Create Your Own Lessons Using the English Forward Lesson Flow

The Lesson FlowWhat should you do if you want to teach a lesson but there isn't an English Forward lesson on that topic? Write it yourself! 

The English Forward Lesson Flow can be used to create your own lessons on any topic that is important to your students. You can decide what activities to include, what materials are needed for the activities, and what you want students to be able to do at the end of the lesson! 

To help you along, the English Forward team will be releasing an English Forward Lesson Template and a rubric to help you create your own lessons in the next couple of weeks! Keep an eye on the portal! We'll send out an update once they've been released. 

Timely Lessons for the Fall Term!

With the new school year coming up, we thought it would be a good idea to review the Timely Lessons you'll be able to use this fall! 

  • Labor Day - a lesson introducing the history begind Labor Day in the United States.
  • Back to School - A lesson that helps prepare parents to talk with their children's teachers. Can also be modified to focus on giving students the language to talk to their own teacher in the adult education classroom.
  • Fall Vegetables - A lesson introducing students to the Fall harvest and vegetables they can find in their own community. 
  • Daylight Saving Time - A lesson that prepares students to discuss Daylight Saving Time and their preferences around different daily activities. 
  • Thanksgiving - A lesson that prepares students to discuss Thanksgiving and what they're thankful for.
  • New Year's Day - A lesson that prepares students to discuss major life events and celebrating the New Year. 

Also, this is not a Timely Lesson, but with the election this Fall is a great opportunity to use lesson 8.5, Voting and Elections

What other fall-related topics do you bring into the classroom for your students? 

Extension Activities

The Grocery Store Extension Activity

While many of the lessons found in the English Forward Curriculum already have Extension Activities, you have the opportunity to create your own for any lesson! The idea behind Extension Activities is that the students get to take what they learned in the lesson and apply it to the real word in some way. This can be big or small, simple or complex. For example, in lesson 1.4, How Do You Feel?, the extension activity is simply having students practice saying hello and goodbye to different people between classes, or using the Beatles song “Hello, Goodbye” for a Cloze Activity. Lesson 7.2, The Grocery Store, has a much more complex extension activity that has the class plan a trip to the grocery store, including creating a list of items to purchase, budgeting money, and conducting a scavenger hunt.

Think about how you might extend English Forward lessons and other lessons that you bring into class. How can you make it real to students? How can you get them to apply what they’ve learned in the real world? 

Using English Forward Alongside Other Curricula and Resources

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We know that, to truly meet our students’ diverse needs, we often need to pull multiple curricula and resources into the classroom. However, this can be a tricky task to accomplish. Today we wanted to spend a little time discussing how to use English Forward alongside other classroom resources.

When Justin DeBrosse, Director of Instructional Quality, first started working at the Literacy Coalition, he felt it was important to teach using the English Forward curriculum since he would be considered the expert on the entire English Forward Training System, curriculum included, and he needed firsthand experience to really know how it worked in the classroom. He taught at a local nonprofit as part of a small team of instructors, and in his class they used English Forward alongside Ventures, a popular traditional ESL curriculum. What the team decided to do was to use Ventures as the text that guided the content of the class and English Forward lessons were used to complement the content being taught in Ventures. For example, during a Ventures unit on Jobs and Careers, Justin taught the English Forward unit on English for Work. The English Forward lessons do not have to be taught in sequence, and so Justin was able to pull the lesson that was most relevant to the content being covered in Ventures in each class. Justin also brought in Timely Lessons that were relevant to the fall, which was when the class was being held. Justin taught Timely Lessons on Fall Vegetables, Thanksgiving, Daylight Saving Time, and New Year’s Day.

The flexibility of the English Forward curriculum allows it to be integrated with almost any other curriculum that may be used in class. For Justin and his students, it was a great opportunity to take what they learned in Ventures and apply it in a new way that was closer to how language is used in real life (i.e. not just following along in a textbook). 

Preparing Your Students for Employment - Job Interviews

This week we wanted to let you know of a couple particularly helpful resources when it comes to preparing your students for jobs or job-seeking. runs a blog that provides advice to people in positions in which they work with people looking for employment. While our goal in the ESL classroom is broader than helping a student find employment, it is a very important component of learner goals and classroom instruction. 

