Teaching ESOL Literacy Learners (TELLs) course

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Course dates

… Jan 2023 – … March 2023

… April 2023 – … June 2023

About the course

The TELLs course is 100% online and self-access. You can access it at any time during the period you enrol for. You work through the sections, units, topics and quizzes at your own pace, supported by the e-reader ‘A teachers’ guide: teaching basic literacy to ESOL learners‘ (2006, Spiegel & Sunderland).

The course consists of four substantial content sections, plus a final resources section. Each themed content section is made up of a number of units that organise the content of the course in a structured way, with each unit divided into a series of topics and quizzes. As you navigate through the units, you will work through the topics and video content, undertake tasks and quizzes, and reflect on your learning. We advise you to work through the units in sequence, making notes as you go and reflecting on your learning.

Although the course is entirely self-access, two tutor-led webinars are offered during each run of the course to provide you with an opportunity to discuss your learning, share feedback and ask questions.

You can see and explore the organisation of the entire course below – click expand all to reveal the different layers.

What will I learn?

Each section has a specific focus, with Sections 1 and 3 being the most practical:

Section 1: Learners, literacies and language

Section 2: Literacies in context

Section 3: Key approaches and techniques

Section 4: Diversities

Section 5: Literacy resources and websites

Duration and your time commitment

We advise you to spend at least 5 hours on each unit, so a total of 20 hours for the course.

Assessment & certificate

There is no formal assessment. If you complete the units, topics and tasks, you will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

Study log

We recommend that you keep a study log for this course in which you can make notes on:

  • ideas that come to you when you are working through the units
  • your responses to particular activities
  • notes about articles that you read as you go along
  • notes about discussions you have with others
  • questions that occur to you while you are studying
  • reflections on what you think or feel about your learning

This course will provide you with lots of practical ideas to try with your learners and we hope you will practise some of the techniques that you learn.

Keep your notes in a format that suits you and is easy for you to maintain – it could be an ordinary paper notebook, on a computer or a mobile device, or as an audio or video recording.

The e-reader ‘A teachers’ guide: teaching basic literacy to ESOL learners‘ (2006, Spiegel & Sunderland) was the basis for the original LLU+ ‘Teaching basic literacy to ESOL learners’ course, which we have revised and updated for the 2020’s. You may find it useful for reference as you work through the units and topics.


Are there live sessions? No. You can study whenever it suits you during the 6-week period you enrol for. You don’t need to be online at any specific times. However, there will be two optional webinars during each run of the course which provide an opportunity for discussion and feedback.

Can I join after the start date? It may be possible to start within a week of the course start date.

Do I have to be teaching TELLs learners now? No, but if you can try out the techniques you are learning you’ll find it helpful. 

How experienced are the tutors? The tutors each have in excess of 30 years’ experience teaching ESOL and ESOL literacy learners

Do I have to read other books? No. We provide all the material that you need. 

Welcome to the course 

To get started, click on ‘Course Overview’ below, which outlines the aims and content of each section.


Course Content

Expand All
Learners, literacies, and language
Literacies in context
Key approaches and techniques