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Annotated Bibliography of Selected Professional Preparation Books

 © 2004, Dianne F. Dow

Listed here are many valuable resources to help you grow as an ESL/EFL professional. Each book contributes to the building of a strong foundation for your ESL/EFL classroom instruction and out-of-class tutoring.

Focusing primarily on the needs of inexperienced teachers, this list is highly selective and may be considered to be a "bare-bones" list for ESL/EFL teachers. Hundreds of other resources could have been listed. Some publications have been omitted for the sake of brevity; other worthwhile entries may have been overlooked. The entries are divided into five categories: theoretical foundations, classroom-oriented principles and methods, teaching resources for specific language skills, general resource materials, and Christian resource materials.

In order to fully utilize these resources, you should have ready access to them. For many ESL/EFL teachers, this means purchasing the books for your personal library. If you can buy only a few selections, first consider those marked with an asterisk. These publications either offer a more global discussion of issues related to language teaching and learning, or they provide highly useful suggestions and guidance for new teachers.

Theoretical Foundations

Brown, H. Douglas. 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, 4th ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Excellent analysis of the major theoretical issues. Explores topics ranging from theories of learning to differences between first and second language acquisition. Comprehensive explanation of variables that affect language learning.

Lightbown, Patsy M. & Nina Spada. 1999. How Languages are Learned, revised ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Offering a very readable basic introduction to the main theories of first and second language acquisition, this book helps teachers to understand the principles behind different teaching methodologies and it discusses their practical implications for language teaching and learning.

Classroom-Oriented Principles and Methods

*Brown, H. Douglas. 2001. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy, 2nd ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Practical, easy-to-read, teaching methodology book. Presents instructional ideas in light of sound theories of second language acquisition. Includes thought-provoking questions for discussion and analysis as well as recommendations for further reading.

Celce-Murcia, Marianne. (Ed.) 2001. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 3rd ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Overview of basic theoretical issues and the many ways theory informs daily instructional choices. Gives insightful background information about ESL/EFL teaching as well as practical applications for each skill area.

Harmer, Jeremy. 1998. How to Teach English: An Introduction to the Practice of English Language Teaching. New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

For teachers at an early stage in their careers, this book gives clear examples and explanations of current teaching practice which teachers can put to immediate use. Includes teaching methods and techniques, planning lessons and using textbooks.

*Snow, Don. 1996. More Than a Native Speaker: An Introduction for Volunteers Teaching Abroad. Alexandria, VA: TESOL, Inc.

Offers a wealth of highly useful, non-technical advice for new teachers; serves as a refresher course for experienced teachers. Easy-to-read and well-organized, it covers basic principles of language learning and teaching, course planning and individual lesson planning, the teaching of specific language skills and culture, adjustment to a new culture, and opportunities for professional development.

Teaching Resources for Specific Language Skills


Ur, Penny. 1981. Discussions that Work: Task-Centered Fluency Practice. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Focuses on the use of class discussions to increase fluency. Offers suggestions for conducting effective discussions. Over 50 examples for learners at various levels.

*Yorkey, Richard. 1985. Talk-A-Tivities. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman.

Collection of blackline masters with problem solving activities for pair work. Information gap activities reinforce communication and authentic discourse. A ready-made resource to provide teachers with variety.


Ur, Penny. 1988. Grammar Practice Activities: A Practical Guide for Teachers. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Presents a collection of creative activities to make grammar teaching more varied and communicative. Offers basic guidelines for instruction. Organized according to grammatical structure, many activities include reproducible charts, grids or pictures.


Avery, Peter & Susan Ehrlich. 1992. Teaching American English Pronunciation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Helps teachers to develop an understanding of the technical aspects of English phonology at the sound and phrase levels. Identifies some of the most common pronunciation problems and offers general teaching tips. Includes a variety of techniques and types of instructional activities.

Nilsen, Don L. F. & Alleen Pace Nilsen. 2002. Pronunciation Contrasts in English. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Provides a list of sounds that are especially difficult for ESL/EFL learners along with minimal pairs that contain these sounds. Includes facial diagrams, descriptive information about the sounds, and a listing of language groups which typically have difficulty with each contrast.

General Resource Materials

Clark, Raymond C., et al. 1991. The ESL Miscellany: An Inventory of American English for Teachers and Students, 2nd ed. Brattleboro, VT: Pro Lingua Associates.

Contains ready-to-use lists of words and other helpful information for teachers who are writing their own materials. Includes a variety of subject areas, ranging from linguistic and communicative items to culture and nonverbal communication.

Cohn, David, et al. 1998. Internet Tasks for Second Language Students. Elmont, NY: Proficiency Press Co.

Compilation of activities that incorporate authentic materials from the Internet. Especially good for the teacher with limited technological expertise who wants to incorporate Web-based activities into a proficiency-oriented classroom.

Dalle, Teresa S. & Laurel L. Young. 2003. Pace Yourself: A Handbook for ESL Tutors. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

For inexperienced or volunteer tutors. Provides easy-to-follow guide for those who want to tutor small groups of ESL/EFL learners but do not know how. Includes reproducible forms.

*Ur, Penny & Andrew Wright. 1992. Five-Minute Activities: A Resource Book of Short Activities. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Over 100 ideas for quick activities to spice up any class period. Includes activities to introduce or conclude a lesson, to transition between parts of a lesson, to provide extra practice for grammar or vocabulary, or simply to add an element of fun. They require little preparation and can be used with students at all proficiency levels.

Wright, Andrew, et al. 1984. Games for Language Learning, 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.

A wealth of games geared to all levels of learners and all four skills. Activities are divided into sections according to the type of game. For each game, lists proficiency level, skills utilized, amount of teacher control and time required.

Christian Resource Materials

Eby, J. Wesley. 2003. Handbook for Teaching Bible-Based ESL, 2nd ed. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press.

Offers helpful information about ESL/EFL teaching, especially in the area of Bible-based instruction. Includes practical teaching tips for the novice teacher.

Snow, Donald B. 2001. English Teaching as Christian Mission: An Applied Theology. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.

Discusses a range of issues especially relevant for today’s ESL/EFL teachers who wish to examine the relationship between Christian faith and teaching English to speakers of other languages.