I’ve compiled a list of the best ESL books for teachers. Most of which I’ve used either during my CELTA course or for professional development over the last eight years.
These resources are essential for anyone looking to enhance their English language teaching skills. And I’ve recommended each book depending on your experience level.
With comprehensive strategies, practical tips, and valuable insights, these books will empower you to effectively teach grammar, vocabulary, and more.
How to Teach English Book and DVD Pack
Best ESL Book for Brand New Teachers
- Title: How to Teach English Book and DVD Pack 1st Edition
- Author: Jeremy Harmer
- Publisher: Pearson Longman
- Language: English
- ISBN: 9781405853095
My four weeks CELTA course was one of the toughest months of my entire life. And I don’t think I would have got through it without this book!
The ‘How to Teach English Book and DVD Pack 1st Edition’ by Jeremy Harmer offers practical guidance and instructional materials for teaching English as a second language.
This book is a great resource for beginner ESL teachers – and you’ll also keep learning from it as you gain more experience. After eight years of teaching, I still pick How to Teach English off the shelf from time to time.
It provides a comprehensive overview of teaching English, covering various language skills and offering useful strategies for classroom management and lesson planning.
One of the strengths of this book is its clear and concise explanations. It breaks down complex concepts into easy-to-understand language, making it accessible for teachers who are new to the field. The included DVD pack is also a valuable addition, as it provides visual examples of teaching techniques and classroom activities.
However, it’s important to note that some of the activities in this book may be more suitable for adult classes (or if you’re lucky enough to have a class of more mature kids or teenagers).
Teachers working with younger learners may need to adapt the ideas to make them more age-appropriate.
Additionally, while the book offers a general overview of teaching English, it follows British grammatical usage and spellings, which I remember hearing some of my fellow trainee teachers complain about.
Who is it for?
Overall, the ‘How to Teach English Book and DVD Pack 1st Edition’ is a highly recommended resource for ESL teachers, particularly those who are just starting out or looking for new ideas to incorporate into their lessons.
- Clear and concise explanations
- Comprehensive overview of teaching English
- Includes a DVD pack with visual examples
- Some activities may be more suitable for adult classes
- British grammatical usage and spelling may not be preferred by all teachers
- May require adaptation for younger learners or different teaching contexts
The Practice of English Language Teaching 5th Edition
Best ESL Book for Teachers with Experience
- Title: The Practice of English Language Teaching
- Author: Jeremey Harmer
- Edition: 5th Edition
- Language: British UK
- Includes a CD
I really enjoyed using ‘The Practice of English Language Teaching 5th Edition’ as it provided me with valuable insights and practical strategies for teaching English.
This book was incredibly helpful for my CELTA program, as it covered a wide range of teaching methods and classroom management techniques. It provided numerous examples that I still apply in my teaching today, even after eight years of experience.
One of the things I appreciated most about this book is its emphasis on reflection and action points, which allowed me to continually improve my teaching practice.
Additionally, it recommended further reading materials, which helped me delve deeper into specific areas of English language teaching.
Who is it for?
Buy this if you are a teacher with at least a few months’ experience already. It’s also a good choice for brand-new teachers with a limited budget – if you can only afford one book, get this, and it will see you through your first year’s teaching.
- Provides valuable insights and practical strategies
- Covers a wide range of teaching methods and techniques
- Includes numerous examples and recommendations for further reading
- It’s might be a bit too much for a beginner teacher.
- Only uses UK British
Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 4th edition
Best ESL Book for Experienced Teachers Looking to Upgrade Their Skills
- Title: Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 4th edition
- Six units: Foundations of Methodology, Language Skills, Skills for Teachers, Integrated Approaches, Focus on the Learner, Focus on the Teacher
- Contains articles by various authors
Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 4th edition offers a comprehensive and practical guide for ESL teachers.
This book, edited by Marianne Celce-Murcia, Donna M. Grinton, David Bohlke, and Marguerite Ann Snow, is divided into six units, covering various aspects of teaching English, from methodology and language skills to focusing on the learner and the teacher.
It contains articles written by different authors, providing a valuable reference volume for teachers of English as a second or foreign language.
Who is it for?
You’ll probably get the most from this book as a teacher with at least a year of ESL experience. The topics are in-depth and may go over the heads of brand-new teachers.
- Great techniques, methods, and lesson activities for teaching L2
- Excellent theory and resources presented in a readable way
- Unbiased representation of ideas and methods
- Useful for ESL teachers
- Densely academic text
- Relevant mainly to a course or specific training
- Heavy book
How to Teach Grammar
Best ESL Book for Teacher’s Struggling with Teaching Grammar
- Title: How to Teach Grammar 1st Edition
- Author: Scott Thornbury
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: unknown
Grammar is probably one of the most difficult things to make interesting in the ESL classroom. Luckily, I was recommended this book early on in my career, and it’s proven it’s worth again and again.
