Course Listing


Supporting English Learners’ (ELs) Literacy Skills – 6 Weeks – Spring Online 2024

Course Credit 15 Hours/PDPs
With an option to add 1 graduate credit from Fitchburg State University

This professional development course empowers educators with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively support language and literacy skills among English Learners (ELs). This course will explore a variety of federal initiatives and research-based instructional approaches that support literacy development for ELs. The course is intended for educators who have a foundational understanding of language and literacy development, and second language acquisition. As a result of the learning experiences in this course, participants will be more competent in their ability to:

  • Understand the demographic context and educational needs of ELs
  • Explore federal initiatives that support literacy development for ELs 
  • Determine the connection between oral language and literacy, and explore instructional models to support these skills for ELs
  • Recognize how key findings from the National Reading Panel and National Literacy Panel Reports guide best practice literacy instruction for ELs
  • Identify strategies to support phonological awareness, phonics, reading fluency, and vocabulary development for ELs

PLEASE NOTE: For Massachusetts educators, this course fulfills the MA DESE’s professional license renewal requirement for 15 PDPs related to SEI or ESL. This course is not an SEI endorsement course, however.

The course is divided into six, self-paced modules over 6 weeks:

  • Overview of Instructing English Learners (ELs) – This module examines how educators can meet the instructional needs of ELs. It provides an overview of the demographics of ELs in the United States, introduces how federal initiatives support the education of ELs, and provides models such as multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to support ELs language and literacy skills. 
  • Language and Literacy Connections – This module highlights how oral language skills serve as a critical foundation for literacy development in both a student’s native language and in English.
  • Best Practices for Instructing ELs – This module reviews the five areas of literacy development identified by the National Literacy Panel (phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension) and outlines findings from the National Literacy Panel for Language-Minority Children and Youth report that guides instruction of ELs.
  • Phonological Awareness Strategies for ELs – This module describes the components of phonological awareness, the influence of an EL’s native language on acquiring phonological skills in English (e.g., positive transfer and negative transfer), benefits of conducting a contrastive analysis, and strategies to facilitate phonological skill development.
  • Phonics Strategies and Reading Fluency Principles for ELs – This module explains why a systematic, explicit approach to teaching phonics, including morphological awareness activities, is critical to ELs’ reading development. Additionally, key components of reading fluency for ELs are discussed.
  • Vocabulary Strategies for ELs – This module reviews how effective vocabulary instruction goes beyond “word study,” and explores the importance of infusing content-enriched academic language into lessons to support ELs’ vocabulary development. 

Each module will follow a book study format:

  • Reading from required textbook and additional resources within the course such as podcasts, webinars, videos, etc.  
  • Quiz to assess learning
  • Opportunities to discuss and reflect on course content with peers
  • Application of the course content via the completion of a related assignment 

Specific Assignments:

  • Pre and Post-Assessments: These ungraded questionnaires will be completed at the beginning and end of the course in order to self-assess knowledge and application of course content.
  • Quizzes: The quizzes will assess comprehension of the content from the required reading. The quizzes will be automatically graded within the course platform. Although participants must earn an 80% or higher to move on to the next section of the course, there are unlimited attempts allowed.
  • Discussion Posts: The discussions will require participants to post an initial response and reply to at least one other post.
  • Assignments: The assignments in each module will require participants to put theory into practice as they read and follow the specific directions, and use examples provided as a guideline for format, length, and quality of writing. These tasks will be assessed using specific rubrics.



The following text is required for all participants:
Hagan, E. C. (2020). Literacy foundations for English learners: A comprehensive guide to evidence-based instruction. Paul H. Brookes Publishing 



There is an option to add one (1) graduate credit to this 6-week course from Fitchburg State University. Graduate credit is optional; the cost is $210 and the non-refundable payment is made directly to Fitchburg. The timeline to opt into graduate credit is firm and cannot be accepted late. Details about the optional graduate credit will be embedded in the “Course Welcome” module of the online course so you can make your final decision at that time. 


See our FAQ page for specific information about our online courses.

Course Information

15 PDPs/Hours
1 Graduate Credit
(optional for an additional fee)
Dates/Time Price
April 2 - May 14, 2024 $250

Registration is unavailable at this time.

Teachers Say...

"I really enjoyed the online experience, especially since I have young children at home and the online class provided me with flexibility."


Need additional foundational knowledge prior to taking this course? Check out our foundational course, Instructing English Learners (ELs) with Learning Disabilities, being offered this summer.

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Online Professional Development for Schools & Districts

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