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January 02, 2008

Q and A- Books for the first few weeks of teaching

Hello Readers,

I hope that you enjoyed your holidays and that you are equally enjoying yourself back at work. As some of you will be soon starting a new contract this semester, this month's question deals with just that. Thanks, Paul, for writing in!

I have just been offered a contract with a small Chinese University/College for the next semester. I have three relevant qualifications (PGCE and MA in teaching English as another language plus the CELTA) but, perhaps oddly, very little experience of ELT.

I imagine myself being plonked in front of my first class of 50 students, still suffering from jetlag, in an institution that has little in the way of teaching materials. What survival tips ...

... can you offer? Are there any particular teaching materials, books etc. you would recommend to see me through the first few weeks?


First of all, as someone who was plonked in front of my first class of nearly 100 students, still suffering from jet leg, in an institution that provided me with little more than a class list with names in Chinese, I would say that it would be wise to keep your expectations low and to prepare for the worse (of course, remembering that it will get better)!

Here are a few books/resources that I would recommend for any new teacher going into a similar situation:

1. Learning Teaching, by Jeremy Scrivener (a basic book with tips on how to teach the different skills with sample lesson plans and teaching methodologies)

2. A basic coursebook like Headway, Cutting Edge, or Innovations at the level you will be teaching (if you don't know which level you'll be teaching, buy an elementary, intermediate and advanced level).

3. Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan (an ESL practitioner's bible of grammar rules)

4. A picture dictionary (I like Oxford's Picture Dictionary)

5. A few magazines or newspapers that have interesting articles and/or pictures that can be made into a lesson for your students.

6. Some realia, like menus, train timetables, bus schedules, university course catalogues, etc.

Finally, you may also want to become familar with some ESL websites that provide ESL lesson plan ideas, like this one, www.eslemployment.com or www.eslcafe.com. You may want to print out some ideas before you go and file them in a binder if you won't have access to the internet when you first arrive.

I hope that helps!

If you have any other ideas for Paul, feel free to share them here.

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*To read more ESL Questions and Answers, please click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, and a Material Development Manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is an Editor for Garnet Publishing in Reading, England. Carol holds a BA in Communications from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, and a CELTA, and has just finished her MA TESOL course at Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at January 2, 2008 07:23 AM

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