This spring, Harford Community College began offering Burlington English, a computer-based program that combines academic and work readiness skills for English as a Second Language students. This new program enables the College’s Adult Literacy department to create an engaging program with ESL instruction. With the Burlington English program, students practice pronunciation; improve their listening, reading and speaking skills; and gain confidence with the English language through traditional instruction as well as online independent practice. The Burlington English program allows our ESL instructors to offer curriculum which includes individualized practice for each student that can be done at the student’s own pace. Students are also able to log in from home and can even use an app on their mobile device or tablet for additional practice outside of the classroom.

After attending presentations on Burlington English at Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation professional development sessions and the Maryland Association for Adult, Community, and Continuing Education (MAACCE) conference, former Director of Adult Literacy programs Brandy Naughton and her staff were impressed with the quality of the product and knew it would bring added value to the College’s already robust English as a Second Language program. According to Ms. Naughton, “While learning English, students also have the opportunity to develop skills that will help them enter and sustain employment through Burlington English’s career series of courses.” Harford Community College is one of 15 programs in Maryland that have implemented Burlington English.

According to Chelsea Reeder, Harford’s English as a Second Language Specialist, “Our goal is to help our ESL students successfully integrate into life and work in the U.S., which is why our ESL program focuses on English grammar and vocabulary embedded in themed life and work skills lessons.”

The Burlington English program has the additional benefit of greatly improving students’ digital literacy. “Digital literacy is a vital life and work skill in our increasingly digitalized world. Incorporating digital literacy into our ESL classrooms with an online program like Burlington English presents English learners with an engaging, multimodal curriculum. When blended with traditional lessons, interaction and group work, the Burlington English program gives students a well-rounded learning experience,” says Ms. Reeder.

Currently, the Burlington English class is being held only at the Edgewood Public Library but the College hopes to expand this program in the future. The class is comprised of both beginner and intermediate level students with different native languages. The Adult Literacy staff at the College is very impressed with the enthusiastic reception of this program. Students are very engaged with the program and like the ability to hear their pronunciation of words as they work through the online instruction independently.

Student Nataliya Izvyekova says, "Burlington English just started. It helps me with my pronunciation, it helps that I can hear myself practice,” she says. “I love Miss Linda [instructor]. She is helpful, outgoing and prepared."

Instructor Linda Prahl is pleased with the students’ progress as well, and says, “I really like how I can use the program as a whole class activity to project the introduction of modules and situations for interaction with the students. After they have worked individually on the computers, the students have many follow-up worksheets to practice what they have learned. The students have told me how they appreciate learning new vocabulary and practicing pronunciation with Burlington English."

For more information, please contact Jessie Thompson at or 443-412-2054 or Chelsea Reeder at or 443-412-2152.