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Recommendations for High School ESL Literature Textbooks?

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Joined: 03 Aug 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:45 am    Post subject: Recommendations for High School ESL Literature Textbooks? Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I just signed up to these boards in order to ask this question, but, looking around the place, I can see that a lot of great ESL conversations are happening here, and I look forward to participating in many of them.

Anyway, I'm currently teaching ESL at a private high school in the SF Bay Area, and I'm scheduled to begin teaching a literature class that'll start at the end of August. (I'm also teaching Grammar, U.S. History, and Writing and Speaking, but I have plenty planned for these classes.) My problem is that there don't seem to be any quality literature textbooks out there. I'd love a couple textbooks (one for beginners, one for intermediate/advanced) that are appropriate for ESL students' abilities while also matching their interest level (in other words, nothing that's obviously children's lit). I have found the Discovering Fiction series, and those books are great, but there are only three of them, and I can imagine running through them very quickly.

Sorry to go on so long here, but can anyone recommend some good textbooks for this class? I've Googled for hours and asked fellow teachers and plowed through bookstores -- and nothing I've found is quite good enough. My students are incredible, hard-working kids (whose families pay some steep tuition), and they deserve a lit class that both improves their reading skills and enriches their understanding.

Thanks so much.
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Joined: 30 Oct 2011
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found an author that does high interest short stories for ESL students of middle school to high school levels. Her name is JUDITH KAY. She does collections of short stories with several relevant pre-reading activities as well as post reading activities. The activities including introduction of vocabulary, predicting story outcomes, and the like. The post reading activities include comprehension questions, grammar lessons demonstrated in the story, main idea, inference and other critical thinking skills.

At the very end of the story there is a writing activity which ranges from writing a summary to rewriting the ending, or a characterization.

The author is a retired ESL teacher who found the textbooks and reading materials for ESL students lacking and has really found a great niche. I know she has a website as well.

Try one of her books, you will not regret it.
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had the same problem in Greenland. Being teenagers and young adults their interests changed almost momentarily. So I had them write stories, edited them and printed them up in books with photos. Then we passed these on to other schools and the next class added to the book (binder). The stories were powerful, sad, joyous, scary and fun. I used them for the final exam as well. Because it was such a small place, everyone knew the authors although I didn't identify them of course.

It took a number of periods to explain how to write a story, for them to find their vocabulary, for me to work on them when there were similar grammar mistakes in all of them, for them to read their story to a small group of four and field questions and expand their stories, to type them out on the computers at school and to take pictures or bring iin pictures to copy or get pictures off the Internet. I think they were learning at every step of the way and we had a "textbook" to leave future classes. There was poetry and songs, especially lyrics for hip hop and a tape of the students performing the song or reading their poetry. Then we did a film of the scariest stories - My Sister Ate My Feet was my favourite.

The beginners contributed to a picture dictionary. We took a picture of the field we wanted - body parts, transportation, clothes, rooms and they identified 20 objects and printed the names around the picture, then shared with a friend to see if they had different body parts and so on. At the bottom we added something that would make a sentence. For example in body parts we wrote, "This is my ....." at the bottom so they could use the 20 words in a sentence. Of course they could expand on the body parts on their own for homework. Because they knew the people and places in the pictures it had a lot of relevance for them.

The Danes have developed a textbook series that is really up-to-date with articles and teaching ideas. I imagine that they have updated the series since I used it. Perhaps someone from Greenland or Denmark can tell us what they are using these days?
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Joined: 29 Sep 2016
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try using for accessing free high school textbooks.
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