Helpful Books

Below are several books that have been very helpful to us as we teach English to speakers of other languages. We hope they will be helpful to you as well. You can purchase a book directly from by clicking on the book cover. If you have a book you want to suggest we post here, please contact us. Links to Amazon are affiliate links that earn a commission. More information

The ESL / ELL Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels
This is one of those books that even experience teachers of English learners will find useful, even if just to be reminded of strategies or activities they haven't used in a while, or to become more aware of research supporting the teaching of English learners. Written by Larry Ferlazzo, a prolific blogger and author in the field of teaching English, this book explains all the acronyms we use in the field, like ESL (English as a Second Language), ELL (English Language Learner), and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). This book offers educators practical strategies for setting up an ESL-friendly classroom, motivating and interacting with students, communicating with parents of English learners, and navigating the challenges inherent in teaching ESL students. This hands-on resource will give all teachers at all levels the information they need to be effective ESL instructors. This is a great text to have near you while lesson-planning, at hand during peer-to-peer / staff committee meetings, a text to revisit frequently.
ESL Games for the Classroom: 101 Interactive Activities to Engage Your Students with Minimal Prep
This book provides 101 ESL games and interactive activities that will help ESL teachers motivate their students to learn the English language without a lot of preparation. The games and activities are organized by skill, e.g. vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking, allowing teachers to quickly plan lessons based on the skill or level of English they are working with. They are quick and easy to set-up, created for flexible use for groups of all sizes—big groups, small groups, or even private lessons. If you are an ESL teacher who wants to add productive and entertaining games to your ESL class group, then this is the book for you.
Fifty Ways to Teach Vocabulary: Tips for ESL/EFL Teachers
Vocabulary is the foundation of successful language learning. Research shows that students learn the most easily when they are interested and having fun. Games and activities that engage students, whether they are adults or children, will help them create stronger memories and store these memories for longer. This book is divided into five sections and provides 50 ideas (plus one bonus tip!) for helping your students learn and remember vocabulary. Photos and downloadable worksheets are included. Most of the ideas can be used for both beginning and advanced classes. Many require little to no preparation or special materials. The ideas can be used with any textbook, or without a textbook at all. These short, practical guides aim to make your teaching life easier, and your students' lives more rewarding and successful.
The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners
The 6 Principles is brought to you by the TESOL International Association, the premiere organization for English teachers around the world. I love this book because it give practical explanations and each of the 6 principles in the book is essential to being an effective teacher of English to speakers of other languages. The 6 Principles will help you make informed decisions to improve your English language instruction and assessment. Inside the book you'll find essential information on language development and second language acquisition and detailed explanations of each of The 6 Principles. Also included in the book are practical applications of The 6 Principles for the K-12 classroom, vignettes and examples from different contexts, a 6 Principles self-assessment, and ideas for building strong communities of practice.
100 TESOL Activities for Teachers: Practical ESL/EFL Activities for the Communicative Classroom
This book is written by a close friend of mine, Dr. Shane Dixon. We co-designed the award-winning Teach English Now! TESOL Certificate program together, and he is an expert teacher-trainer. This book is a teacher training manual and activity guide that has been used by teacher training groups from Korea, China, Japan, Iraq, Peru, Mexico and many other parts of the world. Designed to be practical, these techniques support the general need to communicate, interact, and make language come alive in the classroom. The manual is organized into 3 distinct parts. The first section introduces teachers to some of the most common activities in English language teaching, followed by activities categorized by reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The second section provides a unique model of lesson planning. This adaptable model helps teachers prepare organized routines to make classes more effective and easier to prepare. The third section includes photocopiable worksheets for the activities described in the manual. This is a great resource for any teacher.
Oxford Picture Dictionary
This is another one of those books that every teacher should have in their library, and hopefully available in their classroom. It has amazing pictures and illustrations for hundreds of common words, and comes in bilingual and monolingual options in several languages. I bought one in Korean so I could improve my Korean vocabulary. The vocabulary is organized into sections, which make it really easy to teach from and I have built entire vocabulary courses around just the picture dictionary. It really is a great resource.
100 Ways to Teach Language Online: Powerful Tools for the Online and Flipped Classroom Teacher
This is one of those books that every teacher should have in their library. It is full of practical ideas that are easy to implement and take almost no time to prepare. The activities can be easily adapted to fit any teaching situation and are organized into categories like Warm-ups, Guided Practice, Independent Practice, Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking, Vocabulary and more. It is great to have when you run out of ideas or are "stuck" about what to do in your online language teaching.
