Online Resources for Teaching Reading & Writing to Adult English Language Learners

Gwendolyn G. DeRosa

At the end of my graduate studies in TESOL, I realized that I wasn’t fully prepared to teach reading and writing to adult ELLs. During my three years of teaching adult students in a non-profit environment, an English language center, and a university’s ESL program, I’ve accumulated online resources that I use on a regular basis. I believe this list of websites can help other new professionals.


This website is unique because it uploads current news articles continually. You can sign up for a free account, which allows you to choose a reading level, print the article, and use comprehension questions. I recommend doing pre-reading activities such as learning new or academic vocabulary and discussing the general topic before giving the article to read. I found that I didn’t like using the website’s comprehension questions, so I created my own.

Newsela can be used with high beginner students to advanced students. I recommend using it in reading and writing courses, speaking and listening courses, and any course that discusses current events and news.

Breaking News English

This website is similar to Newsela. It posts current news articles which can be accessed for free. The news articles have been adapted to meet the needs of various levels of readers. The component that I recommend to my students is the listening component. Reading and listening at the same time is an effective way for students to practice both skills and to work on pronunciation. The website includes games and activities for each article, which makes it ideal for independent learners to practice at home.

One drawback is that the website may be difficult to navigate because it’s not as well-designed as Newsela. It’s not an attractive website and it contains ads because it’s free.

VOA (Voice of American) Learning English

This is another news website. It’s well-designed and user-friendly. This website is not ideal for beginner or even low-intermediate students. I would recommend it for advanced students who are interested in learning about world events.

Purdue Owl

This is my go-to website for all styles of academic writing. This online writing lab has been created by Purdue University for their students. It includes a section for English language learners. I use it when I teach academic essays, research papers, and how to use citations. But the website also contains articles on grammar and sentence structure. It’s a wonderful and useful resource for writing instructors.

Please add links to your favorite online resources in the comments below!

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