What Are the Different Types of ESL Resources?

P.M. Willers

There are many types of English as a Second Language (ESL) resources available. People of all ages and backgrounds teach and take ESL courses, thus creating and sharing abundant and varied materials. The copious amount of resources available today can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing, but the most important consideration concerning ESL resources should be variety and accessibility. ESL materials can be utilized by either level or by subject area depending on personal preferences, and materials should be adapted to fit the level and style of a class to help students learn as efficiently and enjoyably as possible.

Flash cards for learning Italian.
Flash cards for learning Italian.

Considering materials and resources by level is a simple way to begin planning an ESL curriculum. This strategy may be especially helpful for those who teach at specific grade levels or teach students who are all at a similar level. Instructors who have a variety of skill levels in one class may want to consider arranging and finding materials by subject area rather than by level.

Considering materials by level is a simple way to begin planning an ESL curriculum.
Considering materials by level is a simple way to begin planning an ESL curriculum.

ESL instructors should always try to use a variety of ESL resources. Some students learn better using audiovisuals while others learn better by getting up and moving around the classroom, utilizing role play activities or games. For beginners, simple materials such as pictures, flashcards, and props can be used.

Those who teach at higher levels can use puzzles, worksheets, and adapt board games to be used in an ESL lesson plan. Instructors can also simply expand upon the ESL resources used for beginning students. Simple picture flashcards used for learning basic words can be expanded to help students create sentences, tell stories, or describe actions, characteristics, or situations. Subject-specific ESL resources can be used to target speaking, listening, writing, grammar, vocabulary, fluency, or other skills. If desired, those working in preparation for a standardized test or entrance exam can easily search for learning materials made specifically for exam or test preparation courses.

While working for a language school or other educational institution, the school's library or resource center is an excellent place to find resources. Besides grammar books, language learning libraries or media centers often offer audiovisual resources or tools to help improve students' listening, reading, and grammar skills. Listening and conversation courses can use cassette tapes, compact discs, computer programs, radio broadcasts, or podcasts to help improve students' listening and comprehension abilities. For reading, grammar, and writing courses, books, literature, periodicals, and newspapers can also serve as an excellent resource at all levels.

It is also important to utilize the abundance of ESL resources available online. ESL teachers can download worksheets, lesson plans, or activities for students of all levels. Students can use online dictionaries and games, look at online study guides, or take online quizzes. Online resources include vocabulary building exercises, word games, flash cards, quick thinking games, and interactive grammar lessons, worksheets, and quizzes.

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