Improving Adult English Language Instruction (ESL Pro)

Currently, English language learners (ELLs) comprise over 40% of students served by adult basic education programs. Therefore, it is critical that instructors are equipped with the training and tools to meet their learning needs.

From 2013-2016, through its Improving Adult English Language Instruction initiative, the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) contracted with AIR to build on and extend OCTAE’s previous investments to improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of teachers working with adult English language learners (ELLs) by providing collaborative, evidence-based, and technology-enhanced professional development opportunities. AIR created a total of nine new professional development resources that form the basis of three topical suites:

  • Meeting the Language Needs of Today’s English Language Learner
  • Integrating Digital Literacy into English Language Instruction
  • Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways

Also, AIR collaborated with a group of ESL teachers to create a total of 90 reviews of Open Educational Resources (OER).  These reviews focus on a wide variety of topics, include the above three, and are available through OER Commons. Lastly, AIR provided technical assistance (TA) to 10 states to support states’ teacher training initiatives, facilitating the translation of teacher education research into evidence-based professional development, and enriching States’ efforts by making use of OCTAE’s extensive resources.

The links below provide direct access to issue briefs and companion learning resources associated with each of the three topical suites. Additionally, the ESL Pro Web page provides access to three extensive online modules on these topics as well as the OER reviews.  The ESL Pro page also offers recommendations for using these new resources successfully, based on the technical assistance offered to the states. 

Meeting the Language Needs of Today’s English Language Learner

  • This issue brief explains the need for rigorous language instruction and literacy skills. It cites specific elements that research has shown to be critical for adult ELLs’ full access to academic and work opportunities.
  • This practice-oriented resource provides examples of specific instructional strategies. It offers resources to help instructors effectively prepare their learners to meet the increased language and literacy demands of postsecondary education and the workplace.

Integrating Digital Literacy into English Language Instruction

  • This issue brief highlights research-based ways to integrate technology, extend learning opportunities, and increase digital literacy in English language learning environments.
  • This practice-oriented resource shows how instructional strategies, resources, and activities can cohesively integrate language development, information literacy, and digital technologies.

Preparing English Learners for Work and Career Pathways

  • This issue brief describes key considerations for serving adult ELLs in the workforce, suggests models for implementation, and offers practical ideas for contextualizing instruction to career pathways.
  • This practice-oriented resource illustrates current, effective instructional models for integrating vocational training with academic instruction. It demonstrates key concepts for integrating academic skill development across many ELL levels to assist with learners’ transition to postsecondary education in preparation for work.