Curriculum Laboratory

English As A Second Language (ESL) Teaching Materials

For further assistance in using any of the resources in the Lab, please ask at the Curriculum Lab Information Services Desk

Define your topic, and check basic sources. 

  • You may be looking for ESL information from three different viewpoints:
    • You are teaching in a typical English speaking Alberta classroom, and you have students in your class whose first language is not English.
    • You are going to teach a class in another place, where the whole class is learning English as a foreign language.
    • You are an ESL student, and want to use the Curriculum Laboratory to look for reading material. Ask the Curriculum Laboratory staff for help.
    This handout will address resources from the first two of these viewpoints, and you may find there is some overlap on useful materials presented from either viewpoint.
  • According  to Alberta Education's Program of Studies (English As A Second Language:  Senior High) , ESL students are "those students whose level of English language proficiency precludes them from full participation in the learning experiences provided in Alberta schools without additional support in English language content."
  • According to the Senior High Program of Studies, the four general learner outcomes of ESL education are:
    • Students will use spoken and written English to gather, interpret and communicate information.
    • Students will use spoken and written English to establish and maintain relationships.
    • Students will use spoken and written English to make decisions, solve problems, and plan and carry out projects.
    • Students will explore, respond to and extend ideas and experiences.

    According to the Elementary Guide to Implementation, ESL students move through 4 learning levels:

    • Level 1 -- Pre-beginner -- Not ready to begin intensive instruction in English. Students require orientation into the new environment and culture as listeners and observers.
    • Level 2 -- Beginner -- Ready to receive intensive instruction in speaking, readings and writing English.
    • Level 3 -- Intermediate -- Gaining competence in English, but the student still requires direct instruction.
    • Level 4 -- Advanced -- Students have English competence. Their English language skills will continue to develop naturally.

 Get relevant Alberta curriculum publications.  ESL is covered in Alberta Education's curriculum publications in these places:

  • The High School Program of Studies has a section on ESL, under the "Language Arts" section -- It covers what must be taught in Alberta high schools. It includes sections on Program Rationale and Philosophy and Learner Outcomes.
  • Other curriculum support documents provide suggestions on how teachers may implement the Program of Studies outcomes, listed here in order of importance and/or currency:
    • English as a Second Language : Guide to Implementation, Kindergarten to Grade 9 (375 ESL Alta.GR.EC-9) 2007 --Includes who ESL students are, suggestions for the reception and placement of elementary and junior high ESL students, information and strategies for establishing ESL programming, ensuring a successful ESL learning environment, effective instructional strategies, lessons and activities for varying levels of language proficiency, and suggestions on how to assess and evaluate student learning and progress.
    • English as a Second Language:  Senior High Guide to Implementation (375 ESL Alta. Gr. 10-12) 2002 -- It includes sections on ESL Students, Students and the ESL Program at each of the 5 levels, Planning the ESL Program, Planning For Teaching and Learning, and Assessment.
    • Other online documents: A Review of the Literature on English as a Second Language Issues, List of Assessment Resources for English as a Second Language, ESL Brochure, English as a Second Language Alberta Authorized Resource List, Grades 10–12, Review of K-12 ESL Education in Alberta.

Find basic and support resources recommended by Alberta Education.

The Curriculum Laboratory orders most resources which have been approved for use in the classroom by Alberta Education. We order these items from the Learning Resources Centre (LRC). To find out what resources are recommended by Alberta Education:

  • Go to the Curriculum Laboratory main webpage.
  • Click on the link, "Alberta Education Authorized Resources Database."
  • You can select your "Curriculum Area," and "Grade Level."  The resulting long list of resources will include items such as student textbooks, teacher's manuals, student workbooks, blackline masters, test banks, other books, CD-ROMs, DVDs, distance education resources, etc.

  • If you only want to find out which resources are considered the basic textbooks for that grade and subject, do the same search as above, except choose "Student Basic " from the "Authorization Status" menu.

Search the Library Catalogue.  For subject searches, start with "Subject Heading" (Library of Congress) Search, and  browse the subject headings and "related subjects" which come up on the screen.  Use these general subject headings or related subject links to get the best possible list of materials. 

  • English language textbooks for foreign speakers -- provides you with ESL materials in book format, mostly controlled vocabulary
  • English language study and teaching  foreign speakers and English language study and teaching as a second language -- Equivalent subject headings which provide you with ESL in many formats.

  • Others:
    • high interest-low vocabulary books
    • second language acquisition
    • multicultural education
    • education, bilingual

If you are unhappy with the results of an author, title, or subject search, broaden your search using Keyword Search. It searches the author, title, subject and notes fields of an item record. 

Browse the shelves. If you only want to search for materials in the Curriculum Lab (practical teaching materials only), click on the Limit this search button and then change the location from ANY to U of L-Curriculum Lab:

    Curriculum Lab hints and helps

    Try searching for the keyword, "Penguin readers," or "Penguin young readers" found on the shelves at 428.64 Pen and 428.64 You, respectively.

    These are some of the sections of the collection where you will find ESL materials:

    • 372.4 -- Reading for elementary school students
    • 418 -- How we learn language (linguistics)
    • 421.1 -- alphabet books
    • 422 -- word history
    • 423 -- dictionaries
    • 425 -- grammar
    • 428 -- most of the basic English (ESL) materials
    • 428.6 to 428.64 -- provides reading material specifically designed for ESL students
    • 808.8-810.8 -- Literature for secondary school students
      • e.g. Jamestown's Signature Reading Series (808.8 Jam)
      • Critical Reading Series (810.8 Bil Gr.8-12)
      • Critical Reading Series Levels F-H (810.8 Cri Gr.8-12)
      • Steck-Vaughn Great series (810.8 Bil Gr.8-12)

    Main Library Collection hints and helps:

    • LC 3731 -- Bilingual and multicultural education
    • P 53 -- Language learning
    • PE 1128-PE1130 -- ESL textbooks
    • Search the Library Catalogue for the TESL Canada Journal (PE 1128 A1 T45) and/or the subject, "English Language Study and Teaching Foreign Speakers Periodicals."

Check the Education Indexes/Databases on the Library Home Page. For a list of journal indexes, you can select "Journal Indexes By Subject" from the Library home page, and select "Education." e.g. In the ERIC database, use the descriptor English (Second Language).

Search the Internet:


Other Resources:

Prepared by: Bill Glaister and Margaret Rodermond, 2000.  Updated September 2009.