Adult ESL Literacy

Developed by Melanie Witt, Spring 2008

AAAL. (2008). Retrieved March 12, 2008, from

The American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), is a professional organization that engages in research and practice in applied language/linguistics issues. This website provides information and links for professionals and educators interested in second language learning.

Alcala, A.L. (2000). The pre-literate student: A framework for developing an effective instructional program. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED447148) Retrieved May 4, 2008, from ERIC database: ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/a1/f3.pdf

This article is targeted at facilitators who work with students who lack literacy skills in their native language. This article focuses on students between 12 years old to 21 years old and who have less than two years of education. This article focuses on training ESL students and it describes programs that should be provided for these students.

Auerbach, E. (1996). Adult ESL/Literacy from the Community to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

This guidebook discusses a project that involved three adult education programs that collaborated with the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the Boston Adult Literacy Fund. Through the program they developed, implemented, and evaluated their project that trained refugees and immigrants as adult ESL and language literacy instructors in their own communities. The communities were Haitian and Central American. This model was guided by the principal that communities should use community resources to address community problems and issues. Within the guidebook is detailed accounts of program features, project structure, participants, training, evaluation methods, and results.

Brod, S. (1999). What non-readers or beginning readers need to know: Performance-based ESL adult literacy. Denver: Spring Institute for International Studies. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED433730) Retrieved May 4, 2008, from ERIC database: content_storage_01/0000019b/80/15/db/9f.pdf

This guide discusses resources for adult ESL literacy teachers. This includes learning strategies and performance-based approaches. This guide presents information on theory and research of adult learning. Within this, the guide explores factors such as learning, language background, gender, learning styles, age and health, and education background. This guide also discusses needs and characteristics of literacy.

CAELA. (2008). Retrieved March 12, 2008, from

The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition was created to help the United States promote English language learning and to help adult learners achieve academic success. CAELA is funded by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) and the US Department of Education. This website provides links to ESL resources, such as bibliographies, books and reports, briefs, collections, digests, research, and frequently asked questions.

CAELA. (2000). Adult ESL Language and Literacy Instruction: A Vision and Action Agenda for the 21st Century. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This paper is from a meeting that developed a plan for adult literacy in the United States. Changing patterns in immigration is continually changing the face of the United States. This call to action discusses factors that affect the language and literacy development of adult English language learners, including a brief description of what being literate is. A five component system is presented to achieve the common goal of aligning adult ESL education within a system that is similar to K-12 and higher education. This program focuses on status, infrastructure, attention, and financial support. The components suggested are, 1) program delivery, 2) collaborations, 3) policies, 4) resources, and 5) research.

Celce-Murcia, M. (ed.). (2001). Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. (3rd). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

This book provides a comprehensive introduction to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). This book provides theoretical background, methodology, and practical pedagogy for TESOL professionals. Around thirty-six authors contributed to this book. Chapters in this book include, teaching methodology, the four language skills, integrated approaches, focus on the learner, and skills for teachers. There are two articles, “Teaching Children Literacy Skills in a Second Language,” and “Developing Adult Literacies” that specifically deal with literacy. Additionally, there is an article, by Hilles and Sutton that discusses teaching adults.

Condelli, L., Cronen, S. Silver-Pacuilla, H. (2003). Conducting Large-Scale Research in Adult ESL: Challenges and Approaches for the Explicit Literacy Impact Study.

This article presents a literacy study of adult ESL students. This study tested the impact of a curriculum-based explicit literacy intervention for low-literacy adult ESL learners. One of the principal questions the researchers wanted to know was how effective explicit literacy intervention was in improving the English reading, writing, and speaking skills of low-literate adult ESL learners.

Condelli, L., Wrigley, H. S., Yoon, K., Cronen, S., & Seburn, M. (2003). What works study for adult ESL literacy students. (Draft Final Report). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Under Secretary.

This study provides ways that teachers can provide effective instruction and improve literacy among adult ESL students. One of the purposes of the study was to profile these learners, including background information, characteristics, and participation in state and federally funded ESL programs.

Grant, R. A. & Wong, S. D. (2003). Barriers to literacy for language-minority learners: An argument for change in the literacy education profession.Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 46, 386-394.

This article discusses preparations for literacy practitioners through background about reading teacher and specialist training. It also discusses the role of literacy researchers. This article suggests that literacy professionals should help narrow the gap between language minority students and majority language students.

Crookes, G. (2003). A practicum in TESOL. Professional development through teaching practice. NY: Cambridge UP.

This book covers fundamental issues in TESOL. This book explores lesson planning, student motivation, classroom management, the role of the teacher, and political and moral issues in English as a second or foreign language.

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M. E., & Short, D. J. (2000). Making content comprehensible for English language learners: The SIOP Model. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. (2nd ed.).

This book provides a practical guide for practitioners and facilitators of ESL. Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is a model that provides facilitators a guide to planning effective sheltered instruction. This guidebook provides planning tools and reflective teaching advice. Real scenarios are used to guide and present components of the SIOP model. There are many useful and practical suggestions for facilitators, such as adapting materials to meet ESL student’s needs. The book also provides scoring rubrics for assessment based on the SIOP components.

Florez, M.C., & Terrill, L. (2003). Working with literacy-level adult English language learners. Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This article outlines literacy levels, including descriptions of learners who are Preliterate, Nonliterate, Semiliterate, Nonalphabet literate, Non-Roman alphabet literate, and Roman-alphabet literate. This article addresses the skills that literacy-level learners need to develop, effective practices in literacy classes, and effective needs analysis for literacy-level learners, and an example of an effective literacy lesson.

