More Information

Target Audience
The ESL Instructor Fast Track Training was developed in response to a need for more adequately trained ESL instructors in the field of adult literacy. It is also appropriate for individuals who wish to learn the basics of teaching English to adults with a variety of linguistic and educational backgrounds. Past course participants have included:

  • Adult educators in federally-funded programs
  • Community volunteers from faith-based or cultural organizations
  • Career changers and displaced workers
  • Recent college graduates considering a English language teaching career
  • Missionaries or individuals participating in teach-abroad programs to developing nations

Course Content
Developed by a team of national experts, the course is divided into five instructional modules that provide a perspective on practices, research, and theory in the field of Adult ESL. The training, is centered on three central themes.

Theme 1: Foundation Modules
The Adult Learner and Core Issues provides fundamental knowledge of the Adult ESL field, highlighting the issues that make it unique. It begins with an exploration of the teacher’s role and the influence her/his own background and assumptions may play in the classroom. It includes a discussion on the importance of student characteristics and factors that impact students’ language learning outcomes. Participants will identify internal and external factors that mediate language teaching and learning between the student and teacher in Adult ESL. After completing this module, participants should be able to articulate an awareness of the assumptions and stereotypes with which new teachers may approach language teaching. Also, they should be able to describe the diverse Adult ESL student community, and the core issues that impact their educational experiences.

Second Language Acquisition in Adulthood provides an overview of the dominant theories and research findings that inform language practice in the Adult ESL field. It relates these theories and research findings to the language learning processes adult students with diverse cultural, educational, and motivational backgrounds undergo. It also describes the nature and importance of student proficiency as it relates to teacher and student expectations. Participants should have an understanding of the key terms used in the TESOL literature in order to facilitate self-directed professional development after the course. They should also be able to apply their understanding of theory and research to classroom observation, textbook evaluation and selection of appropriate instructional practices.

Theme 2: Instructional Practices Modules
Teaching Practices focuses on establishing the distinction between methods and approaches and how they reflect the dominant theories and research findings of adult English language acquisition. This module will also demonstrate a variety of instructional techniques that are used to implement the particular methods and approaches. Participants should be able match student characteristics and language needs to the appropriate methods and approaches. In addition, they should be able to identify how specific teaching practices (i.e. methods/approaches and techniques) relate to language learning outcomes.

Lesson Planning In this final module, the knowledge and skills gleaned from the previous modules will be applied to lesson planning. The lesson will focus on the key terms and organizational format that ensures a balance of language skills and the importance of making a clear connection between learning objectives and procedures. Participants will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the different teaching approaches and theories that have been discussed in the course by completing a series of lesson plans for different types of learners.

Theme 3: Professional Growth Module
Classroom Observation and Reflection integrates knowledge of the core issues in Adult ESL teaching, including adult English language acquisition theories, research and instructional methodologies, to the Adult ESL classroom setting. It provides the tools and reflection strategies that participants can apply to classroom observations of teacher and student interactions. Participants will engage in virtual observations of classroom videos. They will gain the understanding of observation tools and reflection strategies that set the groundwork for resourceful, self-directed professional growth.

Delivery Method
ESL Fast Track uses the online learning management system (LMS) known as Moodle. The course is held for 8 weeks and is moderated by a trained Adult ESL instructor. A technology orientation is presented during the first week of class. Each module contains short videos, audiovisual presentations, and self-correcting activities and assessments. Participants watch introductory videos, listen to mini-lectures, complete tasks and demonstrate an understanding of the content by taking short quizzes incorporated into each learning module.  A forum is available for participants to respond to a prompt and interact with other participants. There is a final exam which concludes the training. Each module takes between three and five hours to complete.

Requirements and Recommendations
A high-speed internet connection and a high level of English language proficiency are required for taking this course. For individuals who intend to teach English in federally-funded adult ESL programs, a Bachelor degree (in any subject) is strongly recommended. Previous online experience is not required.*

* This course is not appropriate for ESL accreditation/endorsement in K-12 or university-level programs. Adult ESL requirements vary across states, so check with your local adult ESL provider before registering for the course.

Editorial Staff
Gilda Rubio-Festa, Managing Editor
Rebeca Fernandez, Senior Editor
Dixon Yard, Media Editor
Judy Cheatham, Editorial Consultant

Course Developers

Dr. Helaine W. Marshall is Director of Language Education Programs and Assistant Professor of Education at the Westchester Graduate Campus. She began her teaching career as a French teacher in the Newton Public Schools having completed her master’s degree in French/Humanistic Studies at Tufts University. She then earned her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University in TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages). She has extensive experience in language program administration, instruction, and teacher education.

Prior to joining LIU in January 2003, she held a number of positions in the field of language education. Most recently, she was Chair of the ESL Department at the ESL Institute of Westchester Community College. Previously, Dr. Marshall served as Resource Specialist at the Southern Westchester BOCES BETAC (Bilingual/ESL Technical Assistance Center). As Assistant Professor of Linguistics and ESL at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she received a National Institute for Literacy Grant to develop a Hmong/English Biliteracy Program, and a Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Grant to develop a pre-college program for Southeast Asian students in the local high schools. In addition, she has taught graduate courses in TESOL, Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Education at the College of New Rochelle, Fordham University, Queens College, Teachers College, and Vassar College. During her career as a teacher educator, she has supervised hundreds of preservice and inservice teachers in a variety of school settings. Dr. Marshall has conducted research on such topics as the learning paradigm of students from oral cultures and nontraditional approaches to the teaching of grammar.

