Warcross: ESL Teaching Guide

516zrvqj44l-_sx332_bo1204203200_Warcross by Marie Lu was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and it met all of my expectations! I LOVED this story, and thought it was a very fun and exciting read!

If you are teaching an ESL high-intermediate to advanced reading class this upcoming semester, consider using Warcross. The book takes place in a world where a virtual reality game (called Warcross) is so popular that 90% of the world’s population play the game in some way. The book tells the story of Emika Chen, a hacker who accidentally glitches herself into the opening game of the international Warcross championship tournament. If you have students like mine (mostly 18-21 years old, from Asian countries), they will definitely connect with the video game obsessed characters and virtual reality story line! There’s a lot of action, a little bit of romance, and plenty of topics that will lend themselves well to classroom discussion.

Warcross is an especially great book is you are considering gamifying your classroom this semester. There are a lot of concepts in the book that lend itself really well to gamifying, and I’ve written some suggestions in the teaching guide. Having a video game-themed semester sounds like a fun way to get students actively involved in learning English!

Click here for a sample of Warcross: ESL Teaching Guide

Click here to purchase the full, 18-page teaching guide!

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

19351043Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit. (Description from Goodreads)

Topics: identity, friendship, heroes, villains

Suggested Age Level (Native Speakers): Meant for young adult readers, but lexical analysis shows that this books is acceptable for a 5th grade reading leve

Suggested ESL Level: This book would be good for an intermediate class, and because it’s a graphic novel, it is a fairly quick and easy read. It would be good to read this book in the first half of a semester to get students interested in reading in English, and then transition to a traditional novel.

This Guide: This guide is divided into five sections, and further divided into chapters within those sections. This guide contains suggested vocabulary, comprehension questions, and writing/discussion questions.

Amazon | Goodreads


Nimona was a very fun, interesting read. The first few chapters are short and quirky – they’re fun and adventurous. However, the more you read, the story gets darker and more complicated. ESL students will like the action and readability of Nimona (lexical analysis shows that roughly 87% of the words are K1 words), and advanced students will benefit from analyzing the themes of good vs. evil and hero vs. villain found within this graphic novel.

Click here to purchase Nimona: An ESL Teaching Guide

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Ms Marvel: Generation Why

23017947Ms. Marvel: Generation Why by Wilson, Alphona, and Wyatt

Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! If Kamala can stop fan-girling out about meeting her favorite super hero, that is. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity — by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. Kamala bands together with some unlikely heroes to stop the maniacal villain before he does real damage, but has she taken on more than she can handle? And how much longer can Ms. Marvel’s life take over Kamala Khan’s? Kamala Khan continues to prove why she’s the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is! (From Goodreads)

Topics: family, tradition, fitting in, super heroes, religion

Suggested Age Level (Native Speakers): Teens and young adults

Suggested ESL Level: This can be adapted to most ESL levels, depending on how much you want students to read every week, or how in-depth you want to go into discussion and analysis.

 This Guide: This is more like a mini-guide, since comic books are not that long, and a lot of the story is told visually. Trade paperbacks are a collection of five to six issues of a comic, so I’ve divided this guide into six sections – one section per issue. You can always combine sections if you want students to read the book more quickly. This guide contains suggested vocabulary, comprehension questions, writing/discussion questions, and quotation analysis.

 


Ms. Marvel: Generation Why is a continuation of Ms. Marvel: No Normal, so students should probably read the first trade paperback in order to understand Generation Why. I found this to be a really enjoyable read, and younger ESL students (teens to young adults) will really enjoy Kamala Khan as a character. Personally, I found No Normal to be much more interesting than Generation Why, but this one is still pretty great!

Click here for the Ms. Marvel: Generation Why comic book mini-guide!!

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Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

91esc9felilEsperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.

Themes/Topics: history, family, immigration, new beginnings, discrimination

 Suggested Reading Level (Native Speakers): Ages 8 – 12

Suggested Reading Level (ESL): Low-intermediate to intermediate

 This Guide: This guide is divided into six sections by page number. However, each section is further divided by chapter, in case you want to divide the book in a different way in your class. Each section includes: suggested vocabulary, comprehension questions, writing/discussion questions, quotes (these quotes are good for practicing analysis and using textual evidence to support an opinion), and research/extension activities (these cover topics throughout the entire book).

This book was a very enjoyable, yet emotional read. I picked it because of its universal themes and historical setting, but I did not expect to cry so much at the end of the book! I think all ESL students will find something in Esperanza Rising to connect with.

