New Resources for Teachers of Literacy-Level ESL Students!

New Resources for Teachers of Literacy-Level ESL Students!

Resources for teaching adult English language learners with interrupted formal education who need focused instruction in reading and writing have traditionally been limited in the adult education field. Thanks to the work of organizations like Literacy Education and Second Language Learning for Adults (LESLLA,, the international organization focused on such learners, the resource library is growing more robust.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, a team of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) educators came together in January 2020, asking, “What are first steps for a city that wants to improve services for LESLLA learners?” We looked towards our north star – the state of Minnesota – for guidance. Using the ATLAS Low-Literacy Study Circle materials, and inviting Minnesota teacher and presenter Andrea Echelberger to lead a conference in early 2020, we gained confidence to step forward even as the pandemic settled on the world.

From 2020-2023, the team conducted a pilot program, funded by a philanthropic organization, which involved teaching classes, training teachers and volunteers, and developing curriculum. The curricular resources are Open Educational Resources, available at

The resources listed below are centered around each of the 12 themes developed by the team of educators; they represent themes that are relevant to the learners’ lives.

Resource 1: Theme-based Vocabulary Photo Banks

Since oral language is the foundation for literacy, the flexible theme-based vocabulary banks can be used to introduce new vocabulary, re-cycle “old” vocabulary, and practice speaking. A teacher can choose which vocabulary to introduce, based on the needs of the learners.

Resource 2: Theme-based Leveled Stories

The theme-based stories include scaffolded-reading activities, such as Yes/No and Wh- questions for comprehension practice,  and numbered sentences for sound, word and sentence recognition. The stories are designed to be introduced first without showing the text, and then showing the text. There are both virtual and printable options for teachers. Some of the Level D stories also include test questions like the TABE CLAS-E questions they will face when they enter an adult education ELL class in Indiana.

Resource 3: Theme-based Lesson Plans

On the tab entitled, “Theme-based Lesson Planning”, teachers can find lesson plans, which include the objectives and activities for the week. Each theme has 5-weeks of lesson plans, and time allotted for teachers to work with students to create Language Experience Approach (LEA) stories. One class created an LEA story about getting library cards at the public library branch where class is held. The text then became a source to practice reading.

In addition to the above, the website has tutor resources for volunteers to use with students, and theme-based practice videos that can be shared with students to bolster oral vocabulary, reading, and phonics skills.

Because curriculum is a living document, ever evolving and changing to meet the needs of the students, the website and materials are still “under development”, but we hope that they prove useful for teachers of LESLLA learners, in Minnesota and beyond. We are grateful to Minnesota’s LESLLA leaders, ATLAS Director Patsy Egan and Andrea Echelberger, for their guidance and inspiration. We are also hopeful that the impact on the learners will continue to expand their opportunities as their starting places are acknowledged and their experiences valued.

Visit the website!

Adult ELL Pathway to Literacy:

Ginger Kosobucki, English Learning Director Immigrant Welcome Center