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English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Subject Guide

Merritt College Library Resources for ESOL students

Use Encyclopedias and Dictionaries to Define Words & Concepts

Defining any unknown terms and concepts is an important first step in any research project. It is part of the process of defining your research question and scoping out the boundaries of your topic. Use our online digital dictionaries and encyclopedias to define any terms or concepts unfamiliar to you.

Merriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary will give you basic definitions.

Use the Funk & Wagnell's Encyclopedia to get basic definitions. Students can also play a definition as an audio file for listening comprehension practice.  Students  can also immediately translate a definition into one of 31 different languages such as Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish. 

If you find the Funk & Wagnell's Encyclopedia to be too easy or if you need additional information, then use the Credo Reference database to use hundreds of digital encyclopedias.

EBooks at the Merritt College Library

You may access our e-books from any location! If you are off-campus you will be asked to login with your Peralta information to read these sources.

Books at the Merritt College Library

You may check Circulating books out of the library. Reference books must be used within the library. Come into the library during our open hours and use the book's call number to find it on the shelves. If you need assistance, the librarians are happy to help!

Use Streaming Videos to Improve Your Listening Comprehension

Films on Demand database thumbprint image of the logo



Merritt College subscribes to two streaming video services: Films on Demand and Kanopy. Both services have many hours of streaming video suitable for ESL and ESOL students. These videos specifically teach English to ESOL students. While watching the instructional videos, students may turn on "closed captioning (CC)" or open up the transcript to read along with the audio. Films on Demand also includes an interactive transcript which highlights each word in the transcript as it is spoken.


 Cutting Edge Communications Simple English Series (20 segments)These videos include tips for new learners, simple chatting examples of language in use, grammar and language rules, words and expressions and opportunities for learners to copy examples in real time.Streams on Films on Demand.

Global English Course: Learn English as a Second Language (5 lessons)

This series introduces the alphabet, pronouns, capitalization, sentences and punctuation, pronouns, verbs and articles. Streams on Kanopy.

Standard Deviants School ESL Series (12 lessons)

Written by award-winning English as Second Language instructors, each program in this series covers vocabulary as well as a different part of speech, including pronouns, prepositions, and adjectives. Streams on Films on Demand.



Other Resources

"Learning English" from Voice of America (VOA) instructs students in English with 3 levels of difficulty. Students may read appropriately-leveled news stories and acquire new vocabulary related to current events. News may be read or watched at a beginning level, an intermediate level, or an advanced level.

Additionally, VOA offers a series of videos to assist English language learners:

Let's Learn English - Level 1 is a course for new English students. Certified American English teachers designed the course for beginners. Lessons include videos showing the lives of young Americans and instruction in speaking, vocabulary and writing. There are also printable worksheets, assessments and lesson plans

Level 2 continues the instruction for intermediate learners. is a site geared for ESOL learners. There are quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer assisted language learning activities.