Introduction to the teachers site

This page introduces the Teachers section of the site and discusses the language terminology used.


This part of the International School Tutors site was written for mainstream teachers in schools with English as the medium of instruction.

@ It is almost certain that mainstream teachers will have non-native students with limited English in their classes. ~ But it is not necessarily the case that they will have the knowledge and skills to help these students with the special challenges they face.

It is hoped that the information and advice on this part of the site can go some way towards helping teachers become competent in making their lessons great places for ESL students to learn subject content and skills at the same time as improving their English.

Video advice and information

Elsewhere on this site is a page linking to a number of short videos that cover the main issues concerning the optimal teaching of ESL students. The videos were produced for student understanding, but new teachers in particular may be interested in their content.


Mainstream is the term commonly used to refer to the full curriculum of the school, but excluding ESL classes. So a mainstream teacher is, for example, a teacher of science or music. An ESL teacher is not a mainstream teacher.

The terms ESL student, ESL teacher, ESL lessons are used in all pages on the site. ESL stands for English as a second language. An ESL student is a student who has ESL lessons to help her learn English quickly and do well in her other school subjects.

ESL is used here because this was the term for the students, their lessons and their teachers for the 30 years I taught at Frankfurt International School, when I wrote most of these pages. But there are some problems with ESL as a designation, and several alternative terms have been promoted in recent years. There is currently, however, no consensus on this.

You can read more on the issue The National Council of Teachers of English page at ESL, ELL, Generation 1.5—Why Are These Terms Important? This article also suggests that the term mainstream is problematic too.

Note: In these pages I sometimes refer to the student or the teacher as she and sometimes as he.