Book Suggestions with Activities for ESL Students

Instructor: Jacob Compton

Jacob has taught ESL in three Asian countries and has a master's degree in education.

In this lesson, you'll receive tips for selecting books for ESL learners. Read on for a list of recommendations as well as suggestions about where to start looking for books and what to look for in a text.

What Makes a Good ESL Book?

The ideal qualities of an ESL book are based on what you need. It's very important to keep your students' age group and language level in mind as well as the purpose of the book you're seeking. If you're teaching a class of kindergarten students basic English, then you will probably be looking for books with cartoons and lots of games to appeal to these younger students.

If you're teaching more advanced ESL students, such as those in high school preparing to take the International English Language Testing System, you may want something higher-level. Ideally, it will also contain review and a test at the end of each section as well as a more comprehensive test at the end of the book. In fact, you may want to seek out a book specifically geared toward the test your students will be taking.

Focusing on ESL Activities

Think of your students' knowledge as a small pile of dirt. Each book should add more dirt to the pile, which increases until it becomes a hill and then a mountain. Activities are essential to building up the dirt pile. These activities should be directly tied to the content of the book--you don't want to have to learn something entirely new in the activity. Activities should also build on one another to provide a feeling of cohesion and bring into play skills learned in previous activities and exercises.

Activities should also be enjoyable for your students. Ask yourself: Would I want to do the activities in this book? Keep in mind the age and language level of your students when coming to an answer. You should also ask yourself this question about the book in general: Would I want to use this book as a student? If the answer is 'no,' then move on and find another book that you would want to read.

Where Do I Find ESL Books?

Physical and Online Bookstores

There are a few common places to find ESL books with activities. The bookstore is sometimes the best option, because you're able to flip through the book and get a first-hand look at the content and activities inside before making your decision.

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