Curriculum and Lesson Planning – Stage 1

The Framework is an open-source online tool, a 360°  View of Communicative Competence at Work. Designed by the Ontario Government the framework is a resource for foreign trained professionals to provide strategies, approaches, and areas for language development that support intercultural workplace communication.  The tool does not come with a teacher’s guide or classroom activities, but it can serve as a starting point for classroom conversations and independent study. The tool also includes a video and downloadable pdf.

  Free access:​

This resource book contains curriculum for financial literacy with well-presented teaching guidelines.

Topics: economic literacy, employment literacy, personal management literacy

Free access:

The Best of the Reader site contains a series of e-books for low-level ESL and literacy learners. The books can be used in class or for independent study. Users have permission to download, print and distribute the material found on the website. Each e-reader has 8 to 10 stories with activities and an answer key. The list of e-readers includes a Teachers’ Guide, and calendar of special days and holidays for the year, and specific work-related titles such as People and Jobs.

Free access:

Briding Two Worlds is a resource to address issues of trauma in learners. It was written for elementary and secondary educators but is insightful and informative for teachers of adult learners as well.  Bridging Two Worlds offers curriculum development and instructional ideas that address educational gaps as well as cultural and experiential differences that may interfere with learner progress. Particularly interesting: Signs of distress and ways to respond (pages 218- 220).

The book contains 3 sections. The first deals with issues that relate to school-based learning and teaching to provide educators with an awareness of how trauma and interrupted schooling may affect human development and learning. The second section focuses on educator competency and includes 30 sample lessons  for teacher training. The final section is devoted to student learning outcomes for life/work development for elementary and secondary grade levels, but teachers may find several lessons adaptable for adult settings.

Free access:


The Premier League is the world’s most watched football (soccer) league. The league has teamed up with the British Council to help teach English through football, “the beautiful game”. This website contains podcasts, forums for “footie”  discussions, and  explanations of football vocabulary. There’s an extensive glossary of expressions, technical terms and clichés – an excellent  ‘football dictionary’ for learners. In addition, there are games, videos, podcasts, teacher notes, and information on clubs and players.

Free access:



This site is located in Canada and is for all ESL teachers, K to Adult. There are word scrambles and search generators. There are thousands of worksheets available (there are filters). Many are connected to PowerPoint downloads or YouTube/Ted Talk videos or popular movies/songs. There are ESL articles for instructors that focus on professional development. The site is relatively easy to navigate. Search has a drop-down listing of choices aligned with your search words. No registration is required. You can sign up for a newsletter.

Search “employment” or use specific search words such as “job search” or “business English.” It may take time to explore available worksheets, activities or how-to examples.

Free access:

This site offers CLB-aligned activities and information about legal issues, including many related to employment rights. It includes a broad range of downloadable booklets about a variety of legal topics written in clear language. One series has been especially developed for ESL teachers and learners.

Access at:
English as a Second Language (ESL) Activity Kits

Twenty-six activity kits with classroom materials for teachers and learners in Adult ESL and Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes, based on topics from CLEO’s tenants’ and workers’ rights series.

Designed to teach newcomers about their legal rights and to be used along with the relevant CLEO publications, the materials are intended for learners and levels ranging from Canadian Language Benchmarks 1 to 6+.

Free access to the Kits:

Free access to CLEO resources:

From the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, the topic of  this sample CLB Literacy -2  module  is weather.  Scroll down to find and download  Digital Literacy Lesson Plan Sample. It provides lesson planning for using a website to check weather, also includes 4 pages of handouts and suggestions for 9 activities.

Free access:



This website is designed for beginning and intermediate learners (not CLB aligned), with a wide variety of activities for language practice, including podcasts, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The podcasts  link to different sites, including Archie comics.

This is an American site offering a wide variety of activities. There are weekly lessons,  grammar tutorials vocabulary and listening activities, as well as games.

ESL Library is a commercial website based in Winnipeg, offering high-quality lesson plans for Canadian, American and international educators. The lessons are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced learners, with a large variety of activities, including flashcards, discussion starters on political, social and environmental issues, mini-debates, holidays, grammar, writing, podcasts and a reading series (which includes detective serials). Themes include English at work, the environment, healthcare, everyday English and idioms. New lessons are added monthly. Sample lessons are available but are watermarked.

Subscription is required. Lessons are downloadable PDFs (copyrighted).