Thornbury’s book provides practical strategies and lesson plans for effectively teaching grammar to ESL students. It’s a comprehensive guide that covers various topics related to teaching grammar, such as the importance of grammar instruction, different teaching styles and techniques, and how to teach grammar through examples and texts.
The book is designed to be a valuable resource for EFL and ESL teachers, providing them with step-by-step lesson plans and models to adapt their own textbook materials. It’s particularly useful for those preparing for the DELTA program, as it covers the technical vocabulary required for Module 1 and provides reference material for the experimental practice assignment in Module 2.
Overall, the book is written in easy-to-understand language and is a valuable reference for both novice and experienced teachers.
Who is it for?
New and experienced teachers who are looking to make their grammar lessons more interesting will get the most use from this book.
This book is a great complementary text to Thornbury’s How to Teach English (above) and How to Teach Vocabulary (below).
- Provides practical strategies and lesson plans for teaching grammar
- Covers various topics related to grammar instruction
- Valuable resource for DELTA program participants
- Written in easy-to-understand language
- Expects you to have a decent knowledge of grammar already
- Not for brand-new teachers
How to Teach Vocabulary 1st Edition
Best ESL Book for Teacher’s Looking for More Ideas to Teach Vocab
- Title: How to Teach Vocabulary 1st Edition
- Author: Scott Thornbury
- Topics Covered: Connection between vocabulary and memory, teaching students how their brain/mind learns language, practical ideas and activities for teaching vocabulary
I really enjoyed using the activities from the book ‘How to Teach Vocabulary 1st Edition’ by Scott Thornbury in my ESL classroom. This book provided me with practical ideas and activities for teaching vocabulary that I found extremely helpful.
And it’s backed up with theory too.
Thornbury discusses the connection between vocabulary and memory, emphasizing how the mind makes webs of connections and groups vocabulary words together. He also addresses the issue of sound similarities between words, using examples like ‘chicken’ and ‘kitchen’ being mixed up.
Additionally, Thornbury explains to students how their brain/mind learns language, stressing the need for effort and practice to store vocabulary in long-term memory. The book covers various topics such as testing, presenting, working with new lexis, using texts, dictionaries, and corpora. It also provides example activities that can be easily implemented in the classroom.
Who is it for?
Intermediate and experienced teachers looking for some more activities for teaching Vocabulary. It’s also a great reminder about how students learn vocabulary, understanding this will allow you to better design your own activities.
- Offers practical ideas and activities for teaching vocabulary
- Addresses the connection between vocabulary and memory
- Provides examples and explanations to help students understand how their brain/mind learns language
- Some activities may require additional materials or resources
- May not cover all aspects of teaching vocabulary in depth
- Could benefit from more visuals or illustrations to enhance understanding
The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide
Best for New Teachers Who Need to Get up to Scratch ASAP
- Title: The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide
- Authors: Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski
- Publication Date: May 21, 2020
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass
- Pages: 448
As an ESL teacher, I found ‘The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide’ to be an invaluable resource for navigating the challenges of teaching English language learners. While I didn’t need this myself, this would be really useful for a brand new teacher who only has a few days to get prepared for their first lesson.
This book provides practical strategies, tips, and advice for effectively teaching ELL students. It covers a wide range of topics, including lesson planning, classroom management, assessment, and differentiation.
The authors understand the unique needs and challenges of ELL students and provide specific strategies to address them. I particularly appreciated the chapter on cultural sensitivity and creating an inclusive classroom environment. The book is well-organized and easy to navigate, making it a go-to guide for both novice and experienced teachers.
Overall, ‘The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide’ is a must-have resource for new ESL teachers looking to get ready for the it first lesson ASAP.
Who is it for?
New teachers without much time to prepare for their first lesson. Perhaps your school has thrown you in at the deep end, or maybe you’ve decided not to go back home after a long period of travel, and you’ve just taken a job at a local school. This book will get you up to scratch ASAP.
- Comprehensive coverage of various topics related to teaching ELL students
- Practical strategies and tips that can be easily implemented in the classroom
- Emphasis on creating an inclusive and culturally sensitive learning environment
- Suitable for novice ESL teachers
- Some information may be repetitive or already known by experienced teachers
- Limited focus on specific teaching techniques or activities
- May not address the unique needs of ELL students from non-Western cultures.
Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible
Best ESL Book for Academic Managers or Syllabus Preperation
- Title: Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible
- Author: Fenner & Snyder
- Format: Paperback
Teaching English language learners effectively involves implementing strategies that make content accessible to maximize their potential. One book that stands out in addressing this important aspect is ‘Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible.’ This resource provides teachers with practical advice and strategies to create an academic environment where English learners can thrive and succeed.
