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ESL Books: A Little Secret for New Teachers


An open secret for teachers is that they can approach publishers of ELT (English language teaching) books and ask for a free copy.

You just Email them and tell them that you are thinking of adopting a certain text for your classes.



The publisher will send you a free copy in the hopes that you choose that text for your classes.

*Of course you shouldn`t abuse this. Or publishers will stop this option.

Publishers have enough of a problem trying to make a profit after all the time it takes to develop a good textbook.


ESL Books, Abax Publishing misses the Mark!

by Kevin Burns

Alistair Graham-Marr and other textbook writers have produced some great books for teaching Japanese students. Abax has won many awards including some very prestigious ones.

Alistair Graham-Marr is a friend and I have a lot of respect for him. We worked together for some years at Tokai University. We sometimes meet up for a beer and a chat. So it pains me to have to write this:

I had the displeasure of using "Communication Spotlight," by Alistair Graham-Marr in university speaking classes. I think there are better choices out there for listening and speaking classes.

The chapters of this three level series lack substance. Teachers frequently complain of a lack of material to get students talking, (which the book is designed to do.) Students frequently sit dumbfounded not knowing how to do the task. This makes life difficult for teachers in a class of 30 students.

While some teachers like the strategies used in the units, strategies designed to help students negotiate the English language, other teachers feel it would have been better to introduce these strategies in advanced texts.

Graham Marr believes in the usefulness of survival English: "Pardon me?" "Could you repeat that please."

While I do too, I think getting the students to speak should be the prime goal. That kind of survival English can wait for later I feel, if the students I teach cannot yet speak well.

I would have preferred more conversation based activities such as question and answer examples for how to ask and answer about:

- one`s family

- how to talk to a new friend

ie) Where are you from? What are your hobbies? etc. How many people are there in your family? - questions like these.

There are many dictation activities in the three level books that the students seem to enjoy doing. The listening activities are difficult for my students as they are at native speed, even in the lowest level book.

Marr`s thinking on this seems to be that if they can learn to understand English at native speed, they can do anything.

It is a thought. However, I worry that it demotivates some of my students. It may get them thinking: I will never learn this crazy language.

I supplement the books a lot with speaking activities I get from other books ie) Communicate 1 and 2 Teacher`s books, Talk your Head Off, and my own materials.

Talk your Head Off works for the first 6 units or so, and then gets too difficult for most of my university students. At my English school however, it works well with adults.

Abax is staffed by knowledable teachers that know Japanese students. I recommend checking out their other textbooks. Indeed I recommend checking out Graham-Marr`s other books which are much better.

They say that every film director is destined to produce a dud. This is Alistair`s. However, Abax produces some great books.

ESL Books - Textbooks for Teaching Adults: Some of the EFL Press Books

Some of the best books I have used for teaching English to junior high to adults, are by EFL Press.

"Talk a Lot: Starter Book," and "Talk a Lot 1," and Level 2 all have great activities for getting beginners and false beginners speaking English.

Talk a Lot 2 is more suitable for elementary or pre-intermediate level adults. Sometimes a more structured approach to teaching your classes is the order of the day. For this I recommend a series by Macmillan.

ESL Books: Textbooks for Teaching Children: The Finding Out Series & The English Land Series

Two of the best ESL book resources we have found for teaching children have been the textbook series "Finding Out," by David Paul, the owner of David English House, and "English Land," by Mari Nakamura and M.H. Newton (Longman Asia ELT).

Both textbook series have been extensively tested in Japan and the writers obviously understand Japanese students well.

Mari Nakamura gives teacher training sessions all over Japan. She is active, writing educational articles, training teachers, and educating young learners. She runs her own school called English Square in Kanazawa City. Further, she is the coordinator of ETJ Ishikawa Group and studies with Aston University. She has done extensive study on TEYL--Teaching English to Young Learners.

"English Land" engages students in a very colourful way, and incorporates Disney characters throughout their books. By using characters that Japanese students know and love, these books motivate children to learn English. Indeed, these books make English more real and fun for the kids.

The Finding Out Series by David Paul

Finding Out 1 is THE book hands down that I recommend for teaching children how to read. Once they master Finding Out 1, they can read many, many easy books from other textbooks to easy story books for children.

David Paul and others have put in a lot of work into the series. There are even official and unofficial resources on the internet that you can use. David Lisgo is one who has made supplementary materials for the series.

"Finding Out 1" is the book our students aged 6-11 usually start English classes with at Kevin`s English Schools. By the end of Finding Out 1 they can usually read. David Paul has done an excellent job of creating a textbook series that gets into the mind of the child, and teaches them phonics in an entertaining way.

After mastering the phonics of Finding Out 1 our students either go onto "Finding Out 2" the next textbook in the series, or onto "English Land 1" or 2.

Both series come with cards. Finding Out has very colourful small cards, while English Land`s are large, like small posters. I recommend getting both card series and both textbook series if you will teach children in Japan.

As for supplementary materials there is software for Finding Out. As alluded to, you can also find cards and materials developed by third party (teachers) that use the series. Some are free and others are not.
David Paul does his best to support the series with lectures and training sessions throughout Japan.

Paul is active on several forums including ETJ Owners and

ESL Books: ETJ Activities at Yahoo Groups. There may be extra materials available on the internet for English Land but I have not been able to find them so far. It is a newer series, so it often takes some time for third parties resources to come available.

I am confident you will find both these series, great for teaching Japanese children! These ESL books are Highly recommended! Visit Active Learners, which is a great forum about using Finding Out 1, Communicate and Communication Strategies.

Books on Japan you should read.


Nancy Loves Reading to her Daughters

Book and more books!

I love reading to my girls! I personally find the love for reading is one of the best gifts I can give them. If you are interested in learning about teaching children Japanese be sure to check out our favorite children’s books at The-Childrens-Guide. You will find book suggestions, product reviews, work at home opportunities, sales and more. So stop by and visit!

Public Domain eBooks

There are many free public domain eBooks and some of them are great! In fact, some of them are better than the expensive books. Check out some of the free eBooks we recommend for teachers and students.


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