ESL Instructional Resources

ESL Instructional Resources

Our team compiled various resources to help you, educators, best support English learners, in class and at home!

Additional Resources

Add visuals to graphic organizers, presentations, charts, worksheets, and other materials (as easy as A, B, C–and free!):

A) search for visuals on Google Images: Go to, enter a topic (e.g., “solar system”), click on “Images” then “Tools” then “Usage rights” and select “Labeled for reuse” in the drop-down menu. These images may be used without requesting permission for classroom materials that you develop.
B) use your phone to photograph classroom items and activities or have students use a digital camera to photograph them and add the photos to text that needs visual support (e.g., photos showing students acting out specific classroom procedures).
C) save old textbooks, magazines, and other printed materials with photos and drawings and cut out their visuals. Ask friends to collect these items for your classroom. Put them on index cards and label them, or ask students to do it.

Reading Horizons, English Skills Learning Center “ESL Teaching Strategies: 6 Tips for Using Repetition in the Classroom” – This blog explains when and how to use repetition to maximize English learners’ exposure to and use of academic language.

Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Carol Rothenberg. (2008). Content-Area Conversations: How to Plan Discussion-Based Lessons for Diverse Language Learners. ASCD. This publication is a practical, hands-on guide to creating and managing environments that spur sophisticated levels of student oral and written communication. 

Kathleen Mohr and Eric Mohr. (2007). “Extending English-Language Learners’ Classroom Interactions Using the Response Protocol.” Reading Teacher, 60(5), 440–50. Available on the Colorín Colorado website. In this article, the authors first describe the verbal interactions in a typical classroom, give question-answer-feedback examples for different situations, and then lay out a plan for increasing English learners’ classroom talk through teacher modeling.


Other Resources

Languages International. ESOL Teaching Skills TaskBook. Teacher Language – This PDF assists you in determining issues in your classroom communication and how to solve them.

Other Resources

Additional Resources


  • Listen Wise – a website that offers teachers free access (must sign up) to public radio stories and podcasts, as well as materials emphasizing on current events and other content areas. These resources can be particularly helpful for EL students, because they offer  interactive transcripts, tiered vocabulary lists, graphic organizers for active listening, and reduced speed audio that facilitate teachers to scaffold and assess students’ listening skills development according to their grade level.
  • Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab – provides free, online listening activities for teachers and students.
  • Dave’s ESL Café: Listening – has a plethora of teaching resources, including lesson plans, quizzes, and activities.
  • Voice of America News – provides podcasts for English learners that use slower speech and simpler terms.
  • Podcasts in English – provides free access to a series of podcasts featuring listening activities for English learners and teachers. Paid members have access to worksheets, webcasts, and transcripts that provide lessons to support student learning at differing levels of English proficiency. From the home page, click on the “pie+” tab.
  • English Listening Lesson Library Online (ELLLO) – has over 2,500 FREE ESL lessons with audio and video to support teaching specific skills (e.g., grammar) to students with varying language proficiency levels.
  • News in Slow English – a comprehensive catalog of grammar and expressions lessons, from beginning to intermediate English. When translations are chosen, important vocabulary or phrases can be read in Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, or Spanish when curser hovers over.

