Teaching Beginning English

Learning a new language can be difficult, especially for beginners! These resources help teachers plan lessons that inspire skills and confidence for English language learners. Visit VITAL’s Volunteer Resources for more tools, tips, and training.

Compiled by:
Bethany T.
Basic Dictations

Catherine Sadow
VITAL 428.24 Sad

Beginning levels texts organized by topics relevant to newcomers of the United States, including friends and families, numbers, time, around town, food, health, and work. Language practice includes four types of dictation activities, vocabulary, discussion, and writing. Book + CD.

English for Everyone
VITAL 428.24 Eng

This self-study series uses graphics and pictures instead of wordy explanations, making vocabulary and grammar easy to remember. Includes course book and practice books for levels 1–4. Audio download available.

English in Action

Barbara H. Foley, Elizabeth R. Neblett
VITAL 428.24 Fol
Series: English in Action

English in Action is a four-level, standards-based integrated language learning program that prepares adults for work and academic success. The third edition of English in Action features authentic and high-interest content from National Geographic to promote critical thinking and 21st century skills. Level 1 audio can be found on the National Geographic Learning student page.

English Vocabulary for Beginning ESL Learners

Jean Yates
VITAL 428.24 Yat

English Vocabulary for Beginning ESL Learners helps you develop your vocabulary and comprehension skills with practice in word building, analyzing new words, and using them in conversation. Chapters are built around themes, such as nouns to name people and verbs for household activities, to help build a comprehensive foundation. More than 200 practice exercises from old and new vocabulary help you practice as you learn. 


Steven J. Molinsky
VITAL 428.24 Mol
Series: ExpressWays

A four-level series of high interest readings that integrate life skills, communication, and grammar. The format builds practical English skills following a progressive sequence of skill development.

Health Stories: Readings and Language Activities for Healthy Choices, Low Beginning Level

Ann Gianola
VITAL 613 Gia
Series: Health Stories

This book is part of a three-level series that includes reading and language activities to help adults navigate the healthcare system, live a healthy lifestyle, and recognize health issues. Teacher's guide and audio available from New Readers Press


Jack C. Richards
VITAL 428.24 Ric
Series: Interchange

Interchange is a four-level, American English course that has been used by over 50 million students worldwide. This Level 1 Student's Book includes 16 units, eight progress checks, and a Grammar Plus section to ensure that students receive all of the practice they need.

Life Goes On: Introductory

Ann Gianola
VITAL 428.24 Gia

ESL students will live, laugh and learn with this series. 15 engaging stories in each book portray diverse characters in interesting daily life situations. Reading comprehension, dialogue, pronunciation, and writing activities included. Life Goes On series (four levels). Teacher's guide and audio available from New Readers Press.

Novel Scenes: Introductory

Ann Gianola
VITAL 428.24 Gia

Each book in the series tells the story of a single character that is new to the U.S. Chapters include exercises that build comprehension, vocabulary, speaking, and listening skills. Novel Scenes series (four levels). Teacher's guide and audio available from New Readers Press. 

Oxford Picture Dictionary

Norma Shapiro
VITAL 423.1 Ade

4,000 English words and phrases with meaningful, real-life contexts presented within 12 thematic units, including everyday language, people, housing, food, recreation, and more. Topics such as job searching, career planning, and digital literacy equip students with the language they need for everyday success. Use with Oxford Picture Dictionary Workbooks (three levels).

Side by Side

Steven J. Molinsky
VITAL 428.34 Mol

A four-level series of conversation practice that incorporates reading, writing, and listening skills. Includes pronunciation exercises and communication strategies.

That’s Life: Introductory

Ann Gianola
VITAL 428.24 Gia

Engaging and amusing low-level stories that students love to read. Everyday life themes are consistent across levels, making these books ideal for multilevel classrooms. Includes discussion starters, listening activities, dialogue practice, and comprehension exercises. That’s Life series (four levels). Teacher's guide and audio available from New Readers Press. 

What’s Next? A Multilevel Phonics Approach for ESL Students. Book 1

Lia Conklin
VITAL 428.34 Con

Easy-to-read stories follow an immigrant through her daily life in the U.S. Each lesson features phonics instruction, sight words, listening, speaking, and comprehension exercises. What’s Next series (four levels). Teacher's guide and audio available from New Readers Press. 

What’s Up? Book 1: Integrated Skills and Culture for Adults

Kathleen Olson
VITAL 428.24 Ols

Basic English language activities that develop listening, reading, writing, and cultural literacy skills. Texts include news reports, menus, forms, and other realia adapted to low reading levels. Each unit includes a complete lesson plan and homework. What’s Up series (three levels).

World English

John Hughes
VITAL 428.24 Hug
Series: World English

With World English, learners experience the world through content and ideas from National Geographic and TED, providing the motivation to talk about what's most important to them. Level 1 Student's Book Audio and Level 1 Student's Book Video available on the National Geographic Learning website.

The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Teaching All Levels

Larry Ferlazzo
VITAL 428.24 Fer

In the freshly updated second edition of The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide, a pair of renowned ESL teachers delivers a collection of practical strategies for setting up an ESL-friendly classroom, motivating and interacting with students, communicating with students' parents, and navigating the challenges associated with teaching ESL students. 

I Speak English

Ruth J. Colvin
VITAL 428.24 Col

An ESL resource guide that introduces new teachers to basic techniques and strategies for teaching adults with little to no English experience. Includes tips for getting started, planning your first meeting, assessing language skills, sample lesson plans, sequence of skills, and more.

Teaching Adults: An ESL Resource Book

New Readers Press
VITAL 374.012 Tea

This go-to guide for ESL instructors covers the basics on English language and American culture learning. The step-by-step format provides instruction for teaching adult English language learners in group and one-on-one settings. Includes 50+ ready-to-use activities for teaching reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.