© 2010, Dianne F. Dow
Choosing the right materials for your situation and the learners you teach is never an easy or simple task. With thousands of titles available, it is always helpful to have a narrowed list to guide your search for materials. For each of the categories, you will find several resources listed that the TESOL faculty have either used successfully or feel are solid student materials or teacher resources.
We have tried to list textbooks that are widely used in ESL/EFL classrooms as well as those that offer unique strengths in a variety of teaching-learning situations. When evaluating these books, keep in mind that many of them have been written for learners in either an ESL or an EFL context, even though they may be more appropriate in one setting or the other.
As you examine this list, note the strengths, limitations, and other characteristics of each text, matching what it has to offer with the information you have gathered about your students in Evaluating Classroom Teaching Materials (language background, proficiency level, needs and goals, and preferred approaches to learning), your instructional objectives, and your personal teaching preferences.
Interchange, 3rd ed.
A widely used multi-level series in North America and overseas. Encourages students to engage in authentic communication from the beginning stages of language learning by integrating all four skills and providing meaningful practice activities. Intro Level for beginning learners and three additional levels for high-beginning through high-intermediate. Add-ons: Student Book w/ CD, Workbook, Teacher Edition, Teacher's Resource Book, Placement Test Package, Class CD's, Lab Guide and CD's, Video materials, etc.
Richards, Jack C. 2005. Interchange, 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.
A five-level, standards-based ESL series for adults. Includes all four skills and uses an integrated-skills approach to teach practical communication in a variety of settings. Provides a good mix of accuracy and fluency practice opportunities. Features helpful suggestions for adapting the content for students who are slightly below or above each targeted level. Offers a free placement package which is downloadable. Free Teacher's Toolkit Audio CD also available. Add-ons: Student Book with CD, Workbook, Teacher's Guide and CD-ROM, Class Audio CD's.
Bitterlin, Gretchen, et al. 2008. Ventures. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Integrated Skills Texts
A content-based, integrated skills text for high-intermediate ESL students. Authentic readings provide the foundation for the presentation of content. Lectures, discussions, and other communicative activities, as well as writing tasks help to expand the students' understanding of the content and to develop their language skills. The topics presented are drawn from the fields of American history and culture, psychology, sociology, and business. Vocabulary exercises provide a recycling of items for increased retention. Academic skills such as note taking, outlining, and summarizing are targeted. Cognitive skills such as analysis, classification, and evaluation are included.
Connerton, Patrice and Frances Reid. 1993. Linkages: A Content-based Integrated Skills Text. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Azar Grammar Series
Three-level series provides beginners through advanced learners with a solid base in grammar as the starting point for the development of all language skills. An excellent resource for both teachers and students. Clear and comprehensive grammar charts. Examples are paired with clear explanations. Grammar is systematically presented with opportunities for focused and more communicative written and oral practice. Fundamentals and Understanding (intermediate and advanced levels) are excellent resources for teachers who need to review the essential elements of English grammar.
Azar, Betty Schrampfer and Stacy A. Hagen. 2006. Basic English Grammar, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL. (beginner: red)
Azar, Betty Schrampfer. 2003. Fundamentals of English Grammar, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL. (intermediate: black)
Azar, Betty Schrampfer and Stacy A. Hagen. 2009. Understanding and Using English Grammar, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL. (advanced: blue)
Focus on Grammar Series
Five-level grammar series which practices grammar through contextualized listening, speaking, reading and writing activities. Provides a variety of practice activities which move from more controlled to more communicative. Encourages learners to apply and practice grammar points. Free placement test package. Add-ons: Student book w/ online workbook, Teacher's Manual w/ PowerPoint CD-ROM, Transparencies, Assessment Pack, Classroom CD's, Test Generating Software.
