My ELT library (part 1)

I’d thought about publishing a list of ELT books I usually recommend to teachers I work with, but I’d never really got to doing it. There are lots of ELT lists of books for teachers on Amazon and other sites that I thought it wouldn’t be exactly helpful. However, after a very brief exchange of tweets with @thieddu and some talks with teachers I know and who have participated in training sessions, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to mention some of the books. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and I do believe some readers can actually contribute a book or two.

I’ll start this series with some methodology books.

1. If you’ve been looking for a place to start, and have got little experience or reading, I’d suggest “How to Teach English“, by Jeremy Harmer. The book will cover the basics of teaching and learning, including suggestions for teaching the different skills. It’s also a nice book for teacher trainers depending on the level of your trainees. The Task files a the end of the book give you some food for thought during your training sessions.

2. If you’d like to learn a bit more about the different approaches and methods throughout the history of ELT, I recommend you check “Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching“, by Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers. I highly recommend the first few chapters where the authors discuss some key concepts any language teacher should think about – theory of language, theory of language learning, approach, method, design, and procedure.

3. No methodology library would be complete without H. Douglas Brown’s “Teaching by Principles“. The book contains a wealth of information on many different issues in the field of ELT, and it also leads you to a way forward. In addition, the questions for discussions at the end of each chapter are insightful.

4. Another useful book for teacher trainers and teachers interested in learning more about their profession and grow as teachers is Penny Ur’s “A course in Language Teaching“. It also has good questions that will lead to discovery instead of merely showing the way.

5. If you’ve read the first book of this list, or maybe if you’re more experienced and read, Jeremy Harmer’s “The Practice of English Language Teaching” is a good choice. Harmer expands on the topics introduced in his “How to Teach English”, which make the book much more thorough. The videos of recorded classes in the new edition are a great addition to the book.

6. The last book in this post is David Nunan’s “Second Language Teaching & Learning“. Not only does Nunan provide his readers with practical examples, but there are also questions and tasks to be discussed in training courses. One thing that called my attention was the concept maps present at the end of each chapter.

Which books would you add to or remove from the list? I know there are two other books I’d add to the list, but one of them I haven’t read in its entirety yet (yes, shame on me – it’s Jim Scrivener’s “Learning Teaching“) and the other one I still couldn’t get hold of a copy in Brazil (Luke Medding’s and Scott Thornbury’s “Teaching Unplugged“). Nevertheless, these books would “close” the list.

I hope you find this first list useful. Feel free to criticise it. I’ll be continuing this series with books on other areas of ELT soon.

11 thoughts on “My ELT library (part 1)

  1. you haven’t read all of scrivener’s book yet? SHAME ON YOU! haha 😛
    scrivener’s ‘learning teaching’ is probably the book i’ve referred to most often in my teaching career. i wouldn’t say it’s the best book i’ve read or anything, but it’s much more teacher-friendly than any other book i’ve ever read. 😉

    1. Hi Marcus,

      Yes, shame on me. I’ve read most of it, though. However, I decided to be frank when writing the post. 🙂
      It’s definitely a great book on teaching, and I myself recommend it – otherwise I wouldn’t even have mentioned it, right?!
      Thanks for your comments! Glad to have you reading the posts! I hope you enjoyed the list apart from this horrendous slip of not having read the whole book. 🙂


  2. Dear Henrick,

    I thoroughly enjoyed the list you have come up with. I believe it will be not only extremely useful, but also accessible to all of those who care about ELT. What is more, novice teachers should now about this list right this minute in order to pursue enhancement in their teaching careers. Have you thought of online workshop sessions via skype? Just a thought. Keep up with the great work.

    Happy Blogging!



    1. Hi Wallace,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it. The idea is exactly what you mentioned. Even though this is not a comprehensive list, it pretty much leads the way for novice teachers and even some experienced ones who may be willing to brush up on their skills.
      Online workshops have crossed my mind, but so far I’m still just attending a couple of webinars and other online sessions. Perhaps we could try something together, what do you think?


  3. Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. If you have to buy one book on grammar, this is it. He doesn’t quite reach the Nirvana of explaining grammar without recourse to technical grammar jargon, but he makes a good stab at it and the book addresses the various points of both usage and use in a flexible and well-explained manner.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for bringing it up. I’ve been thinking about the Grammar books and I must tell you this one had slipped my mind even though just last month I recommended it to a friend. I agree with all you said about it. And it does justice to its title – it’s very practical indeed.
      Keep adding more suggestions!


  4. Great list, it’s one I’ve been meaning to do for some time. I like the descriptions of the books too, from a teacher perspective.

    Penny Ur’s book may soon be getting updated, which would be great because it is also one of my favourites as a teacher trainer.

    Of course Dealing with Difficulties is great, as one of the authors I would say that ;-). Dealing with Difficulties and Teaching Unplugged are both published by Delta Publishing – try their website for the distributor in Brazil.

    Good luck with the blogging!

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      Thanks for your comments. I tried to keep the comments about the books short yet useful. Glad to hear you liked them.

      I didn’t know Penny Ur’s book was getting a new edition. Thanks for the heads up! It’s one of my favourites as well.

      And I’ll definitely check Dealing with difficulties out. I liked the topic and the review I read at TEFL.NET. Besides, anything that’s been written by you and Luke Prodromou is bound to be a good read.


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