Look for these 8 things when choosing an EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook for your young learners!
How to find the best EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook for kids
Whether you teach English to a few students or you are starting your own English school, finding effective and engaging educational resources is crucial for the success of English lessons and English schools. This article will explain the most important 8 points to look for when choosing the best EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook for your students’ needs.
By finding the best EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook, you’ll be able to teach lessons more effectively and spend less time preparing for lessons. There’s no single EFL/ESL textbook that is perfect for all teachers and students, but if you use this guide, you will be able to quickly spot which EFL/ESL textbooks or coursebooks will match your needs.
What’s important when looking for ESL/EFL textbooks and coursebooks for kids?
The best ESL/EFL textbook for your students depends on your goals as a teacher and your students’ needs. There are several things to think about when choosing from the overwhelming selection of popular ESL textbooks and coursebooks from giant publishers, as well as smaller independent publishers.
We will outline 8 important things to think about when searching for new EFL/ESL textbooks. Some of the points will be more important to some teachers and less of a priority to others. After reading the 8 points below, simply decide which are the most important to you and find the best textbook for your needs.
8 important things to look for in the best ESL/EFL textbooks and coursebooks
1. EFL/ESL textbooks must be engaging for students
This is probably the most important point when choosing an EFL/ESL textbook, regardless of your goals. If students aren’t interested in the activities in the books, the following points below don’t even matter. Most importantly, find a textbook or coursebook that is colorful, fun, and engaging for students.
If possible, try out a sample unit from the book with your students before making a long-term commitment. You’ll know right away if the students are having fun as they do the activities.
2. Choose a textbook or coursebook with high-quality supplementary resources (flashcards, songs, videos, chants, etc.)
If you choose an EFL/ESL textbook which is supported by a variety of supplementary resources, then you’ll have more options when it comes to planning for lessons. Resources such as printable flashcards, chants, and videos are very useful, but keep in mind there are also great resources such as interactive PDF games and quizzes, as well as worksheet tutorials and other tools that can be used in the classroom or online lessons which will make lessons more effective.
3. Look for textbooks with speaking and listening activities
Many textbooks tend to focus heavily on reading and writing, but if you can find an EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook with speaking and listening activities, then lessons will be more effective. Many worksheets found in our FUN!books, for example, have speaking boxes or question and answer sections for students and teachers to practice verbal communication together.
Even if a textbook lacks speaking and listening activities, you can always come up with your own activities to practice in lessons, but having those activities built into the textbook is a huge time saver when it comes to planning lessons.
4. Make sure the textbook structure is simple!
Watch out for textbooks and coursebooks that have multiple parts such as textbook/workbook combinations or extra components such as phonics books, penmanship books, or separate journals. Young children are often confused when there are too many parts to the homework, and much of a teacher’s valuable time will be lost trying to explain the process of using the various books.
If possible, look for a single textbook or coursebook that has everything for each activity on a single page. Students will be able to understand the activity and gain more confidence. Even better, if the book has tear-out pages, then you can give students a single page each lesson and keep their books in the classroom. This way, students will never lose, forget, or destroy their books which is problematic for students, teachers, and parents alike.
5. Textbooks based on repeating activities are best
Many times, ESL/EFL teachers have limited time to teach, and students have limited opportunities to practice English. If you choose a textbook that repeats a series of activities throughout the book, students will quickly learn the process. After that, they will be able to focus on the content of the worksheet rather than how to do the worksheet.
6. Find a textbook that allows students to join in the middle
Many English schools and programs allow students to join any time of the year. If this applies to your teaching situation, it’s important to use an EFL/ESL textbook that allows students to start in the middle and not feel lost or behind.
Textbooks that can be used for two years, for example, will allow more opportunity for students to review the vocabulary and grammar in their second year. If a new student happens to join in the middle of the first year, then they will have an opportunity to learn missed content in the second year. This two-year cycle is explained in more detail in this article about the Stagger Repeat Teaching Method (START Method).
7. Look for books with lots of writing practice
If there’s one thing that children need, it’s lots and lots of writing practice to develop hand-eye coordination and internalize the shapes and forms of English letters. Many textbooks overlook this important point and don’t have enough writing practice.
Writing the word “C-A-T” one time doesn’t give young EFL/ESL learners enough writing practice. Instead, look for textbooks that incorporate simple, repetitive writing activities requiring less reading comprehension. These types of activities help students build confidence to write in English before they can read or speak in English.
8. Look for a textbook or coursebook that prepares students for taking tests
There is a large variety of standardized exams such as EIKEN and EIKEN Jr. (Japan), the Anglia Exams for Children (England), and countless other tests to evaluate the English ability of students. Many parents see tests as a good way to verify the progress of their children, so there is extra pressure on educators to prepare students to pass standardized exams.
If your students are expected to pass various English tests, then the best ESL/EFL textbook will be one that covers all the points above while also giving students the tools they need to pass standardized tests.
While there are many different exams out there, the underlying principles are the same. Once students have a basic understanding of common verbs, adjectives, nouns, and grammar with the confidence to ask and answer questions in English, they will be able to pass almost any standardized test. If possible, look for a textbook that has a good balance of verbs, adjectives, and grammar combined with fun exercises that prepare students to pass exams.
Is there really an EFL/ESL textbook that can do all that?
Now that we have established the 8 things to look for in the best EFL/ESL workbooks and coursebooks, we should ask if such a textbook actually exists. You may not need to worry about all 8 points in all teaching situations, but having a textbook that covers as many as possible will be invaluable for teaching great lessons.
