Recommended ESL books

Oxford Read and Discover Series

Oxford Read and Discover (58 titles)

I am often asked for book recommendations. Sometimes from other English teachers who want new resources. Sometimes from parents who want to buy English books for their children. Sometimes from Adults who want to self study. I am going to do a series of articles on what ESL books I recommend for students who want to practice their reading.

The first series I recommend is Oxford Read and Discover. This is a non-fiction graded reader series aimed at upper elementary school students to middle school. I use it for high school and adults as well. They cover a range of topics in three categories; science and technology; arts and society; and Nature. The series is split into 6 levels. Level 1 is in the A1 band which means it is for beginners. Each book includes a picture dictionary of words used in the book and worksheets to check your understanding of each chapter.

I recommend this series because the books are easy to understand. The sentences are adjusted for the level the book belongs too. Although, Level one is for A1 but there is still a gap for a beginner. Readers do need to be familiar with basic sentence structures and have a basic vocabulary. The topics are often about things the students know a little bit about but add new information that they have not learnt before. Many reader series are story based which can be challenging for students to follow. Non-fiction is easier for students to understand because they can link it to what they know. Most importantly, the books are well designed. The pictures suit the text.

In class I have been giving my students one of these books to read a week starting from level 1. As they read through the books they go up a level. The reason I do this is because it is good reading practice and I know the book series is not too challenging for the students to read.

I order this series through my local book store. Ask the owner how to order. They will request the publisher and the ISBN.

Meanwhile in Japan

Coronavirus news in Japan has been quite comical in many regards. I’ll briefly go through what happened in Japan.

From the start the government’s policy has been to stay open. Lockdown was never a thing here although there was a caution put out about meeting in groups of more than ten people. That said though there were two times when the schools were all closed. The first time was just before the new school year started. In fact the desire for an opening ceremony for the new year was so strong that schools across Japan were openned again for one day so everyone could have their opening ceremony. The schools were closed again and students stayed home. The school are still closed in many parts of the country and will reopen at the end of the month. My area is so rural that they reopened the schools much earlier. And this was the closest thing to a lockdown this country had. Parents still had to go to work.

Speaking of lockdowns. When the WHO announced that all countries should be doing widespread testing, social distancing and lockdowns the Abe government said no to all three. Testing has been incredibly limited for the past seven months. Just today it was reported that two hundred more people than had been reported died in Tokyo during March. That may not seem like much considering other countries statistics but it does point to a worrying trend of lack of testing and low reporting. But I digressed, shortly after WHO made that announcement Abe Shinzo made a large donation to WHO so that he got a special mention by name in one of the WHO tweets.

Like many countries there was a lot of debate about giving a stimulus package to the people of Japan to jump the economy. Being a conservative government there has been a great resitance to the idea of giving money to people. They did however decide that they should give out coupons. The wagyuu beef industry mentioned to the government that they were losing a great deal of export earnings from the closing of borders around the world so it was settled. The government would give out wagyuu beef coupons. The fish industry also mentioned they’d be in trouble so fish coupons were also agreed upon. Critics of the government mentioned that wagyuu beef was going to become the new currency if they went through with that plan and demanded that the government just give money to the people. In response Abe Shinzo himself said “My income hasn’t been effected by the pandemic so we don’t need to give any money.” Talk about not understanding how taxes work or how the economy works.

While the wagyu beef coupons may have been put on hold the idea of coupons hasn’t. Believing the biggest victims of the crisis was the tourism sector the government declared they are be making coupons called the go to campain. There are two varieties; the first variety is called ‘go to travel’ (the coupons will have this English phrase on it, it was a design point that people were paid taxpayers money to come up with) for use in tourism business and ‘go to eat’ coupons for use at restaurants.

In other giving news, upon hearing that there was a lack of masks in the health sector Abe decided that he would send every household two cotton masks. Five companies were commisioned to make the masks, three of which are legimate multibillion dollar companies and two of which have no information about them. Just that they exist. Billions of yen were spent on making the masks and sending them around Japan. We are yet to receive them. Many critics pointed out that two masks wasn’t enough for most households to which the government responded, “You are Japanese, if you don’t need your mask you should donate it to other people.” This is despite the fact that two masks per household would be fifty thousand under the population of Japan.

Meanwhile Abe Shinzo’s wife, despite strong suggestions that she should not leave the house, left for a retreat in Gifu. The retreat was for the religious group that she is a member of. One of their messages; the coronavirus is just an expression of cosmic energy, if you believe this than you won’t get the virus. That convinced me. I’ll immediately travel to Tokyo and hug everyone.

On the money news, one of the other political parties managed to get a bill through that would give everyone person in Japan about 100,000 yen. The ruling party were highly critic and called that party a traitor. That party usually worked very closely with the ruling party. Despite this Abe is getting the credit for the money.

Back to the masks. Recently people have been getting their masks in the mail. One of the responses that went viral was from a woman who felt the love of her government and of Shinzo Abe through the mask and was full of gratitude for all the people who helped get her those two masks.

Well you gotta laugh.