getting started: teaching and learning with adult English language learners

What images, symbols and signs do people take for granted in western literate cultures?

please click here for a more detailed look at the image above

ESOL materials, strategies and online resources --

- The goal of this session is to help tutors become (more) knowledgeable about and comfortable with working with adult ESOL learners.

- agenda:

- introductions, burning questions

- something that's worked? something that's challenging

- getting started - building community using a grid, getting learner information

- talking about planning - chunking out time, working backwards

- developing materials: considerations, matching material to task, ability, content

- on computers: exploring various sites - share one/two that are useful, why, why not

- next steps.

- videos:

- We are New York - Learn English

We Speak America; companion to We Speak NYC.


- Tales of mere existence - Saturday

- Reading demonstration (to get a sense of assessing learners' strengths and needs):

- also from Heide Wrigley: Tips for ESL Literacy Teachers and Principles and Opportunities for Adult Learning

Excuse me, how much are the peppers? - four brief video segments detailing processes of drawing content from learners' lives, pursuing a field trip, comparing prices and following up.

New American Horizons: demo classes - brief videos

Classroom Activities for Adult ESL Learners video series from the Minnesota Literacy Council

The Media Library of Teaching Skills (MLoTS): free digital collection of short authentic classroom videos intended for adult basic education professional development.


photos from the Atlantic

photos from the Voice of America

online resources

LESLLA (low educated second language and literacy acquisition) resources

USA learns:

Mango Languages - available at no charge to library card holders

resources from Literacywork International; scenarios, theory, practice - rich repository of resources for classroom practice and practitioner learning, including this word document on learning strategies, as well as an entire sub-site addressing ESL by design

literacy resources - technology:

free ESOL online resources

ESOL/ESL/ELL Websites compendium -

Learners New to ESOL multiple resources for teachers and learners

Using Dialog Journals esol resources from LR/RI

basic level literacy/ESL resources for classroom use

Making it Real: Teaching Pre-literate Adult Refugee Students Alysan Croydon
Additional downloadable materials from Tacoma Community House available at

Volunteers, English language learners and conversation clubs, including this English conversation toolkit

Tutor Curriculum Guide for Teaching Adult ESL Preliterate Learners


Minnesota Literacy Council: Story by Story Phonics Lessons

The New Oxford Picture Dictionary - PDF format of a useful picture dictionary for easy reference on phone, tablet or computer.

ESL Literacy Readers - Forty theme-based readers for adult ESL literacy learners, along with an instructors guide, to support ESL literacy instructors in creating comprehensive, theme-based lessons for adult ESL literacy 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.

Council of Europe's handbook, Language support for refugees also includes useful resources for working with immigrant learners as well. - blog offering a posts about varying topics for ESOL learners;
this particular post focuses on news,

also see Newsela, - a site providing several levels of the same newspaper articles, along with accompanying online quizzes, that students can read and take. For a small fee, teachers can create a virtual classroom, assign articles and monitor student progress. Students can, however, read the articles without having to pay anything.

Remote Teaching TipsTeaching English online, from the British Council

teacher resources from Tacoma Community House

ESOL basics from the Virginia Adult Literacy Resource Center

Adult Education ESL Teachers Guide Adult Education Center, Texas A&I University

English-as-a-Second Language Tutor Training Kit 2003 Regina Public Library resource with both background information and classroom activities.

Resources for teaching refugees with limited formal education; as well as background information, classroom suggestions and culture notes.

ESOL classroom activities: Tricks of the trade from NATECLA

speaking and listening self-access activities for learners - although using British English, useful sites to consider:



reading and writing: The Language Experience Approach to Adult Literacy Education Using learners' spoken language to generate text that is relevant and accessible as part of a process of learning to read and write in English

reading and writing: Student Generated Class News Using the language experience approach to generate language, build community and develop literacy and language skills

Learner Generated Materials Every Day - more about the language experience approach.

into the box, out of the box grids, graphs and ESL literacy, powerpoint slides by Heide Wrigley and Janet Isserlis, enumerating ways of utilizing grids and graphs to support language learning.

Tien Tran's Orientation to Public Libraries - powerpoint slides used on library tours for adult ESOL learners

more: language learning apps (free)

Duolingo - offers small bite language lessons for speakers of many languages

Learning Chocolate, vocabulary site, including word lists grouped in various categories (clothing, health, food, e.g ). and also includes listening practice and drag and match sound/image activities

Mango Languages, available through; click on the Margo Languages tile on the landing page. The app is free to use for PCL library card holders. Register online, using your library card number.

push the red button; using technology

more: to read and research

Florez, M.A.C. (2001). Beginning ESOL Learners' Advice to their teachers. Focus on Basics 5(A).

Center for Adult English Language Acquisition's digests and Q and As; see also CAELA's briefs and other resources.

Brod, S. (1999). What non-readers or beginning readers need to know: performance-based adult ESL literacy. Denver, CO. Spring Institute for International Studies.

Andrew, H. (2005).M Tips for teaching ESL beginners and pre-literate adults. The Internet TESL Journal (10).

Massachusetts ESOL Curriculum Framework for Adult Basic Education(word document)

Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language

International Reading Association: ReadWriteThink

The Literacy Network:

Working with Limited Literacy Learners - brief overview

PCL volunteer support guide, printer friendly draft

PCL volunteer support guide, online version

Co-Teaching: How to Make it Work

LR/RI home

March 8, 2023