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ESOL Basics

8 weeks | 32 hours

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 Expectations:
Taking an online course requires a time commitment, internet access, and weekly participation. Please refer to the course syllabus before signing up for an online course. The syllabus covers the course schedule, outline, and requirements. In order to receive a certificate of completion, learners must submit all assignments on time. Learners that do not post for more than one week at any time during the course or who fall more than one week behind in their assignments, may be removed from the course and will be placed on “waiting list only” status for future online courses.

Preview the course syllabus.

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

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