Additional Resources

  • Opera
  •  Poetry 
    • We Are Teachers – 35 games and activities to inspire children and teenagers to appreciate poetry. A collaboration by Jill Staake for the website “WE ARE TEACHERS”.
    • Edutopia – The poetry writing process can become more inclusive and engaging when you offer a variety of poetry writing exercises. A contribution by Kasey Short to the Edutopia website.
    • Teaching Expertise – A list of 32 fun games and activities to make poetry more accessible for kids. These activities can be used to introduce children to poetry or to reinforce any skills they already have. A contribution by Sean Kivi to the “Teaching Expertise” website.
    • Bespoke Classroom – Poetry activities to encourage students to write poetry and get involved in this kind of practice. Contributed by Meredith, founder of the website “Bespoke ELA”.
    • Classroom Nook – Website aimed at helping teachers in the use of poetry with elementary school students (5 to 9 years old), it starts with an interesting podcast on the subject. It has activities, games and proposals for debates in classes based on poetic texts.
  • Composing acrostic poems
    • Poetry4Kids – Learn what acrostic poems are and how to write them following 5 very simple steps. A contribution by American poet Kenn Nesbitt to the website
    • WikiHow – Learn how to write acrostic poems with illustrated examples. A contribution by Diya Chaudhuri, as co-author, to the website “”.
    • ReadWriteThink – Write your own acrostic poem following 4 simple steps. A collaboration of the website “”.
    • ThinkGrowGiggle – 8 fun ideas for writing acrostic poems to differentiate your lesson or challenge the whole class. A collaboration by Jeanine for the website “”.
    • LitCharts – Plenty of theoretical content about acrostic poems with didactic examples. A collaboration of the website “”.
    • Arts Adn Culture – Learn what they are and how to write acrostic poems following 5 very simple steps. A contribution by American poet Kenn Nesbitt to the website
  • Rhyming domino games 
    • Youtube – Video that explains the use and advantages of learning rhymes to build the lexicon and develop a taste for reading. It especially guides parents in building rhyming games, such as rhyming sound dominoes.
  • Domino phonics games 
    • CreatePlayTravel – Website aimed at parents of young children. It helps in the learning process of reading and acquisition of differential phonemes through handcrafted games.
  • Pairing up songs and poems
    • The Literary Maven Website – Aimed at teachers, this website offers a study of poetry using a comparative analysis of poems with similar themes. The poems are available on the website and the comparison can even be made through songs.
  • Haiku Poetry
    • The Techie Teacher – Website aimed at teachers that explains haikus and helps in their creation. The site proposes the use of a tool for the creation of poems, access to the device is paid.
    •  KidZone – This website explains what traditional Japanese poems are and proposes the creation of poems within the haiku framework. It has themes and examples to facilitate understanding.
    • VerseByVerse – An experimental AI-powered muse that helps you compose poetry inspired by classic American poets. The site offers poems by several American authors. After choosing the author and reading the poem,  students can develop their poetry using the same patterns as those of the chosen author.

Other Resources

  • Akhondi, Masoumeh, Faramarz Aziz Malayeri, and Arshad Abd Samad. “How to Teach Expository Text Structure to Facilitate Reading Comprehension.” Reading Teacher 64, no. 5 (February 2011): 368–72. – Read this practitioner-oriented article to find out about how to teach upper elementary grade students to develop an awareness of how information is organized in expository texts, and how to use knowledge of text structure to facilitate reading comprehension
  • Dymock, Susan. “Teaching Expository Text Structure Awareness.” Reading Teacher 59, no. 2 (October 2005): 177–81. – In this article learn about four common expository text structures and how you can teach them to your students to help them develop an understanding of text structure. 
  • Peregoy, Suzanne F., and Owen F. Boyle. “English Learners Reading English: What We Know, What We Need to Know.” Theory into Practice 39 4 (Fall 2000): 237–47. – This article explains important English reading processes among native and non-native English speakers, along with recommendations for teaching English learners to read and understand texts in English. 
  • Read, Sylvia, D. Ray Reutzel, and Parker C. Fawson. “Do You Want to Know What I Learned? Using Informational Trade Books as Models to Teach Text Structure.” Early Childhood Education 36, no. 3 (December 2008): 213–19. – Read this article find out how to use “well-structured” expository trade book titles to teach text structure to your students. A lesson plan template and an extended example of an explicit lesson on order/sequence are provided.  
  • Williams, Joanna P. “Instruction in Reading Comprehension for Primary-Grade Students: A Focus on Text Structure.” Journal of Special Education 39, no. 1 (2005): 6–18. – This article explains how teaching the text structure compare/contrast through clue words, discussions, vocabulary development, graphic organizers, and summary writing facilitated reading comprehension in at-risk second and third grade students. 
  • Williams, Joanna P., et al. “Close Analysis of Texts with Structure (CATS): An Intervention to Teach Reading Comprehension to At-Risk Second Graders.” Journal of Educational Psychology 108, no. 8 (March 2016): 1061–77. – Read this article to learn about how to teach the five basic text structures (sequence, comparison, cause-effect, description, and problem-solution), along with linguistic signals (clue words such as but, finally, because; graphic organizers; and generic questions that help students focus on essential textual information. 
  • Additional Resources
    • Explanation of text structures
      • Flocabulary – Short explanation of text structures video in rap form.
    • Comparison
      • Youtube Video Animation that explains the development of textual narrative and the creation of mental images through the use of comparisons in the text construction process. Guides on the use of similarities to support the narrative.
    • Problem and solution with text structure organization 
      • Youtube Video – Animation that explains the placement of ideas during the text construction process. It guides on writing about the cause and effect relationship and the development of solutions to problems.
  • Websites, Apps, and Podcasts for Teaching Vocabulary, Spelling, and Grammar (not specifically for ELs)
    • No Red Ink. – This website offers adaptive grammar and writing exercises on the most common errors. Each tutorial includes a diagnostic assessment, a practice activity, and a quiz. A free account is required. The site also offers a paid membership version.
    • Hunter College Rockowitz Writing Center. “Grammar and Mechanics.” City University of New York. – This website provides explanations and examples of correct and incorrect sentence structure, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, articles and determiners, nouns and pronouns, prepositions, punctuation and capitalization, spelling, and vocabulary.
    • Simmons, Robin L. “Grammar Bytes! Grammar Instruction with Attitude.” –  This website defines grammar terms, offers exercises, and provides a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about grammar.
    • Khan Academy. – On this website, you will find screencast tutorials on a wide variety of grammar and writing topics. Some resources come with a unit test at the beginning that pinpoints the lesson a learner should watch based on the test results.
    • Brain Pop. “Grammar.”  – This section of the popular Brain Pop website offers tutorials and quizzes on common issues, such as the distinction between their, they’re, and there.