The book offers a comprehensive approach to making content accessible to English learners. It covers topics such as student assessment, choice of activities, and assigning appropriate learning levels. The strategies and tools provided in the book are applicable across all content areas and grade bands. It also emphasizes the importance of understanding vocabulary development and designing thoughtful and engaging TDQs (Text Dependent Questions) for English learners.
One of the strengths of this book is its user-friendly format. It’s easy to navigate and provides clear explanations and examples. The authors draw on current research and best practices to support their strategies, making it a valuable resource for both new and experienced teachers. Additionally, the book includes specific resources and activities that can be implemented in the classroom to promote content accessibility.
However, some readers have mentioned that the strategies aren’t introduced until later chapters, which may be a drawback for those seeking immediate guidance. Nonetheless, the book’s emphasis on the approach and background knowledge of English learners in the early chapters can still provide a valuable foundation for teachers.
Overall, ‘Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible’ is a highly recommended book for teachers working with English language learners. It offers practical strategies, resources, and insights that can help teachers unlock the potential of their students and create a supportive and inclusive learning environment.
Who is it for?
This book is best suited for advance teachers looking to incorporate more authentic materials like magazines, videos, and novels into their teaching.
- Practical strategies for making content accessible to English learners
- User-friendly format with clear explanations and examples
- Emphasis on current research and best practices
- Specific resources and activities for implementation in the classroom
- Valuable foundation in approach and background knowledge of English learners
- Strategies introduced later in the book
- Not suitable for beginner teachers
How Languages are Learned
Best ESL Book for Academic Understanding of Language Acquisition
- Title: How Languages are Learned
- Author: Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada
- Publication Date: 2013
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
Learning languages involves understanding how individuals acquire and develop proficiency in new languages. ‘How Languages are Learned’ is a book that delves into the research and theory behind second language learning.
It explores topics such as the differences between first language (L1) and second language (L2) learning, the effects of individual differences on language learning, second language acquisition theories, and the differences between natural and classroom-based learning environments. The book also discusses the usefulness of grammar instruction and addresses widely held language learning beliefs.
It’s thoughtfully written with helpful theory and practical themes for classroom practice. It provides insights from research that can be applied by both language learners and teachers. Overall, ‘How Languages are Learned’ is an excellent resource for teachers who want a deeper understanding of language learning processes.
Who is it for?
Teachers considering taking an academic career path in the future, or any teacher interested in language acquisition.
- Provides a comprehensive overview of second language acquisition theories
- Offers practical insights for classroom practice
- Written in an accessible and engaging manner
- Some readers may find the book too theoretical
- May not provide enough concrete strategies for language teaching
- Limited focus on specific languages or language learning contexts
Classroom Management Techniques
Best ESL Book for Teachers Struggling With Behavior Issues
- Title: Classroom Management Techniques (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers)
- Author: Jim Scrivener
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Paperback: 353 pages
I found the book ‘Classroom Management Techniques’ to be incredibly helpful in improving my classroom management skills. This book, written by Jim Scrivener, is a comprehensive guide that covers various aspects of classroom management. It offers practical tips and strategies that can be easily implemented to create a positive and productive learning environment.
One of the strengths of this book is its focus on the three key areas of the classroom: the teacher, the classroom, and the students. Scrivener provides valuable insights into how teachers can effectively communicate with their learners and manage classroom dynamics. He explores 14 different types of interventions, offering analysis and advice on each one.
What sets this book apart is its readability and practicality. Scrivener’s writing style is clear and engaging, making it easy to understand and apply the techniques in real-world teaching situations. Whether you’re a new teacher or an experienced one, this book is a valuable resource that can help you enhance your classroom management skills.
Who is it for?
In my experience, all teachers are guilty of falling into bad classroom management habits. This book is perfect for teachers of all levels who need a refresher or a reminder on basic and more advanced techniques to keep control of the classroom!
- Provides practical tips and strategies for effective classroom management
- Covers three key areas of the classroom: the teacher, the classroom, and the students
- Readable and engaging writing style
- Some suggestions may be more suited for certain teaching contexts
- May require adaptation for non-language teachers
- Could benefit from more examples and case studies
Based on my extensive research and experience, I’ve compiled a list of the best ESL books for teachers. These books cover a wide range of topics, from teaching methods to classroom management techniques.
Whether you’re a new or experienced ESL teacher, these resources will provide you with valuable insights and strategies to enhance your teaching skills. By incorporating the knowledge gained from these books, you can effectively engage and support your English language learners, ultimately helping them achieve their language goals.