There are a variety of EFL/ESL textbooks and coursebooks that we could analyze such as Let’s Go English Textbooks, Everybody Up, and many others. While they may meet some of the 8 requirements we’ve described above, there’s one series that stands out: FUN!books by BINGOBONGO Learning.
FUN!books by BINGOBONGO Learning
Don’t let the cute and innocent sounding title fool you! BINGOBONGO’s FUN!books are incredibly simple, fun, and a great choice as an EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook! They were created by teachers with over 20 years of experience teaching English and mathematics!
Rather than creating an English course based on flashcards combined with popular games and songs like so many other English courses, the creators of FUN!books took all the problems they encountered in their classrooms and lessons and built the solutions into an incredibly simple, effective, and fun method for teaching English to young learners.
Best of all, FUN!books give teachers a powerful teaching tool that covers all 8 points to look for in a great EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook. Let’s see how FUN!books handle those 8 important points one by one.
Are FUN!books fun?
If they weren’t fun, they wouldn’t be called FUN!books! There are more than 50 worksheet styles that have been tested in lessons with students. If the students didn’t say that the worksheets were fun, then the worksheets didn’t make the cut. Each FUN!book also has 300 pages on average. That means you get over 300 fun, colorful, and engaging activities that students don’t want to stop once they start.
Do FUN!books have supplementary materials?
All FUN!books have supplementary materials including audio chants, videos, songs, flashcards, homework tutorial videos, and worksheet solutions. There are even supplementary interactive resources such as editable interactive flashcards that let teachers use the FUN!books in online lessons with ease.
Do FUN!books have speaking and listening activities?
All FUN!books are packed with exciting worksheets that include speaking and listening activities. That’s why they’re great to use in lessons. Alternatively, students can do the worksheets at home to get additional speaking and listening practice while using the supplementary audio and video resources.
Is the BINGOBONGO Curriculum easy to understand?
BINGOBONGO FUN!books have tear-out pages so that you can give your students only the pages they need to do. This eliminates the need for multiple books which often confuses students and their parents when trying to do the homework. This system also eliminates lost, damaged, or destroyed books.
Another unique feature of FUN!books is their simple, easy-to-understand Curriculum Cards for each unit. With the curriculum cards, students, teachers, and parents will know what’s covered in each unit at a glance.
Do FUN!books have activities that students can quickly learn how to do?
Relying on repetitive activities that are fun and engaging is actually one of the biggest strengths of BINGOBONGO’s FUN!books. After years of trials with students in real classes, we found the types of worksheets that students love the most. Once the best worksheet templates get the student stamp of approval, they get duplicated with various vocab and repeated throughout the books.
There are currently over 50 different worksheet types that students love and quickly become familiar with. This gives them confidence when working through the FUN!books because they will see the same style of worksheet many times. It also saves teachers and school owners time when planning lessons and explaining the worksheets in English lessons.
Can new students use FUN!books when joining in the middle of the school year?
New students can easily jump into any part of FUN!books. In fact, BINGOBONGO Learning is the creator of the Stagger and Repeat Teaching Method (START Method) which structures classes in two-year cycles. In the first year, students learn a large amount of content, and in the second year, they focus more on using the language in the context of conversation. This system is ideal for schools that allow new students any time of year.
In order to successfully use the START Method, it’s necessary to use books that cover the same core vocabulary for two consecutive years. FUN!books were created to be flexible so that they can be used in a wide range of classrooms ranging from international kindergartens to English schools using the START Method.
How much writing practice is included in FUN!books?
There’s plenty of writing in each FUN!book, and since the pages can be torn out, teachers have full control of how little or how much writing practice students will be doing.
FUN!book 1 has nearly 10,000 letters of writing practice, while FUN!book 2 has over 30,000 letters of writing practice. You can try to look for other EFL/ESL workbooks with as much speaking, listening, and writing practice crammed into a single book that students get excited to do, but good luck finding one!
Do FUN!books prepare students to pass standardized English tests?
When creating BINGOBONGO FUN!books, we carefully analyzed the EIKEN test (Japan) to decide the vocabulary and grammar points that should be included. As a result, FUN!books 1 and 2 prepare students to pass EIKEN 5 while FUN!book 3 teaches most of the grammar and vocabulary found in the EIKEN 4 test and some of EIKEN 3.
In addition, FUN!book 2 and FUN!book 3 have exercises which are like those found in standardized English tests around the world. If you’re looking for an EFL/ESL textbook or coursebook that will prepare students to pass exams while still incorporating speaking and listening activities, then FUN!books are perfect for you.
FUN!books are not only FUN, but they’re ideal for EFL/ESL textbooks or coursebooks
When you consider the 8 important things to look for in a good EFL/ESL textbook, it’s easy to see that FUN!books are the ultimate choice. They not only address all 8 points, but they were specifically created by experienced English teachers determined to solve many problems that exist with EFL/ESL textbooks.
Don’t just take our word for it though. BINGOBONGO’s FUN!books are used in English schools and international kindergartens around the world. You can even read what teachers have said about the various resources. If you want to take a look at FUN!books for yourself, you can request a free sample FUN!book and see why everyone’s so excited about our EFL/ESL course!
FUN!books are also available in a digital format!
FUN!books are currently available in three levels, but if you prefer to print your own resources or use the materials in online lessons, then the BINGOBONGO Downloadable Curriculum is perfect for you.
Each level of the Downloadable Curriculum has every page of each corresponding FUN!book level in a lightweight, scalable PDF format. Plus, all the supplementary flashcards, mp3s, videos, curriculum cards, and online teaching resources are all contained in the downloadable .ZIP file.
Just download each level for hundreds of lessons ready to go!