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  • 1.  What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 03-10-2017 03:55 PM

    A little while ago, I invited members of this electronic community to share books from the field that they find influential or important. I got a good response, which I will summarize for the list, but before I do that I wanted to give one more chance for people to contribute their ideas.  So here's a rebroadcast of my request for your desert island TESOL books.

    For over 60 years, BBC Radio 4 has broadcast a weekly program called Desert Island Discs. On it a celebrity or well-known figure is interviewed and asked to choose what records or CDs they would want to take with them if stranded on a desert island. (A functioning music player on the island is assumed.) In recent years guests have included Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Pinker, Gloria Steinem, David Beckham, and Bill Gates.

    So, with a tip of the hat to Kitty Purgason, let's try this as a game for English language teachers. You're going to be assigned to go somewhere and teach English for a year. But you don't know where, and you don't know anything about your students. Let's assume that you don't have a computer or internet access.  What 5 indispensable books or other resources would you take along to back up your existing knowledge? These could be professional reference books, sources of inspiration or teaching ideas-anything to help you in your teaching.

    Please respond to the group discussion.  Ready . . . ?  Go !

    Joe McVeigh
    Adjunct Professor of TESOL
    Saint Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont, U.S.A.
    Independent Consultant
    Middlebury, Vermont, USA

  • 2.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 03-10-2017 11:48 PM
    If I were given a chance to teach a group of students who I don't know or met before; I don't think few books  would help me I such situation I am not aware of the TESOL books.
    If possible I would carry the books of John Holt's, how children learn, how children fail; Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of Oppressed; Krashen's Second Language Acquisition.

    Jani Reddy
    Teacher Educator
    Telangana, India

    Jani Reddy Pandiri Teacher Educator
    Teacher Educator
    Department of School Education Government of Telangana India

  • 3.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 04-10-2017 12:23 PM
    Forgive me if this has already been suggested, but the following books come to mind:

    Leech & Svatvik: A Communicative Grammar of English

    Quirk & Greenbaum, et. al. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language

    Read: Assessing Vocabulary

    Day: New Ways in Teaching Reading (TESOL)

    Bradbury: Rates of Exchange
    [Note: not literally about ESOL teachers, but close enough - a hilarious but thought-provoking novel about the hidden cultural barriers to scholarly exchange]

    Hope this helps!

    David Ross
    Associate Chair, ESL/Intensive English
    Houston Community College
    Houston, TX

  • 4.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 06-10-2017 10:17 AM
    ​This is a great discussion!  My essentials would be "They Say/I Say" by Gerald Graff.  It's invaluable in taking second language writers to the next level in their writing.  Also, Learner English by Swan and Smith. ESL Miscellany from Pro Lingua. Vocabulary Myths by Keith Folse.

    Kelly McClendon
    Washburn University International Programs

  • 5.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 07-10-2017 02:07 PM
    A great discussion indeed. 1. Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.  2. Learner English, by Bernard Smith and Michael Swan, as just mentioned. Two stellar books.

    Perhaps not for a desert island, but a good reference: A synthesis of research on Second Language Writing in English (Leki, Cumming, Silva).

    All the best,

    Rene D. Caputo
    Lecturing fellow & ESL specialist
    Duke University

  • 6.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 08-10-2017 09:50 AM
    I would definitely bring along "Grammarway 4" (Virginia Evans - Express Publishing) that has both the fundamentals of grammar & great exercises which can be used for lower to higher levels. It is old, but I still use it as a reference book.
    For writing, I would take along "Successful Writing" (Express Publishing) that covers most major types of essays and letters.

    Dionisia Kafkas
    Senior Instructor
    ELS International Pathways

  • 7.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 12-10-2017 12:53 AM
    Hmmmm...that would depend on what I need to teach and since my population is preservice/inservice mainstream teachers, who are defacto ESOL teachers, I'd bring my own, because they are great teacher prep texts for foundations of ESOL. They were recommended by the Florida DOE for ESOL test prep.  The titles are pretty obvious.

    Ariza, E.N., & Coady, M. (in revision). Why TESOL? Theories and issues in teaching English as a second language for K-12 teachers. (5th Ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

    Ariza, E.N. (2018) Not for ESOL teachers: What every classroom teacher needs to know about the linguistically, culturally, and ethnically diverse student. (3nd Ed). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

    Ariza, E., Yahya, N., Zainuddin, H., & Morales-Jones, C. (2015). Fundamentals of teaching English to speakers of other languages in K-12 mainstream classrooms. (4th Ed)Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing

    Ariza, E. N. & Lapp, S. I. (2012). Literacy, language, and culture, Methods and Strategies for Mainstream Teachers with Not-So-Mainstream Learners. Charlotte, North Carolina: Kona Publishing and Media Group.

    [Eileen N. Whelan Ariza, Ed.D.
    Florida Atlantic University, Professor/ESOL Coordinator
    Boca Raton, Florida, 33431 USA

  • 8.  RE: What are your essential TESOL books ?

