English Resources for Secondary Schools

Essential Resources wants to support English teachers in developing students who are effective communicators and critical thinkers. We provide New Zealand Curriculum-aligned secondary school English resources that cover the English language, literacy skills and literature.   

Our English resources do the heavy lifting for teachers. They show secondary educators how to incorporate the resource within the classroom. The books include exemplars, worksheets and activities to promote student learning. They also provide tools for assessing students’ progress. We aim to help teachers save time by supplying inspiring, curriculum-aligned content. 

We have teaching ideas for Exploring Fake News, Thinking About Film and Making Connections between texts and the wider world.  


How can I improve reading comprehension in high school students? 

Here are three ways to improve reading comprehension in secondary school students: 

  • Worksheets – Well-designed worksheets promote active learning and hold students’ interest. They can also be used to track students’ progress. Comprehension Smart is an English resource suitable for high school students that provides worksheets for them to consolidate their core comprehension skills.  

  • Book clubs – These are a great way to encourage students to discuss books and develop a deeper understanding of their meaning. Literacy: Guided Reading Rotation Programme helps teachers set up their own Guided Reading Book Club. There are also activities to support reading comprehension. 

  • Make meaningful connections – Studies have shown that students better understand what they have read when they can find connections with texts. It makes reading purposeful and meaningful for the students. This is also a necessary skill for assessment purposes. Making Connections helps students connect to the texts they have read and relate them to the wider world. 

What are some persuasive writing topics for high school students?  

Teachers should use relevant and engaging persuasive writing topics for their high school students. These will capture students’ interest and get their creative juices flowing. 

Given the last few years of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, the topic of isolation would be engaging. Making Connections guides students through the issue of isolation and gets them thinking about: 

  • voluntary versus involuntary isolation 
  • the consequences of isolation 
  • isolation from human rights. 

The Making Connections series introduces students to issues and helps them to think about different points of view. The American Dream and Discrimination are two titles, that provide thought-provoking topics. 

Writing for the purpose of marketing a product is another form of persuasive writing. The Language of Persuasion introduces secondary English students to this form of writing. An application for a summer job or an article in the school newsletter promoting an upcoming school event are two interesting topics to delve into with students. 

How can I make listening and speaking activities fun for my students?  

 “Digital technology can contribute to growth in listening and speaking skills and contribute to reconstructing views around traditional notions of face-to-face dialogue” (Denston, 2021).  

Digital technology provides unique ways for students to practice listening and speaking. Ask students to record a video in response to a question and post it into the classroom forum. Encourage students to view other students’ videos and create discussion. 

Talk It Up provides a range of oral language activities for secondary English teachers to use – e.g., debates or interviews. The activities are designed to be done individually, in small groups or as a whole class. It allows students to practice oral language skills in settings where they are comfortable. 

Incorporating listening and speaking throughout a game will engage students too. “The wind blows on all those who…” can be used at the start of class. For example, the teacher can lead the game by saying, “The wind blows on all those who have a ponytail.” Students with a ponytail will stand up, while the others remain seated. As the activity progresses, students can be encouraged to take the lead and practice speaking to the class.