50 Ways to Teach Online: Tips for ESL/EFL Teachers
This book gives some great tips for dealing with various aspects of teaching online. From designing appropriate activities and curriculum to creating communities of practice in your online courses, this book gives practical advice on how to choose the right Learning Management System (LMS), supporting your students' use of technology, sharing personal stories and getting to know your students. There is even an entire section on best practices for using discussion boards. You'll learn how to get your students interacting with you, the course content, and each other, just like they were in a face-to-face classroom. If you interact with students online in any capacity, this is a must read!
Fun with Grammar: Communicative Activities for the Azar Grammar Series, Teacher's Resource Book
This is probably the most valuable grammar book I own. To me, grammar needs a little something to make it more motivating for students to learn, and playing games with grammar activities is a great way to engage your students and get them recognizing AND producing correct grammar. This book is filled with hundreds of different activities that work for virtually every grammar concept taught to ESL students. If I was stranded on a desert island with my students and could only take one grammar book, this would be it!
Azar Grammar Series
This is probably the most popular grammar series in the field, and for good reason. It is filled with practice exercises and concise explanations that students can easily understand and learn from. In addition to the books, there is an entire website at with downloadable classroom materials, presentation slides, and much more that go along with the books. This is definitely a series that all teachers need in their library!
Clear Speech: Pronunciation and Listening Comprehension in North American English (4th Edition)
I've met Judy Gilbert on a number of occasions, and besides being one of the nicest people you've ever met, she really knows what she's talking about when it comes to teaching pronunciation. This book was part of the inspiration that became the Perception of Spoken English (POSE) Test ( and I have used it in countless classes to help students learn to recognize and practice correct pronunciation. It is focused on North American English, but that has been the context I have worked most in, so it has been an excellent resource for me.
Great Writing 2: Great Paragraphs (5th Edition)
No one teaches writing, in my opinion, better than Keith Folse. He is well known for his expertise among ESL/EFL teachers. He also happens to be a great person and provides great examples of good student writing to go along with his simple explanations of the various components of a paragraph. There are well-designed student exercises that provide additional practice and help students really begin to understand how to write great paragraphs in English.
Great Writing 4: Great Essays (5th Edition)
This is the second book writte by Keith Folse I've included here because his books are just that good. I really like the way he approaches the teaching of writing essays, and helping students understand both the formulaic pieces, and the pieces where students can be more creative and still have essays that engage their readers and accomplish their writing purpose. This book, like his others, has great examples of well-written essays that you can have students analyze to help them discover the key concepts they need to know to write great essays. There are also great student exercises and simple explanations.
Pronunciation Games
This is another great resources for teachers who like using games in the classroom. It is always hard to find engaging pronunciation activities that made effective use of precious class time, and this book provides excellent ideas for ways to get your students producing language and practicing pronunciation. It covers both individual sounds as well as word stress, sentence stress, and intonation. It even comes with "teacher's pages" that provide ideas for adapting the activities to your specific context, instructions for conducting the games, etc. And the book is part of the Cambridge Copy Collection, so you are free to copy the activities for classroom use with your students!
Pronunciation Matters: Communicative, Story-Based Activities for Mastering the Sounds of North American English
This has been my go-to book for teaching pronunciation because it is so versatile. It comes with excellent stories that help raise student awareness of particular pronunciation points, and then practicing those pronunciation points through a variety of activities. It is essentially a companion book to the Perception of Spoken English (POSE) Test ( Dr. Lynn Henrichsen actually drew all the pictures used in the POSE Test, and many come from this book. I believe you can purchase the entire book from Amazon, but you can also purchase individual chapters by going to (yes, I know I am not redirecting you to Amazon on this one, but it is a great resource, nonetheless).
Focus on Grammar (5th Edition)
I have highlighted book #3 here because that is the level of English I teach most, but the entire series is excellent for teaching grammar. To be honest, I am kind of an eclectic when it comes to teaching grammar, and I use a variety of resources from this series, combined with games from the Fun with Grammar book, even though that is designed for the series by Betty Azar. I like this series for the clear grammar charts and explanations. I don't use the student exercises as much, preferring to replace them with games of other activities, but the student exercises are great too.
Active Skills for Reading (3rd Edition)
I love this series for teaching reading! I have worked closely with Dr. Neil Anderson, and am always impressed with his knowledge and expertise, and his willingness to share what he knows with other teachers. This series approaches reading as a set of skills that students can learn to help them navigate reading tasks. These skills help students make reading automatic, something they don't have to think about, which makes reading so much easier. I've chosen the 2nd book in the series because that is the one I use the most, but the entire series is very useful.


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