Schoenberg, Irene E., et al. Focus on Grammar, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Reference Grammar TextsKeys to Teaching English Grammar to English Language Learners
Provides practical help for teachers wanting to learn more about grammar so that they can better help their learners. Explores differences between teaching grammar to non-native speakers vs. native speakers; reviews basic grammar terminology; focuses on 15 key errors for L2 learners; provides insight into common tough questions that learners ask; offers practical techniques and tips for teaching grammar more effectively. Combined with Azar's book, this would give an excellent preparation to teach grammar.
Folse, Keith S. 2009. Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Active Listening Series
Three-level series which focuses on building listening skills through activating prior knowledge and schema building. Helps students listen for main ideas and details and make inferences. Encourages development of speaking skills as well.
Brown, Steve and Dorolyn Smith. 2006. Active Listening 1, 2, and 3. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Putting It Together: A Conversation Management Text
Conversation management text for low intermediate to intermediate learners. Focuses on communication strategies and typical conversation topics. Provides listening and controlled pair practice as well as more open-ended conversational practice.
Mc Clure, Kevin. 1996. Putting It Together: A Conversation Management Text. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Note: No longer available from Pearson Longman ESL, but can find on Amazon.
Conversation text geared for high intermediate learners. Organized by language functions such as greeting, inviting, apologizing, etc. Structured dialogues as well as freer role plays provide students with practice. Cassette also available.
Tillitt, Bruce and Mary Newton Bruder. 1985. Speaking Naturally. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Reading and conversation text geared for intermediate to advanced learners which integrates language and culture learning. Provides practice with communication strategies which helps learners to become more confident, active communicators. Contains flawed original dialogues and then uses the strategies being presented to form revised dialogues so that the learner can see the how these strategies make communication more effective.
Levine, Deena R., et al. 1987. The Culture Puzzle: Cross-Cultural Communication for ESL. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Note: No longer in print. Some copies available through Amazon or used textbook sites
Pronunciation text for high intermediate to advanced students which focuses on stress, rhythm and melody for increased comprehensibility of spoken language. Provides pair and group practice for both pronunciation and listening. Addresses key problem consonants and vowels. Add-ons: Instructor Manual and CD package.
Grant, Linda. 2008. Well Said, 3rd ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Well Said Intro
Pronunciation text for beginning to high intermediate students which focuses on basic word and phrase level stress, rhythm, intonation, and connected speech. Also address key consonant and vowel sounds. Provides a base with word endings and stressed vs. unstressed syllables. Add-ons: Instructor's Manual, Audio CD, and Interactive CD-ROM.
Grant, Linda. 2007. Well Said Intro. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Small Talk: More Jazz Chants
Provides practice with various language functions such as greetings, saying goodbye, apologizing, and expressing opinions. Emphasizes connected speech and fast speech phenomena such as contractions, linking, and trimming. Includes listening exercises which provide practice with the phrases used in the jazz chants.
Graham, Carolyn. 1986. Small Talk: More Jazz Chants. New York: Oxford University Press.
D. Academic Preparation / TOEFL Preparation
Tapestry Listening and Speaking, Books 1-4
Four-level series which provides engaging and useful listening and speaking activities. Authentic materials such as news broadcasts, interviews, debates, and CNN video clips provide authentic input. Learning strategies are taught helping learners to take responsibility for their own learning. Add-ons: Teacher's Edition, Audio CD's, video materials, website.
Oxford, Rebecca L., et al. 2000. Tapestry Listening and Speaking. Levels 1-4. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Tapestry Reading, Levels 1-4
Four-level reading series with stimulating authentic reading selections such as articles, essays, stories, poems, etc. Focuses on helping learners build academic and language skills.
Oxford, Rebecca L., et al. 2000. Tapestry Reading. Levels 1-4. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Tapestry Writing, Levels 1-4
Four-level series which combines engaging writing and reading activities with structured grammar instruction. Uses authentic reading texts to stimulate thought and serve as models of good writing. Prepares students for academic writing by giving students the skills and strategies to write and revise their own work.
