CAELA Network Briefs

Download our latest brief:

Using Oral Language Skills to Build on the Emerging Literacy of Adult English Learners
Patsy Vinogradov and Martha Bigelow
University of Minnesota
August 2010

This brief reviews the research, describes ways to capitalize on adult learners’ oral skills to create successful literacy learning experiences, and suggests areas for further research to bolster the knowledge base in working with adult second language learners who are in the process of becoming literate.


Promoting Learner Engagement When Working With Adult English Language Learners
Susan Finn Miller
Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, Pennsylvania
July 2010

This brief describes specific instructional strategies and program structures to promote the engagement of adults learning English. It also gives an overview of theory and research on learner engagement in language-learning settings and makes recommendations for further research on learner engagement in this population.

Professional Development for Experienced Teachers Working With Adult English Language Learners
Amber Gallup Rodríguez and Sharon McKay
Center for Applied Linguistics
May 2010

This brief looks at the characteristics of experienced and expert teachers and describes the ways these teachers differ from novice teachers. It discusses considerations involved in providing high-quality professional development for experienced teachers and suggests professional development models to meet the needs of these teachers.

Evidence-Based, Student-Centered Instructional Practices
Joy Kreeft Peyton, Sarah Catherine K. Moore, and Sarah Young
Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC
April 2010

This brief discusses evidence-based and student-centered instruction, gives examples of instructional approaches that are supported by evidence, and describes how teachers of adults learning English as a second language can work together in learning communities to increase their knowledge of and skills with student-centered instructional practices that are evidence-based.

Promoting Learner Transitions to Postsecondary Education and Work: Developing Academic Readiness Skills From the Beginning
Betsy Parrish and Kimberly Johnson
Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota
March 2010

This brief reviews the literature on the skills needed for adult English language learners to transition to academic study or work and offers examples of activities and strategies that can be used at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of ESL instruction to help learners develop these skills.

Managing Programs for Adults Learning English
Amber Gallup Rodríguez, Miriam Burt, Joy Kreeft Peyton, and Michelle Ueland
Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC
September 2009

This brief outlines fundamental responsibilities of adult education administrators, describes components of typical programs serving adult English language learners, and includes resources and tools that can facilitate successful administration of these components.

Teaching Pronunciation to Adult English Language Learners
Kirsten Schaetzel, Georgetown Law Center, Washington, DC
Ee Ling Low, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
July 2009

This brief reviews features of English that can have an impact on the teaching and learning of English pronunciation, looks at current research on learner acquisition of pronunciation, and describes how teachers can implement the teaching of pronunciation in their classes.  

Teaching Grammar to Adult English Language Learners: Focus on Form
Amber Gallup Rodríguez
Center for Applied Linguists
April 2009

This brief describes the focus-on-form approach, provides research-based evidence for drawing learners' attention to form while remaining focused on meaning, and offers examples of instructional activities to raise learners' awareness of grammar.

Observing and Providing Feedback to Teachers of Adults Learning English
Brigitte Marshall, Oakland Adult and Career Education
Sarah Young, Center for Applied Linguistics
March 2009

This brief addresses three types of observations: formal, walk-through, and alternative. Each type is described, and examples are provided for implementation within a collaborative approach to adult ESL teacher supervision.

Supporting and Supervising Teachers Working with Adults Learning English
Sarah Young
Center for Applied Linguistics
March 2009

This brief discusses the knowledge and skills that administrators need in order to support and supervise teachers of adult English language learners and provides a model of collaborative supervision.

Uses of Technology in the Instruction of Adult English Language Learners
Sarah Catherine K. Moore
Center for Applied Linguistics
February 2009

This brief provides information on how technology can be used in the instruction of adult English language learners to facilitate their acquisition of English proficiency.

Reflective Practice in the Professional Development of Teachers of Adult English Language Learners
Thomas S.C. Farrell
Brock University, Ontario, Canada
October 2008

This brief describes the theoretical basis for and research on reflective practice and suggests ways that teachers of adult English language learners can incorporate it into their teaching practice.

Using Data to Plan Professional Development for Practitioners Working with Adult English Language Learners
Sarah Young and Joy Kreeft Peyton
Center for Applied Linguistics
September 2008

The professional development planning process described in this brief can help adult education staff at the local, regional, and state levels make data-driven, systematic decisions to respond to the needs and concerns of these stakeholders as well as provide a foundation upon which to evaluate the outcomes of professional development efforts.

Facilitating Adult Learner Interactions to Build Listening and Speaking Skills
Sharon McKay and Kirsten Schaetzel
Center for Applied Linguistics
July 2008

This brief examines the research on learner interaction and summarizes the positive effects of classroom interaction on language learning. The brief also describes areas of focus for teachers who want to promote successful language learning interactions, provides examples of activities that can be used to structure and enhance classroom interactions, and discusses special considerations for using learner interaction activities in classes with beginning-level learners.  

Working with Adult English Language Learners with Limited Literacy: Research, Practice, and Professional Development
Miriam Burt, Joy Kreeft Peyton, and Kirsten Schaetzel
Center for Applied Linguistics
July 2008

This brief focuses primarily on the needs of preliterate, nonliterate, and semiliterate learners. However, learners whose native languages are written in nonalphabetic, non-Roman alphabetic, and Roman alphabetic scripts may also not be literate in those languages and may be enrolled in literacy level classes.

Education for Adult English Language Learners in the United States: Trends, Research, and Promising Practices
July 2008
This CAELA Network paper, written by staff of the Center for Applied Linguistics, describes the adult education system in the United States—learner populations, programs serving them, assessment, professional development for practitioners, and research.

Additional Adult ESL Resources


Browse the collection of briefs created as part of the Center for Adult English Language Acquisition (CAELA) project, 2004 - 2007.


Browse the collection of digests created as part of the National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) project, 1989 - 2004.