Grant, R. A., & Wong, S. D. (February 2003). Barriers to literacy for language-minority learners: An argument for change in the literacy education profession. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46(6), 386-394. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This article explores why there is a barrier that restricts access to “full” literacy for language-minority learners in the United States. The authors discuss the first barrier as the lack of preparation of literacy practitioners. Many teacher-education programs are failing to adequately prepare practitioners to work with language-minority students. More substantial research is needed in order to provide “full” literacy for these students. The authors believe that these barriers are preventing students from achievement in reading and writing.

Holt, G. M. (1995). Teaching low-level adult ESL learners. ERIC Digest. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED379965) Retrieved May 4, 2008, from ERIC database:

This article begins by describing low-level learners and how to assess the needs of these learners. It also provides techniques for working with adult learners. It provides a lesson that could be used with low-level learners as an integrated approach to literacy instruction. There is also a practical section which includes examples of appropriate classroom materials.

Johansson, L., et al. (2000). ESL for literacy learners. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This handbook is for adult ESL facilitators. This handbook provides an introduction to ESL literacy, ESL literacy benchmarks, suggestions for literacy methodology, materials, and ESL literacy phases. The benchmarks in this handbook discuss the progression numeracy skills, reading, and writing. These benchmarks also provide useful clues for teachers about what stage of development students are in.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching. (2d. ed.). NY: Oxford UP.

This book is specifically designed for the classroom teacher. This book presents current methods in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). This book presents the Grammar-Translation Method, the Direct Method, the Audio-Lingual Method, the Silent-Way, Desuggestopedia, Community Language Teaching, Content-based, Task-based, and Participatory Approaches, Learning Strategy Training, Cooperative Learning, and Multiple Intelligences.

Lenski, S. D. & Ehlers-Zavala, F. (2004). Reading Strategies for Spanish Speakers. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

This book is designed for teachers who are teaching Spanish speakers to read in English. The authors selected various strategies that help these students learn to read in Spanish and English. This book incorporates theory and research into clearly written directions and examples.

LINCS/National Institute for Literacy (NIFL). (2008). English as a Second Language. Retrieved March 12, 2008, from

The national LINCS (Literacy Information and Communication System) website is one of the projects from the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL). This websites provides grants and funding, announcements, a calendar of events, policy updates, and information about NIFL-sponsored literacy discussion. Two of the discussion lists are family literacy and adult ESL. Within this list there is information for teacher, students, administrators, and a showcase. This is a good resource for teachers who are looking for materials for the classroom, such as immigration issues, using technology, and civics.

McShane, S. (2005). Applying Research in Reading Instruction for Adults First Steps for Teachers. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This publication was created the National Institute for Literacy. The hope of this publication is to promote literacy and improve adult literacy by ensuring that adult literacy will have a spot in the federal policy agenda. This is a comprehensive step-by-step informative guidebook for teachers and tutors. There are many research-based instructional approaches for the adult education classroom. The primary focus of this guidebook is on teaching adults how to read. Among other issues, the authors address what reading is, how to assess reading skills, phonemic awareness, reading fluency, vocabulary assessment, and reading comprehension.

NCLE & CAL. (2003). Adult English Language Instruction in the 21st Century: The National Center for ESL Literacy Education. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This paper illustrates the present conditions of TESOL, in order to better equip educators and policymakers with an idea of effective foundations for a future in TESOL. This paper presents an overview of primary, secondary, post-secondary, and adult education in the United States. Adult education is facing changes and challenges that are discussed through trends and issues in adult ESOL. Because the establishment of standards is receiving attention, assessment continues to gain priority in ESOL education. Teacher training and professional development, integration of research and practice, and technology, other important issues in adult ESOL are explored in this paper.

Nishio, Y. W. (2007). Longman ESL Literacy: Teacher’s Resource Book. USA: Pearson Education, Inc.

This is a teacher’s resource book for students who need to acquire literacy and communication skills necessary to function in real life situations. This book includes a section with step-by-step teaching notes for lesson plans, an audio CD, and illustrations that can be used as reproducible flashcards. There are ten units in this book, from the alphabet, numbers, time, the calendar, and money, to health and food. This book also provides literacy lined paper.

Tacoma Community House Training Project (2003). ESL Annotated Bibliography: A Resource for Tutors and Teachers 2003 Edition. Retrieved May 4, 2008, from

This bibliography contains lists of books that ESL tutors and teachers have found helpful when teaching ESL. This bibliography includes books on activities, citizenship preparation, English conversation, comprehensive texts, grammar, listening, language learning and teaching, literacy, pronunciation, storytelling, visuals, vocational ESL, and useful websites.

TESOL. (2008). Retrieved March 12, 2008, from

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL), was created in 1966 as an association for English language teaching professionals. TESOL publishes journals, books, and electronic resources on current issues and trends in the field of teaching English as a second language. Within this website there is information for advocacy, research, standards, and statistics.

Sherris, A., Bauder, T. A., & Hillyard, L. (2007). An Insider’s Guide to SIOP Coaching. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics.

The authors of this book are trained coaches in the SIOP Model. Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is a framework for organizing instruction. This model has been created so that teachers can adapt to the needs of their English language learners. The Center for Applied Linguistics is the organization that conducted research and professional development to develop this guidebook for educators. This guidebook has been developed to establish networks that will strengthen SIOP implementation. This guidebook provides a detailed, step-by-step account of teacher-training based on the SIOP Model. In this book there is information on the characteristics of SIOP coaching, such as exploration, critique, and reflection. Additionally, this guidebook provides information on planning the coaching schedule, accommodating teaching styles, planning observations, post-observation conferencing, coaching relationships, and action research frameworks for coaching.