Saturday, March 31, 2007

Best ESL Books for Teachers

Every private tutor needs to have a library of ESL teaching books and resources. Unfortunately, these books are expensive! Fortunately, you can often find copies at used bookstores and even online. The following is a list of the main books I use over and over again when teaching students or when I need to look up an English grammar point I’m unsure of. (Like ending a sentence with a preposition!)

Reference Books for ESL Teachers and Advanced ESL Students

Practical English Usageby Michael Swan, published by Oxford University Press - This book is my grammar bible. If you don’t buy any other book, buy this one. It answers 99% of the questions you could ever have about English grammar. I also highly recommend this to all of my advanced ESL students. I have the second edition. The newest is the third edition. It’s not as expensive as most grammar books, but it ain’t cheap either. So if you find a good used copy of an older edition, I’d go for it.

Longman Advanced American Dictionary- This dictionary is great because its definitions are those commonly used today. It also gives great examples of how to use words and it “knows” when you might get something confused (for example, if you can’t remember the difference between a phrase and a clause, it will define one word and tell you to also see the other). Every student I’ve recommended this dictionary to has spoken highly of it. Longman makes a few dictionaries. Be sure to get the one with the exact title above. It comes with a CD-ROM.

Textbooks I Use Regularly

Understanding and Using English Grammarby Betty Schrampfer Azar - This book is great for your intermediate to advanced ESL students. It has all the important grammar points laid out nicely in charts with explanations and examples. It also has student exercises. If you have higher level ESL students, this is the one grammar book (with exercises) that I highly recommend.

Grammar in Use - Intermediateby Raymond Murphy - This is my second choice ESL grammar textbook. Although “intermediate” is in the title, I feel it is also appropriate for advanced level students (apparently Murphy thinks so too, because he hasn’t published an advanced version). Each grammar point that it addresses has one page of examples with a little bit of explanation and one page of student exercises. For the best grammar presentations and explanations, I prefer Azar (above), but Grammar in Use is good when you want supplemental exercises and/or you prefer a shorter explanation of the grammar points.

Basic Grammar in Useby Raymond Murphy – This textbook is for beginning level ESL students. This is my number one textbook for beginners. It’s laid out the same way as the Intermediate book. Beginning level English doesn’t require as much explanation, so this textbook works well.

The Best ESL Pronunciation Book

Pronunciation Pairs: An Introductory Course for Students of Englishby Ann Baker and Sharon Goldstein – I stumbled upon this book in a used book store, and to this day, I consider it one of the best finds ever. There’s a teacher’s version and a student’s version. Either one will work well, but the teacher’s version is particularly helpful because it tells you what difficulties to expect of your students.

One More Helpful Book for ESL Students

The Oxford Picture Dictionary- The title says it all. I have the English monolingual version. If your student also buys one, he or she can get one that is bilingual. I use this book for my beginning level students. I found my copy at a used bookstore.

Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for "must have" ESL books.

1 comment:

juliajohansen said...

My favorite is Simon & Schuster's Handbook for Writers. An English 101 textbook, you can pick it up for only $.01 in America through Amazon.