Click here for Esperanza Rising: ESL Teaching Guide

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Ms. Marvel: No Normal

Ms. Marvel: No Normal Wilson and Alphona51lgrm5dxol-_sx321_bo1204203200_

Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation!

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!  (From Goodreads)

 

Topics: family, tradition, fitting in, super heroes, religion

Suggested Age Level (Native Speakers): Young adult

Suggested ESL Level: This can be adapted to most ESL levels, depending on how much you want students to read every week, or how in-depth you want to go into discussion and analysis.

This Guide: This is more like a mini-guide, since comic books are not that long, and a lot of the story is told visually. Trade paperbacks are a collection of five to six issues of a comic, so I’ve divided this guide into five sections – one section per issue. You can always combine sections if you want students to read the book more quickly. This guide contains suggested vocabulary, comprehension questions, writing/discussion questions, and quotation analysis.

 

I had a lot of fun reading Ms. Marvel, and I think ESL students (especially young adult age) will find her to be a funny and relatable character. Use this link here to download the PDF for the Ms. Marvel reading guide.

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A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean

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A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean

“My name is Cally Louise Fisher and I haven’t spoken for thirty-one days. Talking doesn’t always make things happen, however much you want them to.”

When Cally Fisher sees her dead mother, real as anything, no one believes her. So Cally stops talking – what’s the point if no one is listening?

The only other living soul who sees Cally’s mum is a mysterious wolfhound who always seems to be there when her mum appears. But without a voice, how will Cally convince anyone that her mum is still with them, and how will she ever persuade her Dad that the huge silver-grey dog is their last link with her?

An outstandingly assured debut novel from a sparkling new talent. (From Goodreads)

Amazon | Goodreads

Topics: family issues, death, dealing with loss, dogs, friendship

Suggested Age Level (Native Speakers): 8 – 12, or grades 3 – 7

Suggested ESL Level: Low-intermediate or a very motivated/advanced elementary level class

Notes: I would suggest using this in the first half of the semester (if you teach during a regular school semester), as it’s a fairly easy book. The writing is simple, there aren’t very many cultural or topical references that students may have difficulty with, and the themes are fairly universal and understandable. This book is an easy way for students to get started with reading novels in English.

Use this link to download the reading guide PDF: A Dog Called Homeless Reading Guide

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Introduction

I started thinking about ideas for this blog about 4-5 months ago. My intention was to create and publish ESL-centered literature lesson plans and reading guides. Since then, life has gotten in the way and I’ve been unable to publish anything. However, I am currently working on finishing up my first reading guide for this blog, and hope to publish it sometime this week!

So before that comes out, let me tell you a little about this blog. I currently teach ESL to international students at a large, American university. I’ve been teaching for about 6 years now, including student teaching time during graduate school. This year, my department hired a bunch of new teachers straight out of their graduate program, and I kept thinking back to my own first year of teaching. I had only a BA and a TEFL certificate – no pedagogy knowledge or classroom experience. I was terrified for the first month of teaching, and constantly scrambling to put lesson plans together.

Additionally, this year, I ended up taking an overload of classes, which meant a lot less time to prep for lesson plans. Teaching my reading class’ novel ended up sorting of falling by the wayside. I tried to look up teaching guides for this novel on the internet to sort of ease the lesson planning load, but the only guide I found for the novel was completely centered on the American K-12 setting – it involved common core standards and relied on a level of cultural knowledge that my ESL students just wouldn’t have. Therefore, I decided to start writing my own reading guides for ESL students and teachers.

Basically, my goal for this blog is to help those first year ESL teachers, or any ESL teachers who find themselves suddenly having to teach a novel with no prior experience. I want teachers to be able to find a ready-made reading guide to their chosen novel on this website – then, they can pretty much plug and chug!

Each guide, at the minimum contains an introduction to the book along with a suggested class level, suggested vocabulary words, comprehension questions, writing activities, and extension/research activities. You can pick and choose which parts you want to use or which parts work for your teaching style. Most comprehension questions can be turned into quiz questions, and writing assignments and extension activities can be done as homework or in the classroom, either as individual work or group work. The reading guides are just the basics – it’s up to you to decide how to use them! All the reading guides, activities, and links are free for anyone to use…I don’t believe in putting teaching materials behind a paywall. Teaching is tough enough as is without having to pay for materials!

Thank you so much for reading and using this blog! I don’t have an email for the blog just yet, but if you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments :]