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Book suggestions for ESL students
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alithia



Joined: 25 Sep 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 1:02 pm    Post subject: Book suggestions for ESL students Reply with quote

I'm looking for suggestions of short high-quality novels for my ESL student and I to read together. We successfully read John Steinbeck's The Pearl. It has an exciting plot; it's short; and it has lots of repeated vocabulary--making it an ideal selection.

At each session we spent half an hour alternately reading a few paragraphs out loud, discussing as we went along. At first my student could only read a few paragraphs as homework, but soon enough she was reading a few pages at a time, and by the end of the book she couldn't put it down!

I'm looking for other ideas of short fine works we can read together next. It's important to find a book that has simple vocabulary and sentence structure, but that is as exciting and thought-provoking as the literature my student reads in her native language.

I see in the ESLCafe Student section the idea of reading Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Does anyone else have any additional suggestions? I'm particularly looking for books with happy themes or a sense of humor to contrast with our last book.

alithia
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Adam Simpson



Joined: 28 Aug 2003
Posts: 35
Location: istanbul

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The major efl publishers offer guided readers at upper int, advanced and unsimplified original text levels. Most offer supplementary materials as support. Wink

Last edited by Adam Simpson on Fri Sep 26, 2003 9:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Adam Simpson



Joined: 28 Aug 2003
Posts: 35
Location: istanbul

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The major efl publishers offer guided readers at upper int, advanced and unsimplified original text levels. Most offer supplementary materials as support. Wink

Last edited by Adam Simpson on Fri Sep 26, 2003 9:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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alithia



Joined: 25 Sep 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Adam.

Thanks for the idea of going to look at the lists supplied by major ESL publishers.

But what I'm looking for is practical experience. What great books have people here tried, and how did they work out?

Also: who are these "major" ESL publishers? Can you suggest any specific websites or URLs with lists of appropriate great English-language literature?

Thanks.

alithia
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Adam Simpson



Joined: 28 Aug 2003
Posts: 35
Location: istanbul

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Try the following...

www.oup.co.uk/worldsclassics/

www.penguinreaders.com

www.onestopenglish.com

You might have to search a bit!!! Confused
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alithia



Joined: 25 Sep 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Adam.

Thanks for that url list, but I am not finding what I'm asking about there. I'm looking for classic, great English-writing works to read with my student.

I took to heart your comment that I "might have to search a bit." I've searched a bit, and more! Maybe I've just not found the right pages. But if I can't find the right pages, neither can other tutors!

My problems with these sites are:

1. Most books I've found on these sites are not what are considered great books or classic literature in English. They are often simplistic books written specifically for those learning to read or write.

I'm asking for exactly the opposite! I'm asking for classic works that native English speakers read, but that happen to be within reach of new learners of English. My student wants to read "the real thing." My time with her is best spent by our working hard to accomplish that challenge.

2. Each publisher on your list is promoting particular texts to which they own the copyrights.

Now, I have no problem with that. Advertising and copyright are good things. In fact, the copy of The Pearl that I bought for my student was published by one of the publishers you list. But I can't find it listed on their site as any kind of suggested book for ESL students! Frankly, their goals in selling books are not the same as my goals in helping my student.

And their goals in selling books do not represent the same hands-on experience of people reading ESLCafe!

In summary, what I'm looking for is a list of suggested titles of great books--classic literature written in English-- that is possibly within the grasp of ESL students, and with which other tutors have experience.

Have you personally read any classic English-language books you'd like to recommend? Did you find them on any of the publishers' sites you list?

Novels, short stories, poems, or plays by Poe, Twain, Dylan Thomas, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Jane Austen, Emily Dic_kenson, Shakespeare, O. Henry, etc. are the kind of work I'm looking for. I'd like to find short, feasible works by authors of that caliber with which to inspire my student, even if the most famous of their works are beyond the reach of a first-year ESL student.

alithia
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Rania



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 59
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2003 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Alithia,

I guess itís hard to find something if you are not sure yourself what you are looking for! Deciding what to choose with such a wide choice available is the most difficult part!

When I read your post, I instantly thought of these graded readers too. At upper-intermediate level, there are books available (I am most familiar with the Penguin series) which use a lot of the language of the original, stick closely to the plot but condense it and simplify it slightly for readers of English as a foreign language. I find them very readable, too, and Iím a native speaker. They might be preferable to the original in some cases where the original uses a form of archaic English. I wouldnít give a student Shakespeare in its original form to read, it would require the student learning or at least getting used to a form of English that is quite alien to most native English speakers. Sure, the themes and ideas of his work are always interesting and thought-provoking but they could be tackled using a simplified version of the work itself.

