ESOL Teacher Tips



Adult ESOL Teacher Strategies


  • Activate prior knowledge before reading.
  • Provide opportunities for pre-reading activities such as brainstorming.
  • Introduce key vocabulary before reading.
  • Clarify word meanings through definitions, examples, restatements, context clues and/or visuals.
  • Divide reading passages into segments to facilitate comprehension.
  • Check comprehension regularly.
  • Paraphrase and summarize to recall ideas.
  • Scan for information to answer questions.
  • Expose students to a variety of formats and styles (articles, graphs, tables, forms, maps, ads, poems, etc.)
  • Encourage students to use picture or bilingual dictionaries.


  • Engage students in the writing process.
  • Build writing skills. Begin with small written language units (words); lead students into longer units (phrases, sentences and paragraphs).
  • Use topics familiar to your population.
  • Practice writing for a purpose. (Absentee notes, messages, journal entries, etc.)
  • Brainstorm and generate ideas about a topic using graphic organizers such as a web or semantic map.
  • Teach students to draft, edit, revise and proofread work prior to turning in the final product.
  • Provide opportunities to edit the draft with a partner using a checklist.
  • Allow students to revise draft using feedback from checklist.
  • Provide opportunities for students to share their writing with the class.


  • Provide opportunities for students to listen to various types of recordings at appropriate ESOL level.
  • Introduce key words before listening.
  • Frame a question related to the listening topic to stimulate students’ interest and background knowledge.
  • Link personal experiences to listening topic.
  • Practice listening for specific information.
  • Provide opportunities for oral retelling to monitor comprehension.
  • Provide opportunities for oral presentations and pair-share.
  • Accept small units of language as responses (words and phrases) initially and build towards the use of longer units (sentences).
  • Use the simpler verb tenses, such as the simple present, simple past and future.
  • Provide listening and speaking opportunities (conversations, interviews, discussions, role playing and skits) based on familiar contexts.
  • Control vocabulary and grammatical structures used in listening/speaking activities.


  • Practice standardized test formats (bubbling, multiple choice).
  • Establish consistent classroom routines to facilitate progress.
  • Allow students to respond to a percentage of given questions, depending on ESOL level.
  • Vary the form of questions allowing for different levels of comprehension and participation.
  • Give open-book tests.
  • Provide word lists for support during assessment.
  • Give extra time for task completion and/or provide alternative assessment when appropriate.
  • Maintain academic and intellectual challenges for students at all levels.

More Tips:

  • Plan cooperative activities in which advanced students can assist beginners.
  • Set realistic goals and clear expectations with students.
  • Individualize instruction when possible.