  • Websites, Apps, and Podcasts for Creating Mini-Lessons
    • Explain Everything. – This app allows teachers to create screencasts and share them with others. The paid membership for educators starts at five users and costs $24.95 per year. The app is available for Apple, Android, and Microsoft devices.
    • Doceri. – This app allows teachers to create, control, and present tutorials on their tablets or desktop computers. The desktop license is $30; the iPad and Windows apps are free.
    • Screencast-O-Matic. – This website allows teachers to create and save video recordings of their computer screen, the webcam, or both at the same time. The free version is limited to fifteen minutes. Additional features, including editing and longer recordings, are available for single users in the pro version for $18/year.
  • “General Graphic Organizers Worksheets.” – This site offers a well-categorized collection of ready-to-use graphic organizers designed for K–12 teachers for reading, science, writing, and math classes, as well as for general classroom use. Blank printable templates like graph paper, dot arrays, and other useful diagrams can be downloaded.
  • Inspiration Software, Inc. “Visual Learning Overview.” – Teachers and students can use this commercial software for visual learning to create graphic organizers along with other visual materials as they brainstorm ideas, gather information, arrange materials, and find connections. The tool requires a license, which many schools have.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “Graphic Organizers.” – This website provides free graphic organizers for teachers to print and copy for the classroom. These can be used not only for writing projects but also for activities such as vocabulary building and brainstorming. All the graphic organizers listed are available in English and Spanish.
  • Judie Haynes. “Graphic Organizers for Content Instruction.” EverythingESL. – This site contains downloadable graphic organizers to support EL student reading and writing of various types of texts.
  • Katherine S. McKnight. (2010). The Teacher’s Big Book of Graphic Organizers: 100 Reproducible Organizers That Help Kids with Reading, Writing, and the Content Areas. Jossey-Bass. – This book includes graphic organizers for use before, during, and after learning activities across the content areas.
  • Jennifer Jacobson and Dottie Raymer. (1999). The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers: 50 Great Templates to Help Kids Get More Out of Reading, Writing, Social Studies and More. Scholastic. – This strategies book includes fifty reproducible templates along with simple how-tos and student samples

Additional Resources

  • Jodidurgin – Use of mental schemes and conceptual maps to help children in the process of textual production. The site encourages children to organize their ideas into items before putting them in the text, helping to build arguments.

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If you are interested in learning more on the different ways, you can support English learners, the ELAN authors  compiled essential instructional techniques in their book Show, Tell, Build.

Show, Tell, Build

Building upon the theoretical and practical foundation outlined in their previous book, Educating English Learners, the ELAN Authors show classroom teachers how to develop a repertoire of instructional techniques that address K–12 English learners (ELs) at different English proficiency and grade levels, and across subject areas. 


