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This online webinar series provides you with an overview of second language acquisition (SLA) theories and principles, with a focus on their application in the adult ESOL classroom. The series includes three facilitated virtual sessions and three self-directed interim activities, all accessed through Blackboard. Participation in all three webinars and the interim activities is required.

The workshop is based on the revised Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers of Adult ESOL, Standard One.

Please note: You cannot access the online course from the SABES website. You will receive a separate email from Joanne Harrington at Quinsigamond Community College 1-2 days before the course begins with instructions on how to access the course. 


    This professional development activity/course is designed for:

  • Novice and experienced ESOL teachers and program directors who would like to deepen their understanding of the principles and theories underlying effective second language acquisition

In this series, we explore research-based principles and practices that support the second language acquisition of adult ESOL learners. Our exploration is guided by some of the most intriguing questions faced by ESOL teachers:

  • What stages do learners go through as they acquire English?
  • What individual factors may impact learners' progress?
  • What is authentic interaction, and why is it so effective in language acquisition?
  • What kinds of questions, corrective feedback, and instructional strategies can we use to encourage language development?

The answers to these questions, gleaned from ELA research, will help you make effective instructional decisions.

The online course begins with a preliminary self-directed module that includes readings, videos, and activities introducing you to the study of SLA. This module is self-directed and should be completed any time during the week before the first webinar.

Virtual Session #1, facilitated by two ESOL consultants, covers prevailing SLA theories and principles and the instructional approaches that emerge from them; the stages of SLA; individual learner differences that impact the rate and proficiency level of SLA; and the implications for teaching and students' learning. 

Between the first and second virtual sessions is another self-directed module, focusing on the developmental sequence of SLA; the concept of interlanguage; and the differences between basic interpersonal communication skills and cognitive academic language proficiency (BICS and CALP).

The second facilitated virtual session focuses on the role that authentic interaction plays in English learners' language acquisition, and ways to promote interaction in the ESOL classroom, both remote and in-person.

Between the second and third virtual sessions, you will apply what you have learned from the course to your teaching practice by trying out a new strategy or teaching technique based on SLA principles.

In the final facilitated virtual session, we review key concepts from the course; discuss how you and your colleagues have applied the principles of SLA in your practice; share feedback and information; and plan next steps to further refine your practice.

Each virtual session is 1.5 hours; the interim activities are estimated to take a total of 3.5 hours. The total number of professional development hours for the course is 8.

Upon registration, you will be enrolled in the course on Blackboard and will receive instructions on how to access it before it begins. Please note: You cannot access the online course from the SABES website. You will receive a separate email from Joanne Harrington at Quinsigamond Community College with instructions on how to access the course. 

  • Preliminary Activities (self-directed module): Available beginning Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.
  • Virtual Session #1: Thursday, September 16, 2021, 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Interim Activities (self-directed module): September 17 - September 29, 2021
  • Virtual Session #2: Thursday, September 30th, 2021, 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. 
  • Interim Activities (application of learning): September 30 - October 13, 2021
  • Virtual Session #3: Thursday, October 14, 2021, 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

NOTE: When registering for Part 1 on September 9th, you will automatically be registered for all webinars and activities. 

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completion of this professional development activity/course, you will be able to:

  • Identify key SLA theories and approaches that support effective ESOL instruction
  • Identify the learner variables that can impact language learning
  • Identify states of learners' interlanguage development
  • Describe the importance of authentic interaction in ESOL instruction
  • Implement effective SLA strategies that maximizes meaningful student interaction and communication
Presenter(s) / Facilitator(s)
End Date

United States

PD Center
SABES English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Curriculum & Instruction PD Center
Topic Area
Curriculum Development
ESOL/English Learners
Professional Standards