - report for The McKnight Foundation by Chia Youyee Vang. While focussing on specific information relevant to Minnesota, it provides useful information and raises issues important to adult ESOL learning and teaching.

Learn English with Pictures and Audio - free, online, resource to learn English words. The site has over 400 words  and photographs ranging from animals to kitchen appliances.  The interface is simple and both kids and adults who are learning  English will find this educational website entertaining and useful.

Learning Chocolate - vocabulary learning site using visuals; has the look of a site designed for children, but can be adapted for adult use.

Low Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition (LESLLA) for Adults - international forum of researchers sharing an interest in research on the development of second language skills by adult immigrants with little or no schooling prior to entering the country of entry.  LESLLA's goal is to share empirical research and information to help inform and guide further research on second language acquisition for the low-educated adult population. This research in turn will provide guidance to education policy development in all those countries in which immigrants settle and most need educational support.

Research Agenda for Adult ESL - (PDF) A paper prepared by the National Center for ESL Literacy Education in collaboration with the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy with support from Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. addressing unanswered questions about the adult English language learner, program design, teacher preparation, instruction, and assessment, incorporating feedback from learners, instructors, program administrators, policymakers, and researchers. The paper has three major purposes: to provide funders with clear priorities for funding; to provide researchers with support for proposing specific projects, and to provide a focus for discussion about how to improve adult ESL programs.

Reasearch and E.A.L.: Ways forward for the profession - Lynne Cameron, School of Education, University of Leeds. "Without appropriate evidence about what works, and what doesn't, in developing the language skills of bilingual pupils, classroom practice runs the risk of changing in the wrong direction, or of not changing at all. Research can, and should, provide us with evidence as to the effectiveness of different teaching methods and strategies, and the impact of policy decisions on practice. In this article, I want to explore some of the ways in which EAL might be enriched by having a stronger research base, and how we might move forwards to increase research activity within EAL." (EAL is an acronym for English as an additional language, a term used to emphasize the fact that many English language learners may already be proficient in more than one or two [ or more ] languages.


Rhode Island ESL practitioner Debby Venator's informal grammar assessment / review .

Brigham Young University's English Language Cybercenter teacher resources - resources for teaching a range of ESOL levels

The Cook's Thesaurus, cooking encyclopedia covering thousands of ingredients and kitchen tools. Entries include pictures, descriptions, synonyms, pronunciations, and suggested substitutions.

Computers in Action (lesson plans) and Computers and English for Speakers of Other Languages - sites for "teachers interested in integrating technology into the ESL/EFL classroom. Its goal is to promote the use of technology in the field, thereby bringing more equitable access to the knowledge, skills, and technology necessary to the people we teach."

Learn English  (flash site) a free, on-line, educational resource incorporating 40 topics, along with over 1,500 English words  and phrases. When you click on a word or phrase you can
hear it spoken.  The site is multilingual: - menus, transliterations and translations are in four languages: French, Hebrew Russian and Spanish.   There is an English Only menu, for those who prefer not to use language translations and transliterations.

Rhode lsland Housing and Mortgage Finance Corportation - local information about housing / financing

Rhode Island Women and Film Project - Pat Salazar's report on her 1998 minigrant project, "My not so Brilliant Idea," a film and discussion project for women held in Woonsocket, RI, along with print and web-based resources on using film/video with ESOL and other adult learners.

Critical issues for women in adult ESOL (Academic Session) TESOL ' 99

Papers presetned at a colloquium exploring issues facing women (both learners and practitioners) in adult ESOL contexts. Presentations focus on women in the workplace, health and literacy education, domestic violence, participatory research with women learners, and classroom-community connections. Presenters: E. Auerbach, T. Goldstein, L. Hewitt, J. Horsman, J. Isserlis, K. Rivera (this page is also linked to LR/RI's women and literacy page)


Activities for ESL students

Adult ESL Special Collection - A decommissioned LINCS special collection, dedicated to providing adult ESL curricular materials and resources, news in the field, and a forum for adult ESL issues, part of the Western/Pacific LINCS website.  Collections have been reconfigured.

Adult Traning and Development Network ESOL resources

Adult ESOL Core curriculum from the Basic Skills Unit in the UK - downloadable PDF files

Adult ESL and the Web (Colloquium) - Co-presenters for Adult ESL and The Web TESOL 98/ Seattle - including links to presenters' favorite ESOL and related websites

Assessment: Report on Nancy Fritz's 1998 minigrant investigation into ESOL assessment - Nancy Fritz completed this minigrant project in the fall of 1998. Since then, she has shared her findings with others during ESOL sharing sessions, and has participated in other discussions around assessment, standards and accountability. Nancy's report provides useful background information as the state enters into a process of (re)considering adult education standards.

Center for Adult English Language Instruction (CAELA), formerly the National Center for ESL Literacy Education

Dave's ESL Café - For ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World

Email Projects Home Page - Susan Gaer's online resources for ESOL learners and teachers

American English listening practice and Audio Concentration game - on line listening practice

ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics - resources on bilingual, second and foreign language learning.

