ESL Curriculum For Beginners: Best Resources For Building A Killer Curriculum

I was thinking last night. What are the best resources someone could use to build a killer curriculum?

It is overwhelming to plan out an entire curriculum but you want to make sure you’re not missing anything. You need to include sight words, grammar, word families, phonics, reading, writing, speaking time, math, songs, and some rhyme.


You want to make sure you have repetition but that it is not boring. Add some music to your curriculum. This is excellent article on how music therapy has helped ESL kindergarten students in the US. 


An example, you are teaching apple but instead of having an apple on a slide add an apple pie. It makes it more interesting plus creates conversation.


You can ask your student: Do you like apples or apple pie? Do you like candy apples? Do you like red or green apples? You can go in many directions. Remember to relate the slides to the student’s life. 


Which sight word lists are best for beginner ESL students?


I use the Fry and Dolch Sight Word Lists. I use Dolch sight words as the main words for my ESL curriculum.

A dolch word study has concluded, “These findings are consistent with previous literature and offer further insight into the learning of sight words by this population. Interactive games proved effective with children; they learned quickly over a relatively short time exposure.” This would be great for homework before a lesson. 


I use the Fry sight word lists for the reading sections. Also, I use both lists when creating general content for the curriculum. It creates a good balance for the curriculum.


The Dolch Sight Words list includes 220 words and 95 high frequency used nouns. It contains 80% of words in children’s books and 50% of words found in adults writing.


Pre-K Dolch Sight Words: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you


Kindergarten Dolch Sight Words: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes


First Grade Dolch Sight Words : after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, going, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when


The Fry Sight Words is a more present-day list. It is the most common 1,000 words to appear in reading material for Grades 3-9. It would equip a kid to read 90% of words in a typical book.


Fry Word List (1st 100 words) : a, about, all, an, and, are, as, at, be, been, but, by, called, can, come, could, day, did, do, down, each, find, first, for, from, get, go, had, has, have, he, her, him, his, how, I, if, in, into, is, it, like, long, look, made, make, many, may, more, my, no, not, now, number, of, oil, on, one, or, other, out, part, people, said, see, she, sit, so, some, than, that, the, their, them, then, there, these, they, this, time, to, two, up, use, was, water, way, we, were, what, when, which, who, will, with, words, would, write, you, your


Fry Word List (2nd 100 words) : after, again, air, also, America, animal, another, answer, any, around, ask, away, back, because, before, big, boy, came, change, different, does, end, even, follow, form, found, give, good, great, hand, help, here, home, house, just, kind, know, land, large, learn, letter, line, little, live, man, me, means, men, most, mother, move, much, must, name, need, new, off, old, only, our, over, page, picture, place, play, point, put, read, right, same, say, sentence, set, should, show, small, sound, spell, still, study, such, take, tell, things, think, three, through, too, try, turn, us, very, want, well, went, where, why, work, world, years

Which grammar points do ESL students need to learn?


Below is a list of grammar points that you can teach. Go to Type in “Grammar for Kids”. Take a look at some of the book’s table of contents. This will give you a good idea of what to teach I would buy a few books that you can download and this will give you a starting point for your grammar lessons.



Simple Present – Be

Singular & Plural Nouns

Articles 1

Subject-Verb Agreement 1

Pronouns 1


Simple Present & Present Progressive

Simple Present Vs. Present Progressive

Parts of Speech

Adverbs of Frequency


Prepositions of Time

Prepositions of Place

Simple Past

Count Vs. Non-Count Nouns

Quantifiers – Many & Much

Articles 2

Quantifiers – Some & Any

Adverbs of Manner


Subject-Verb Agreement 2

Simple Future

Pronouns 2

Gerunds & Infinitives

Modals of Advice

First Conditional

Equative, Comparative & Superlative Adjectives

Comparative & Superlatives – Adjectives & Adverbs

Present Perfect

Present Perfect Progressive

Modals of Necessity & Obligation

Second Conditional

Complete Sentences


Tag Questions

Past Progressive

Future Progressive

Verb Tense Review 1 – The Simple Tenses

Passive Voice

Causative Verbs

Third Conditional

Past Tense Modals

Adjective Clauses

Adjective Phrases

Direct & Reported Speech

Embedded Questions

Adverb Clauses of Time

Adverb Clauses of Contrast

Past Perfect

Past Perfect Progressive


Future Perfect

Future Perfect Progressive

Verb Tense Review 2 – The Perfect Tenses

What word families are best?


Here is a list of the most common word families. Enchanted Learning has a great list of the most common word families.


The 37 most common word families in English (according to Wylie and Durrell) are: ack, ain, ake, ale, all, ame, an, ank, ap, ash, at, ate, aw ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ick, ide, ight, ill, in, ine, ing, ink, ip, it, ock, oke, op, ore, ot, uck ,ug, ump, unk.

Look at some material about word families on Teachers Pay Teachers. Th e free resource above might be enough.


I cross-reference Enchanted Learning and two other reference books. Next, I look at the word family lists and pick the words that are best for my students. Here is an example of a word family lesson I have created for my ESL curriculum.


Don’t forget about phonics.


An excellent resource for phonics is I use it and Youtube to review phonics material before I start creating each phonic lesson. Here is the phonic lesson I have created for my ESL curriculum for beginners.


Also, Jolly Phonics is great because it shows a picture and how to create each sound. An example, it shows a snake for the letter S. Action: weave your hand like a snake making an S shape saying sssssssss. Set 1: s, a, t, p, i, nSet 2: ck, e, h, r, m, dSet 3: g, o, u, l, f, bSet 4: ai, j, oa, ie, ee, orSet 5: z, w, ng, v, oo, ooSet 6: y, x, ch, sh, th, thSet r: qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar

Reading is king.

Reading is so important. I use reading during the warm via a song. I have a reading session in each lesson. Also, I have an ending song or poem. I have increased the reading section of the curriculum.


Finally, I created two lessons per unit that are reading lessons. Here are two examples: one is reading in a normal lesson and the second is a stand-alone reading lesson. I will post my full reading lesson below. This should give you a good starting point for your reading lessons.

Free high-frequency word stories for kids 

Here are some high-frequency book sets:

Proud to be Primary

Teachers Pay Teachers

Don’t forget the Rhyme or Spicy!


Look at your lessons and after you teach them. Are your lessons flat or boring?


You need to spice them up a bit with some rhyme. You can use Rhyme Zone to add a little bit to your lessons. I add a little rhyme to the beginning and end reading sections of each lesson. 


Elementary student lessons need to have a strong foundation but they also need to be fun. Bring your teaching touch and flair to each lesson. Put your own spin on your ESL curriculum for beginners.

He has it

How to put your spin on the curriculum to make a “Killer Curriculum”?

Your teaching experience and your teaching style are why students pick you to teach them. I chit chat students to fluency. I use the talking sections to learn more about my students. I bring in the vocabulary they have learned into the speaking sections. I make each lesson about them and their life.


This is why my curriculum is different from others. I bring my passion to the curriculum. You need to bring your passion to create the curriculum for your students.


Many teachers create their own curriculum. We are doing the same thing.  Bring  your personality and excitement to your curriculum.

Have fun!

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *