||The surge in second language adult emergent readers and the push for professionalization in the field of adult education has shifted conversations among language teacher educators, program administrators, teachers and researchers alike in the direction of mutual understanding and collaboration in an effort to target the needs of both teachers and learners. There are many strands of these conversations that present tensions, especially those related to funding and policy; however, on the whole, the energy around this topic is conducive to qualitative transformation in the fields of L2 teaching and L2 teacher education. This ethnographic case study explores the teaching worlds of two ESL teachers of adult emergent readers. Guided by an activity theory framework (Engeström, 1987, 1991, 1999), this dissertation uncovers prominent relationships and inherent tensions within the activity systems of the teachers. In doing so, the important role of teachers’ personal practical knowledge and beliefs are revealed along with the inextricable reality of the teaching and learning context within which they develop their teaching practice. Principle findings include the following: 1) professional learning opportunities are critical components to teacher development and teacher empowerment, but the structure of these opportunities factors heavily into their efficacy, and 2) empowering teachers through collaborative decision-making within programs, creating space for peer interaction, and promoting professional growth are paramount to a healthy, satisfied teaching force within a program.