How to Choose the Right ESL Book for your Class

Are you an ESL teacher looking for the best book for your class?

I know it's tough work sifting through loads of ESL references to find the most suitable book for your students. Relying on book publishers also won't help much as their main priority is to make a sale. No surprise why many ESL textbooks have misleading titles or promise unrealistic language goals. 

If you can't afford to hire an evaluator or your employer has not assigned a Pro to identify appropriate ESL books for your classes, you can do the assessment all by yourself. Here's how: 

  • Book Title - Speak English Like an American is an impressive title for a book. This is an irresistibly enticing claim - many of your students would be easily convinced to buy this for its title alone. But as ESL teachers, we know better than to fall for this kind of bait. Go through the entire book and examine how it delivers its promise.

  • Table of Contents- Few ESL textbooks can be effective course outlines. For instance, you can use Speak English like an Americantextbook for your Conversation classes as a supplementary material, but it may not stand alone as the main ESL course book for your class.It contains only topical dialogs and vocabulary pointers.

  • Teaching Approach -Most textbooks adhere to one or two types of language teaching method. This book (Speak English Like an American) uses dialogs in teaching vocabulary and pronunciation, which falls under the structural approach widely known as Audio-lingual method. Though this language teaching method has been proven to be effective, it has its limitations. Thus it's recommended to look for ESL books that use varied presentation techniques to keep ESL learners' attention and interest, promoting better retention of lessons.

  • Language Exercises - Another crucial point we need to look into are the activities or exercises used in the book. Language exercises should help learners achieve communicative goals through language tasks, however, the use of drill, repetition, and translation should be minimized. Teachers should act as facilitators - they should only speak to provide feedback or to start the discussion. ESL students should be encouraged to apply all language concepts and skills from familiar situations to totally new scenarios.

  • The 'Engagement' Factor - If your students feel forced to study ESL, then you ought to really look for a fun wayto teach English. Sadly, not many textbooks are designed to delight readers. But take heart because some progressive authors understand the necessity of enjoyment in language learning. You'll find fun course books with the right humor - if you know what to look for.

You can expand this textbook selection criteria as you see fit. This is the most condensed format I could come up with. Keep refining your textbook evaluation criteria - or better yet, make your own ESL material based on your student's target language competencies.

Share your thoughts on ESL book selection process at the comment section or let us know if you've successfully created your own ESL study materials.

Designed by Neil Yamit