Judy Kirsh explores some of the different approaches involved in teaching basic literacy to ESOL learners who have no, or very little, literacy in English or any other language. She begins with a brief overview of possible approaches and theories of literacy learning, followed by a closer examination of the ‘language experience’ approach. Judy Kirsh has worked in the field of ELT for over 25 years as a teacher, teacher-trainer and Skills for Life consultant. Whilst at LLU+ London South Bank University, she was involved in developing and delivering ESOL professional development modules and courses (including e-learning), and led on the development of the updated ESOL citizenship materials in 2010. She has a Masters degree in ELT and is the current Chair of NATECLA.