Jane Austen is much the same. Iím a lover of Austenís work and am always happy to see students take it upon themselves to tackle one of her greats. But her novels are long and intricate and Iím not sure that a student of EFL/ESL would have such great pleasure in reading a 50-chapter masterpiece written in the style of the turn of the 18th century Ė itís long plod after ĎThe Pearlí.

There is also quite a lot of modern literature that could and should be classified as classic. Why donít you ask your student what books she has read in her own language Ė what has ďinspiredĒ her already? If she has read them already, she will have an idea of the plot and will find a full-length novel easier to grapple. If she wants to try something new, you could find another book by a modern author she likes. I love to read my favorites in their native language or a good translation in another. The fact that I know their style or the book itself, makes rereading it more pleasurable, I can concentrate more on the language.

Another idea would be to get hold of a book designed for secondary school students in your own country. Iím Irish and in Ireland they have books for pupils that feature extracts from many famous Ďclassicí works with comprehension questions or points to think about after each one. These compilations are very interesting and provide EFL/ESL students with a wide range of well-chosen excerpts from plays, short stories, novels and poems. It might be a good springboard for a student interested in learning more about English literature.

Finally, for you: if you are interested in literature and want to teach your students more about it, you should invest in a few of the Norton Anthologies. These anthologies are fabulous (Poetry/short Stories/British/American lit.) though very expensive. Browse through them and you will always find something short and thought-provoking and accessible, like the following poem from W.H. Auden

EPITAPH ON A TYRANT

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.


On this sombre note: good luck!
Rania
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alithia



Joined: 25 Sep 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2003 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Rania! Those were excellent ideas. And that's a beautiful poem, however poignant it may be.

I do own a few Norton anthologies, and your reminder has made me return to them. I've picked off a few short poems that will work well for my student now that she's read a complete book.

Coincidentally, she and her husband had me over for dinner the other night, and I discussed the problem I was having finding her appropriate short books. It turns out that one of the first books her husband read in English was The Old Man and the Sea. He also read George Orwell's 1984. So, maybe that's a third book to add to the list of short great works that are readable by first-year ESL students!

For now, I've settled on a Dorothy Sayers mystery, Strong Poison, to read with her as her second book. I picked it in part because she loves mysteries; in part because it's short!; and in part because the concepts of trials by jury are not part of her culture, so this book will give her some cultural exposure. She's never heard of Dorothy Sayers; and though she's heard of Agatha Christie, I decided that this one Sayers' book looked more workable than any of the Christie books I looked at. I'll report back to this thread if it turns out to be a good choice! We read two pages of it together, and so far, so good.

I deeply understand my student's desire to read things in the original, if only because I was frustrated as a child during piano lessons! I didn't want "dumbed down" piano pieces: I wanted to play "the real thing," even if these real things took me longer to learn. Sometimes the real thing is inspiring in ways that simplified works are not. So thanks again for that thought-provoking poem. It's just the kind of meaty piece my student and I can spend time discussing; and it's that conversation time sorting out the hard ideas that makes for the most memorable sessions!

alithia
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kimchikowboy



Joined: 23 Sep 2003
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2003 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I teach conversation, but if I were to have to teach a novel, especially to intermediate or even less students, one of my first choices would be "Being There" by Jerzy Kosinski (not sure of spelling Sad ). You could also pair it with the excellent movie version with Peter Sellers. It's short and structurally it's not difficult for students to understand. Well written, and many taking-off points for conversation.
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sita



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 261
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi!

This link could be useful for you:

http://skola.helsingborg.se/tis/myppage/alanguage/

I personally suggest:

1984 G.Orwell

Brave New World A.Huxley

Stepford Wives I.Levin

Any books by Somerset Maugham, J.Priestley or Kingsley Amies

Or:
Fay Weldon, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch

Best wishes

Si‚n/bookworm
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KateSmith



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:23 am    Post subject: Works I've Used Reply with quote

I used a translation of The Odyssey, once. It actually worked, but I wouldn't recommend it.

