This blended 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: This course will take place in Blackboard where you will find all virtual session information, course materials, and additional resources. You cannot access the online course from the SABES website. You will receive an email with further instructions as the course date approaches.


    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.

10/31/23:  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.

11/7/23:  Virtual Session #1 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. 

11/8 - 11/20/23: Between the first and second virtual sessions is a 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).

11/21/23:  Virtual Session #2 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.

11/22 - 12/4/23:  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.

12/5/23:  Virtual Session #3 reviews 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 Nancy Ruskin with instructions on how to access the course.

    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)
10/31/2023 - 8:00 am
11/07/2023 - 3:30 pm to 11/07/2023 - 5:00 pm
11/21/2023 - 3:30 pm to 11/21/2023 - 5:00 pm
12/05/2023 - 3:30 pm to 12/05/2023 - 5:00 pm
End Date

United States

PD Center
SABES English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Curriculum & Instruction PD Team
Topic Area
Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Teaching
Curriculum Development
MA ELPS (Massachusetts English Language Proficiency Standards)
New Staff
Professional Standards