Teaching English as a Second Language is a teaching job like no other. There are a myriad of ways to teach ESL and just as many textbooks out there to help you do it. Sometimes it’s difficult to find just the right textbook or series to use in your classroom that will help you to teach your students the necessary skills needed to gain English proficiency, such as reading, writing, grammar, listening and understanding, and speaking. English, YES!, published by McGraw-Hill and Jamestown Education, is a wonderful, comprehensive series of textbooks created especially for English Language Learners (ELL’s).
The English, YES! series of textbooks focuses on teaching the basics of the English language through literature. The series contains seven books written for the varying proficiency levels of the English language learner. The volumes include stories and exercises at the following levels of English proficiency: literacy, introductory, beginning, intermediate (2 volumes), advanced and transitional. With the exception of the literacy volume, which focuses on the very basics of the English language, all of the books in the series follow an easy to use format to help maximize the learning that goes on in the ESL classroom.
According to the publisher’s description, “English, YES! assists students in learning English through literature. Students build proficiency with comprehension skills, vocabulary, idioms, and grammar while improving their listening, speaking, and writing skills,” and after working with the series for several years, I can attest to the authenticity of this statement.
The literature contained in these volumes is made up of well-known stories adapted explicitly for the purpose of teaching and learning English vocabulary, reading comprehension, and all sorts of other vital language proficiency skills. Titles such as O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Jack London’s “Wolf” are rewritten especially with ELL’s in mind.
Each story begins with a pre-reading activity, with a picture and some questions to get the students thinking on the central themes of the story to come. The story comes next, with vocabulary words in bold type. The pages that follow contain several exercises that reinforce the skills focused on in the story. Along with reading comprehension questions, some examples of these exercises include: building sentences, answering questions about the story in complete sentences, and tasks centered on certain aspects of grammar, such as past tense verbs, prepositions, possessives, and so on. The last page of each unit contains exercises designed for creating oral language: questions and situations relating to the story that get the students producing English verbally.
Each edition comes with a teacher’s guide and an audio CD (each sold separately) to help ESL teachers maximize the effectiveness of the “English, YES!” series. Though I own the teacher’s guides, I only use them for ideas and suggestions. Rather, before each short story I read with my students, I preview the text and the exercises first, and supplement them with my own materials. For example, there are often additional words in the story that I know my students don’t know, so I will add these to my own vocabulary list and create my own vocabulary exercises or even quizzes. The same can be done for any of the grammar elements that are covered in each unit. The choices are literally limitless!
With all of the great series of ESL textbooks on the market today, English, YES! is one of the best for helping an ESL teacher fine tune the overall proficiency skills of his or her students. You can find the English, YES! series here at Jamestown Education or check out some of the volumes at Amazon here.