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ESL as an Adult Ed Institution. Becca Dawson. History of English as a Second Language. Teaching English as a Second Language began as a result of British colonization in the 15th century; thanks to increased trade, English had become the lingua franca.

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history of english as a second language
History of English as a Second Language

Teaching English as a Second Language began as a result of British colonization in the 15th century; thanks to increased trade, English had become the lingua franca.

Over the next 200 years, the British sent many teachers overseas for the express purpose of teaching English.

esl in america
ESL in America

What happened in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States?

(The Industrial Revolution)

esl in america1
ESL In America

The United States had a multi-language orientation, and an increasing number of people felt that this jeopardized a unified national identity.

There was a move to make English the official language of the United States, but this never happened.

The Naturalization Act of 1906, rather, brought about the need for a large volume of people to learn English.


By the 1920s, many states required English to be used in public and private schools.

Adults were, by an large, left to struggle..


In 1906, the YMCA pushed for ESL classes in the workplace.

The Ford Motor Company, for example, piloted the "$5-a-day" program. In order for their employees to earn their full wages, they had to show progression in English classes offered by the company.

In Buffalo, which had a large Polish population, in 1916 residents wore a button saying "I'm giving Buffalo a Christmas present. Ask me." to raise money for immigrant ESL classes.

evolution of esl
Evolution of ESL

After WWII, when the U.S. had undoubtably established its place as a world power, the government began to back ESL.

In 1966, the Adult Education Act was passed so that most adult education could be federally funded. An ammendment in 1970 expanded the provisions of the act to include ESL.

evolution of esl1
Evolution of ESL

In 1966, the organization TESOL [Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages]was founded.

In 1967, IATEFL [International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language] was formed for the same purpose:

To train ESL teachers of all types.


The fundamental problem was that adult education was not being incorporated into most ESL learning experiences.


Polish University of Chicago (Founded 1910): “Some Americans think… that we immigrants can comprehend only such thoughts as ‘I see a cat; the cat is black; -- as the teachers in the evening schools make grown men repeat. But the minds of most immigrants are not so feeble as that. For the poor man, America is all work-work-work. We believe in work, all right, but we want thought and education to go along with it.”


The Learner's Need to Know: Learners want to know how something applies to their lives to understand why that want to learn it.

The Principle of Meaningful Learning.


The Self Concept of the Learner: Adults have a deep need to be self-directing and autonomous.

The Principle of Autonomy - success is dependent on learner taking initiative.

The Principle of Strategic Investment


Prior Experience: Experience is the richest source for adult's learning.

The Principle of the Culture-Language Connection

The Principle of the Native Language Effect


Orientation to Learning: Adults want contextual, problem-centered situations to enrich their learning.

The Theory of Communicative Competence


Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests that learning will satisfy.

The Principle of Anticipation of Reward and the Principle of Intrinsic Motivation.