Published 14th March 2019


We get it, you’re busy. As an English as a Foreign Language teacher (actually any kind of teacher!) you don’t really have a lot of time to spare. When you’re not in the classroom you’re lesson planning, marking essays or tests, or writing reports. When you do finally get a minute to yourself you probably want to do nothing related to teaching.  However, reading books from time to time is something you can fit around a busy schedule.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a skill. The field of foreign language learning is constantly changing. We need to keep up to date with theories of learning and teaching techniques. Because this is not a job that you can spend your lunch hour doing research, the onus is on you to keep yourself updated.

One way you can do this is by reading books. Reading is something a lot of teachers enjoy and do regularly. Even if we don’t have a lot of free time we can manage to squeeze in a few minutes of reading every day. We can read before we go to sleep or on our daily commute to work. Instead of reading novels or watching Netflix, why not read one of these books in order to up-skill yourself in your free time.

5 Books to up-skill yourself in your free time

The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer

If you didn’t read this book during your TEFL training, then you should read it now. This book is a teaching manual that will remind you of all the basics of being an effective teacher. It’s easy to read and full of practical advice and ideas for the classroom.

Teaching Unplugged by Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings

There has been a lot of noise in EFL about paperless and materials-light lessons. This book introduces the dogme approach to TEFL and has a collection of lesson ideas and activities for you to implement in the classroom. Even if you don’t embrace the philosophy wholeheartedly, there are still some fascinating ideas you can take away.

An A-Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury

This book is basically a dictionary of ELT terms and jargon. Look up anything that has been perplexing you or dip into the book when you have five minutes to spare to remind yourself of a forgotten term, or teach yourself a new one.

Why Don’t Students Like School? By Daniel Willingham

Not confined to teaching English as a Foreign Language, this book takes a closer look at the reasons many students are not overly enthusiastic (to put it politely!) about being in the classroom. Cognitive science is used to relate to the classroom and ideas are given on how to make the classroom a more inviting space for our learners.

Make It Stick by Peter C Brown, Henry L Roediger and Mark A McDaniel

Another book which is useful for all teachers. This book outlines practices which are proven to be effective when it comes to learning. If you are interested in spaced learning and techniques which can help your students become better learners, then you should read this book.

If you are going to read any books, choose your books wisely. You can not only be relaxing but you could be working on professional development at the same time.