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Library Resources for ESOL Students: Library Databases Best Suited for English Language Learners

Database and media resources for student learning English as a second or third lanaguage.

CQ Researcher is a Good Fit for ESOL Students

Merritt library offers a database that is especially well suited for ESOL students: CQ Researcher. What makes this database so useful is the easy ability to search for relevant journal articles, editorials (opinion pieces) and other documents on current topics by simply a few clicks to "browse" a list of topics. The database will also let a student enter a  basic word keyword search. Keyword searching, even for native English speakers can be difficult.

CQ Researcher database Screenshot image showing the ability to browse topics



Study Recommendation: make use of the "Browse" button to find topics located on the upper left hand corner of the databases. Here's a look at a small part of the Browse list of many many topics in CQ Researcher.

Use the Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia to Define Words & Concepts

Use our online digital dictionairies 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. 

Example: "parochial school" defined.

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.

Can you define "vocational school" ?

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

EBooks at the Merritt College Library for ESOL Students

Use Films on Demand to Improve Your Listening Comprehension

Films on Demand database thumbprint image of the logo

Films on Demand has several hours of streaming video suitable for ESL and ESOL students These videos specifically teach English to ESOL students.  

ESOL students should to use Films on Demand to find streaming video content related to any course they are taking. The play on demand videos combined with the interactive transcripts makes Films on Demand a wonderful support tool for any course: psychology, sociology, nursing, American history.  

When Students watch Films on Demand videos they can turn on “closed captioning (CC)” as well as open up the interactive transcript on the right that highlights each word in the transcript as it is spoken.

small screenshot showing that Films on Demands displays a transcript to the write of the video presentation screen

Books at Merritt Library

Voice of America's "Learn English" Gives You the News in English at 3 Levels of Difficulty; "Let's Learn English" is 52 units that teach basic English

"Learning English" from Voice of America (VOA) gives students the news in English in 3 levels of difficulty: level 1, level 2, level 3 (the suitable level for college students). 

From the website:


  • "Level Two articles are meant for intermediate learners of American English. Stories are often more than 500 words in length.

Stories may include audio from newsmakers. Some may use more complex sentences or language."


  • "Level Three articles are aimed at non-native English speakers who have studied American English and wish to improve their reading and listening skills. Articles are usually more than 500 words in length and may include audio from newsmakers. Some may use more complex sentences or language. New words and idioms are explained in the in the "Words in This  Story" area at the bottom of the article."


From the Voice of America (VOA) "Let's Learn English" website.

"Let's Learn English" is a new course for English learners. Certified American English teachers designed the course for beginners. The course continues for 52 weeks.

Each week, there will be a new lesson with video showing the lives of young Americans. The lesson includes instruction in speaking, vocabulary and writing. There are also printable worksheets, assessments and lesson plans for individual learners and English teachers. We encourage you to follow the weekly lessons and share.