Over the last few months, have released a couple of blog posts with some good resources on how to help your students prepare for job interviews and professional life. A posting from just last week includes a helpful infographic containing some great information on how to best prepare for a job interview. Click here to be taken to the Interview Preparation Infographic. The other great post is on Job Interview Preparation Best Practices. Click here to access Your Top 10 Interview Prep Best Practices

Both posts also include links to a handful of other great resources, too!


Timely Lessons for Upcoming Events

Page One from Mothers Day  Fathers Day Timely LessonWe wanted to take this opportunity to remind you all of the Timely Lessons for upcoming events and holidays. There's:

We've also just recently passed May Day, Earth Day, Tax Day, Daylight Saving Time, and Spring Break. Hopefully you remembered to bring the lessons for each of these events into your classroom! 

Adult Education Teacher Competencies

LINCS Logo Color 300dpi 1"Adult Education Teacher Competencies," published by LINCS and the American Institute for Research, provides a comprehensive set of competencies for adult educators across four domains:

  • Monitors and manages student learning and performance through data
  • Plans and delivers high-quality, evidence-based instruction. 
  • Effectively communicates to motivate and engage learners
  • Pursues professionalism and continually builds knowledge and skills

Each domain is further broken down into several competencies, along with performance indicators and examples for each competency so programs and instructors can determine the effectiveness of their instruction and make improvements, as necessary. 


Click here to be taken to the PDF of the publication. 

Getting Students to Talk - Allowing Time


As part of our ongoing discussion of how to engage students and get them to talk, this week we would like to discuss the topic of allowing time. Fluency is being able to communicate quickly and accurately, and it takes quite a bit of work to get to the point that you’re fluent in a second language.  Our students are all on the way to becoming fluent in English, but they aren’t there yet! Giving students the time to think about their answers before they reply to a question or comment is important at this point of language development. Rushing them or being impatient may discourage them from trying to communicate, and as well all know, creating a space conducive to risk-taking (with language, at least!) is an important part of helping students to learn.

Next time you communicate with a student, look at how much time you give them to reply. Is it enough? Should you wait a little longer? 

Getting Students to Talk - Stepping Out of Activities

VideoStill LessonFlow Step6

Removing yourself from the activities, as difficult as that might be sometimes, is a great way to give students the courage to talk without worrying about being observed or judged. You might remember from the lesson flow demonstration video when Karen’s class performed the Line Dialogue, step six, Karen had very little involvement in the students’ dialogues. The goal is to make the students more comfortable so that they’re more likely to take risks with the language. While they may not get everything perfectly correct, they will be closer to being comfortable using English in class and in day-to-day life! 

Using Famous Speeches in Class


Are you looking for a good way to introduce Civics or another important topic to your class? With the advent of audio and video streaming services, such as YouTube and Spotify, it’s never been easier to bring famous speeches or videos into the classroom. Below are a few of my favorites:


How else do you bring these moments into your classroom?

Getting Students to Talk - Games

cartoon fishOne question that we are often asked is how to engage shy students and get them to talk. How do we get them to practice English in the classroom, which is the only guaranteed time for them to practice?

One great way to do this is to play games in class that require students to work together in English to complete an activity.

One great option is the game Go Fish, which is used in Step 8: Quick Check and Review for Lesson 7.3, Ordering at Counters. In this step, students use cards created by the teacher to play Go Fish using food and measurements, such as “2 lbs of raw shrimp” or “4 oz. cheddar cheese” to reinforce the vocabulary using the lesson. If students need to work together to complete a task and they share English as a common language, they need to use English to get the job done!

Look for more methods of engaging students and getting them to practice from us in the future! 

Understanding Standards for Adult ESL

Pages from NRSFunctioningLevelTable

How familiar are you with the National Reporting System standards for adult ESL? These standards outline the various levels of proficiency for adult ESL and provides examples of the tasks that students should be able to complete at the various levels. Each literacy level is also correlated with test benchmarks from several of the most common adult ESL assessments, like CASAS and BEST Plus. You can click here to read about each of the levels. 

Integrated Career Awareness and infusing workforce into your classes


An emerging topic in adult education is workforce infusion and career readiness. We know that getting a job (or a better job) is an important goal for many of our students. But how do we help students learn what they need to get a job or understand how the skills they already have can lead to a job?

