ESL Textbook Reviews
Advice to trust when choosing an ESL or EFL textbook
Choosing a textbook is a very important step in planning your EFL classes. If you pick one that is not ideal, it will be hard to overcome and make your ESL class successful. However, if you choose a well-written, interesting, level-appropriate textbook, it will be easy to teach English and make your classes interesting, fun and engaging. Your students will experience success and you will have to spend far less time on preparation than you would if you had chosen poor textbooks.
There are so many EFL Textbooks that it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the best one. However, I have some excellent ESL Teaching Books for you to choose from on this site, as well as some warnings of ones to avoid. Most of the textbooks such as World Link, Smart Choice, 4 Corners or Top Notch cover the 4 skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing). But, I also have top ESL Textbooks for Kids, as well as writing classes.
"Smart Choice" by Ken Wilson - One of the best ESL Textbooks for High School and University Students
Smart Choice: a 4 Skills, general English Textbook.
For a few of my classes, I've been using the book "Smart Choice" by Ken Wilson. I've used all three levels and so far, so good and it's been pretty easy to make my classes interesting and educational. The pages contains a decent amount of material on them, with a good mix of information and practice. The topics are relatively interesting for university students in Korea and there isn't much in the way of irrelevant or annoying stuff. The only downsides are the dialogues that have substitute your own ideas, but it makes the conversations really wacky. Also, the review pages filled with singing and comics are not so helpful either. But overall, I would heartily recommend this series for young adults (high school or university).
An ESL Conversation Textbook
Interchange is a 4-level series designed to take students from beginner-high intermediate. It is an excellent ESL Textbook choice for high school, university and adults students. Each book has 16 units that are interesting, practical and cover the 4 major skills, with some nice grammar sections. A major strength is the speaking practice sections and pair/group work.
"World Link" by Susan Stempleski - The best ESL and EFL Textbook for Adults and University Students
World Link is the best ESL book I've ever come across for the level that I teach. Adult beginner.
There are so many great activities and fun things to do in the book. And there are simple grammar and vocab sections that are manageable to do in one class. Plus, there's this teacher resource book with more stuff. And a teacher's book with a plethora of games and activities that are actually engaging/
Check it out my English teaching readers. It has my whole-hearted recommendation.
How to Get a Job in a South Korean University
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Speaking of Speech - Harrington & LeBeau
Speaking of Speech: An Introduction to Presentations and Public Speaking
Speaking of Speech is an EXCELLENT textbook for an introductory speech class for ESL or EFL students. It's interesting, interactive, and easy to understand. The included audio files and DVD are very helpful for emphasizing the key points in the book. Also, there are 8 speeches already set up for you to use to evaluate your students (complete with evaluation grids). I can't say enough about how easy this book is to use, and how enjoyable the students will find your class.
"Cause and Effect" by Patricia Ackert: an ESL Reading Textbook
Cause and Effect is from Heinle & Heinle and it's designed to work on reading skills. It also has optional writing exercises that I assigned for homework. I used it recently in an intensive, 2 week winter camp at my university and was overall very impressed with it. I would use it again in a university or high school setting without any hesitation. I think it really did expand the active vocabulary of my students in an interesting and engaging kind of way. And it was easy to use them to work on different reading skills, such as skimming or reading for detail. The students, despite working with this books for 3 hours everyday, for 10 days in a row, didn't appear that bored at the end! Cause & Effect had a very high degree of variety in the practice exercises to keep it interesting.
The only drawback that I can really think of is that the end of the book is significantly harder than the beginning. While this is okay for a class that happens over a semester, it didn't really work that well in an intensive camp setting because the students wouldn't really have time to master the material between sessions and just got kind of lost at the end.
Thoughts and Notions
This is the second level in the series by Patricia Ackert on grammar and vocab development. It is the perfect level for Korean University freshman students. Many grammar and vocab development books are in both the target and the native language, but this one is only in English, which makes it easy for a native speaker to teach. And, the students seem to understand it quite easily as well. It's well-organized and replicates the target language many times throughout the book. The only downside is that the last few chapters are substantially harder than the first few. If taught over the course of a year this would be fine. But over the course of only a semester or in a camp setting, the last few chapters will be much too hard for many of the students.
This is one of my favorite "4 skills" ESL textbooks. The grammar/vocab is presented in a simple, easy to understand way. The listening activities are graded nicely and the writing exercises are simple enough that they don't require a high level or reading ability. The speaking activities foster communication in a way that is unusual in most textbooks. Overall, an excellent series!
Let's Go: A great choice for children's ESL Textbook
This is best series that I've found for teaching beginner children English as a second or foreign language. Each page contains some actual content and not just fluffy pictures. But, the book is excellent as just having one main idea/page so it doesn't get too confusing. The book is interesting, engaging and the kids seem to love it. Plus, it's easy to teach because there's an excellent teacher resource book as well as flashcards packs that can be used to make up many games and activities.
"Let's Go" by R. Nakata - One of the top EFL Textbooks for Kids
Do you want to Teach English in South Korea?
- ESL Publications- Trivia and Logic Puzzles
Once you get that job in South Korea, be sure to keep it by making your classes interesting and fun. Check out these specially designed logic puzzles and trivia for ESL students.
- How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams eBook: Jackie Bo
How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams - Kindle edition by Jackie Bolen. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting
- My Life! Teaching in a Korean University
Check out this blog by a long-term Canadian expat teacher in Korea.
"Touchstone" by Michael McCarthy: an Excellent Addition for your ESL Library
Touchstone: a 4-skills ESL Textbook
While this textbook series is comprehensive, there are some weaknesses including:
1. There is way too much focus on speaking like a native speaker, which just sounds so strange when an ESL student tries to do it.
2. The topics are not interesting and are way over-done in the ESL textbook world.
3. There is too much "stuff" on each page, which can be quite overwhelming for students (and the teacher)
If you have to choose a textbook for university students or adults, I'd recommend "World Link" over "Touchstone."
Get Ready to Write - For Beginner ESL Writing Students
This is an excellent book for middle, high school or university students who are very new to writing in English. It starts with the basics, such as punctuation and moves onto sentence formation. Finally, the whole paragraph is dealt with. This book assumes no prior knowledge on the part of the students so it perfect for the beginner, or false beginner.
Great Paragraphs - An excellent ESL Writing Textbook
This is the second book in a 5-part series. The first book concentrates on sentences, the second one on paragraphs and the last two on essays. It's an excellent series that makes it extremely easy to teach writing to almost any level of student, from beginner to advanced. It's step-by-step, filled with the right amount of input and practice activities, complete with lots of tips for the students on how to be better writers. As a teacher, it requires not a lot of prep-time because the book is so well-designed. Highly recommended!
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