The ESLoop - " a collection of sites relevant to English Language Teaching and Learning. Each site is linked to the next; no matter where you start, you will eventually make your way around all the sites and end up back at the beginning."

ESL Resources - from the Canadian National Adult Literacy Database.

Hands on English - The web site for a publication containing practical teaching ideas, hints and tips, and copyable activities for the classroom, written by teachers for teachers. The site contains sample activities, ideas, an events calendar and ordering information for the print publication edited by Anna Silliman.

Health and wellness resources

Non-English Language and Health Literacy Resources - Treadwell Library, Massachusetts General Hospital & Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

Resources for battered immigrant women  from the Family Violence Prevention Fund

Writings about self defense - stories about a self defense workshop written by learners in Debby Venator's ESOL class at William D'Abate School in Providence.

[" link currently not functioning]Visiting the doctor - site for ESL students.  A visit to the doctor can be a strange experience.  Not only is there new language, but customs may seem be different as well.   With this web site you can practice the language you need for getting medical care.    You can also send in your own writing on health topics and see it published here.

The Internet TESL Journal - Monthly journal for Teachers of English as a Second Language (Articles, Research Papers, Lessons Plans, Classroom Handouts, Teaching Ideas & Links).

languages - how they work, why it matters:  Understanding the structure of a language is helpful is working with speakers of that language.  Two websites that do this:   and  To follow a conversation about these sites and related language learning issues, click here.

Learnenglish - British Council website with links to multiple resources and approaches.

Literacy Across Cultures - online journal seeking "to network people, ideas, theory, practice and experiences that can help lead to a better understanding of FLL."

Making It Real, from Tacoma Community House Training Project in Tacoma, Washington-  a guide to teaching adult pre-literate refugees. The book contains a wealth of information on techniques and activities and a checklist and resource section.  (PDF file)  (scroll down to find Making It Real; this link also provides access to numerous useful resources from the Literacy Network of Washington )

Massachusetts Framework for Adult ESOL - part of a larger set of curriculum frameworks developed by the Massachusetts Department of Education, with input from the field.

MATSOL: The Massachusetts Association of Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages

One Stop English - resources from Macmillan.

Practitioner Toolkit: Working with Adult English Language Learners (PDF); (overview here in html); developed by the National Center for Family Literacy in collaboration with the National Center for ESL Literacy Education at the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab - extensive array of listening material, arranged by level of difficulty and complexity.

Reading signs in English; 700 photos of signs, from Interesting things for ESL students

Reflect: online journal from the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numerac - using the reflect approach for ESOL.

REFLECT for ESOL: participatory tools, methods and approaches for teaching ESOL; available as a PDF document here; read an overview of the project.

Refugees into Teaching - will support refugee teachers to return to teaching in England, and give those with an interest in teaching more information and guidance. The final aim is to get teachers qualified up to QTS, mainly through employment based teacher training routes, particularly in Training and Development Agency for School's priority subjects.  Also provides access to a newsletter and additional other resources.

Forced Migrants' Language Learning:  Rebecca Tully's research on "the way that forced migrants use language lessons to achieve their goals; they face many barriers to learning, and have a variety of needs, and formal ESOL classes are just part of a number of tools they use to succeed."

The UK's Open University course, Who counts as a refugee, considers the interrelationships between citizenship, identity and belonging, personal lives and social policy for people who have fled their country of origin seeking asylum in the UK, and includes useful information about refugee status and related issues for those living in other countries.

Resources for ESOL from the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center.

Sounds of the World's Animals - a site that explores how animal sounds are written in many different languages (complete with sound files on some animals), sponsored by the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics at Georgetown University.

Spanish language resources - a developing page of resources in Spanish for educators and general internet users.

Teaching Adult ESL Literacy Study Circle - (PDF ) - study circle script and supporting materials, developed by Beata I.Arciszewska-Russo; explores teaching and learning about literacy development generally, and about English language literacy learning for non-native speakers specifically.

TESL/TEFL/TESOL/ESL/EFL/ESOL Links Fast-Loading Page - links of Interest to Students & Teachers of English as a Second Language to search and browse; as well a complete list of links for teachers and students, and a listing of additional/What's New links

TESOL online - Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages homepage

Themes from Rural Life - A resource book for adult literacy and ESL.

A Toolbox for ESL Tutors - an instructional guide to teaching ESL to newcomers, from Frontier Colletge.

Trends in Staff Development for Adult ESL Instructors - Miriam Burt and Fran Keenan NCLE Q and A, June, 1998

WordChamp - online listening, speaking, translation and language learning resources

WORKPLACE ESL ONLINE - San Juan Unified School District, California Distance Learning Project
(other work related resources here)

OCTAE adult education ESL resources.

ESL Class: Grammar Lesson - a poem by Diane Pecoraro, long time ESOL educator and writer.

Additional teacher/tutor resources at Teacher, Tutor and Volunteer Worker Resources

course materials:  TEFL Certificate Program - EL816  and related resources

page created August 29, 1998

updated February 28, 2021

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