Issues in the Preparation and Professional Development of Practitioners Working with Adult English Language Learners - Adult English Language Acquisition Discussion List - LINCS


Dr. JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall and two colleagues, Genesis Ingersoll and Jacqueline Lopez, conducted a survey of teacher certification and professional development expectations for adult ESL teachers. The results of the survey revealed that very big differences exist among the states, but that, in general, states were paying more attention to issues of teacher quality. During this online discussion, Dr. Crandall will facilitate and discuss issues of teacher quality as they relate to the initial preparation and professional development of teachers of adult English Language Learners (ELLs) from initial preparation and expectations of newly hired adult ESL teachers to issues related to more experienced teachers, including those who may be experiencing near burn-out from the stresses of several part-time jobs without contracts or benefits.

Guiding Questions:

Questions related to initial preparation and professional development of new adult ESL teachers:

  • Have you used the TESOL Standards for Teachers of Adult English Language Learners, and if so, what has been your experience? How do you think the standards should be used in initial preparation of adult ESL teachers and also with novice teachers?
  • How important do you think degrees and credentials are in improving performance? Which are the most valuable (worth the investment by teachers/programs) and why? If you are involved in hiring an adult ESL teacher, what knowledge, skills, attitudes, etc. do you look for?
  • Many adult ESL teachers first taught in the preK-12 classroom. How easy is the transition to teaching adults? What kinds of professional development can help ease the transition? What do these teachers have to share with adult ESL teachers who have never taught in elementary or secondary grades?

Questions related to professional development of experienced adult ESL teachers:

  • Several educators have talked about a “life-cycle” of teachers. What are the kinds of professional development activities/opportunities that are most useful/important for teachers who have been teaching a long time and for those who may be experiencing teacher burn-out?
  • A 2009 report by the National Staff Development Council (now referred to as Learning Forward)--“Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the U.S. and abroad”-- identified the following as some of the characteristics of effective professional development for K-12 teachers: that it be intensive, sustained, and continuous over time, organized around real problems of practice, and supported by coaching, mentoring, observation, feedback and through collaboration in professional learning communities. To what degree is this also applicable to adult ESL teachers? Have any of you been engaged in professional learning communities or other collaborative approaches to professional development such as lesson study? (Website for both the study and an executive summary are listed below.)
  • In the last few years, opportunities to participate in online professional development such as online courses, study circles, webinars, videos, etc. have become increasingly available. What ways have you used these and how effective have they been? Can online professional development meet the characteristics of effective professional development listed above? Or are there are other qualities that make them effective?
  • A great deal has been said about the lack of professional treatment of many adult ESL teachers many of whom teach part time, without contracts or retirement or health benefits. Is there evidence that increased professional preparation, credentials, teacher evaluations, etc. lead to enhanced professional consideration (better pay and working conditions, more full-time positions, etc.)?

Guest Biography

Dr. Jodi (JoAnn) Crandall recently retired from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she taught in the MA TESOL Program and directed the interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Language, Literacy and Culture. Prior to that she was the Vice President of the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), where she established the National Clearinghouse on Adult ESL Literacy (NCLE) and directed national and international education and teacher education projects. Her research focuses on issues of language policy, program design, and teacher education. Dr. Crandall chaired the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Standards Committee during the revision of the TESOL/National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) National Teacher Education Standards and the Standards for Teachers of Adult ESL and EFL Learners. She has also conducted a national survey of certification and credentialing requirements of Adult ESL teachers; conducted research with others on effective instructional and professional development practices for adult ESL in five community colleges; and served on the NCATE Board of Examiners. She has also made major presentations on teacher development at a number of national and international conferences and has mentored a number of doctoral students on issues of teacher development for meeting the needs of adult English Language Learners. Dr. Crandall is a former President of TESOL, the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and the Washington-area TESOL affiliate (WATESOL). She is also a founding member and former Secretary-Treasurer of The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF) and is a current member of the CAL Board of Trustees.

Suggested Readings

Crandall, J. A. (1994). Creating a Professional Workforce in Adult ESL Literacy. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Crandall, J.A., Ingersoll, G. & Lopez, J. (2008 ). Adult ESL teacher credentialing and certification. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
reviewed at

Chisman, F. P. (2011). Closing the gap: The challenge of certification and credentialing in adult education. New York: Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy.

Rodriguez, A. G. & McKay, S. (2010). Professional development for experienced teachers working with adult English language learners. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
reviewed at

Schaetzel, K., Peyton, J. K., & Burt, M. (2007). Professional development for adult ESL practitioners: Building capacity. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
reviewed at

Smith, C. with Gomez, R. (2011). Certifying adult education staff and faculty. New York: Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy.
reviewed at

Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad, Executive Summary. Dallas, TX: National Staff Development Council.

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