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Dave’s ESL Cafe – Still the Best Starting Point

When I first started teaching English, Dave’s ESL cafe was my lifeline for jobs and news of the ESL world. That was in 1999. I’m so pleased that this website is still up and running and obviously thriving, still considered the top ESL job board in the world. It’s still the best starting point for new ESL teachers, since there is a ton of material for lesson planning here, and about the business of being a teacher in terms of managing a classroom and dealing with tricky topics.

When looking at it again in 2010, I found it wasn’t as robust in lesson plans as I had remembered. But then I realized I just hadn’t found where they were posted. They are here: if you click on the word ‘grammar’ under the ‘ideas’ menu, you’ll get to a different page that doesn’t have lesson plans.

I really like how clearly the grammar points are explained (supplying easy ways to explain them to students), and how they go in-depth, with many manageable lessons to cover all aspects of a complicated grammar topic (e.g. modal verbs). So often text books gloss over the finer points of usage of tenses in English, expecting students just to pick them up naturally (which only kids can really do well). And the comprehensive list of ‘phrasal verbs’ is outstanding.

And in addition to grammar lesson plans, the ‘ideas’ section is an easily searched treasure trove of activity ideas for reinforcing a grammar concept.

I like how the activities are classified – by concept and topic- although some of the headings are vague so you need to spend some time on this website to really know what’s there and use it to its full potential.

The long list of topics included under the ‘idea’ tab is worth visiting the site for all by itself. It includes approaches to the mechanics of teaching and classroom management rarely mentioned elsewhere:
• icebreakers
• ideas for group formation
• creating order in the classroom/disciplining (kids and university students)
• inspiring thoughts about how to be a better teacher

These are invaluable tips for the beginning teacher and useful for ‘pro’s’ who want fresh inspiration and new ways of approaching teaching issues in the classroom.

I highly recommend Dave’s ESL cafe as a great starting point for new ESL teachers, and for those wanting fresh material to keep classes interesting. Kudos to Dave Sperling for creating and maintaining this site for so many years!

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