Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sora Friedman


The population of immigrants and refugees in Des Moines, Iowa, has grown rapidly in recent years, leading to an increased demand for adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. As ESL programs turn more and more to volunteer instructors to meet the demand, it is important that teachers, both volunteer and professional, are prepared and equipped to deliver quality instruction.

This study seeks to better understand the training and professional development needs of Des Moines-area ESL instructors in order to make recommendations for adult ESL programs. Data was collected through surveys of 32 ESL instructors from a variety of professional and educational backgrounds, teaching contexts, and organizations. Additional data was gathered in the form of follow-up interviews with seven participants.

Participants’ self-described training needs range from ESL-specific topics like teaching pronunciation to classroom management challenges such as incorporating technology. Many look for training and resources on their own and sometimes have a difficult time finding activities and materials that are appropriate for their classroom settings. Because participants’ training needs are specific to the individual instructor, this capstone recommends that adult ESL programs seek understand the needs of their instructors individually and offer multiple opportunities for teacher development. Opportunities should follow Knowles’s principles of andragogy and include reflective practice options which reflect Kolb’s cycle of learning. With a wide array of available training options, instructors can create a teacher development plan that best fits their needs and the needs of their students.


Adult and Continuing Education | Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Language and Literacy Education