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ESL Textbooks for High School

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, high school teachers will learn about the different options for choosing textbooks to use with English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

Textbooks in ESL

Regular textbooks at the high school level are often overwhelming for ESL students. They feature few pictures, long blocks of text, and technical vocabulary while assuming that all students have sufficient background knowledge to make sense of the text.

For teachers of ESL students, finding good textbooks that help build literacy and language skills can be a challenge. Let's look at some textbooks that are accessible for ESL students at the high school level.

ACCESS by Great Source

The ACCESS series, written by Great Source, was specifically created for ESL students in grades 5-12. There are separate textbooks for the different subject areas, including English, Science, Math, American History, and World History. There is also a separate Newcomer kit, with its own textbook and supplementary materials for students who are completely new to the English language.

Since the target audience is a secondary ESL student, the language is written in a clear and accessible way. This series is very visual, and the graphic element adds to the comprehensibility for ESL students. Each subject area kit includes student textbooks and a teacher's edition, as well as student activity journals and an assessments booklet.

The concept of this textbook series is to teach language acquisition through the study of content area subjects. Rather than explicitly teaching grammar and vocabulary, the series incorporates these lessons into the content to make it more enjoyable for students.

This series is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced ESL students. Since this series does not offer leveled readers, it would be best used during whole-class instruction. It's a very useful resource for helping support students in their content classes by building background information.

Footprint by National Geographic

The Footprint Reading Library by National Geographic Learning is a series of reading materials that is very accessible to ESL students. The nonfiction text sets include video and audio CD supplementary materials so that students can read, watch, and listen to increase comprehension.

Each of the readers focuses on one theme, such as animals, places, people, science, and activities. The readers are offered in eight different levels of reading complexity, from pre-intermediate to advanced. Due to the different levels available, students don't all have to be reading the same text simultaneously. Therefore, this series would be ideal for use in class during independent reading and small-group instruction.

Easy English Step-By-Step by Danielle Pelletier

Easy English Step-By-Step by Danielle Pelletier is a stand-alone textbook full of helpful activities to help intermediate to advanced high school ESL students gain English proficiency. Students learn through conversation, writing activities, grammar exercises, and quizzes, which focus on topics like health and medicine, shopping, hobbies, making friends, and eating at a restaurant. Its emphasis on real-world skills helps build student engagement and interest.

This book also includes practical advice about pronunciation. You can help students build conversation skills by assigning partners to practice and perform the conversations at the beginning of each chapter. Frequent exposure to English expressions and idioms is one of the best ways to become a fluent English speaker.

English Made Easy by Jonathan Crichton and Pieter Koster

This book contains two volumes and both are suitable for beginner high school ESL students. The idea of these books is to teach English through the use of pictures. It is set up similar to a comic book, with pictures of people engaging in and discussing various activities.

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