Top resources for American public school ESL teachers

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in the US has its own unique dynamics with regards to content, standards, and testing.  Given this context, many ESL teachers are teaching far more than just English language – they can play the role of social worker, lawyer, parent (not to mention the never-ending paper-pusher!).  I’ve even known ESL teachers who bring breakfast for their students because they knew no food was available at home.  Kudos to all of you doing this meaningful and needed work!

Here are some excellent resources that will help you do your job even better:

Colorin Colorado

PACKED with information, this bilingual (Spanish) site offers research-based guidance for ESL teachers in the form of webcasts, articles, and materials.  Take a look at some of the topics they address for educators:

And here’s an overview of their research topics:

They also offer an email newsletter.  This is by far the most informative and comprehensive ESL website I’ve seen.

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquistion (NCELA)

Sponsored by the US Department of Education, NCELA provides access to current standards, grants, funding, and opportunities for professional development.  While some may argue that government offices are affected too much by politics and bureaucracy to provide accurate information (and have a darn good point!), it is still a reality that this dictates much of the environment that affects the field of ESL teaching in the US.  Its helpful to understand the system to be able to work most effectively in it.

Teaching Tolerance

In many cases, ESL teachers are often advocates for and defenders of policies, practices, and attitudes that support an environment of mutual respect between cultures.  While I take issue with the word ‘tolerance’ (I would hope for more than just ‘tolerance’ in our schools, but that’s another issue), this site offers a wide variety of lesson plans, articles, and tools for teachers looking to help their schools develop a culturally responsive environment in the classroom.


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