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Resources for Teaching ESL

Updated on August 12, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Books

Part of my ESL library. I may have a problem.
Part of my ESL library. I may have a problem. | Source

When I entered the field of ESL education, there were very few resources online for teachers and, living in Korea, very few books to help a teacher develop. A lot has changed in the past fifteen years. I have shelves of books written for ESL teachers and I could give up sleep and work and still not have enough time to even visit every ESL website, much less read them and make use of the information and lessons provided.

However, just because something is available, does not mean it is worth my time or money. Here are some of the resources which have been valuable to me as an ESL teacher. Hopefully, you will find these helpful, as well.

Books to Read

If you are only going to read one book on teaching ESL, it should be Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener. This book is an excellent reference which I refer to often. I have literally dozens of books on teaching, but this one generally has all the information I need in an easy-to-read format.

Having been educated in the US, grammar was not a subject focused on in the depth needed to teach ESL. So, when I need a concise way to explain a rule (or, more often, the exceptions to a given rule), I pull out Martin Parrott's Grammar for English Language Teachers. It not only explains rules concisely but thoroughly, it also provides example sentences and exercises. A winner all around.

For Conversation classes, I like George Rooks' books, Let's Start Talking, Can't Stop Talking, and Nonstop Discussion. They are set up to provide students time to think and write before speaking while minimizing the dreaded Teacher Talk Time.

For Young Learners, I love the Cambridge Copy Collection. They are a bit pricy, but have been worth it to me. I don't often use the materials as provided, but it is much easier to tailor something to my students' needs and abilities than to start from scratch.

Put Your Office Suite to Work

Your computer isn't only good for finding internet resources. You can make your own using Word, Powerpoint, and Publisher.

You are probably already using Word to make handouts and Powerpoint to liven up your lectures, but you can also use Publisher to make your handouts stand out. Of course, these days, Word can do most of what Publisher can do, so if you aren't familiar with it, you can make do with Word.

If you don't feel comfortable making your own handouts and powerpoint presentations, click on the links for step-by-step photo tutorials on using Word, Publisher, and Powerpoint.

Professional Teaching Organizations

There are a number of professional organizations for ESL teachers, but I will focus on the most internationally recognized: TESOL international, and its affiliates around the world.

There are many benefits to joining an organization, not the least of which is the motivation you get from spending time in the company of like-minded teachers. Too often, when teachers get together, the "shop talk" is fairly negative-- problems with admin, problem children and their unreasonable parents, and of course, the never-ending pile of paperwork. However, at monthly workshops, the focus is on improvement.

In addition to monthly workshops, there are print and electronic publications available to members. TESOL International also offers online professional development courses.

TESOL International costs US$35-95 per year, depending on where you live, your income, and how long you have been teaching. Affiliates have their own membership rates, as well as publications, and conferences.

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What are your favorite resources for teaching ESL?

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  • Jenniferteacher profile image

    Jenniferteacher 4 years ago from Seoul

    That is a great resource!

  • profile image

    Jim Bunn 4 years ago

    Hi Jennifer - Thank you for the informative article. You may be interested in the website They offer a free library of downloadable ESL teaching resources free for teachers here:

  • Jenniferteacher profile image

    Jenniferteacher 5 years ago from Seoul

    Thanks for the link! I'm always trying to keep on top of my grammar!

  • Rhonda_M profile image

    Rhonda Malomet 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    When you are a native English speaker it's almost as if you have to relearn grammar over again so you can explain it. I am currently getting certified in Teaching ESL and have discovered

    (lots of resources for teaching at different levels of proficiency-geared to adult learners).

  • Jenniferteacher profile image

    Jenniferteacher 5 years ago from Seoul

    I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for commenting!

  • Paul Kuehn profile image

    Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

    Jen, this is a very useful hub for me and also other TESOL teachers. I got into TESOL or TEFL in the early 1970s and one of the first really great books I used for listening and speaking was "English 900" by McCraw Hill, I believe. Like you, I create a lot of my own materials. I appreciate your links to tutorials for Word, Publisher, and Powerpoint. I really must learn to use them better to make my work easier. Voted up as extremely useful and sharing with my followers and on Facebook. Paul