Available in 3-month, 6-month and 12-month memberships, from $25 to $55.

Groups of teachers can share memberships; for example 1–5 teachers can share the 1-year $55 membership.

Subscription required:

ESL Library is a commercial site containing  well developed lesson plans and resources for EAL teachers. Materials have been developed to meet the needs of LINC/ESL teachers. The Citizenship module contains a teacher guidelines and learner activities.  Your organization may obtain a subscription for unlimited instructor use, or subscriptions may be shared among 5 members.

Access by subscription:


This British-based website is intended for student self-study but it also lends itself to classroom and lab use. The site is clear and easy to navigate. Courses with multiple units and lessons are offered for several levels ranging from beginner, elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate and advanced/IELTS.   There are also games and activities targeted for the workplace, college preparation, UK and US culture. See also the “Learn English with songs”, with music videos and a gap-fill.

Free access:


This webpage on the website contains information for newcomers on a variety of health issues including: finding a doctor, OHIP and health card information, reproductive health and mental health, and what do to in a medical emergency.

Free access:

Healthy Eating is designed for CLB 1 but can be adapted to other levels. Created by Immigrate Manitoba, this curriculum offers classroom activities and a methodology guide: topics include food, nutrition, grocery shopping and budgeting.

Free access:

Wikis are a simple way to bring interactive technology into the classroom. This website provides easy instructions for creating your own classroom wiki, and includes samples. No specialized computer skills are required.

Free access.


The Internet Picture Dictionary is an easy-to-use multilingual online dictionary and vocabulary-building program, useful for low-level ESL and literacy learners. It is also available in French, German, Spanish and Italian. The illustrated dictionary covers several topics, including animals, appliances, body parts, clothing, fruits and vegetables, school and transportation. The interactive activities include flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, word scramble and recall.

Free access:

The Language and Skills Training Resource Catalogue of ISANS includes books that cover a wide range of topics for ESL Literacy and SLT classes. For example:

  • Through the Lens helps learners navigate and understand living in a diverse community
  • Workplace Curricula focuses on healthcare, engineers, communication for work and business, pronunciation and communication for work
  • Soft skills focus on professional communication, working with others, workplace writing for levels 1, 2 and 3
  • Language learning strategies
  • EAL computer training

Order form included; prices range from $20 to $300 (plus HST).

Free access:

Suitable for Stage I & II learners.

The links on this site include a wide selection of activities for low-level learners in CLB 1–5. Activities are categorized into 11 themes: people, work, everyday activities, home, our community, our world, food, health, getting around, communication and the basics.

Free access:

This website is written by a British academic and author of books on teaching English using film.  The website contains a large library of short films, cartoons and TV ads. The lessons can be browsed according to theme and language level. Topics cover issues such as bullying,  love, the gold mining industry, and compassion, to name just a few.  Lesson plans are interesting, clear and well presented. The levels are aligned with CFER (Common European Framework of Reference);  A1=’beginner’ ; A2=CLB4, B1= CLB 5,  B2 = CLB 6-7, C1=CLB 8-9.

Free access:

Literacy, Stages 1 & 2. There are currently 13 workbooks. Each workbook covers two benchmarks, literacy, Stage 1, plus CLB 5.

Topics include:
Physical Activity
Dental Health
Mental Health
Canada’s Food Guide
Reading Food Labels
Diabetes Prevention

Free access:

Bow Valley College and Conestoga College have developed tools for creating PBLA rubrics.

Many teachers have found Conestoga’s LINC Assessment Generating Tool helpful. The tool includes a complete list of competency statements, indicators and profiles of ability, all in one place. Also included  – a guide to question levels by CLB, features of communication, and sample assessment tasks for instructional reference. You must have a Tutela account to access this resource. 

Bow Valley College has developed clear, easy-to-use assessments and templates for Portfolio-Based language Assessment (PBLA). Their toolbox contains:

Tool 1: Assessment Templates
Tool 2: Instructor Administered Templates
Tool 3: Learner Reflections
Tool 4: Self-Assessments

Free access:

This health curriculum guide was developed by Toronto  Public Health for English teachers. The curriculum includes lesson plans and background information. The lessons contain interactive activities for Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) levels 1-6.  Topics include:

  • Cancer Prevention and Screening
  • Diabetes Prevention
  • Healthy Eating
  • Mental Health
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Physical Activity
  • Sun Safety
  • Tobacco Use

This bank of “real world” assessments was developed by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s ESL program for use by ESL and LINC instructors.  A user friendly website houses  more  than 300 ready-to-use assessment tasks. Search by CLB level   (Literacy Foundation to CLB 7), skill (Listening, Speaking, Reading or Writing) and theme.  The site is password protected; passwords are available through program administrators.

