ESL Literacy Readers

A collection of forty theme-based readers, along with an instructors guide, that support ESL literacy instructors in creating comprehensive, theme-based lessons for adult ESL literacy learners.

Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Bow Valley College
School of Global Access
Publication Year
Resource Type
Instructional Material
Product Type

The ESL Literacy Readers are a collection of forty theme-based readers and instructor guides that support ESL literacy instructors in developing comprehensive, theme-based lessons for adult ESL literacy learners. The themes were chosen to be of high interest and relevance to learners. The stories are intended to authentically represent learners themselves as well as events and issues that a typical learner may experience.

The readers are organized into seven literacy development levels that increase in difficulty in terms of text, structure, and vocabulary. At the lower levels, the learner is supported with large photographs and simple sentences. Higher-level stories are written in paragraphs with more complex language and ideas. Information on the complexity of the text, structure, and vocabulary for the level of Readers is provided.

There are two versions of each of the Readers. The Audio Book allows instructors to preview the contents of the book. The Print PDF version is laid out for printing as a booklet. The print settings are listed beside each book. 

The ESL Literacy Readers Guide supports the use of the readers in the classroom. Included in the guide are extension ideas that enable instructors to create comprehensive, theme-based lessons for adult ESL literacy learners. The stories are not intended to be read in isolation; rather, each story serves as the foundation of a lesson that incorporates not only extensions in the classroom but also in the community.

What the experts say

Many ESL students need reading and writing help especially at the lowest levels. The ESL Literacy Readers materials were developed by adult education practitioners with extensive knowledge of the needs and skill development patterns of adult English learners. The readers themselves can be used either online in the provided e-reader format (with audio accompaniment) or as print documents. The companion instructor materials demonstrate a deep understanding of both the characteristics of preliterate adult English learners and the nature of effective instruction.

The teaching approaches behind the ESL Literary Readers and supporting staff development employ whole language techniques. The readers do not focus on teaching decoding and the readers themselves use words with multiple spelling patterns, rather than words that follow and support a sequence for teaching the sound/symbol correspondences of English. Although the Readers are presented as reading texts for non-literate ESL learners, teachers should not be encouraged to use these readers as their basic texts for reading instruction. 

However, the readers have many positive characteristics. They are: relatable to students' lives, adaptable to grammar lessons as well as vocabulary, simple without being condescending, accessible online or in print with audio support, a source for building literacy skills contextually, and a stimulus for writing activities on the same themes. Teachers can easily take these readers and incorporate them into a larger syllabus with a life skills or employment skills focus.

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