Remote ESOL Project

This site includes information on promising remote adult ESOL practices and program models.

Silja Kallenbach
Jen Vanek
Alison Ascher Webber
Annalisa Crowe
Johan Uvin
Catalina González
Navjeet Singh
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
World Education
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Product Type

This site holds information for teachers, administrators, policy makers, and researchers interested in leveraging educational technology to support enrollment, attendance, achievement, and completion in remote ESOL programming for adults. The information provided stems from six months of research done to uncover examples of promising practices and programming most of which sprung up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – when remote instruction and distance education were the only modalities of learning possible in many places. The site includes:

Benefits and Uses

Adult educators can use this resource in a variety of ways. Administrators and managers will benefit from reviewing best practices being implemented during COVID-19 to reach adult ESOL students remotely. The site’s resources provide details, examples, access to tools, detailed case studies, and recommendations for implementing policy, strategies, training, and approaches to successfully instruct ESOL learners through technology and other means. The publications posted on the site can also be effectively used to provide professional development for program instructors and staff.

Instructors and aides will benefit from using the curriculum resources that can be accessed through the site, along with reviewing the elements leading to great success among students participating in the 34 programs interviewed.

The eight case studies listed provide excellent details for administrators and instructors on how programs achieved their success, including links tools and other curriculum resources to improve instruction among remote ESOL students during this pandemic and beyond.

The resource site includes a great deal of useful information for the field and is organized in three sections, each of which is designed to provide guidance to programs wishing to provide quality remote interaction, training, and education to adult ESOL students. The information is easily accessible and can be downloaded in sections.

  1. The Project Overview section provides the background and details for validating the practices recommended for delivering quality remote instruction to ESOL students with a variety of needs, goals, and abilities. The information shared stems from six months of research during the winter of 2021, conducted to uncover examples of promising practices and programming, most of which sprung up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Selected for interviews were 34 programs, among many, which reflected different institutional settings, organizations, student populations, geographies, and approaches. These programs represented segments of the adult ESOL ecosystem both with and without WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) Title II funding.
  2. The Case Studies of Innovative Remote ESOL section reviews eight programs in depth to focus on the innovation and the strength of their work across multiple activities of program instruction and administration. Case studies provide examples that represent the diverse range of organizations that offer adult ESOL across the US. . As noted, each program featured is “notable for both a spotlighted innovation and the strength of their work across multiple activities of program instruction and administration.” The information provided in each case is very detailed and provides links to tools and resources that each program used to achieve success.
  3. The Effective Practice and Policy in Remote ESOL section leads to four papers that detail strong practices found among notable program designs, strategies, instructional approaches, and resources across multiple organizations, as follow:
  • The Creating Equitable Access to Remote Adult ESOL publication describes innovative efforts uncovered from interviews with leaders in 34 adult ESOL programs across the US. The ideas and resources described are notable because of the use of digital technologies to provide onboarding, instruction, and support to diverse groups of ESOL learners that programs sometimes struggle to serve. The publication also shares descriptions of remote ESOL instruction in multiple contexts. 
  • The Promising Practices for Adult Remote ESOL publication highlights strategies, concrete program policies, actions, and resources that are key to supporting remote ESOL learner success and that lead to positive learner outcomes: Student Recruitment and Onboarding, Instructional Platforms, Materials and Approaches, Student Persistence Strategies, Student Access to Digital Skills, Devices and Internet, Support for Students’ Basic Needs, Professional Development and Support for Staff, and Partnerships.
  • The Key Decisions for Remote ESOL Program Design and Implementation publication discusses what needs to be in place to scale innovation. Highlighted are similarities in the questions that programs with very different characteristics needed to address in order to start up or scale up remote ESOL instruction.
  • The Transformation of Adult ESOL Learning: A Practice and Policy Brief sets the stage for understanding policy and practice recommendations in the context of adult ESOL. The resource includes a helpful Executive Summary and a Practice and Policy briefs that summarize high-level findings, with policy implications and recommendations that programs can use as a “checklist” to review their practices in meeting the remote needs of ESOL adult learners.
Required Training

No training is required

What the experts say

This resource is a treasure chest filled with valuable recommendations from and to programs serving ESOL adult learners remotely in a variety of ways, especially as a result of COVID-19. Although not designed to provide specific activities and lesson plans, the link to the Resources section of the sponsoring EdTech site includes a number of useful links to Webinars, videos, student activities, valuable information, and tools to help adult learners, including second-language learners, become more digitally literate.

One of the most valuable contributions of this resource is its timing, having immediately addressed the needs of programs to deal with the COVID-19 demand for remote learning, especially, though not exclusively, among adult ESOL learners who often face additional challenges to those faced by native speakers.

The research conducted provides up-to-date recommendations that were well designed, consistent, in depth, and carefully gathered from a variety of successful programs using standard-based curricula and instruction, and serving a wide variety of students throughout the country. The encouraging student-progress results and conclusions drawn from the project’s study are clearly outlined and often summarized. Resulting recommendations are stated in easily understandable language and organized so that programs can select areas of interest among several different elements addressed: Student Recruitment and Onboarding, Instructional Platforms, Materials, and Approaches, Student Persistence Strategies, Student Access to Digital Skills, Devices and Internet, Support for Students’ Basic Needs, Professional Development and Support for Staff, and Partnerships

Resource Notice

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