Password required:  available through  ESL and LINC Administrators and   can be retrieved from tutela. For additional  information email

Free access (with password):

The Can Do Statements are easy-to-read posters, intended for instructors to post in classrooms and for learners to access individually. The statements are based on the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmarks) and provide a description for what learners can do at each benchmark from 1–12, in listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.  The statements present key information from the CLB document in accessible language, informing students about what they have accomplished and what skills they must still develop.

You need to “Add to Cart” in order to download,  which means registering to order.

Free access:

This 235-page book describes CLB as follows: “The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) standard is a descriptive scale of language ability in English as a Second Language (ESL) written as 12 benchmarks or reference points along a continuum from basic to advanced. The CLB standard reflects the progression of the knowledge and skills that underlie basic, intermediate and advanced ability among adult ESL learners.

The Canadian Language Benchmarks are:

  • a set of descriptive statements about successive levels on the continuum of language ability,
  • a description of communicative competencies and performance tasks through which learners demonstrate application of language knowledge (i.e., competence) and skill (i.e., ability),
  • a national standard for planning curricula for language instruction in a variety of contexts,
  • a framework of reference for learning, teaching, programming and assessing adult ESL in Canada.”

The book takes learners through stages 1 to 3 in listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Free access:

The CLB Support Kit contains background information for ESL practitioners, with detailed discussions on incorporating grammar, pronunciation and pragmatics into CLB-based programs. There are sections that address using the CLBs in multilevel classes, with special needs learners, and in teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and workplace ESL.

It includes sample program planning tools such as needs assessment, sample rubrics, tracking forms, self-assessment and feedback forms.

References are listed at the end of each section, as well as additional resources developed by the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, including SAM for CLB 1-4, and the CLB 5-10 Exit Assessment Tasks for community, employment and academic programs.

You need to “Add to Cart” in order to download, which means registering to order.

Free access:


The English Language Learning (ELL) Training Network was developed by CEIIA, Bow Valley College’s Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement. Designed for ELL practitioners, the Network provides information, resources and tools for instructors, a resource finder, PD workshops and webinars, network for professional learning, blog posts and social media links.

Free access:

Professional development made easy!  This website contains short, digestible summaries of current research on language learning and teaching.  These articles normally appear in academic journals and are often hidden behind paywalls, making them inaccessible to most classroom teachers.  The website also provides a list of Open Access journals and welcomes contributions from educators.

Free access:

SPEAKING: The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks has provided several exemplars for speaking (from the CLB Support Kit). The webpage contains a series of short videos that demonstrate students speaking at CLB 1 – 12.

Free access:

LISTENING: The link above also contains 29 exemplars for listening, however the links do not provide any benchmarks. The chart below will assist with aligning the exemplars to their associated CLBs.

Free access:


From the Copian library, this document provides easy access to exemplars for writing. There are four samples for each benchmark, from CLB 1 – 12.  This is downloadable document is section 3 part 4 of the CLB Support Kit.

Free access:

This is an accessible resource for beginning teachers. Developed in 2006 by the California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project, some resources are dated and it has an American standards focus however, the guide provides good information on lesson planning and managing a multi-level classroom.


These materials provide sample resources that can be incorporated into the “About Me” section of the PBLA binder for CLB 0-2 students. The resources are clear and easy to use. The document, developed by the Toronto Catholic District School Board, includes: Learning Goals, Pictorial Needs Assessment, Autobiography and Learning Reflection.

Free access:,%20CLB%200-2%20(22pp).pdf



Updated in 2019, this website has five sections explaining the theory behind PBLA and guidelines for implementation. PBLA Foundations provides a rationale, historical and theoretical contexts for PBLA. PBLA Portfolios explains key elements, components and expectations, plus teaching tips. PBLA Reporting discusses professional judgements, progress reports. PBLA Accountability includes administrator tips. The final section contains Resources, including multilevel modules and a list of training courses.

Free access:

Quartz is an interactive online tool that offers a guided process for designing ESL courses based on learner needs and the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Quartz provides a set of tools and resources for course, unit, lesson plan and assessment creation. (Note: Instructors cannot upload existing units or lesson plans.)