Oxford, Rebecca L., et al. 2000. Tapestry Writing. Levels 1-4. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
North Star Series
North Star: Listening & Speaking
Five-level series designed to build language competence, critical thinking skills, and strong listening and discussion skills. Pronunciation exercises and structured vocabulary building exercises help students expand their ability to clearly share their ideas. Speaking assignments encourage development of organization and expression. Add-ons: Teacher's Guide (includes reproducible achievement tests), Student book with online access for 1 year, Classroom CD's, DVD, etc.
Boyd, Frances and Carol Numrich, eds. 2009. North Star: Listening and Speaking, 3rd ed. Levels 1-5. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
North Star: Reading & Writing , Levels 1-5
Five-level series focused on reading integrated with writing. Encourages vocabulary and grammar development. Provides opportunities for synthesizing information, organizing ideas, and writing well-developed, coherent essays. Add-ons: Teacher's Guide (includes reproducible achievement tests), Student book with online access for 1 year, Classroom CD, Writing Workbook, etc.
Boyd, Frances and Carol Numrich, eds. 2009. North Star: Reading and Writing, 3rd ed. Levels 1-5. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
The Issues Series
Academic listening and speaking series which uses NPR broadcasts. Builds listening comprehension skills including listening for main idea and details, inference, and summarizing. Integrates vocabulary and grammar exercises that coincide with the listening materials. Raise the Issues also integrates readings drawn from editorials, articles, and other real-world sources forcing students to compare input from all sources. Develops critical thinking skills, comparison of ideas, and synthesis.
Carol Numrich, 2007. Face the Issues: Intermediate Listening and Critical Thinking Skills, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Carol Numrich, 2004. Consider the Issues: Listening and Critical Thinking Skills, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL. (High Intermediate)
Carol Numrich, 2004. Raise the Issues: An Integrated Approach to Critical Thinking, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL. (Advanced)
Delta's Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test: Advanced Skill Practice for the iBT
TOEFL preparation course for high-intermediate to advanced learners specifically designed for the new version of the TOEFL test. Focuses on reading and listening skills including paraphrasing and summarizing across texts. Develops speaking and writing skills including topic development, note-taking, and integrating information from two sources. Short skill-building exercises follow presentation of concepts and skills. Four full-length practice tests.
Gallagher, Nancy. 2005. Delta's Key to the Next Generation TOEFL Test: Advanced Skill Practice for the iBT. Mc Henry, IL: Delta Systems Co., Inc.
Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test
TOEFL preparation course based on an integrated skills approach which mirrors the structure of the iBT TOEFL test. Contains hundreds of skill-building exercises in addition to book tests and three practice tests in electronic format to provide practice with the online nature of the test. A supporting skills section including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, note-taking, and study skills provides help in these areas.
Gear, Jolene and Robert Gear. 2006. Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test, 4th ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.
E. Teaching Vocabulary
Focus on Vocabulary
Vocabulary book for high-intermediate to advanced students. Thematic readings provide an authentic model of contextualized use of the target words. Vocabulary is from the Academic Word List, which contains the most frequently used words in academic writing. Exercises focus on word meanings, word families, and natural partnerships between words and phrases.
Schmitt, Diane and Norbert Schmitt. 2005. Focus on Vocabulary: Mastering the Academic Word List. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Everyday Idioms, Books 1 and 2
Over 700 idioms covered in each book organized into thematic categories. Exercises start with recognition and move students to more active use in speaking and writing. Clear definitions, example sentences, and related expressions provide a clear explanation of how each idiom is used.
Feare, Ronald E. 1996. Everyday Idioms for Reference and Practice, Book One. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Feare, Ronald E. 1997. Everyday Idioms for Reference and Practice, Book Two. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Longman ESL Literacy
Basic introduction to English for learners not ready for a Level 1 course. Integrates all four skills to help students gain literacy and basic communication skills. Over 200 reproducible flashcards and unit tests as well as authentic conversation models, phonics exercises, and review activities available. Add-ons: Teacher's Resource Book w/ CD and Transparencies.
