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Training with John Sutter

About John Sutter

John Sutter NATECLA trainerJohn has worked as an ESOL/literacy specialist in the context of teacher education and national improvement projects for over 20 years. After returning from teaching and teacher training overseas, John joined the ESOL team at LLU+ at London South Bank University where he designed, run and taught on a wide variety of ESOL, Literacy and generic teacher education courses, ranging from initial qualification to MA level. He has additionally worked as a CELTA and DELTA trainer, and in HE enhancement and learning development contexts.  John has had a long involvement with many national and regional projects in ESOL and Literacy including working as researcher, consultant and writer for the New Adult ESOL Core Curriculum and subject specialism, the Lifelong Learning UK Professional Standards ESOL and Literacy, the ESOL Citizenship Project and Materials Pack, and most recently the development of the new EtF New to ESOL Materials Pack. John is a director of Learning Unlimited, which he co-founded in 2012, and which continues the work of LLU+.

John's training sessions:

All the courses below can be adapted to suit the needs of different groups of practitioners/organisations.

ESOL and changing literacies

This course considers the implications for ESOL learners and teachers of the very swift changes occurring in how we read and write. In particular, it looks at the dominance of digital or semi-digital literacies, focusing on how ESOL practitioners can develop their teaching and classroom practice to reflect the realities of how people use these literacies in all aspects of their lives.

Social practices: Integrating the ‘4 skills’

Speaking, listening, reading and writing are almost always integrated into real life - understanding human communication as a type of social practice can help us develop more realistic ways of helping learners understand and acquire real-world communication skills. This course explores how we really use the ‘four skills’ in daily life, and how these realities can be reflected in ESOL practice. 


Planning is an important teaching skill - but so is the ability to make it up on the spot, to take pedagogic detours, to relinquish control, or just to respond appropriately to learners when things go off-piste. This course looks at alternatives to rigidly planned ‘lessons’, taking its inspiration from Danish filmmakers, jazz, and Freirean pedagogies such as Reflect for ESOL which hand over control (and responsibility) to learners.


This course addresses the challenges presented by learner difference. It considers the contexts of differentiation, and what we mean by ‘group’ and ‘level’. It highlights a range of ways of differentiating at different skill levels and across language and literacy needs. We also look at approaches which build in differentiation (e.g. participatory ESOL) and resources which support it.


This course looks at the ways that meaning is increasingly being communicated through means other than words or traditional notions of ‘language’ : how visual, physical, aural elements such as film, photography, dance and music, as well as other modes of communication are playing a more dominant role in meaning-making. Crucially, these modes often represent highly valued skills in modern work and social settings, and are now a part of the linguistic landscape - the course explores how to integrate these mixed modalities into ESOL classrooms and activities. 

Critical ESOL

This course explores the politics of language and ESOL, and how learners and practitioners can develop their own principled and situated responses to the contexts they work and learn in. It considers issues of power, ‘knowledge’ and inclusion from linguistic, social and teaching perspectives.