2019: Latest ESL-SPIN book news


What’s happening in the world of Australian ESL independent publishing? (And by the way, we’re using ‘ESL’ to refer to ‘English as a Settlement Language’, as suggested by ESL-SPIN member Karen Barber.)

We are all teachers-turned-writers who saw a need for Australian resources that commercial publishers weren’t able to meet, and jumped in! Here’s an update on what we’ve been producing:

Urban LyrebirdsWhere's my bike

Look out for the new May Street Stories readers from Carmel Davies at Urban Lyrebirds. There are six stand-alone readers, all set in ‘May Street’, for beginner adult learners of English language and literacy. While the street and characters are fictional, the stories are all based on real experiences and are relevant to learners living in Australia. Publication date is mid-January. 

Sharon Duff is also working on something new: updates to come.

Sugarbag on Damper

There’s a new edition of English Spelling Vol 2 – but the big news from Hazel Davidson and Dorothy Court at Sugarbag on Damper is the 2020 publication of Mountains, Lakes, Deserts  – as always, written at three levels of difficulty. It’s about visiting national parks  – and staying safe in national parks, and should be available early next year. Here’s the cover:

MLD rdr col cover-2

The Book Next Door

The latest product from Clare Harris at The Book Next Door is Workwise English Quizzes, a set of slideshow language quizzes on video – designed for a 10 minute fun activity, a team game, or just to play ‘on loop’ in a classroom or library for a little incidental learning.

The USB version comes in a little box that looks like this, but there are also samples on YouTube

Boyer Educational Resources

Susan Boyer at Boyer Educational Resources has created a second edition of People in Australia’s Past, with added stories of ‘Oodgeroo Noonuccal’ and ‘Vincent Lingiari’ (you’ll know if your organisation has this edition because it’s perfect bound, not spiral bound). (And a bonus – reduced price, to make it more affordable!) This is what it looks like:

Susan has also been in ‘Australian History’ writing mode and has been creating extra free-to-download resources to go with Stories of Life at Sydney Cove (that’s the young reader version of Across Great Divides). The resource page has links to a Youtube video which is being used with ESL students, with language activities and guided discussion questions. You can find them on her Birrong Books website.

Read Me Again Press

No ‘latest resource’ news as yet from Karen Barber from Read Me Again Press (though she’s been learning German and now Spanish, to get the ‘new learner’ experience). If you haven’t yet seen her three-level Carly and Kumar readers, however, go to the website!

Prace Pageturners

Pageturners, from PRACE, are up to Series 9 now, with e-books also available. Big news: they are having an app created by students at La Trobe university and on Nov 8, they wrote:

“Over the past year, 25 computer science students have worked together in small groups to satisfy the project brief of bringing our adult literacy publication into the digital world…Stay tuned for more information on the winning team and app!”

This is an image from their Facebook page, and if you’d like to stay updated, simply like them on Facebook or connect on LinkedIn.

And news from other Australian teachers-turned-writers and publishers (please send updates if you hear more!):

Helga Burry

Let’s Connect: An Australian Grammar Workbook Book 2 covers ways of talking about the future in English. Helga is currently working on Book 3. She doesn’t have a website, but her books are in all the language bookshops. Here’s the Book 2 cover:

Po Lin Woo

Reading and Writing for Everyday Life is the latest book from Po Lin Woo; again no website but you can find out more at any language bookshop. Here’s the cover:


Just from their website, a promise that ‘Everyday Sydney’ (intermediate levels) is coming soon.

Free resources

Living Well with Hepatitis B, a book of 4 easy-to-read stories by Elene Claire and Hepatitis Queensland, is now available to download from the Hepatitis Victoria website.

We’re also hoping to hear more soon from Djerriwarrh, home of free resources Welcome to the Library and Kim Loves Life.

Vale Maggie Power

Ending on a less happy note: we are all deeply saddened by the loss of Urban Lyrebirds co-founder Maggie Power. So many people have used Maggie’s books at some time in their teaching career. So many students have learnt English through her resources. She contributed so much, and is greatly missed.

What’s new? Latest publications…


It’s been a while since the latest ESL-SPIN post, but we have all been hard at work, teaching, writing or delivering workshops…

Several of us met up last year at the terrific QATESOL/QCAL conference in Mackay, where Hazel launched The Sea (see below!)

Here’s a little update on what we’re all up to.

The sea

The Sugarbag on Damper team (Hazel Davidson and Dorothy Court)  have a new book out: The Sea: in the sea, on the sea, at the seaside. Like their other reading books, it’s written at three levels, and has an accompanying workbook.


Susan Boyer from Boyer Education has been focussing more on her historical writing – her book on People in Australia’s Past led her to write Across Great Divides: True Stories of Life at Sydney Cove and now a children’s version: Stories of Life at Sydney Cove (a young reader edition).


The latest book by Clare Harris, from The Book Next Door, is not a reader this time, but a book of puzzles with a pre-employment focus: Workwise English Puzzles.


The Urban Lyrebirds team (Carmel Davies, Sharon Duff and Maggie Power) now have three Sing with me! books and three Passages to English books available.

More Carly and Kumar

Karen Slikas Barber (Read Me Again Press) has not yet confirmed what her latest project is, so watch this space! (The Carly and Kumar readers are available here or at your language bookshop.)

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading…

Sing with me! in Vietnam


A fabulous story from a teacher who met the ESL-SPIN team at CAMTESOL:

“After attending the CamTESOL conference in February, I returned to Vietnam to volunteer my services as an experienced English teacher. In previous years, I had successfully used the Sing with me! resources with my own students, so I knew they worked, but when I attended Sharon and Carmel’s workshops at the CamTESOL conference, I decided to purchase my own copy and take it back with me to Vietnam.

Vietnamese students of all ages loved the songs. I trialled them with Secondary, High school and University students, even informal sessions with groups of keen learners, but they were a particular hit at Nguyen Nha Centre for people with special needs, in Quy Nhon, central Vietnam.

Voice is critical when learning a new language and I couldn’t think of a better way to develop sounds than through singing. It is so much fun, and using a combination of conversation, rhythm and music seems to free the inhibitions of students learning a language. This is particularly so when working in a group.

In this case, we had the physically disabled sitting on one side of the room and the blind on the other. We managed to direct the blind across the room to those in chairs and still shake hands and use gesture to assist our words when practising “So how are you going?” We had a ball!

In the end I donated the resource (and my new Bose speaker) to the centre, as the students loved to sing and I couldn’t think of any better way to continue as we started!”

Thanks for the great feedback, Jules (and thanks to the centre for permission to use the picture). It’s always so rewarding for writers to hear how their materials have been used….

See you at CamTESOL?

Blog, Uncategorized

Cambodia blog picThree of us are going to be at CamTESOL in Phnom Penh in February 2016. We’ll be talking about self-publishing the books we want to use, and about our network. Look out for us if you’re there: Carmel Davies and Sharon Duff from Urban Lyrebirds, and Clare Harris (that’s me, writing this post) from The Book Next Door.

(A personal note: Carmel and I met in the 1980s, when we were working together in a refugee camp in Thailand, and we’ve only just re-connected – both of us now, to our surprise, involved in writing and publishing. I have Cambodian friends here in Perth from those days, and they’ve been asking me forever, ‘When are you going to visit Cambodia?’ Finally I can tell them – it’s happening!)