Online P.D. Opportunities

There is a wealth of professional development opportunities available online. Many are aimed specifically at volunteer ESL educators, and work to provide you with a more comprehensive background in the endeavor you have undertaken. There are also many opportunities for you to further develop your classroom and teaching practices! We encourage you to explore the links below and find a professional development opportunity that appeals to you.

Ell-U Online courses

The English Language Learner University is a project of Literacy Information and Communication System. It is a free professional development network for ESOL practitioners. The resources developed through this federally-funded initiative are designed to broaden, deepen, and strengthen the knowledge and skills of educators working with adult ELLs. There are 5 (free!) online courses available:

  • Second Language Acquisition: Myths, Beliefs, and What the Research Shows (takes ~2 hours to complete)
  • Teaching Adult ELLs who are Emergent Readers (takes ~2.5 hours to complete)
  • Formative Assessment to Inform Quality Adult ESL Instruction (takes ~2 hours to complete)
  • The Role of Culture in the Education of Adult English Language Learners (takes ~3 hours to complete)

You will need to create an account with LINCS to access these trainings. 

All of the above trainings can be accessed here.

basics of adult literacy education

This online course was developed by the United States Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education. It is a broad overview of issues in adult literacy for instructors with limited formal training or experience teaching adult literacy learners. Some in-depth coverage of topics is also provided for more experienced instructors. The course if free and available to anyone wishing to improve their support of adult literacy learning!

The course is divided into five modules: The Adult Learner; Orientation & Assessment; Curriculum Development; Instructional Techniques; Adult Literacy Classroom. 

Each module contains:

  • Worksheets to plan and guide your study
  • Self-assessments to customize your learning
  • Research and information on a variety of Adult Literacy Education topics
  • Quotes, real-life examples, and tips from adult education practitioners
  • Links and resources for further study
  • A glossary of key terms

The course can be accessed here.

center for language education and research

CLEAR at Michigan State University is a federally-funded project through the United States Department of Education. All of their online resources are freely accessible with registration. The main work produced by clear is the VAULTT project.

VAULTT is Video Assistance for Understanding Language Teaching Techniques, a collection of original videos highlighting various aspects of language teaching in the classroom. Each short video is accompanied by supplementary information (in a PDF) explaining the techniques and relating them to best practices in language teaching. The videos are produced at a level accessible for teachers with little or no pedagogical training!

You can access the VAULTT here.

new american horizons foundation

The New American Horizons Foundation created a series of 12 videos titled Teaching ESL to Adults: Classroom Approaches in Action. The videos are all available for free viewing online. The four volumes of videos contain the following:

  • Volume One: Lesson Planning for Life Skills; Building Literacy with Adult Emergent Readers
  • Volume Two: Growing Vocabulary with Beginning Learners; Working with a Multi-Level Class; Developing Listening Skills with High-Intermediate Learners
  • Volume Three: Teaching Grammar in Real-life Contexts; Cultivating Writing Skills at the Intermediate Level; Developing Reading Skills for Intermediate/Advanced Learners
  • Volume Four: Assessing Learning in the Adult ESL Classroom; Tasks to Promote Critical Thinking and Learning Skills; Effective Grouping Strategies in the Adult ESL Classroom; Tasks to Develop Oral Skills: From Accuracy to Fluency.

All videos can be accessed here.