• University of Glasgow

TESOL Strategies: Supporting ESL Students in Mainstream Classrooms

Learn the basic principles, considerations and strategies for cultivating a rich language-learning environment

26,615 enrolled on this course

Children sit in a circle, interacting with teachers

TESOL Strategies: Supporting ESL Students in Mainstream Classrooms

26,615 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Explore strategies to support the language needs of learners

With increased migration and refugee flows, most teachers are encountering increasingly diverse students in their mainstream classrooms. This course is designed for teachers at all levels, working with language learners across the curriculum.

This course will give you new insight into the different aspects of language, the language learning process and the demands of different curricular areas. It will enable you to enrich your daily practice to ensure the needs of the language learners are met.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds CATHERINE DOHERTY: The 21st century has seen a lot of change and mobility. So even if you stay in the same place, things might be changing around you.

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds SALLY ZACHARIAS: For teachers, the most obvious change may be the new types of students in your classrooms– students with unfamiliar names and different accents who are learning the language at the same time they’re learning the curriculum content. How can you support these students’ language learning in your classroom?

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 seconds CATHERINE DOHERTY: Hi. I’m Catherine Doherty.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds SALLY ZACHARIAS: I’m Sally Zacharias. We’re applied linguists working in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds CATHERINE DOHERTY: This is not a course for language specialists. It’s for mainstream teachers in school settings who want practical ideas on how to enrich their classroom practises with language learning strategies.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds SALLY ZACHARIAS: We start by stretching the definition of language. It’s more than just grammar, pronunciation, and spelling. And each curriculum area creates its own particular language demands.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds CATHERINE DOHERTY: We’ll introduce some of the deep principles of language learning that you can apply when you design classroom activities.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds SALLY ZACHARIAS: We spend some time thinking about particular strategies to support and develop students’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and how these skills can work together.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds CATHERINE DOHERTY: We also spend some time thinking about every day classroom talk and how this can be tailored to better support the participation of your language learner.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds SALLY ZACHARIAS: Every teacher is a language teacher to some degree. We believe that a little knowledge about how language works, how languages are learned, and how knowledge is built in and through language can make a huge difference.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds CATHERINE DOHERTY: This course will help you develop background understandings and practical strategies to do this aspect of your job well. This investment in your own learning will benefit both first and second language in your classrooms.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds SALLY ZACHARIAS: We hope to see you on this course soon.


  • Week 1

    about language and learners

    • Meet the team

      An introduction to the team and to the course

    • What does language involve?

      This first activity explores the many dimensions of language.

    • How do we learn language?

      In this step we look at how we learn language and the strategies we develop to do this.

    • Who are our learners?

      Knowing about who our learners are and what kind of language learning experiences they have outside the classroom can help us, as teachers, know what language and cultural resources these learners bring to the classroom.

  • Week 2

    about classroom demands and strategies

    • The language demands of school

      In these steps we will look further into what some of the language demands of school are.

    • Supporting learners in the classroom

      In these steps, we will look at some specific approaches and strategies we can adopt in our classrooms.

  • Week 3

    working through text and talk

    • Patterns in texts - taking a genre approach

      Here we will look at different text types or genres that our learners will encounter in the classroom and consider the types of feedback we might give to our learners on their writing.

    • Generating talk in the classroom

      In these steps, we will look at how we can generate talk in the classroom and consider some of the ways we can provide feedback on talk to our learners.

    • Some key ideas to take away

      A brief recap of the key points assembled over the course.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the multiple dimensions involved in learning a language
  • Discuss how language learners can differ in their circumstances and needs
  • Interpret the different registers and genres of language at work in school settings
  • Design strategies and activities that can support language learners in mainstream classes

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for teachers, both primary and secondary, offering English medium instruction in school.

An initial teaching qualification, or experience working in English medium classrooms, is desirable.

Who will you learn with?

Catherine Doherty is Professor of Pedagogy and Social Justice in the School of Education, at the University of Glasgow. Her work is informed by sociology of education and applied linguistics.

I am an applied linguist and teacher educator with over 20 years of teaching experience. I currently work at the School of Education at the University of Glasgow on the MSc/MEd TESOL programme.

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$89/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 16 Jul 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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