Suggested Teaching Order for ESL Library’s Lessons

(Updated on May 13, 2015.)

So many lessons! What’s the best order in which to teach them all?

We often get asked if we recommend teaching our lessons in a certain order. It’s a good question! Did you know that our grammar worksheets are divided into grammar points (verbs, adjectives, etc.) that are easy for teachers to find, and not in the order of a typical curriculum? So you wouldn’t necessarily want to go into our Grammar Practice Worksheets section and follow it exactly as laid out. Things are laid out as they are for convenience—the verb lessons are all grouped together, the noun lessons are grouped together, etc. But nobody wants to teach 10 verb lessons in a row! And what about the many other sections on the site—when and why should you use them?

We’d love to offer some suggestions on how best to use our site. These suggestions are based on our team’s familiarity with the content on the site and many combined years of practical teaching experience. We hope that teachers will find these suggestions useful!Suggested teaching order for the major #grammar points Click To Tweet

Grammar

Your best bet for comprehensive grammar practice is our Grammar Practice Worksheets. Since these lessons are so long, you can present the grammar point, do a few pages in class, assign a few for homework, and even do a few for review the following day, week, etc.

The following list is the order that we would recommend following to teach the major grammar points. Depending on the level of your students, you might not have to start at the very beginning. This list can serve as a good guide, but don’t forget that this list is open to variation—you know the needs of your students better than any textbook or list. (See Teaching Order for a printable pdf of this checklist.)

  1. Simple Present – Be
  2. Simple Present
  3. Singular & Plural Nouns
  4. Articles 1
  5. Pronouns 1
  6. Imperative Verbs
  7. Modals of Ability – Present
  8. Present Progressive
  9. Simple Present Vs. Present Progressive
  10. Adverbs of Frequency
  11. Adjectives
  12. Prepositions of Time
  13. Prepositions of Place
  14. Parts of Speech
  15. Simple Past
  16. Subject-Verb Agreement 1
  17. Yes/No Questions
  18. Wh- Questions
  19. Modals of Ability – Past
  20. Count Vs. Non-Count Nouns
  21. Quantifiers – Many & Much
  22. Articles 2
  23. Quantifiers – Some & Any
  24. Adverbs of Manner
  25. Prepositions of Direction
  26. Prepositions
  27. Simple Future
  28. Verb Collocations
  29. Subject-Verb Agreement 2
  30. Pronouns 2
  31. Gerunds & Infinitives
  32. Modals of Advice
  33. Modals of Possibility
  34. First Conditional
  35. Equative, Comparative & Superlative Adjectives
  36. Comparative & Superlatives – Adjectives & Adverbs
  37. Present Perfect
  38. Present Perfect Progressive
  39. Modals of Necessity & Obligation
  40. Second Conditional
  41. Complete Sentences
  42. Conjunctions
  43. Tag Questions
  44. Past Progressive
  45. Future Progressive
  46. Verb Tense Review 1 – The Simple Tenses
  47. Phrasal Verbs
  48. Passive
  49. Causative Verbs
  50. Third Conditional
  51. Past Tense Modals
  52. Adjective Clauses
  53. Adjective Phrases
  54. Adverb Clauses of Time
  55. Adverb Clauses of Contrast
  56. Passive Causative
  57. Direct & Reported Speech
  58. Embedded Questions
  59. Past Perfect
  60. Past Perfect Progressive
  61. Subjunctive
  62. Future Perfect
  63. Future Perfect Progressive
  64. Verb Tense Review 2 – The Perfect Tenses

Once you’ve covered a lower-level grammar point using our Grammar Practice Worksheets, make sure you check out our other sections such as Grammar Stories, Easy Grammar Sentences, and Functional English for lessons that use these basic grammar points in the context of a story or dialogue.

Want help with presenting a grammar point? Check out my blog posts on grammar! Since I’m a big ol’ grammar nerd, I love explaining my favorite methods for teaching certain grammar points, and I also try to remind teachers of all the exceptions or tricky bits associated with many grammar targets. Reviewing these key points can be a good refresher before you teach the target. I often include charts that you can copy right onto your whiteboards or print and hand out as PDFs. Try using the Search the blog window to get right to the grammar point you’re looking for.

For more detailed information and tips on our grammar lessons and related activities, see Grammar Teaching Order – How to Best Use the Grammar Lessons on Our Site.

Grammar Through Writing and Speaking

What other ways can you practice grammar? We want our students to be able to use the grammar in natural contexts, not just in drills and exercises. Two ways to ensure students really “get” the grammar point are having them use it in writing and speaking.

For writing, we believe journals are a great idea. Practice is key, and journaling will enable students to practice everything from sentence structure to verb tenses. Using Journals with English Learners will give you some good ideas about journaling. Have you tried using an editing key for correction? This will help students remember their mistakes for next time and will also save you some time while correcting. (Try this editing key on our sister site, Sprout English.) For writing guidance, samples, and activities, check out our new Writing in English section.

