In my MA TESL program, my colleagues and I were assigned to write an essay on which books in the program we deemed as most valuable and would take on our journey as ESL teachers. On my way to South Korea, I realized with the weight limit, I actually did have to choose between certain books to take and leave behind. Now that I have been teaching for a while, I have a few recommendations to choose from to help all English teachers with advancing their knowledge of teaching. Click on the images to get further reviews and information about each book and check one out today!
First is The Grammar Book: an ESL/EFL Teacher’s Course. This grammar book was very useful during my masters program and will help all teachers who want to learn more about teaching grammar. The text helps teachers understand the rules, the diagrams are well organized, and there are practice applications presented in each chapter to help teach grammar to students of varying English abilities. If you are in need of a good grammar book to help warn off the curious students, this is the book for you.
Next, Teaching Pronunciation. This book focusing on pronunciation has many activities to help all teachers focus on teaching the correct pronunciation and phonics to English learners. The diagrams are very useful to show tongue placement in the mouth of the various sounds. Additionally, the book shows the IPA chart and explains how teachers can use different strategies and techniques to improve pronunciation in a fun and active manner. I highly recommend this book to help with teaching speaking classes or phonics. The lesson guides and resources in this book are a must need. There is a CD as well which may help with sounding out different sounds and identifying how sentences should use inflection, intonation, etc.
Next is Vocabulary Myths. This book takes some common myths about vocabulary and outlines and explains why the myths are false. For example, “the use of translation to learn new vocabulary should be discouraged.” In his chapter, he outlines the issue brought up and provides a section of research on the topic. Then, he outlines different strategies and techniques you can use to help children learn vocabulary. For this example, he recommends teachers to not stop a student who is jotting down a translation of a new English word. Translating a new word is a natural part of learning a word. What is unnatural is being told to stop or even discouraging a learner from writing down the translation. Check out the book, it is a great read when focusing on teaching vocabulary.
This next book, The Practice of English Language Teaching was a book I bought and brought with me to South Korea. It outlines everything you can imagine when it comes to teaching English. In essence, this single book could prepare you to become a skilled and knowledgeable teacher. The book is broken down into multiple parts: Language (describing English as a language), Theories, Methods and Techniques, Learners and Teachers, Managing Learning, The Changing World of the Classroom, Focusing on the Language (teaching grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation), Language Skills (reading, listening, writing, etc.), Evaluation, and Learner Autonomy and Teacher Development. As I said, this is one very well written and comprehensive book for teaching English. Included in the book are sample activities and pictures to provide more details about the topic. I have used this book with my reading and writing classes because it includes a lot of details and ideas which I found useful in the classroom.
Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners is a wonderful book on creating unique and authentic forms of assessment for English language learners. It highlights the fact that students have different needs and having traditional forms of assessment can hinder the development of the student. Instead, they advocate the idea of including authentic assessment material in teachings of the curriculum. Filled with a lot of models and designs on creating authentic assessment for all areas of English (reading, writing, vocabulary, etc.) this book can help all teachers advance their understanding of how to assess students’ English abilities better than ever before.
Developing Materials for Language Teaching was not a vital book to read at the time I arrived in South Korea and began teaching elementary and middle school students. However, as the semesters piled on, I felt restricted to the materials which were provided and became bored of teaching with the same materials. Developing Materials for Language Teaching opened my eyes to different ways to make teaching more exciting for the students. The creators and writers of this book are all very skilled at analyzing and creating the most optimal resources for teachers of all age groups and subjects. This is a benchmark on creating new materials and easing the workload teachers have with creating new resources for their students.
The next book on our list is to also help teachers understand their students and create a differentiated approach to teaching to help all student in class filled with varying levels of English abilities. Teaching English Language Learners provides the information on different teaching strategies to bridge the gap of information students who are advanced in English learn and the students who are still developing English skills. Grounded in theory and practice, teachers can learn how to create different material for students without losing the time of teaching the same content multiple times. The book additionally has many exercises and ideas to help incorporate a differentiated approach to teaching for all types of classrooms and teaching scenarios. I highly recommend this book if you have ever felt frustrated not being able to help all students when teaching.
Practical English Language Teaching is basically what the title suggests. It provides practical support for teachers who are beginners and teachers who are experienced with ideas and methods to help teach English language learners. Unlike The Practice of English Language Teaching, this book is more of a summary of the different ways to teach, providing a foundation for teachers interested in learning how to teach in a more effective and better way. Although this book may not be a necessity, I have used it many times to refresh my memory on certain language theories and methods on teaching younger learners. It is a quick read and can be useful for all teachers.
The following two books are ones I found out about after I came to South Korea. A friend of mine was studying to get her MA in TESL and recommended these books for me to read. The first book is Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Pedagogy. This book is a great source of material for teachers interested in teaching ESL. The focus of this book is to dive into the theory of language learning and to read about the methodology in teacher training programs. There are suggested readings at the end of each chapter to help you further your knowledge of the pedagogy involved with ESL and teaching English as a Second Language.
The second book relates to this book and looks very similar (probably because its by the same publishing company and author). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching covers the other half of teaching English. This book takes a comprehensive look at foundations of language teaching through discussions of the latest research in the field, and helps explain the theory of language learning and teaching. The practical application of this book will translate to the classroom once you understand the data which was collected in regards to your lesson. This book has helped me understand my students a little better and gauge what to expect from them as they are learning English.
The final book I believe is necessary is for those experienced teachers who are interested in advancing their teaching careers. From Teacher to Manager is a well written book which helps identify the steps necessary for Managers to move on from being teachers and understanding different roles as administrative personnel. This book also covers the concepts and ideas related to sales, marketing, and organizing programs meant for teachers and students. Although this book is slightly dated (it was published in 2008), I find much of the content still relevant today and others as useful information to know when doing further research on creating my own English program. The key though for this book is it is a good stepping stone for new managers with little experience.
There are most certainly other books which are far better than the ones I mentioned. If you think there are some absolutely necessary books for ESL teachers, please leave a comment below and I will check them out. Happy Readings!