Show, Tell, Build is organized around two decision maps for planning and implementing differentiated instruction for ELs: the Academic Subjects Protocol (for teachers of academic subjects) and the Language Arts Protocol (for teachers of language arts). The instructional tools and techniques described in each chapter help teachers provide communication support for ELs through showing and telling, and develop their language proficiency through building their skills. The book also discusses the demands that academic language poses for English learners and ways to assess students’ proficiency in English.

Show, Tell, Build provides classroom teachers, English language development specialists, literacy coaches, and school leaders with valuable knowledge and skills to support ELs’ academic success.

Part I - The The Academic Subjects Protocol: Show and Tell Tools and Techniques

Part I includes ten Show and Tell Tools and Techniques. Show and Tell refer to the two types of communication support, nonverbal and verbal, that are key to the Academic Subjects Protocol. 

Part I begins with an overview of the Academic Subjects Protocol, concisely discussing the major factors involved in teaching academic subjects to English learners. Following this overview of the ASP are descriptions of and instructions for using the four Show and six Tell tools and techniques.

Below is a short video which explains the Academic Subjects Protocol. Please click on the image below to play the video.

The Academic Subjects Protocol

The Academic Subjects Protocol (ASP) is one of two protocols aimed at differentiating grade-level instruction for English learners we presented in Educating English Learners. It focuses on academic content areas other than language arts or literacy for the language needs of English learners. The ASP consists of a series of tasks and instructional decisions specific to English learners that teachers and curriculum experts make while designing challenging grade-level lessons. We break these decisions into two phases and a total of five steps that result in the delivery of the right types of support(s) that meet the needs of English learners in lessons originally designed for their non-EL peers.

In this Part I of Show, Tell, Build, you will also find the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Graphic Organizers for Academic Subjects
  • Chapter 2: Infographics, diagrams, and animations
  • Chapter 3: Models, Manipulatives, and Realia
  • Chapter 4: Gestures, Dramatization, and Total Physical Response
  • Chapter 5: Teacher Talk
  • Chapter 6: Leveled Questioning
  • Chapter 7: Cooperative Learning and Academic Discussions
  • Chapter 8: Leveled Text
  • Chapter 9: Modified Text
  • Chapter 10: Sentence Starters, Sentence Frames, and Word Banks


Part II - The Language Arts Protocol: Build Tools and Techniques

Part II includes ten Build Tools and Techniques. Build refers to English language development, targeted to English learners’ oral proficiency and literacy levels, which is the basis of the Language Arts Protocol.

As with Part I, Part II starts by laying out the elements of the Language Arts Protocol, highlighting key elements in teaching language arts and literacy to English learners. The ten Build tools and techniques descriptions and instructions are categorized by which of the four language domains is the primary focus for English language development:  listening, speaking, reading, or writing.

Language Arts Protocol

Like the Academic Subjects Protocol, the Language Arts Protocol (LAP) involves a series of planning decisions that generalist teachers follow to meet their English learners’ needs. Also like the ASP, the underlying premise of the Language Arts Protocol is that lesson adjustments are made based on a gap; a gap between the language demands of grade-level instruction and English learners’ current level of proficiency. The difference between the ASP and the LAP, then, lies in that the adjustments in language arts or literacy instruction require closer attention to language, calling for targeted instruction in all four language skills (i.e., listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

In this Part II of Show, Tell, Build, you will also find the following chapters:

  • Chapter 11: Building Comprehension at Word, Sentence, and Discourse Levels
  • Chapter 12: Instructional Conversations
  • Chapter 13: Learning New Language Through Songs and Poems
  • Chapter 14: EL Spoken Error Treatment
  • Chapter 15: Exploring the Meaning, FOrm, and Relationships of Words
  • Chapter 16: Grammatically Unpacking S entences
  • Chapter 17: Understanding Text Structures with Graphic Organizers
  • Chapter 18: Grammar, Spelling, and Vocabulary Mini-Lessons
  • Chapter 19: Responding to Sentence-Levele Writing Errors
  • Chapter 20: Planning Writing with Graphic Organizers
  • Conclusion

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