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Adult Education ESL Teacher’s Guide

(reviewed Fall 2008) 

Reviewer:  Minuta Botea

Recommendation:  Recommended with Reservations


The Web site was created in 1996 by Dr. Ray Graham and Mark Walsh, who are also the authors of the book with the same title that was published about two decades ago. The purpose of the Web site is to supply ESL teachers with no previous training with a set of lesson plans and activities for beginning, intermediate, and non-literate adults as well as guidelines for understanding the students, assessing their proficiency level, and keeping them motivated throughout the course.


Adult Education ESL Teacher’s Guide offers some useful information and practical ideas on how teachers with no previous training in ESL can conduct a number of lessons with their beginning, intermediate, or non-literate adults students, but I would recommend the web site with reservations due to the outdated material and lack of credentials when it comes to the authors’ educational background.

Although the Web site suggests that the two authors--C. Ray Graham and Mark M. Walsh--are somewhat related to the Adult Education Center of the A&I University Kingsville, Texas, their credentials are not made available for the users/visitors. Moreover, the relationship between the authors and that of The Adult Education Center, Texas A&I University Kingsville is not clear. There are no credentials or introductory section on the two authors available on the Web site.

From the online University Kingsville, Texas handbook we can find out that the old institution’s name (A&I University Kingsville Texas) was changed to A&M University Kingsville, Texas, but there is no information on the two authors available here either. They have either ceased to work for this institution or the Adult Education Center affiliated with A&M University Kingsville, Texas was simply given permission to use the material. There are no corporate sponsors financing the Web site.

Some of the teaching methods and activities presented/ made available on this Web site are outdated since the material was created and published in the 1980s; however, there are still many useful ideas and practical activities that can be adapted to fit the diverse content areas and different learner proficiency levels.

The “General Orientation” section of the Web site offers a brief overview of the way teachers should understand students’ needs, their motivation, or their reticence when it comes to attending and participating in English classes and develop ways to maintain and even increase students’ and their own enthusiasm.

The second and the third section of the Web site include outdated, yet richly detailed lesson plans meant to clarify (for an inexperienced teacher) the significance of each dialogue and activity and how they would contribute to the enrichment of students’ knowledge/ competency in this new language. The lesson plans also include specific directions on how the lesson should start, progress, and then conclude.

Many lessons try to integrate all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) to encourage the students to listen to different dialogues, pay attention to the new vocabulary, use/apply the new expressions/words while working in groups or pairs, and write them down when necessary (e.g. fill in the blank or dictation type of exercises -- all these activities are designed to fit the students’ proficiency).

Both the beginning and intermediate lessons focus on topics that students encounter in real-life situations: going shopping, visiting the doctor, finding a job, ordering food, or filling out an application. Although the material available varies, the drawback of the lessons proposed on this Web site is that the same pattern is used for almost all the lessons, which is probably one of the characteristics of old time approaches used in teaching ESL/TESOL (or any other second language for that matter). There are also some typographical errors, which don’t hinder the overall comprehension of the instructions, but constitute an additional confirmation that the Web site hasn’t been updated or edited in a long time.

Subject Headings:  adult education, ESL materials, survival English