Nishio, Yvonne Wong. 2006. Longman ESL Literacy, 3rd ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Begin at the Beginning
Entry-level text which focuses on students' listening (receptive) skills. Allows students to demonstrate comprehension through non-verbal responses. Combines physical activity with language development.
Boyd, John R. and Mary Ann Boyd. 1988. Begin at the Beginning: Entry-Level Activities for New Students of English.
Before Book One: Listening Activities for Pre-beginning Students of English
Pre-beginning level text focused on listening comprehension. Allows students to demonstrate comprehension by circling pictures or transcription. Introduces students to basic vocabulary such as numbers, money, clothing, body parts, etc.
Boyd, John R. and Mary Ann Boyd. 1982. Before Book One: Listening Activities for Pre-Beginning Students. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Picture Stories: Language and Literacy Activities for Beginners
More Picture Stories: Language and Problem-Posing Activities for Beginners
Focuses on helping young adult and adult learners with minimal literacy skills to deal with problems in the new culture. Low input (mostly visual) and high output as far as language encourages learners to develop their ability to express ideas. Each unit has a sequence of 10 pictures to introduce the topic. Practice activities include matching pictures and descriptions, sequencing the pictures, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, games, and writing the story. Teacher's notes, listening scripts, and answer key are in the back of the book.
Ligon, Fred and Elizabeth Tannenbaum. 2000. Picture Stories: Language and Literacy Activities for Beginners. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Ligon, Fred et al. 2002. More Picture Stories: Language and Problem-Posing Activities for Beginners. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Voices of Freedom: English and Civics for U.S. Citizenship
Focuses on helping beginning-intermediate learners integrate key government and history topics with basic vocabulary and grammar. Prepares students for the redesigned citizenship test. Helps students develop the communication skills needed to handle the naturalization interview. Provides sample test questions for the civics portion of the test.
Bliss, Bill. 2009. Voices of Freedom: English and Civics for U.S. Citizenship, 4th ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Teacher Resource Books
A boxed set of 270 cue cards designed to promote natural and personalized conversation in the classroom. These durable cards are perfect for pre-lesson warm-ups, in-between topics to get students talking, and as end-of-class closers. The questions are appropriate for upper elementary school aged students through adults. The box includes a teacher's manual with tips and activities.
Seitchik Diaz, Cathy. 2002. Cathy's Cards. Burlingame, CA: Alta Book Center Publishers.
Cathy's Job Interview Cards
These durable cards can be used individually, in pair practice, in workshops and in the classroom to practice answering interview questions. The accompanying teacher's guide includes suggested strategies for being effective at job interviews, suggested classroom activities, a list of the 237 interview questions/cards, and 26 cards with "Questions to Ask the Interviewer" for quick referral, as well as a reproducible "Interview Skills Rating Sheet." These cards are appropriate for high school and university students as well as adults.
Seitchik Diaz, Cathy. 2002. Cathy's Job Interview Cards. Burlingame, CA : Alta Book Center Publishers.
Classic Classroom Activities
Reproducible teacher's resource book containing over 130 reproducible activities suitable for beginning through intermediate level adult and young adult ESL learners. This book incorporates the topics and vocabulary from the Oxford Picture Dictionary. The activities in the book are appropriate for pairs and small groups and include surveys, information exchanges, picture differences, roles plays, board games, drawing dictations, picture cards, and several other types of activities.
Weiss, Renee, et al. 1999. Classic Classroom Activities. New York: Oxford University Press.
Fifty Reading and Writing Activities
Reproducible text with reading and writing activities for both children and adults. Provides practice for beginning through advanced levels. Clear teacher instructions along with photocopiable student activity pages. Great resource for extending learning or supplementing textbook materials.
Scott, Deb. 2002. Fifty Reading and Writing Activities. Toronto: ESL Resources.
Fifty Speaking and Listening Activities
Reproducible text with listening and speaking activities for both children and adults. Provides practice for beginning through advanced levels. Clear teacher instructions along with photocopiable student activity pages. Great resource for extending learning or supplementing textbook materials.