Samples of Unit Names are found by clicking the blue Samples Tab on the right, providing three choices: Community, Work and Study and CLB Levels 1–8.

After selecting a Unit Name, choose a Unit Theme: three tabs are provided: Community, Work and Study. Sample themes can be viewed for each tab and CLB level.

Work has two themes: customer service (no themes offered for CLB1–4) and employment.

Note: Only those with a schoolboard email can access this site.

Restricted access:

TESL Ontario’s webinars are available to everyone through TESL Ontario’s You Tube Channel.  Free access:

TESL members may also view webinars through Tutela (registration required). Current and archived webinars are available for viewing.  Webinars count as TESL professional development.

Webinars can be accessed at:

Select TESL Ontario in “Groups” to access webinars past and present.

There are currently 100 webinars (some repeats) available for access on this site. The topics are varied and cover many aspects, including literacy, classroom management and PBLA.

Online, free for members. And membership is free. When completed, many posts are kept in the archives. Some webinars are located within a membership group and one needs to be a member to join or view. Most webinars can be used for TESL Ontario professional development requirements.

Free to join. Free access nationally. Must register then search Tutela Webinars.

Register at:

This multilevel curriculum for CLB 2–4 multilevel classes was developed by NorQuest College for rural Alberta learners. The document is adaptable to other contexts and used with higher-level learners.

There are eight units: Getting to Know You, Community, Education, Personal Finance, Health and Wellness, Recreation, Safety and Shopping. Each unit contains five modules with teaching notes, suggested activities and instructional resources.

Free access:

SettlementAtWork is described as a knowledge hub for the settlement sector in the province. It contains an online listing of employment opportunities for those working with newcomers. There is also a wiki to share information and resources, a sector events page and RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for new projects in the settlement sector.

Free access:

This online resource (based on Hong Kong) offers activities, worksheets, games and teaching advice for all levels. Many of the resources are free but there is also a $39 membership subscription to access to all materials. Some engaging (free) games include: Balderdash, Personal Information Dominoes, and Silent Dictation.

TESL Ontario’s You Tube channel allows users to catch up on webinars, watch videos and learn about new ideas for classroom activities. You can also share videos that have been helpful in your classroom.

Free access:

An award-winning British Columbia resource, The Westcoast Reader is designed for beginning adult readers, both ESL and English literacy learners. National and local news stories are adapted from The Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers, in addition to articles on health, safety, law and daily life. The paper is printed on a monthly basis for 10 months of the year, and provides a good orientation to Canadian culture and everyday life.

There are links to videos, photos and maps in the online paper. Each front page article has an audio file, allowing learners to read and listen to the story simultaneously. Teacher notes contain instructional strategies and answer keys.

The articles are not referenced to the CLBs. They are written with three levels of difficulty, suitable for CLB Stage 1 learners and higher level ESL Literacy learners.

The following groups can receive The Westcoast Reader free:

  • Community Adult Literacy Programs (CALP)
  • ESL, EAL and ABE programs provided by public post-secondary institutions
  • Literacy Outreach Coordinators (LOC)
  • Public libraries

$$$ All other groups pay a small fee to receive this valuable learning resource.

Free access:

There is a section on Tutela under Resources that focuses on teaching resources. The resources can be explored by theme or level. While the full collection has not been reviewed, they may provide a starting point for developing curriculum.

Free to join. Free access nationally. Must register then search Tutela  under Resources.

Register at:

Developed by Cambridge University Press, this textbook series is correlated to CEF (Common European Framework) rather than CLBs, however it is adaptable to PBLA settings. The Venture series comes highly recommended; it contains six-levels and is standards based, designed for adult and young-adult English learners. The series integrates language skills, with six clearly developed lessons for each unit.  It is suitable for continuous intake programs. (A free sample lesson can be ordered.)  The series includes a teacher’s guide, student workbook and audio CD.

Developed by Bow Valley College in Alberta, this resource is designed for levels CLB 4-6,  to help learners find and retain employment in the food services sector.  The focus is on speaking and listening skills in the food industry however, reading and writing are covered as well.  The curriculum is divided into four modules: Interviewing and Onboarding; Knowing Your Environment; Staying Safe; and Taking Initiative.

The course provides a teaching guide and a workbook for learners.

Free access: