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So many resources...but if we had to choose just a few:

New American Horizons. (Producer). (2010). Building literacy with emergent readers. Available to view for free online at

Building Literacy with Adult Emergent Readers: a 30-minute video with Andrea Echelberger of St. Paul, Minnesota.  In this lesson, Andrea demonstrates a Whole-Part-Whole approach to teaching literacy, using a learner-generated story of a shared experience and demonstrating activities to develop beginning literacy skills.


More excellent resources for teachers:

Minnesota Literacy Council: Curriculum written for volunteer teachers is posted on the web and available for free:
Curriculum developed in Florida for emerging literacy students.  On the Florida Department of Education website, the Adult Education web page has this course along with five other ESOL-related courses that have been written by Florida adult ESOL practitioners.  The link to the FL DOE web page is  The link to the curriculum is  

Summary report of the online discussion on Teaching Adult English Language Learners with Emerging Literacy Skills, February 2010, facilitated by Patsy Vinogradov and Martha Bigelow:

Minnesota Literacy Council, training and workshops for ESL tutors and teachers:

MinneTESOL (Minnesota Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), workshops, annual conference, annual academic journal, networking, monthly e-newsletter:

Minnesota – Wisconsin TESOL Journal. The 2008 Journal is a special issue regarding low-literacy adult ESL learners:

The Center for Applied Linguistics:

National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy:

The National Institute for Literacy:

The Center for Adult English Language Acquisition:


Articles about teaching low-literacy adult ESL that you shouldn’t leave home without:

Bigelow, M., & Schwarz, R. (2010). Adult English language learners with limited literacy. National Institute for Literacy.

Burt, M., Peyton, J. K., & Schaetzel, K. (2008). Working with adult English language learners with limited literacy: Research, practice and professional development. Center for Adult English Language Acquisition.

Burt, M., Peyton, J. K., & Adams, R. (2003). Reading and adult English language learners: The role of the first language. Washington: DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Curtis, M.E. & Kruidenier, J.R. (2005). Teaching adults to read: A summary of scientifically based research principles. National Institute for Literacy.  Available:

Florez, M.C., & Terrill, L. (2003). Working with literacy-level adult English language learners. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics, CAELA Brief. Available:

Vinogradov, P. (2008). "Maestra! The letters speak.” Adult ESL students learning to read for the first time. MinneWITESOL Journal, 25.

Vinogradov, P. (2010). Balancing top and bottom: learner-generated texts for teaching phonics.  Proceedings from the 5th LESLLA Symposium - Low-Educated Second Language and Literacy Acquisition.  Banff, Canada, September 2009. Available:

Vinogradov, P., & Bigelow, M. (2010). Using oral language skills to build on the emerging literacy of adult English learners. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. Available:

Wrigley, H.S. (2003). What works for adult ESL students. Focus on Basics, 6(C),14-17.  Available:


More reading, if you just can’t get enough:

Brod, S. (1999). What non-readers or beginning readers need to know: Performance-based ESL adult literacy, p. 16. Denver, CO: Spring Institute for International Studies.

Cloud, N., Genesee, F., & Hamayan, E. (2009). Literacy instruction for English language learners. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Condelli, L., Wrigley, H., & Yoon, K. S. (2009). “What works” for adult literacy students of English as a second language. In S. Reder & J. Bynner (Eds.), Tracking adult literacy and numeracy skills: Findings from longitudinal research (pp. 132-159).New York and London: Routledge.

Crandall, J.A., & Peyton, J.K.(Eds). (1993). Approaches to adult ESL literacy instruction. Baltimore: Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems. 

DeCapua, A. & Marshall. H. W. (2011).  Breaking new ground: Teaching English learners with limited or interrupted formal education in secondary schools.  Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Decapua, A. & Marshall, H. (2010). ELLs with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education: Six Criteria for Success. Presentation at TESOL Convention 2010. Boston, MA.

Decapua, A., Smathers, W., and Tang, L. (2009). Meeting the needs of students with limited or interrupted schooling: A guide for educators. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Holt, G. M. (1995). Teaching low-level adult ESL learners. Washington, DC: National Center for ESL Literacy Education.

Kruidenier, J. (2002). Research-based principles for adult basic education reading instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy. Retrieved from

McShane, S. (2005). Applying research in reading instruction for adults: First steps for teachers. National Institute for Literacy: Partnership for Reading. Available:

Parrish, B. 2004.  Teaching Adult ESL: A Practical Introduction. McGraw-Hill.

Reimer, J. (2008). Learning strategies and low-literacy Hmong adult students. Minne/WITESOL Journal, 25 at

Tarone, E., Bigelow, M. & Hansen, K. (2009).  Literacy and oracy in second language acquisition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Trupke-Bastidas, J., & Poulos, A. (2008). Improving literacy of L1-non-literate and L1-literate adult English as a second language learners. Minne/WITESOL Journal, 25. Retrieved from

Wrigley, H.S. & Guth, G.J.A. (1992). Bringing literacy to life: Issues and options in adult ESL literacy. San Mateo, CA: Aguirre International. (EDRS No. ED 348 896).

Wrigley, H. & Condelli, L. (2004). Identifying Promising Literacy Interventions for Adult ESL Literacy Students: A Review of the Literature. Available:

Young-Scholten, M., & Strom, N. (2006). First-time L2 readers: Is there a critical period? In I. Van de Craats, J. Kurvers & M. Young-Scholten (Eds.), Low-educated adult second language and literacy acquisition: Proceedings of the inaugural symposium (pp. 45-68). Utrecht, The Netherlands: LOT.


Other great reads:

Bigelow, M.  (2010). Mogadishu on the Mississippi: Language, racialized identity, and education in a new land. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Birch, B. (2007). English L2 reading: Getting to the bottom. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Wolf, M. (2007). Proust and the squid, the story and science of the reading brain. New York: Harper Perennial.


Do you know of other teacher resources we should include?
Please let us know!