Scott, Deb. 2002. Fifty Speaking and Listening Activities. Toronto: ESL Resources.
Resource book with over 130 short activities. Activities can be used to practice a language skill, transition between parts of a lesson, supplement core materials, and introduce or conclude lessons. Great bank of ideas for additional language practice.
Ur, Penny and Andrew Wright. 2001. Five-Minute Activities. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fun with Grammar
Teacher resource book with more than 200 communicative, interactive, task-based games for practicing various grammar areas. Keyed to the Azar Grammar Series but can be used with other grammar textbooks. Students sheets are reproducible. Free download of the full text at the Azar grammar site.
Woodward, Suzanne, W. 1997. Fun with Grammar: Communicative Activities for the Azar Grammar Series. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
Grammar Practice Activities: A Practical Guide for Teachers
A collection of creative activities to make grammar teaching more varied and communicative. Offers extended practice for various grammatical structures. Organized according to grammatical structures. Includes reproducible charts, grids, and pictures.
Ur, Penny. 1988. Grammar Practice Activities: A Practical Guide for Teachers. New York: Cambridge University Press.
A collection of reproducible blackline masters with problem solving activities for pair work. Information gap activities reinforce communication skills and provide extended speaking and listening practice.
Yorkey, Richard. 1985. Talk-A-Tivities: Problem Solving and Puzzles for Pairs. Mc Henry, IL: Delta Systems Co., Inc.
20 Things Your Beginner Students Should Know
Provides beginners with basic skills and concepts in English not included in many course texts. Reproducible blackline masters provide practice with literacy level skills such as writing upper and lower case letters, numbers, days of the week, months, etc. Great resource to prepare students for most Level 1 books.
Hovdebo, Heather. 2006. 20 Things Your Beginner Students Should Know. Toronto: Canadian Resources for ESL.
Other Resources: Dictionaries
Longman Dictionary of American English
Dictionary for intermediate to advanced learners which focuses on a vocabulary of 2,000 words. Idioms are clearly marked. New edition includes a thesaurus and interactive CD-ROM. Also available: a workbook to help students use the dictionary more effectively, Companion Website, and Teacher's Companion which provides communicative activities for listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar.
Longman Dictionary of American English, 4th ed. New York: Pearson Longman ESL.
The Oxford Picture Dictionary
Picture dictionary with over 4,000 words and phrases. Pictures help learners to grasp word meanings with clear visual input. Teaching tools include Intro pages at the beginning of each unit which present vocabulary for all levels of learners, story pages which promote reading development, and words / phrases that provide building blocks for meaningful communication. Also available: English/Spanish Bilingual version, Workbooks for low-beginning through low-intermediate levels, Lesson Plans, Classroom CD's, and Vocabulary Handbook.
Adelson-Goldstein, Jayme and Norma Shapiro. Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
The Oxford Basic Picture Dictionary
Picture dictionary with 1,200 essential words and phrases for low-beginning and literacy level students. Twelve thematic units and full color illustrations provide a clear organization and easy-to-access format. Includes a comprehensive index with a pronunciation guide. Also available: English/Spanish Bilingual version, Workbook, Teacher's Guide, and CD's.
Gramer, Margot, F., et al. The Basic Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
Other Resources: Bible-Based ESL / EFL
Adventures in English, Entry-level & Multilevel
Thematically organized materials designed especially for two-week English camps. Entry-level book is geared for zero level beginners and provides more visual support with pictures. The Multi-level book contains a wealth of activities to make classes interesting and active. Bible-based part is a separate reading and conversation book focused on a Bible passage that goes along with the unit theme. Other components include a student journal, Bible study guide, dictionary, etc.
Note: Useful for the variety of activities, but requires a great deal of teacher preparation. Students do not receive a text.
Adventures in English. International Network. Kenosha, WI: Evangelical Free Church Mission.