ESL Students in Mainstream: 10 Online Resources for Teachers

With the continuing growth of international students in the United States, many institutions (both K–12 and colleges) find themselves in the position where they have to provide instructors with appropriate training that would prepare them to meet the needs of this student population. Unfortunately, time and financial resources are just not always available to achieve these goals. As a result, many mainstream teachers gain experience by trial and error.

Luckily, the Internet offers a variety of resources that these instructors can use in order to feel better prepared to teach international ELLs in their classes. I’d like to list only a few such resources in today’s blog. Most of them are geared toward those mainstream teachers who have no or very little experience in teaching ELLs.

1. 25 Quick Tips for Classroom Teachers
In this guide, the author provides suggestions on how to create a more effective learning environment for ELLs. These suggestions can be used to support instruction before, during, and after the lesson.

2. Supporting ESL Students: 10 Tips for Mainstream Teachers
The first five suggestions here focus on helping teachers address students’ social, emotional, and developmental needs. The other five suggestions focus on teaching methods and strategies.

3. 12 Ways to Support ESL Students in the Mainstream Classroom
Three ESL teachers provide 12 practical strategies for mainstream teachers that have ELLs in their classes that will help all their students learn better.

4. Suggestions on Teaching ESL Students
The advice and suggestions provided here can be applied both in K–12 and secondary education contexts. Some of the issues discussed here include:

  • Assessing ESL students in the subject classroom
  • Preparing ESL-friendly worksheets and tests
  • ESL students and plagiarism
  • ESL students and culture/school shock
  • There is also a section dedicated to curricular issues related to teaching ELLs, in which the reader can find both general recommendations as well as specific advice for science, math, and humanities teachers.

5. ESL/Bilingual Resource Guide for Mainstream Teachers (pdf)
This brief document includes suggestions for supporting K–12 newcomer ESL students in mainstream classrooms, and things to consider when teaching newcomers to read.

6. Classroom Guidelines
These dos and don’ts related specifically to classroom instruction will be helpful to mainstream teachers who have little experience working with ELLs.

7. FAQs About Teaching English Language Learners
This comprehensive list includes issues and concerns that many mainstream teachers have about teaching ELLs. Some of the questions answered include the following:

  • What’s the most important thing I should know about the ESL students I teach?
  • Should I correct an ESL student’s grammar mistakes?
  • Should I correct an ESL student’s pronunciation mistakes?
  • Should I let ESL students talk in their native language in my classroom?
  • Should I encourage ESL students to use their dictionaries in my lesson?
  • How should I adapt the work I give to the ESL students in my class?
  • How should I grade my ESL students?

Although these questions are written for the teachers in a particular school, as the website indicates, they “will be of use to mainstream teachers of ESL students in any school situation.”

8. FAQs About Language Learning
These questions can be particularly helpful to instructors who have no experience in learning a foreign language. Some of the questions include:

  • How long does it take to learn a second language?
  • What are the factors that influence the acquisition of a second language?
  • How is learning a second language different from learning your mother tongue?
  • What should I know about the vocabulary of my subject?

9. Supporting ELLs in the Mainstream Classroom: Language Tips
This article provides a number of tips for adapting teaching strategies mainstream teachers may already be using.

10. Selected ESL Bibliography
This webpage provides a few books and articles that can be particularly helpful for mainstream teachers of ELLs.

Please feel free to share online resources that can help mainstream teachers to better address the needs of English language learners in their classes.

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
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4 Responses to ESL Students in Mainstream: 10 Online Resources for Teachers

  1. Carmen Macharaschwili says:

    This is one of the best sites for EL teachers I have come across. It is concise and full of valuable and practical information.
    Thank you!

  2. Tabby Riley says:

    Elena, are there grant monies you can apply for that could be put to use for the training that is needed for ELLS instructors?

    • Elena Shvidko Elena Shvidko says:

      This is a good question. I admit I had to ask around, as I have not heard of such grants. But I was told that the NCTE has a small grant (a couple thousand dollars) for research on issues related to the organizations’ fields. Last year it was due in June, so you might want to check what the requirements are for this year.

  3. ana rosales says:


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