Standards-in-Action 2.0 English Learner Institute to Cultivate Content Knowledge and Language Competence

The Standards-in-Action (SIA) 2.0 English Learner (EL) Training Institute shows adult educators how to provide college and career readiness (CCR) instruction to ELs. Through a mix of large- and small-group activities, that instruction simultaneously cultivates ELs' content knowledge and language competence.

StandardsWork, Inc.
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
StandardsWork, Inc.
Publication Year
Resource Type
Professional Development

StandardsWork, Inc. produced the SIA 2.0 EL Training Institute under contract ED-91990018-C-004019 with the U.S. Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) for the SIA project’s activities, 2018–2023. The training shows adult educators how to capitalize on the reservoir of talent that ELs bring to the classroom to boost their language acquisition and to reach beyond life skills instruction. 

The training showcases three evidence-based lessons—two literacy and one mathematics—designed especially for ELs. Each one embodies current research by promoting the simultaneous building and production of language with content rather than developing language in isolation. As such, all three lessons integrate academic and English language proficiency standards. They also add effective scaffolding to provide ELs full access to vital literacy and math content. In addition, the lesson activities are transferable to other lessons and adaptable to students learning at lower and higher language levels. 

The training materials include a series of annotated PowerPoints and Participant Materials. These materials outline in detail a host of hands-on activities that participants conduct in small groups with the assistance of skilled coaches. In the “doing” of these activities, participants learn how to effect change in adult education classrooms immediately.

The training changes how teachers think about and implement standards-based EL instruction. In particular, the training provides participants with methods and materials they can put to work immediately in their teaching. That’s why this training is best implemented by experienced standards trainers and language experts who know well—and have used—these methods and materials. This training serves as powerful professional development for classroom instructors. States can request this training for their adult educators—instructors, teacher trainers, and administrators—from experienced SIA trainers through the LINCS Technical Assistance Center. For more information, please email the LINCS Technical Assistance Center at

How the Training Is Conducted

The training features a learn-practice-apply-and-then-learn-some-more cycle. The original training was delivered virtually in a three-week cycle, with participants meeting twice weekly. The design of the training is as follows:

  • In the first week, participants work actively over two half-days with a literacy lesson designed to engage ELs deeply in reading, writing, speaking, and thinking about challenging texts and engaging content. 

  • In the second week, participants work with a literacy lesson pitched at a high-beginner or intermediate level of language study to solidify their learning from the first week. Then, during the second day of the second week, participants apply what they've learned to critique and strengthen lessons they currently use with ELs.

  • In the third week, the training moves to two half-days of carefully planned hands-on practice with mathematics content. The mathematics lesson showcases a series of teacher moves, sociocultural norms, and EL strategies that participants can apply when teaching any content or co-teaching with their Adult Basic Education (ABE) counterparts.

While the training is designed to be delivered virtually, it is easily adapted for in-person use.

Moreover, the EL Institute materials are flexible enough to allow states and programs to adopt different scheduling configurations with some important caveats. First, it is important to allow some time between work sessions to allow participants time to digest what they’ve learned before expecting them to learn more. Second, as noted above, this training is best implemented by experienced standards trainers and language experts. That assistance is available through the LINCS Technical Assistance Center.

Benefits and Uses

Through this interactive training experience, participants will:

  • Acquire hands-on experience with model lessons in literacy and math designed especially for ELs.
  • Gain a concrete understanding of current EL research and how to translate it into more robust instruction.
  • Build program and instructors’ capacity to align their teaching with that research through lots of opportunities for collaboration with their peers and support from experienced standards trainers.

Participants will also gain the following:

  • Ready-to-use instructional activities that will engage ELs in high levels of content and language development.
  • Methods that will engage ELs in robust levels of discussions and reasoning.
  • Scaffolds that will allow ELs to participate successfully in ABE classes.

The overall result gives participants the confidence to teach ELs in new and essential ways.

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