For speaking, why not try some of our Discussion Starters? First, students can hunt for a certain grammar target while they read the short article. For example, if you were doing a lesson on the present perfect, you could have students underline all the examples they find in the reading. They could also count how many times the simple past was used, and explain why the present perfect was used instead in certain sentences. This activity would also work with a newspaper/magazine/online article or an excerpt from a novel. Then, while they’re speaking about what they’ve learned, tell them to focus on the present perfect and try to produce it as much as possible during their discussion. Practice makes perfect! Other sections that work well for this include Famous People, Famous PlacesFamous Things, Famous Sports, and Historic Events.

Vocabulary

What about taking a break from grammar? We suggest doing a vocabulary lesson at least once a week, if not every day. Going through one of our series with a continuing story is a great way to practice vocab, especially phrasal verbs and idioms. Our series include Everyday Idioms (a love story), Everyday Idioms 2 (a story about a student in first year university), Detective Series 1 (a story about a missing ring), and Detective Series 2 (a story about a high school prankster). Everyday Idioms 3, a story about two students from Brazil and Korea living in New York, is coming soon! Almost all of our other sections include a vocabulary component as well, so students will learn a lot of new vocabulary with our lessons.

For specialized vocabulary practice, try our English At Work, Business in English, Health Matters, Simple Sentences, and Traveling in English sections.

Take a look at 4 Ways to Teach New Vocabulary and 4 Activities for Reviewing Vocabulary to spice things up in your classroom. Your students may also want to use our handy Vocabulary Record Template to record all the words they’re learning.

Speaking

Speaking is a very important skill, and most students want to improve their speaking above all else. That’s why almost all of ESL Library’s lessons include a speaking component. For more targeted speaking practice, try our Discussion Starters, Role-PlaysMini-Debates, and Functional English sections. Make sure you have a speaking activity for your students daily, if not a few times a day.

Writing

ESL Library now has a comprehensive Writing in English section that offers lessons and step-by-step guidance for writing academic essays, stories, and more! From brainstorming and writing an outline to writing an introduction, body, and conclusion to proofreading, students will see many samples and try short writing tasks throughout each lesson before attempting a final draft. There are also lessons on how to write a blog post, email, business letter, and recipe. For academic writing, try our lesson on how to compare and contrast. Students can even get punctuation tips in our lesson on how to use an apostrophe!

Reading

We’ve got you covered! Almost all of our sections include a reading. For beginner through intermediate-level readings, try our Famous People, Famous PlacesFamous Things, Famous SportsHistoric Events, and Holidays & Events sections. For longer, more challenging readings, try our Business in English, Living in English, and American Presidents sections. Try the ideas suggested in 3 Ways to Make Reading Lessons More Interactive to engage your students as much as possible. Depending on the kind of class you teach, you’ll probably want to do a reading exercise a few times a week.

Listening

A lot of our lessons have a corresponding podcast that you can play for your students for listening practice. Our Everyday IdiomsEveryday Idioms 2, and Detective Series 1 sections also include audio. Check out Using Listening Transcripts in Class for tips and ideas. Aim for a listening exercise a day if you have the time.

Fun Activities

Grammar can get boring without interesting warm-ups, fillers, and other activities to introduce the topic or just take a break from it. ESL Library has a whole list of Warm-Ups and Fillers and Tips and Ideas ready for you to use with your students. Ideally, you’ll want to start each class with a warm-up and use a filler between grammar, reading, or listening activities.

Current Events

Our head writer, Tara Benwell, turns current events into English lessons regularly. If something major is happening in the news, you’ll usually find a lesson on it in our Discussion Starters or Famous People sections. You may also want to try Tara’s suggestions in our Something to Talk About category and grab your students’ attention with these real-life meaningful discussions.

Flashcards

ESL Library has over 2,000 flashcards in our Flashcard Library. Did you know that our new flashcard system makes it easy to adapt and organize flashcards just the way you want them? You can even change the words by typing in your own before printing! There are so many ways that flashcards can enhance your lesson. Check out Flashcard Ideas for suggestions.

Holidays

Turning a holiday into a lesson is a great way to expose students to other cultures. Holidays are also fun! We’ve recently launched our revamped ESL Lesson Plan Calendar to make it easy for you to plan ahead and figure out which holidays are coming up. You could also check out our Holidays & Events and Every Day Is a Holiday sections. Following ESL Library on Facebook, Google +, and Twitter will also alert you to which holidays are coming up and which lessons correspond to them.

Themes

ESL Library has done the legwork for you and grouped lessons together by theme in our new ESL Lesson Collections section. This is a great way to learn about a certain theme all week/month long! Going over related grammar and vocabulary repeatedly means that students will actually retain it. Check out our theme collections such as the environment, love and relationships, shopping and money, food and dining, etc.

Visual Learning

Our new Visual Learning section is a great resource! You’ll find idioms posters and vocabulary posters that make learning fun and colorful. Hang these posters in your classroom to expose students to the words or idioms daily.

Lesson Plans

For general lesson plan help, refer to How to Make a Lesson PlanMacro and Micro Lessons, and our handy Weekly Planner template. But remember that almost all ESL Library’s lessons are lesson plans in and of themselves. We like making teachers’ lives easier—that’s what we’re here for!