As a consultant to Literacy Volunteers, Dr. Marshall reveiwed and revised the EL/Civics Curriculum: Civics for Immigrants – From Native Language to English Literacy, and developed and implemented the training for this curriculum, as well as the Training of Trainers. She is also active in professional educational organizations, such as TESOL and NYS TESOL and has held leadership positions, serving in NYS TESOL as Regional Coordinator, 2nd Vice President, and Conference Proposal Chair. For TESOL, she co-designed and co-moderated a course in the Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2008 and serves as EVO Team Leader for the 2008 TESOL Convention.

Helaine W. Marshall, Ph.D.
Director, Language Programs
Teacher Education
Westchester Graduate Campus
Long Island University

Dr. Pilar Garces Blitvich is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she teaches applied linguistics. She holds a PhD in Anglo-Germanic Philology from the University of Valencia (Spain). Prior to her appointment at UNC Charlotte, she held positions at the University of Valencia and the University of Seville, where she founded a research group on intercultural pragmatics (EPICS). Her research interests include second language acquisition, discourse analysis, pragmatics and intercultural communication. She is especially interested in Identity, Politeness and Relevance Theories. Recent publications include “Studies in Intercultural, Social and Cognitive Pragmatics” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Pilar Blitvich, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English, Applied Linguistics
University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC)

Dr. Elizabeth Miller is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she teaches applied linguistics. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include critical applied linguistics, discourse analysis, and second language learning, focusing primarily on sociocultural theories of learning. She has published in The Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly and in several edited book collections.

Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English and Applied Linguistics
University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC)

Naomi Migliacci is currently an Assistant Professor at Southern Connecticut State University in the School of Education, Department of Special Education and Reading. She has a background in Linguistics in Education having studied at The University of Pennsylvania, The Claremont Graduate School and San Diego State University to marry her interests in educational policy, technology, and linguistics. Her current research interests include language planning and policy in various settings. Recently, she has evaluated language programs and policies in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Maine, and Connecticut. Out of this work, she has developed professional development programs for school districts and universities, and has served as an expert witness in diversity and discrimination cases for the US Government’s Civil Rights Division in Education. In addition, she has done extensive teacher training with teachers in the United States, Argentina, China, Iceland, Japan, Peru, Philippines and France. In addition to long-term teaching experiences in China and Japan, other experience include teaching ELLs from K-12, ESL students in colleges and universities, and adult ESL and basic literacy. On-going interests include effective uses of technology for English language teaching. She has been the Chair of the Video Interest Section for TESOL, Inc. and has written on and given numerous talks on using technology in ESL/EFL settings. Through her association with the Educators for Social Responsibility in Cambridge, MA, Naomi continues to be an advocate of school reform and redesign for all learners. She is passionate about changing the school experience for young people. She is co-editor with Lorrie Verplaetse of Inclusive Pedagogy for English Language Learners: A Handbook of Research-Informed Practice.

Assistant Professor, Reading Department
Southern Connecticut State University

Greg Walters has been teaching at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina for five years. He helps high-level ESL students in the adult education program classes transition to GED study, career training programs, and curriculum classes. His interest in TESOL began with a background in the study of geography at McGill University in Quebec and a lifelong interest in language, expression, and writing. After working in a literacy program as part of a VISTA assignment in New Hampshire, he taught in the Peace Corps in Thailand. Following there were positions at a junior high school in rural Japan and at Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, China. Upon completing his M.Ed. in TESOL at Boston University under the direction of Steven J. Molinsky, he joined the U.S. State Department English Teaching Fellows Program and for two years taught and developed ESP curriculum at The College of Sharia and Law in Muscat, Oman. At Central Piedmont Community College, he has worked on the development of an ESL program for technical careers as well as taught the full range of ESL class levels. Greg writes, I’ve been and remain excited to go into each class with renewed interest maintaining the belief that it will be an even better class than the day before. This is what keeps me energized. Now, having settled in the U.S., I don’t have to travel to the ends of the Earth to experience the world’s rich cultural, geographic, and linguistic diversity. I just walk down a few streets to the college and go to my class.

Greg Walters
Central Piedmont Community College

Dr. Robert Oprandy is Professor of Education at the Benerd School of Education, University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California. A former member of TESOL’s Board of Directors, Chair of TESOL’s Interest Section Council and member of TESOL since 1976, he began his career as a 5-year Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Ghana and Thailand. Before leaving Thailand, he was a Peace Corps trainer of TEFL and cross-cultural awareness. He earned his M.A., M.Ed. and Ed.D. degrees, all in TESOL, at Teachers College, Columbia University while teaching ESL to adults at LaGuardia Community College and at Columbia and supervising teachers at Teachers College. Prof. Oprandy joined the faculty at Teachers College, where he taught for eleven years and directed the TESOL Masters K-12 Program. He also trained ESOL, foreign language, and bilingual teachers at Eastern Michigan University and at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He continuously taught adult ESL while training teachers. A planetary person, Dr. Oprandy has trained teachers in 1-6 week courses in Colombia, England, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Peru, and Spain as well as shorter sessions in Croatia, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay. Having taught over 30 different language education courses to B.A., M.A. and Ed.D. students, his areas of greatest interest are classroom observation, listening, humanistic approaches to language teaching, and instructional supervision. His book, Language Teaching Awareness, co-authored with Jerry Gebhard and published by Cambridge University Press, was translated into Basque. Dr. Oprandy has published many teacher education articles and is currently working on a book entitled The 5 P’s: A Conceptual Framework for Teachers and Teacher Educators. Another research interest is the impact of U.S. immigration legislation and policies on Mexican migrant workers and other recently arrived immigrants in California.

Dr. Robert Oprandy
Professor of Education
Benerd School of Education