Top books to read during a CELTA or CertTESOL course


As you have probably heard a hundred times, the Trinity CertTESOL and Cambridge CELTA courses are an intensive experience with a lot of steep learning curves, assignment work, and stressful teaching assessments to cope within a short space of time.

To ensure success on these high-stakes training courses, it pays to do your research into the knowledge and skills that you will need to complete the course comfortably. This article will guide you to a few key resources which can help you to do this, considering the range of awareness you will need in different areas of the course.

1) Teaching Methodology

There are hundreds of TESOL methodology primers out there, so it is important to know which are designed with new teachers in mind.

Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener
Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener is a comprehensive overview of a wide variety of teaching approaches and methods. It provides practical considerations when going into the communicative language classroom for the first time. It also explains in a clear and engaging way how a lesson is planned and conducted with many examples and samples of activities that can be used in the ESL classroom.
A Gateway Guide for Teachers
TESOL: A Gateway Guide for Teachers is a reader-friendly e-resource that provides a breakdown of how to understand and teach the core language components for the CertTESOL and CELTA courses: grammar, vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading, writing and pronunciation.

These two books provide a focus on pedagogy and language for teaching, which provide an effective starting point for beginning teachers.

2) Language Awareness: Grammar

When it comes to grammar references, it is important to remember that as well as your own understanding of the language you teach, you also need to know what considerations there are for the students you are teaching. TESOL uses a specific set of grammar terminology, which many classical grammar texts may bot share.

Grammar for English Language Teachers
Martin Parrott’s Grammar for English Language Teachers: The most practical book for the TESOL field is which provides concise and effective examples with descriptions of grammar points, as well as teaching ideas and considerations for different groups of learners. It also addresses issues teachers often encounter when teaching English grammar to non-native speakers with sections on typical problems learners may face. A really well-written and comprehensive resource.
The English Verb By Michael Lewis
The English Verb By Michael Lewis: This is a fantastic book on tenses and verb forms in English, for those of you wanting to go a little deeper into some specific grammar areas. Despite its depth, it is a short read, providing clear explanations of English grammar that make sense to language teachers and students thus making it an excellent accompaniment to a certificate-level course.

3) Language Awareness: Phonology

Pronunciation theory for new teachers is dominated by one author, who is prolific in his field and reinvented the study and application of phonology in the classroom – Adrian Underhill.

Sound Foundations By Adrian Underhill
Sound Foundations By Adrian Underhill: His book was first published in 1983 but re-released as several updated editions, provides a systematic and practical approach to helping students improve their pronunciation in the language classroom today. So it is an important and still readable resource for this challenging aspect of the job.

4) Learners and Language

Whether you are thinking about learners and their language for a lesson plan, a learner’s profile for a course assignment, or simply thinking about specific problems that learners from different language backgrounds may have.

Sound Foundations By Swan and Smith
Sound Foundations By Swan and Smith: This book is a collection of analyses of the features of different first languages and the implications for English language learners of those backgrounds, is fascinating and informative. It draws together many language experts’ outlines of the grammar, pronunciation, and skills features of the major language groups in the world, intending to investigate how these features affect the learning and performance in English as a second language.

5) Resource Books for Certificate Level Teaching

On an initial certificate course in TESOL, your first port of call for teaching material to use in your observed lessons will be a student textbook which will contain the basic texts, grammar input, vocabulary and topics for your lesson.

This is a good starting point, but it is always good to have an idea of how you will supplement this basic resource to help students engage with language in different ways. For this, you will need access to some resource books containing games and activities for extended language practice. Some useful, time-honored resources for this include:

The “Games and Activities” series (Grammar Games and activities, Vocabulary Games and activities, Writing, Reading, etc.) presents an extensive range of photocopiable resources for the class.

For pronunciation and phonology work, both for your students and yourself as a developing trainee, two books can help to develop an awareness of the form and application of pronunciation. “Pronunciation Games” by Mark Hancock, and Pronunciation Card Games” published by Language Point Teacher Education. These both provide engaging and communicative games to practice specific sounds and patterns of pronunciation in class.

However, you prepare for the TESOL Certificate you are taking, be aware that the course’s intensity can be reduced with some pre-course preparation. So it is well worth putting some hours of reading to inform yourself before the course starts, and time disappears into lesson planning, assignment work, and teaching. Make life easier for yourself and get a couple of resources, and the results will speak for themselves.

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This article was originally published in Jul-2020 and was last updated in Jul-2020.

Author: Tom Garside

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