Young Learners

We have a complete grammar section for young learners called Fun Grammar Lessons. These kid-friendly lessons cover the basic building blocks of English with activities that will keep young learners engaged. For more information about this exciting section, see our blog post on Fun Grammar Lessons for Teaching Young Learners.

We also have many colorful, well-illustrated vocabulary lessons in our Word Bank section. Kids will love our Discovery lessons on popular topics as well.

Any other suggestions?

If you have a different suggestion about lesson order based on your experience using ESL Library’s lessons, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! It’s so helpful when teachers share their experiences and ideas with each other. Also, if you’re teaching a certain theme and would like us to suggest related lessons for you, please ask! Tara and I are very familiar with the site, and would be happy to help you find what you need.

12 comments

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  1. Aaron says:

    Nov 06, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Hi Tanya,
    First and foremost, thank you! I love everything about the ESL Library, it’s so inspiring and really helps keep me motivated for constant self-improvement. I noticed this list is from 2013, has anyone at the ESL Library created a current model? The brilliant content changes so often, I want to be sure I am as up-to-date as possible . . . or there is a good chance I just didn’t look hard enough. If there is and you can send me a link or a copy I will be deeply in your debt! Thank you again! -aaron

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Nov 20, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Aaron,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words! Apologies for the delay in replying (I just got back from a wonderful trip to Australia). I do keep the grammar portion of this list updated as often as possible, but you’re correct that I haven’t rewritten/revised this whole list in quite some time. It’s a great idea for an upcoming blog post! We have so many new sections on our site that aren’t listed here. I will add it to my blog writing to-do list. When it’s updated, you will see the new version on this page as well as a link from the main page of our blog index. I hope to get to this in the next few months. Thanks again for the great idea and we hope you continue to find our materials inspiring!

  2. Teacher Kate says:

    Mar 13, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Love the list! Thanks for breaking it down.
    Question: How do we know what Articles 1, Articles 2 and Pronouns 1, Pronouns 2 are?

  3. Bianca says:

    Mar 05, 2017 at 3:47 am

    Hello….first point
    1. Great website, have been using it for years as an alternative and substitute to the traditional grammar books in use.
    But….but, I teach ESL in Italy, not in the school system, where you have all school year to do teach, and at least three hours per week in which to plan the course. I teach in a private language school, where the students come only once a week, and for a very limited time, at the most for a sixty-hour course.
    So, I end up feeling claustrophobic when I see all the activities that could be helpful to the students, but no time in which to do them…and of course handing out assignments to do at home is out of the question.
    This results in trying to do a lot in a short time, with a lot of things just touched on! And the constant worry of not having done things “properly”!

    Help!

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Mar 06, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Bianca,

      I’m happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed using ESL Library for years!

      Having too little teaching time can be as tough of a problem as having too much time to fill! I suggest sticking to the core lessons, such as the Grammar Practice Worksheets, for main grammar targets. Remember that our lessons are long to provide plenty of practice, but you definitely don’t need to have students do all the exercises. Go through the grammar notes, and then choose a few pages of exercises (maybe two grammar, one speaking, one writing). If you aren’t able to assign homework, at least you can give the extra pages along with the answer key for those students who want to do some extra practice on their own.

      Use one or two of the related activities as a warm-up or lead-in, or as a filler or closing activity if you have the time. Ignore the rest!

      One thing I’d advise (that I’m sure you already do) is to gear your lessons around your students’ needs. So if you’d planned on doing four grammar targets a month, but your students really didn’t get one of the targets one week, eliminate a new target and do two weeks on the problematic one. Use the related activities for such a case.

      Hope that helps! Best of luck to you and your students. :)

  4. SibillaLucia says:

    May 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

    A Fantastic blog for learning English.

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      May 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Happy to hear it! Thanks.

  5. MartinRobert says:

    Mar 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Nice guide for learning english.

  6. susan taylor says:

    Nov 02, 2013 at 2:54 am

    In addition to the ideas above, our adult education district follows CASAS (standardized testing and Calif. language arts standards to mandate certain proficiencies at various levels..perhaps this is similar to what other districts do…so, in some ways,the curriculum is somewhat planned…I also do a lot of observation , listening, correctin homework, etc. and I deliberately plan lessons based on errors I hear or read, regardless of any certain order of instruction…another effort I make and which seems to interest students is using current events or print media about topics that I find interesting and I think students will like, and making copies, focusing on new vocabulary, grammar structures, adjectives (comnparative, superlative, etc. ) point of view, having students devise their own “test” questions to practice inquiry, check rdg . comp. I have used news articles about cultural practices/celebrations, accomplishments of individuals, even info about guavas, celebrities, In and OUt Burgers…keep it fun, and novel!

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Nov 04, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for sharing your ideas! I totally agree with you that it’s important to tailor any curriculum to your students’ particular needs. I also love your suggestion about using current events in class. I’ve found that teenagers and adults learners become really engaged when discussing relevant, timely topics. That’s one of the best things about ESL-Library, in my opinion. Tara Benwell, our head writer, does a fantastic job of creating lessons on current events as they happen.

      It’s so inspiring to hear from teachers like you who go above and beyond for their students. Keep up the great work!

      Tanya :)

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