There are many debates about the differences between EFL and ESOL/ESL (Most are detailed in this report whether you agree with it or not, it’s worth a read – maybe even a blogpost sometime…). Having taught both, I think some of these distinctions are overstated, but there are considerations which must be borne in mind.
One of the areas where I think this distinction is clearest is with Entry 1 (beginner) groups. The profile of the average student is rather different than the profile of the average beginner in the countries that resources are made for; commercially produced EFL resources tend to be largely unsuitable for beginner EFL/ESOL classes. An obvious consequence of this is that it can be very difficult to find resources to use with beginner ESOL classes without creating them all from scratch.
I’ve mentioned the site before, but one of the best places to find these resources is the TALENT website, which is maintained at ‘The London Strategic Unit‘ based at the Institute of Education (University of London). Among other useful resources, it features a repository for practitioner created materials. Crucially, it is a well-used and well-stocked repository and probably the best I’ve seen for ESOL or Skills for Life courses. You have to register to download or upload resources, but it’s well worth it (especially given that it takes about two minutes and costs nothing). As the repository is more or less unmoderated, the quality does vary, a useful feature that you can use is to search by author; Once you’ve found a resource you like, you can other things created by the same person very easily.
Here I would like to recommend the resources created by Seema Kazmi as being perfect for Entry 1 ESOL classes. Typically these resources are downloadable in .doc format, leaving them easy to edit. The files consist of a series of pages, with visual representations of the language to be presented. These can be cut out to create card matching activities, or left together as worksheets (or both). There are also exercises on spelling and word order and crosswords. The focus on the activities are vocabulary development, word recognition and spelling, I usually try to include some pronunciation practise as well.
The topics all integrate with the Skills for Life learning materials which makes things simpler if you use those resources normally. If not, they are still relevant to many ESOL students’ needs.
As the files are all Word documents, it is simple to exploit them in other ways. I have copied the images into Tarsia to create word and picture matching puzzles. I’ve also used the Barking College e-template resources (see here) to create interactive vocabulary and spelling exercises for uploading into Moodle, or using with a Smartboard as a warmer or learning check activity.
The best thing about these resources are the number of ways that you can use them; you can adapt the materials and the way you use them for each class that you teach. They are also an excellent example of how the internet can be used to share ideas and resources.