    Posted 08-10-2017 03:47 PM

    Thanks very much to everyone who responded to my suggestion of sharing our essential TESOL books. There was a great response, which I summarize below. To make things a bit easier to read, I have somewhat arbitrarily divided the books into categories: methodology and inspiration, reference, grammar and writing, other skills, and classroom activities. The suggested books leaned heavily towards grammar and writing, so that gets its own category. Perhaps we are more sure of our abilities in other areas? At any rate the responses are below. Feel free to continue to add to and respond to this thread if you like.

    And thanks to all those who contributed ideas: Nikki Ashcraft, University of Missouri; Janine Carlock, Duquesne University; Rene D. Caputo, Duke University; Robin Dahling, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Beatrice L. Fendrich, University of Oregon; Sharon A. Graham, Fort Hays State University; Dionisia Kafkas, ELS International Pathways; Kelly McClendon, Washburn University; Maha H. Mohamed, Maha ESL Community; David Ross, Houston Community College; Jani Reddy, Department of Education, Telangana, India; Lisa Wang, China; Sky Lantz-Wagner, University of Dayton

    Books that were recommended by multiple list members are preceded by an asterisk.


    Bradbury, M. (2015). Rates of exchange: A novel (Reprinted ed.). New York: Open Road Integrated Media.

    Brown, H. D. (2014). Principles of language learning and teaching: A course in second language acquisition (6th ed.). White Plains, NY: Pearson.

    Esquith, R. (2007). Teach like your hair's on fire: The methods and madness inside room 56. New York: Viking.

    Farrell, T. S. (2015). Promoting teacher reflection in second-language education: A framework for TESOL professionals. New York: Routledge.

    Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed.). New York: Bloomsbury.

    *Harmer, J. (2015). The practice of English language learning (5th ed.). Harlow, Essex, UK: Pearson.

    Holt, J. (1995). How children fail (Reprinted ed.). Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.

    Holt, J. C. (1997). How children learn (Reprinted ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

    Krashen, S. (1995). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. Hemel Hempstead, Herts.: Prentice Hall International.

    Scrivener, J. (2016). Learning teaching: The essential guide to English language teaching (4th ed.). London: Macmillan.

    Snow, D. B., & Campbell, M. (2017). More than a native speaker: An introduction to teaching English abroad (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.



    Leech, G. N., & Svartvik, J. (2013). A communicative grammar of English (3rd ed.). Abingdon, Ox. UK: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

    Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G., & Svartvik, J. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.

    *Swan, M. (2016). Practical English usage (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    *Swan, M., & Smith, B. (2001). Learner English. A teachers guide to interference and other problems (2nd ed.). Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.



    Carlock, J., Eberhardt, M., Horst, J., & Menasche, L. (2010). The ESL writers handbook. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

    Azar, B. S., & Hagen, S. A. (2017). Understanding and using English grammar (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.

    Dooley, J., & Evans, V. (1999). Grammarway 4. Newbury, Berks. UK: Express Publishing.

    Downing, A. (2014). English Grammar: A University Course (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.

    Evans, V. (2000). Successful writing (series). Newbury, Berks., UK: Express Publishing. ˜

    Govier, T. (2014). A practical study of argument (7th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.

    Graff, G., & Birkenstein, C. (2014). "They say / I say": The moves that matter in academic writing (3rd ed.). New York: Norton.

    Hacker, D., & Sommers, N. (2015). A writers reference (8th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.

    Hinkel, E. (2009). Teaching academic ESL writing: Practical techniques in vocabulary and grammar. London: Routledge.

    Larsen-Freeman, D., & Celce-Murcia, M. (2016). The grammar book: Form, meaning and use for English language teachers (3rd ed.). Boston: National Geographic Learning.

    Murray, N. (2012). Writing essays in English language and linguistics: Principles, tips and strategies for undergraduates. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Raimes, A. (1998). How English works: A grammar handbook with readings (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



    Day, R. R. (Ed.). (2012). New ways in teaching reading (Revised ed.). Alexandria, VA: TESOL International Association.

    Folse, K. S. (2004). Vocabulary myths: Applying second language research to classroom teaching. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

    Graham, C. (2001). Jazz chants old and new. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Read, J. (2000). Assessing vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



    *Clark, R. C., Moran, P. R., & Burrows, A. A. (2015). The ESL miscellany: A treasury of cultural and linguistic information (5th ed.). Brattleboro, VT: Pro Lingua Associates.

    Kress, J. E. (2008). The ESL/ELL teacher's book of lists (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Takahashi , N., & Frauman-Prickel, M. (1999). Action english pictures: Photocopiable activities for total physical response. Burlingame, CA: Alta Book Center .

    *Ur, P., & Wright, A. (1993). Five-minute activities: A resource book of short activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Zelman, N. E. (2009). Conversation inspirations: Over 2400 conversation topics (3rd ed.). Brattleboro, VT: Pro Lingua Associates.


    Joe McVeigh
    Adjunct Professor of TESOL
    Saint Michael's College, Colchester, Vermont, U.S.A.
    Independent Consultant
    Middlebury, Vermont, USA