Integrated Career Awareness (ICA) is one way to infuse workforce and career readiness into your classes. The curriculum, which is available online for free, contains 24 lessons across four sections meant to help learners become aware of the skills they already have and explore different career opportunities.

If you already do this for your students, how do you do it? Let us know in the comments below!

Goal Setting

Pages from Student Needs Assessment BeginningWhether January is the start of a new term or continuing classes with the same students, it’s a great opportunity to revisit your students’ goals. If you click on “For the Classroom” and then “Other Supplemental Materials” you’ll find two needs assessments – one for advanced learners and one for beginning learners. You can then use the Realia Toolkit Creator to determine what realia you can bring into your classroom that is relevant to your students’ goals. 

Helpful Timely Lessons for the Fall

Pages from Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

The next couple of weeks are great opportunities to bring a couple of Timely Lessons into your classroom. Teach your students about the Fall Vegetables that are available in their community. Then, teach them about Thanksgiving!

VOA News and Simple Wikipedia

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Bringing news and current events into the classroom can be challenging because many of the texts are written at a much higher level than our students are comfortable with. The same can be said for significant historical or cultural events. For example, imagine finding an appropriate text for your students that discusses the history of the Civil War.

We wanted to let you know of a couple of good online resources that can help you to introduce and discuss these types of topics to your students. VOA News is a news site that has a section of their site dedicated to those learning English. If you go to you’ll see that they have many articles written in simpler English geared toward English Language Learners. The articles often also include audio if your learners want to hear the article being read and identify key vocabulary that they may not know.

Simple Wikipediaworks similarly, but instead of focusing on current events it serves as a basic encyclopedia for those wanting to read more about different subjects and events in English. Here’s their entry on the Civil War.

What other methods do you use for bringing the world into your classroom? Let us know in the comments below!

Making Lessons Relevant to Current Events

Page one from 8.5 Voting and ElectionsAs teachers of adult ESL, we understand the importance of ensuring that the lessons we teach in class are relevant to our students. While learning about money, jobs, etc. is explicitly relevant to our students, cultural topics and current events such as elections and are just as important, even though it’s often more difficult to see.

Lessons on these topics, such as 8.5 Voting and Elections, 7.5 Going Out to Eat, and others provide students with the knowledge they need to navigate daily life and participate in their community.  The Timely Lessons that English Forward has created often address current events, cultural traditions or activities that your students may not be familiar with.

How do you address cultural topics in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below!  

Teaching the Multi-Level Classroom

heide portrait newWe’ve posted in the past on basic techniques that you can use to accommodate multi-level classrooms. We wanted to take this opportunity to discuss ways to adjust your teaching that can be brought into the multi-level classroom. On page 9 of the English Forward Curriculum, Heide Spruck Wrigley offers several different strategies. The strategies and their descriptions are below.

a. Use visuals or real life items as you start a class or present information.

This will help your lower level students understand the lesson right from the beginning. Otherwise, they will start confused, and you may lose them.

b. Allow students to tell their story and demonstrate understanding in non-verbal


When students are stuck, say “show me.” Show them how to use drawing to get their point across or retell a process or event. Remember that generally all students understand more than they can produce so give them multiple ways to demonstrate understanding (verbally or non-verbally).

c. Vary your pacing.

To challenge the more proficient students, speak quickly at first using more sophisticated vocabulary and encourage your lower level students to catch as much as they can (they may surprise you). Then, repeat what you said in simpler language, with slower but natural pacing, and pause between sentences to let the information sink in.

d. Paraphrase.

When you explain ideas use both simple and more sophisticated vocabulary (e.g. ‘healthy food’ versus ‘nutritious food’), paraphrasing as you go along and offering examples and simple explanations (e.g. healthy food means food that is good for you). You don’t need to get into details; generally, your lower-level students will focus in on the simpler term while others will catch the more sophisticated one.

e. Mix Up Your Groups.

Pair/group work is an effective way for students to learn with and from each other, but don’t always let the same students sit together. Think about the task you want students to be able to accomplish and ask yourself, “Which would be more beneficial for this activity, mixed-ability groups or same ability groups?” Same-ability groups let students experience language on the same level as their peers so that no one student feels bored (from being too advanced) or left behind (from not being advanced enough). On the other hand, mixed-ability groups allow the more advanced students to assume the ‘teacher’ role while building community within the group.

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