ESL Literacy Starter Kit


About ESL Literacy

Bow Valley has a pretty good Starter Kit -  
The ESL Literacy Network (Canada) is here:

Practitioner Toolkit: Working with Adult English Language Learners
This toolkit provides a variety of materials to help language and literacy instructors who are new to serving adults and families learning English. These materials include a first-day orientation guide, lesson plans, and research-to-practice papers on English language and literacy learning. ::

Low Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition (LESLLA) – An International Research forum ::

In 2008, The Centre for Literacy of Quebec Summer Institute was about ESL Literacy. You can read the papers here:  (They keep moving this - you can search ESL Literacy on their web page if this link stops working.)

Theories of ESL Literacy Instruction from Bow Valley - an overview of different approaches. Most programs use a mash up of these:

Knowing Your ESL Literacy Students Project by the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association - this project report gives an overview of how a LINC program works for ESL Literacy learners.

ELL-U: Teaching English Language Learners who are Emergent Readers
The purpose of this [FREE US-based] online course is to offer course participants introductory, research-based information about teaching adult English language learners (ELLs) who are just beginning to acquire print literacy largely due to lack of access to formal schooling. This course will clarify how and why this particular ELL population is unique, offer processes for identifying emergent readers, and explore a range of teaching/assessment strategies that build initial literacy in adult ELLs. Finally, course participants will have the opportunity to consider how the information presented in the course applies to classroom language learning practices in a range of settings. This course will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete. [You may find the section on Teaching Strategies most helpful in terms of getting started. You will see they use some of the same resources and videos that we used at CCLCS.]

Set up an account here:

There is an ESL Literacy YouTube channel here: 

And here is my YouTube ESL Literacy playlist:

Better handwriting for adults -

Older stuff

The classic -  A Handbook for ESL Literacy by Jill Bell and Barbara Burnaby - is sometimes available at Amazon and other online bookstores.
Some of what is found in Jill's book can be found here: (Remember that the Pre-literate category does not really exist.)

You can also find Bell's Teaching Multilevel Classes in ESL on Amazon.

Another classic - Bringing Literacy to Life has articles about theory and practice. You can download it here: This resource has articles about theory and practice.

Information about the Learners Lives as Curriculum approach is here: ::
PS: Gail Weinstein died a few years ago and her site is a bit out of date.

Creating Authentic

Two good articles:
What Works for Adult ESL Students ::

Less Teaching and More Learning(Project-based Learning) ::

Building Literacy with Adult Emergent Readers, a video for instructors, is here:

Language Experience Approach


Teaching Resources

ESL Literacy Readers from Bow Valley (aligned with the ESL Literacy CLBs) :: 

Hands On! A Collection of ESL Literacy Activities from Nova Scotia ::

A resource manual for ESL and literacy instructors working with low-literate learners :: 
(Other resources :: )

The BBC has excellent online resources here (this site is now an archive) and here

The Collaborations Series and Stories to Tell Our Children by Gail Weinstein-Shr et al that we looked at in the workshop were published by Heinle and are available at Amazon.

For those looking for pictures to help create reading material, The Noun Project,, collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world's visual language, so we may share them in a fun and meaningful way.

And of course there is NALD (the National Adult Literacy Database):
It can be difficult to sort through all the resources at NALD. Here are two to get you started.NALD became Copian and then the government closed them down. They are trying to find a place to move the library so I'll leave these links here in the hopes that they do.
A Resource Manual for ESL and Literacy Instructors Working with Low-Literate Learners ::

Readers by Joan Acosta ::
Here is another way to get to the Joan Acosta Readers
Best of the Reader ::
And here is a resource for using the readers ::
Using an e-book compilation of Westcoast Reader stories to teach strategic reading (PDF)



Canada Language Benchmarks ESL Literacy resources are here.

Here is video explanation of the CLBs for ESL Literacy from the ESL Literacy Network at Bow Valley:

Alternative Formative Assessment Activities to Check for Understanding (Reading Comprehension ::

The reviews below were taken from here:
Assessing Knowledge of ESL Literacy
The Reading Demonstration was designed by Literacywork International as an assessment for low-level ESL learners. It uses real-life materials and texts. Students are asked to indicate what items they recognize and how much they can read. Materials include fast food items, utility bills, grocery flyers, along with connected texts such as short personal narratives and newspapers. Learners are asked to read aloud a passage written in their native language as well. This is a quick way for the teacher to get a good sense of the underlying fluency and decoding skills the learner possesses.

It has three sections:
Reading Demonstration
In this reading demonstration, Literacywork International’s Heide Spruck Wrigley invites Bessima, an elderly refugee from Bosnia, to show her what she can do in English (recognize popular labels, identify a product on a flyer, interpret a utility bill and read a simple story in Bosnian and another in English). At the end of the video, Heide interprets Bessima’s skills and comments on her strengths and challenges with literacy.