Teaching English Learners with Academic Conversations (EL-105)

Using academic conversations to motivate students and foster engagement

Course Dates & Registration

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Academic conversations motivate students and foster engagement. In this course, teachers in diverse settings will build on students' strengths through paired academic conversations. English language learners especially benefit from this approach because they learn to use language as a tool to share ideas, defend opinions, and make connections with others. Participants will investigate five core communication skills: paraphrase, elaborate, support ideas with examples, build on and/or challenge ideas, and synthesize conversation points. This course will provide practical activities for working on each conversation skill and ideas for using conversations to teach and assess content. The total number of course hours is 25.  15 hours of this course serve as SEI Extension course credits. Note: This course includes all materials, including the Zwiers and Crawford text, Academic Conversations:  Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understanding.


Any ESL and/or elementary and middle school educators or coaches and their supervisors


MATSOL offers this course in two formats (both 15 hours)

  • Online: 2 synchronous (live) online sessions plus 3 asynchronous independent work modules.
  • Blended: Two 6-hour face-to-face sessions with 3 hours of asynchronous independent work modules between sessions. (NOT CURRENTLY OFFERED)


15 PDPs - Fulfills Requirement for 15 PDPs in English learner education for recertification.


One graduate credit is available through Fitchburg State University for an additional fee of $210.00.

Payment & Refund Policies

See MATSOL Course Registration & Payment Policies. Cancellations must be received in writing 10 business days before the first class meeting.