General Resources

Below, you will find links to general resources that you can use to enrich your teaching experience, and to enhance the learning experiences of your students.


Specific resources, such as classroom activities and worksheets organized by level, example lesson plans, information about instructional practices, etc. can be found on the page links to the right.

Who are my Students?

Getting to know your adult ESL learners is one of the most rewarding parts of being an ESL teacher! There are a few general characteristics of adult learners that you shoudl keep in mind.


Adult learners may:

  • Represent a wide range of educational backgrounds - They may have from little to no formal education in their native language, to completion of university and advanced degrees in their native languages. They also may or may not have had some previous education in English and/or in the United States.
  • Be goal-oriented and highly motivated - They have made the choice to enroll in classes for a specific reason. Their goals may be long or short term. They should be involved in sharing and setting their learning goals.
  • Bring different skills, interests, background, and life experiences to the classroom - They have rich life experiences, and you can capitalize on theis diversity within the classroom.
  • Want or need immediate application of what they learn - Adult learners need to apply what they are learning outside the classroom. Relating what they learn in the classroom to their everyday lives is important.
  • Have different learning styles - Adult learners ofren relate to their previous learning experiences. Some may learn by doing, others by listening, speaking, reading, or writing. Many students learn better when there are visuals (pictures) and realia (real things, such as articles of clothing) to use.
  • Be very busy - They may work more than one job or work second/third shift in addition to going to school and taking care of their families. They may be tired during class and have difficulty staying on task for long periods of time.
  • Have different levels of proficiency - Student levels may differ in listening, speaking, redaing, and writing in both their first and second languages.
  • Lack confidence - Many people do not see themselves as learners. Some do not think that they can learn, or recognize when they are learning.


Basic Teaching Tips

  1. Paraphrase: Encourage students to rephrase difficult vocabulary and concepts before translating into their own language.

    How do you translate a word like "westernized" into Spanish? The word "westernized" might not translate into Spanish, but the phrase "a person from America" might work!

  2. Use the Text: Students might get stuck on a certain phrase, but asking key questions about the text might open up their understanding.

    If a student does not know the word "malicious" ask about the word in the larger context of the text. What do we know about the character being described as "malicious?" Is she a nice person or a mean person? So, what could the word "malicious" mean?

  3. Tap into Student Expertise:

    Think about how student are paired when working together. Try to have students support one another as much as possible. For example, consider putting a student who has good reading comprehension but struggles with speaking with the very outspoken student who struggles with reading comprehension.