Library Materials by Topic

These lists highlight some of the great resources you can find in the Decoda Literacy Library and free online.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) students have a home language that is other than English. The resources listed below support teaching English language skills to adults.

The following resources are good introductions to teaching adult EAL students

ESLSAP tutor handbook

This resource is for tutors helping ESL learners to learn English through focusing on settlement issues. It offers practical information in 10 modules. This tutor resource includes strategies, resources, and activities. It is also available online.

A Practical Guide to Teaching ESL Literacy

A useful and in-depth resource for ESL literacy practitioners, this resource can support both instructors with dedicated classes of ESL literacy learners and instructors who have ESL literacy learners mixed with non-literacy learners. This resource introduces a Framework of Literacy Skills for Adult ESL Literacy Learners, which outlines the skills for the development of literacy. The resource also explores effective approaches to teaching adult ESL literacy learners. A copy is available in the library for borrowing.

Tutoring English as a Second Language (ESL) Learners

This online guide describes the role of the EAL tutor and outlines ways to assess needs and abilities and build speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

For more resources, browse the following lists:

Facilitation skills are skills that are used to improve a group’s effectiveness by guiding the process the group uses to achieve a goal. The skills can be applied in a number of contexts including decision making, planning and training.

The following resources are good introductions to facilitation skills

Community Conversations: mobilizing the ideas, skills, and passion of community organizations, governments, businesses, and people 2nd ed.

Paul Born. Toronto: BPS Books, 2012.
This book looks at the building blocks of community conversations that explore the common goals of a diverse array of people with different backgrounds and needs. It offers 10 techniques for community conversations.

The Community Tool Box. Ch. 16. Group facilitation and problem-solving (online)

Lawrence, KS: Work Group for Community Health and Development, University of Kansas, 2012.
This online resource covers the following topics: conducting effective meetings, developing facilitation skills, tips for recording a meeting, and techniques for leading group discussions.

Consensus-oriented decision-making: the CODM model for facilitating groups to widespread agreement

Tim Hartnett. Gabriola, BC : New Society Publishers, 2010.
This resource offers a step-by-step process for collaborative group decision-making. It combines insight into group dynamics with effective communication skills and conflict resolution techniques.

Facilitator’s guide to participatory decision-making 3rd ed.

Sam Kaner & Lenny Lind. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons/Jossey-Bass, 2014.
This guide provides information on the processes involved in facilitating group decision-making, including tips on guiding the process to create sustainable decisions. The guide also includes information on necessary facilitator tools, such as listening techniques, tips on using open discussion, and methods for addressing difficult or challenging group dynamics.

To learn more, browse the following lists:

Numeracy refers to the ability to use numbers and to think in quantitative terms. The materials listed below relate to understanding numeracy and teaching math skills.

The following resources are a good introduction to teaching math skills to adults

Active Learning in Adult Numeracy (online)

This series of videos with accompanying essays was recorded at an adult education math instructors’ training. Topics include: communication in math classrooms, resisting the temptation to be too helpful, scaffolding adult numeracy lessons and building deeper understanding of decimal numbers.

Changing the Way We Teach Math (online)

The manual sets out some best practices from the literature, then outlines some difficulties instructors may face and makes suggestions for overcoming them. The manual concludes with many pages of activities, requiring little or no preparation, which provide examples of how to implement the best practices.

Teaching Adults: a Math Resource Book

This in-depth resource book offers instructors and tutors a number of tips and strategies for teaching math to adult learners.

TEAL (Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy) Math Works! Guide (online)

This guide can be used by instructors to increase their familiarity with evidence-based mathematics and numeracy instruction and to translate research findings into teaching practices.

To learn more, browse the following lists:

Reading as an essential skill refers to the ability to read text in the form of sentences and paragraphs, whether printed or electronic, as simple text or within forms, graphs and charts. The following materials are for educators, tutors, practitioners and anyone who is interested in the Essential Skill of reading in adult literacy. Every item on this list is available, either free online or from the Decoda Library.

The following resources are good introductions to teaching reading to adults

Literacy tutor’s guide: reading for meaning and the writing process

Edmonton, Alta.: Centre for Family Literacy, 2006.
Half of this concise, practical tutor’s guide contains a description of strategies for teaching reading.

Teaching Adults: a Literacy Resource Book

Terry Lipke. Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press, 2013.
This resource pulls together many of the best instructional strategies that have been proven effective for helping adults improve their literacy skills. It includes background information on literacy as well as 80 specific activities that tutors can use with literacy learners.

Teaching Beginning Readers

Pat Campbell. Edmonton, AB: Grass Roots Press, 2010
This resource presents ten principles for teaching beginning adult readers and answers three frequently asked questions: Where do I start? Do I need to teach skills in a particular order? What do I teach? This is followed by instructional activities, many geared towards one-to-one tutoring which can be modified for classroom use.

Teaching Reading to Adults: a Balanced Approach

Pat Campbell. Edmonton, AB: Grass Roots Press, 2003.
This resource for adult educators covers theoretical and practical knowledge about reading assessment and instruction. It balances instruction in ‘reading the word’ with instruction in ‘reading the world’.

To learn more, browse the following lists:

The following resources are good introductions to teaching writing to adults

Improving adult literacy instruction: developing reading and writing (online)

Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2012.
This booklet, which is based on the report, Improving Adult Literacy Instruction, presents an overview of what is known about how literacy develops, the component skills of reading and writing, and the practices that are effective for developing them. (The full report is available to borrow from the library.)

Just write! guide (online)

Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, 2012.
From the Teaching Effectiveness in Adult Literacy (TEAL) project, this guide provides research-based instructional practices in writing instruction. It covers strategy instruction, self-Regulated learning, Universal Design for Learning, formative assessment, differentiated instruction, and effective lesson planning. There is also a brief fact sheet on research-based writing instruction.

Literacy tutor’s guide: reading for meaning and the writing process

Edmonton, Alta.: Centre for Family Literacy, 2006.
Half of this concise, practical tutor’s guide contains a description of the writing process and strategies for teaching writing.


Sue Grief and Jan Chatterton. Leicester: NIACE, 2007.
This guide, based on writing research, develops a number of themes on teaching writing and provides examples of a variety of approaches.

Writing out loud. Reprint edition.

Deborah Morgan. Vancouver, BC: Decoda Literacy Solutions, 2015.
This book, a binder format reprint of the second edition, contains a collection of exercises and inspiring ideas to encourage learners to write. Designed for adult basic education and ESL educators, this user-friendly manual provides detailed steps for each writing activity, samples of student writing, and ways to adapt activities for students at different literacy levels.

To learn more, browse the following lists: