Resources for teaching ESOL literacies learners

Professional development

There are many international resources freely available which have often been developed with government or project funding and might be worth exploring. Some are designed for professional teacher development – demonstrating classroom approaches – whereas others are designed for volunteers working on a one-to-one basis with refugees, for example:

A Practical Guide to Teaching ESL Literacy (Canada)  A Practical Guide to Teaching ESL Literacy | School of Global Access (


Teaching ESL to Adults videos (USA) Building Literacy with Adult Emergent Readers (Part 1 of 2) – YouTube and Building Literacy with Adult Emergent Readers (Part 2 of 2) – YouTube

These two videos come from “Teaching ESL to Adults: Classroom Approaches in Action” created by New American Horizons Foundation (2010) and feature a teacher explaining and demonstrating what she does in class, and the importance of context.

Making It Real: Teaching Pre-literate Adult Refugee Students (USA)  Preliterate Book.p65 (  (2005)

This is a guide for teachers working with newly arrived refugees. It provides useful information and outlines some effective practices for teaching pre-literate adult refugees. It describes techniques and learning activities and is divided into sections on teaching speaking and listening skills and reading and writing skills.

Literacy Minnesota (USA) Classroom Videos | Literacy Minnesota (  There are four videos demonstrating various techniques including phonics. Literacy Minnesota have many resources on their website including a video on Letter/Sound Drill which demonstrates how to reinforce letter and sound correspondence in the broader context of a vocabulary lesson to help learners develop the phonemic awareness that they need in order to sound out words.  PDF  |  Full Video  |  Short Video

Teaching and learning resources

Rachel’s padlet (UK)  ESOL – Learners New To ESOL Resources (  These resources were developed 2019-2021 to support teachers and those working with ESOL literacies learners in the UK. There is a pack specifically for newly-arrive refugees with little or no English.

Bow Valley College (Canada) ESL Literacy Readers | School of Global Access (  This is a wonderful collection of forty theme-based readers, with an instructor’s guide. It aims to support teachers in creating comprehensive, theme-based lessons for adult ESL literacy learners.