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Athabasca University

Supplementary Resources


A good “English to English” dictionary is essential at this level of study. The dictionary you choose should have at least 150,000 entries. It should not only help you to check for the spelling and meaning of words, but also identify parts of speech, the history of words, the level of usage (colloquial, slang, formal, jargon, etc.) and provide a pronunciation guide.

  • Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (American in spelling and usage)
  • Webster’s New World Dictionary (Second College Edition) (American in spelling and and usage)
  • The Random House dictionary of the English Language (College Edition) (American in spelling and usage)
  • Funk and Wagnall’s Standard College Dictionary (Some attention to Canadian spelling and usage)
  • Gage Canadian Dictionary (Canadian, but less complete that the previous dictionaries)
  • Nelson Canadian Dictionary of the English Language (More comprehensive than the previous dictionary and a good reference for Canadiana)
  • Concise Oxford Dictionary (British spelling and usage and less complete than the first four dictionaries listed)
  • Oxford Dictionary for Advanced Learners of English (Designed specifically for advanced ESL students)


Both grammar textbooks and reference books are useful. If you do not already have these books, the following suggestions will be useful.

  • Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Longmans. (A comprehensive reference book of English grammar, very academic)
  • Collins COBUILD English Grammar (A good reference book for most ESL students)
  • Understanding and Using English Grammar (Third Edition). Betty Schrampfer Azar. Prentice Hall Regents. (An easy to understand text book with plenty of exercises.
    There are also separate exercise books, with answers, for students who want extensive practice of grammatical structures).
    An interactive CDis also available in this series.
  • Focus on Grammar. An Advanced Course for Reference and Practice. Jay Maurer. Longmans. (A comprehensive text book; workbooks and an interactive CDare also available).
  • Oxford Practice Grammar (Second Edition). John Eastwood. Oxford University Press. (Explanations plus exercises, British English emphasis)


  • Collins COBUILD English Usage (A very useful reference book that includes information on grammar)
  • Practical English Usage. Michael Swan. Oxford University Press. (Grammar, plus usage).


  • Canadian English Idioms: Sayings and Expressions. Wayne Magnuson. Prairie House Books, Calgary, Alberta. (A comprehensive, alphabetical listing of idioms in use in Canada, with explanations and examples).
  • Longman American Idioms Dictionary (Explanations and examples; more extensive as it includes American idioms although there is considerable overlap with the previous text).
  • Catching on to American Idioms (Second Edition). Esther Ellin-Elmakiss (Not as extensive as the previous two titles, but includes exercises to practice idiom usage).
  • Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. A.P. Cowie, R. Mackin & I. R. McCaig. Oxford University Press. (British)


  • Dave Sperling’s Internet Guide (Second Edition). Prentice Hall Regents. (A resource intended primarily for instructors but with useful sites and information for students, too).

There are many sites for ESL assistance. Those provided here are just a sample of the many sites available. The first one, Dave’s ESL café, is particularly well known and respected for the quality and amount of information available.

Explore the many related sites—you may find it easier to go to the main Purdue University site first, and then search for OWL.

Publishers of ESL materials are increasingly developing websites as an aspect of their marketing activities:

  • Heinle & Heinle Online ( This web page provides links to a number of sites including The Newbury House Online Dictionary. (While the sites provide exercises and information to accompany specific texts published by Heinle & Heinle, they can be an additional source of information and practice).
  • Pearson Education which has materials from several publishers, has a website at


  • The Article Book (Revised Edition). Thomas Cole. The University of Michigan Press. (Lessons with exercises on the use of a, an and the).
  • Fish Trek, An Adventure in Articles. Thomas Cole. The University of Michigan Press. (It offers extensive practice and software to use with the previous book, or separately, at various levels, for Mac or IBM)
  • Prepositions Illustrated. Gloria Wahlen. The University of Michigan Press. (Explanations and examples of preposition usage at the intermediate level)
  • Clear Speech. Judy B. Gilbert. Cambridge University Press. (An excellent, comprehensive textbook for students)
  • Well Said. Linda Grant. Heinle & Heinle. (An advanced level text giving special attention to stress, intonation, and rhythm)

Updated April 10 2017 by Student & Academic Services

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