Wilson College Online Blog


ESL Resources for Teachers

Written by: Wilson College   •  Jan 9, 2024

An ESL teacher stands in front of students raising their hands in a classroom.

ESL Resources for Teachers

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that 5 million American public school students were English learners in fall 2020. In other words, about 10% of students in kindergarten through 12th grade were unable to speak fluently or learn successfully in English.

As English learners, these students must juggle two types of education: learning general academic subjects like math and science, and mastering communication in the English language. To help them develop English-language skills, these students often rely on the assistance of teachers who provide English as a second language, or ESL, training.

These teachers rely on a variety of techniques and tools to help students build their English fluency. Many have received training in an advanced degree program, such as a Master in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program. The ESL resources these educators turn to can assist with tasks ranging from planning lessons to preparing classroom materials.

What Is ESL?

Students who participate in ESL education typically are those whose primary language is not English. ESL instruction helps these students improve their skills not only in speaking English, but also in listening, reading, and writing in the language.

These learners represent a growing segment of the U.S. student population, according to 2023 NCES data. The center notes the percentage of public school students who were English learners increased in the decade between fall 2010 and fall 2020. This increase occurred despite a slight decline in the English learner population that occurred during 2019-2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 population of 5 million public school English learners represents an increase of about 11% compared with the 2010 figure of 4.5 million, as reported by the NCES.

The Importance of ESL Education

ESL instruction is critical in nations like the U.S., where English is the dominant language in education and in business. But many countries whose primary language is not English also provide ESL training to prepare students to communicate in what is generally recognized as the global language. Following are some key reasons why ESL education is important.

  • Everyday tasks: In countries where English is the dominant language, ESL education helps students with day-to-day life activities, ranging from meeting new people to ordering food at a restaurant.

  • Education: Students in the U.S. and other English-speaking locations need to develop their skills in the language to succeed in academics and advance in their studies.

  • Career: Because English generally is recognized as the language of commerce, fluency in the language can be an advantage for job candidates.

  • Information and entertainment: Mastery of English can make it easier to access entertainment options and information resources, much of which are in this language.

What Is a Master in TESOL?

Educators who help learners gain English skills—and the opportunities and benefits those skills can offer—can make a profound impact in the lives of their students. To gain the knowledge to instruct these students, teachers must earn at least a bachelor’s degree, complete ESL training, and obtain any licensing required for their role. For many teachers, a master in TESOL degree can provide additional opportunities to make a difference.

What is a master in TESOL ? This advanced degree can open up avenues for seeking higher-level roles in educating English learners, with many of these positions offering the potential for salary increases. Earning this credential can equip teachers with the language and cultural skills to assist students in becoming proficient in English.

5 ESL Resources to Assist Teachers

Teachers who provide ESL instruction are responsible for a variety of tasks, including planning and implementing lessons and evaluating and reporting on student progress. A variety of resources are available to assist with these efforts, including those that contain materials for lesson preparation and those that offer professional development opportunities. Many of these resources also provide suggestions about other sources of instructional guidance and materials for ESL instruction. 

Following are five ESL resources to assist teachers in their work.

1. BusyTeacher

BusyTeacher , an online resource, offers free materials for download, including worksheets and posters, and provides articles with ideas and guidance for ESL instruction. Among the information to assist with in-person and remote ESL education is a list of hundreds of warm-up activities that can help engage students in the day’s lessons. The site’s other materials include:

  • Classroom management worksheets
  • Creative writing prompts
  • Flashcards
  • Printable coloring pages

2. Colorín Colorado

Colorín Colorado is a website targeted at ESL education for native Spanish speakers. The site offers an array of free information and materials—from glossaries to news—for teachers as well as for students and their families. Among the guidance and other resources the site offers educators are:

  • Lists of culturally diverse books and their authors
  • Suggested classroom strategies
  • Videos for classroom use
  • Webcasts on ESL-related topics

3. Ellii

Ellii , a membership site, offers resources to assist teachers, including hundreds of prepared lesson plans and printable images and flashcards. For a fee, instructors can access materials on topics ranging from vocabulary to finance. Among the resources available are:

  • Assessment tools
  • Customizable certificates of achievement
  • Lessons by topic
  • Worksheets

4. FluentU

FluentU provides resources for an annual fee. Among its features is a library of English-speaking videos that students can view with interactive subtitles. The website allows teachers to assign specific FluentU-generated materials and track student work. The site’s materials include:

  • Blogs for teachers and students
  • Customized video-based quizzes
  • Multimedia flashcards
  • Video dictionary


TESOL is an international organization of English-language educators. Members pay a fee to access professional resources that can help them strengthen their ESL instruction skills and advance their careers. Among TESOL’s resources are:

  • An annual convention
  • Grants and awards
  • Job search tools
  • Professional development

Build Your ESL Instruction Skills and Expertise

If you’re seeking opportunities to help English learners succeed—while working to advance your knowledge and your career—explore the Wilson College Online Master in TESOL degree program. Designed for teachers who hold a bachelor’s degree and certification to teach in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, the program can help you become a better educator for all students.

You’ll focus on concepts related to teaching English-language speaking, listening, writing, and reading. And you’ll build these instructional skills through flexible online learning that allows you to study while you manage commitments at work and home.

Discover how the Wilson College Online Master in TESOL degree program can help you achieve your professional goals.

Recommended Readings

Master of Teaching vs. Master of Education: What’s the Difference?

Pros and Cons of Educational Apps for Toddlers

Tips for Building an Engaging Special Education Classroom


EducationUSA, What Are English Language Programs?

FluentU, “ESL Resources for Teachers and Students: 12 Great Websites”

Indeed Career Guide, “How to Become an ESL Teacher”

LanguageHumanities.org, “What Is the Importance of ESL?”

National Center for Education Statistics, English Learners in Public Schools

Preply, “The Importance of English: The World Language of 2020 and Beyond?”

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