Recommended reading for any TEFL teacher
As a TEFL teacher, expanding your knowledge and reading around different TEFL areas is essential. Your online TEFL course will have provided you with a solid foundation for teaching, but it’s impossible to include everything in one system. It’s good to take an active interest and read about the TEFL and the classroom. This can be while you’re still studying or after you’ve finished your course!
Why is it essential to undertake extra TEFL reading?
This is all part of what we call professional development. In any profession, you don’t just stop with your initial qualification; your learning continues throughout your career. Teaching, in particular, is an ever-changing profession – think about how your parents were taught and how you were taught at school; there is probably a difference. In the last five years, we’ve seen more developments in online platforms, technology and AI – this affects the TEFL world too.
You might be the best TEFL teacher in the world, but you should always be open to new ideas, materials and activities. These come from reading around the subject and collaborating with your peers. It’s more interesting for you as a teacher to incorporate new teaching ideas. Otherwise, you’ll probably feel pretty bored teaching the same thing repeatedly for years.
We’ve compiled the best-recommended reading and reference books for teachers of all experiences!
Best grammar resource:
English Grammar in Use, Raymond Murphy:
If you only invest in one book as a teacher, this should be it! This is a series of grammar books, but teachers often seek out the elementary version first. This book is so valuable because both teachers and students can use it.
It offers clear explanations of critical grammar. Although these explanations are aimed at students, it’s great for teachers to use if they find grammar a little mind-boggling (who doesn’t?!). Teachers can see how grammar is explained on a need-to-know basis and will be able to break down their explanations for their students. There are also exercises for each grammar point to use in the classroom. A winning resource all round!
Best pronunciation practice
Ship or Sheep? Ann Baker
Another classic for the TEFL classroom. Teaching pronunciation can be hardcore; let’s face it! Just because we can speak the language doesn’t mean we are 100% confident about how to break down the essential sounds and teach others how to produce those sounds. “Ship or Sheep” breaks down tricky sounds by using minimal pairs (remember learning about these on your TEFL course?) and provides lots of practice you can use with your students in the classroom. It is a valuable guide for teachers who want to improve their students’ pronunciation but might not know exactly how to do this and where to start more practically.
The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer
Often known as “The TEFL Bible”, this is a crucial resource for students worldwide. Consult any TEFL course reading list, this book will likely be at the top. Mr Harmer has genuinely become the father of TEFL with this book. It contains all the basics of TEFL, from classroom management to teaching grammar. It is a perfect accompaniment to your TEFL course. This book is best for those undertaking their course, but experienced teachers might enjoy the refresher, too!
Best to use as a reference:
Practical English Usage, Michael Swann
This is a handy book to have on hand when you begin teaching. It contains a guide to any typical problems learners have with grammar and relates a lot of those to specific issues based on the learner’s mother tongue. It’s perfect for teachers who need an extra cushion when teaching grammar, as it helps them anticipate what students might ask about the grammar point they’re teaching and how to answer it.
The book gives teachers a confidence boost when teaching grammar and provides insight into different nationalities and their typical grammar issues. Remember, teachers aren’t expected to know everything about grammar, but this book can help you get halfway there, at least!
Best for online inspiration
101 activities and resources for Teaching English Online, Jackie Bolen
Many TEFL reading relies on classics teachers have used for years. However, with the recent boom in online teaching, we must update our literature and adapt to the times too! Not all classroom activities work in the online classroom and vice versa; it’s essential to research how to teach practical lessons online!
This book will give you lots of inspiration if you’re teaching online. Just like in the classroom, it’s important to shake things up occasionally with new ideas online to keep our students (and us) engaged in our classes! The pictures are also divided into different levels, making it a valuable resource for teachers of all levels.
Best TEFL dictionary
An A-Z of ELT, Scott Thornbury
Scott Thornbury is another widely respected author in the TEFL industry and has released many valuable books for teachers. One is his A-Z of ELT, which gives an alphabetised overview of all things TEFL, from methodologies to grammar terms. It’s good to consult and a good refresher if you did your TEFL course some time ago.
Best textbook for adult learners
English File, Oxford University Press
Of course. You’re not expected to sit down and read a textbook, but it’s good to have some names of handy ones if you take on your classes and want to recommend a book for them. English File is an excellent General English series with different versions at each level. It practices grammar, vocabulary and essential skills, with some pronunciation focus.
With English File, you also get accompanying workbooks for students, teachers’ books and audio and tonnes of interactive resources on the website; it’s a complete resource!
If you’re unsure about what grammar is taught at what level, consulting a textbook also gives you a good idea of this as most of them tend to follow the general CEFR framework, so they will teach the same points at the same level, no matter which book series you check.
Best textbook for young learners
Kid’s Box, Cambridge English
This is a fun series for young learners (ages 5+), including beloved characters, fun songs and an accompanying workbook with fun activities. This is an enjoyable series that kids will love as they grow with the characters and learn more and more about them.
This book is geared towards preparing for Cambridge exams for children, but it’s still useful for teachers of young learners, whether the students are preparing to do any exams or not in the future.
It’s 2023, so we wouldn’t be very “with the times” if we didn’t include some online reading resources too! Here is a list of our top online readings!
Best online reference
A site from the British Council, this is the ultimate online TEFL guide for all teachers! You can search anything about TEFL from A to Z, and the site will give you a concise explanation and even further reading if you want to go further into the subject! It’s a reliable and up-to-date resource, so bookmark it now!
Best for communicative ideas
Learning languages is all about communicating, so teachers must incorporate as many communicative activities as possible to get their students speaking. Speaking is often a student’s weakest skill as they lack practice and confidence. This site is excellent for activities to add to your lesson plan – they are usefully divided into activities that practise grammar and vocabulary of functional language (at the dentist’s, doctor’s, etc.). Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many resources can be used and edited in the online classroom.
The only downside of this resource is that it is a paid subscription, but there are plenty of free resources you can get by with! If you like the site, you might be interested in signing up or asking your school to get a subscription for the teachers to use.
Best for fun lesson plans
As much as you’d like to be creative and develop your plans, sometimes there isn’t time. There are many different lesson plan ideas out there, so why not utilise them? One of the most valuable sites is Tim’s page (thank you, Tim!), which has made an assortment of lesson plans covering General English, conversation-based lesson plans and Exam English plans. They work very well and often include worksheets and PowerPoint presentations you can download for your classroom.
The list of valuable sites could go on and on! There are so many TEFL books and websites out there, and new ones are always coming out! If you find something helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it! Sharing resources with your colleagues/classmates is also a great way to exchange ideas and find new reading!
Your extra reading should be one, or hopefully both, of these two: valuable and enjoyable! It’s not about making you read extra for the sake of it to memorise TEFL terms; it’s about finding information that will help you develop as a teacher. Anything that you can incorporate into your classroom to shake things up in your lessons and make them more engaging is a valuable source and work-saving for the future!