However, what I have used, that worked, and that I recommend is George Orwell's Animal Farm, Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, John Steinbeck, Charles Portis' True Grit, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night. All of these work with well-educated high intermediate to advanced ESL learners. I haven't done it in a while.

One story I tried, but failed with, because of the vocabulary was Conrad's Heart of Darkness--so you have to know the book before you begin. Other than this, which we quit about 1/4 of the way through, my students and I all had a great time with these reads. I had lists of other ones I wanted to try, but these were what I did try and succeed with.

I had not thought of Dorothy L. Sayers, but would love to know how Strong Poison works for your students. She tends to have a lot of Latin and French in her books. Agatha Christie, Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey might be good.

O. Henry writes great stories, but the vocabulary can be too much work for the effort, ditto Shakespeare unless you're working with English majors, ditto Homer in translation (but it was a great conversation starter for junior high school Korean and Japanese students, they really related to it). The Romantic Poets also work, and William Carlos Williams. I think Dylan Thomas is far too challenging for the learning, unless, again, you are teaching ESL to advanced college students.

Good luck, and please let me know how the Sayers' works.
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JohnF405244



Joined: 11 Mar 2004
Posts: 1
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2004 3:06 pm    Post subject: Literature for ESL Reply with quote

I am trying to move away from classics to more modern reading for my students. Many of the students seem bored when reading books written long ago, but when we read more recent books, they are more interested. I think recently written books also teach spoken English and modern culture better. I have taught The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks, and Holes by Louis Sachar. My students have enjoyed these books.
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KateSmith



Joined: 07 Jan 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 3:10 am    Post subject: Modern Fiction for Adults in the 90's/Oughts Reply with quote

Quote:
I am trying to move away from classics to more modern reading for my students. Many of the students seem bored when reading books written long ago, but when we read more recent books, they are more interested. I think recently written books also teach spoken English and modern culture better. I have taught The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks, and Holes by Louis Sachar. My students have enjoyed these books.


These are all good books, The Outsiders being one of my all time favorite books. But they're all young adult readers with young adult themes. Also, neither the Hinton nor the Sparks are thematically modern, and the Hinton was 'written long ago.' I will check out Holes for teens, though. Thanks for the suggestion.

However, now that you mention more modern books I would love some ideas from others in this area. Modern adult fiction, though, not young adult, not teenage protagonists, please. Something written 1990 or later, and set in the same time frame. I can think of a dozen murder mystery writers, but not general fiction. Anyone?

Thanks
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Glenski



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 164
Location: Sapporo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take a look here for some short story classics online.

http://www.geocities.com/short_stories_page/
http://www.classicreader.com/toc.php/sid.6/
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zaneth



Joined: 27 Mar 2004
Posts: 13
Location: Russia

PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2004 10:14 am    Post subject: Adult themes Reply with quote

I recently read "Winter in the Blood" by James Welch. I just loaned it out to a friend so I can't review the language right now, but if you look it up on Amazon you can view an excerpt. There are some words specific to the American west Ranch lifestyle but I think they can be looked up or easily explained, as they are often real world physical objects. I do have to explain the phrase "in the blood" to everyone. The mood is a bit, oh, somber, slightly depressing, with alcoholism and death but I didn't find it crushingly so. It isn't without hope. I enjoyed the fact that it dealt with "internal America" not the America of capitalism and consumerism and world affairs. Certainly meets the criteria of 'modern' and 'adult'.

There is a movie "Smoke Signals" based, I believe, on "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven" (yes I know I'm not using the correct symbols for denoting movies versus book titles) by Sherman Alexie(sp?). Perhaps this is also worth a look. What's your access to books? Can you afford to order them? This is a major issue for me, being in Russia.

I also have a copy of 'Black Like Me' by John Howard Griffin. It's a modern classic, non-fiction and covers a wide range issues within the theme of race relations in America. It seems that a lot of the language is normal. A quote, randomly selected.

As we drove more deeply into Mississippi, I noticed that the negro comforted and sought comfort from his own. Whereas in New Orleans, he paid little attention to his brother, in Mississippi everyone who boarded the bus at the various little towns had a smile and a greeting for everyone else. We felt strongly the need to establish friendship as a buffer against the invisible threat. Like shipwrecked people, we huddled together in a warmth and courtesy that was pure and pathetic.

I'm still not the best judge of language, but it seems that the unknown words here can be explained relatively easily.

zaneth
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