Blank Image

Home |  About Us |  Professional Learning |  Program Leadership |  Regional Providers |  Events |  FAQ

Back to Events Homepage

ESOL Basics

Welcome to ESOL Basics!

This course is designed for adult educators who are new to teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL). ESOL is a term often used synonymously with ESL, or ELA (English language acquisition). For consistency, we use the term ESOL in this course but recognize that some programs may use other terms.

Through participation in this online course, you will learn

  • characteristics of adult ESOL learners and how adults learn another language
  • strategies for assessing learner needs and for assessing learning
  • effective instructional methods of teaching languages
  • opportunities for further professional development

This course is taught entirely online, meaning that you can learn at your convenience from the comfort of your own home or office. However, it is crucial that you keep pace with the weekly assignments and due dates. The course runs eight weeks, and each week you are expected to read, participate in the Discussion Board, and complete other assignments. Facilitators, available to help you throughout the eight-week course, lead you through the content and technical aspects of online learning.

Please consult the Acronyms for Adult Educators for a list of acronyms we use throughout the course. These are common acronyms used throughout adult education in Virginia.

As you go through the course, keep in mind TESOL’s 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners. We have incorporated these six principles into the course, and note in the syllabus where principles are incorporated into course content. The six principles include:

  1. Know your learners,
  2. Create conditions for language learning,
  3. Design high-quality language lessons,
  4. Adapt lesson delivery as needed,
  5. Monitor and assess student language development, and>
  6. Engage and collaborate within a community of practice.

Weekly Lessons

  1. Characteristics of Adult ESOL Learners and second language acquisition in adults (principle 1)
  2. Assessments: needs, placement, and progress (principles 1, 4, and 5)
  3. Instructional Approaches and Techniques 1 (principle 2 and 3
  4. Instructional Approaches and Techniques 2
  5. Lesson Plans and Classroom Management (principles 2, 3)
  6. Standards-Based Instruction (principle 6)
  7. Integrated Skills (principles 1-4)
  8. Professional Development and Farewell (principle 6)

Course Format

Lessons are sequential. Each week begins with an announcement that introduces the content, discussion board topic, and assignments. The facilitator will monitor the discussions and assignments to provide feedback, resources, and support.

Weekly content will be delivered through the introductory announcement and weekly readings. Participants are expected to engage with each other through weekly discussions that promote a collaborative approach to active learning. To keep discussions as productive as possible, you must keep pace with the time frame outlined for this course.

Unless otherwise noted, each week begins on Monday and ends on Sunday. All work is due by midnight on Sunday. New content will be released on Sunday at noon so that you have a chance to plan your week

Coure Requirements

Because the course is designed for busy professionals, it is scheduled over several weeks to allow time to work through the materials and complete the weekly work according to your schedule. It is important to you and to the learning community that you have reviewed your personal and work schedule and have made the time available to commit to your learning and professional growth. It is expected that the course will require about 4 hours per week.

You must have consistent and reliable Internet access to participate in this course.

In order to receive a certificate of completion, you must complete and submit all assignments, including the Discussion Board questions and responses to at least once to one classmates in each week. (principle 6)

Remember that, although you will gain from doing the activities, you will learn most from discussions with your online colleagues and facilitator. (principle 6) To keep our discussions as productive as possible, please stay within the time frame outlined for this course.

This course is available to out-of-state participants for a fee of $175. To begin the registration process for out-of-state participants, please send an email to

The Literacy Institute @ VCU  |  Contact Us  |  © 2020 VALRC. All rights reserved. Updated: 1-24-20
The VALRC, located at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU School of Education), is funded primarily through the VA Department of Education.