Books to Learn English

How to Help Your Students
(British English)

Books to Learn EnglishMy students often ask me, "Can you recommend some books to learn English from?"

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The answer I give them, of course, depends on the student's level and their individual needs.

One series of books I find invaluable are the "English in Use" series, published by Cambridge University Press.

English in Use by
Cambridge University Press

These books are useful not only for students studying on their own, but as a supplement to classes, and they can also be used as reference books by teachers.

English Grammar in Use

The first of these books to be published were the "English Grammar in Use" series. These are now available at Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced levels.

The books are divided into chapters, each one dealing with a different English grammar issue. A page of clear explanations, with pictures, is opposite a page of exercises. Answers are available at the back of the book.

If students want extra practice, there are a series of "Supplementary Exercises" books available, and there are also editions which include a CD-ROM.

I have used these books to base grammar explanations around  in class, and I have referred students to them for extra practice in class, or as homework.

English Vocabulary in Use

The second set of books in this series was about English vocabulary. It is called "English Vocabulary in Use."

These are available for Elementary, Pre-Intermediate/Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced levels.

The format of these books is similar to the grammar books, with explanations including pictures and text on the left-hand page, and exercises on the opposite page.

Chapters are either based on lexical divisions (for example adjectives, verbs, discourse markers, etc.), or topics (for example weather, travel, natural disasters).

The emphasis is on words in context, not just a list of words – which you may find in a picture dictionary for example.

Again, these books are presented and written clearly, and contain excellent tools for either classroom use, inspiration for lessons, or for students to use for self-study purposes.

Additional books in the series

More recently, other titles have also been added to the series. All have a similar format. "English Collocations in Use" for example, starts with an introduction to what collocations are, and covers grammatical aspects and special aspects of collocations before moving onto topic-based chapters.

"English Collocations in Use" is available in two different editions: Intermediate and Advanced. Even if you don't use this one in class, there are great ideas in there for teaching, and most teachers will learn some things that they don't already know!

"English Idioms in Use" (available in Intermediate or Advanced) titles are particularly good as inspiration for short fillers during your lessons. Simply use some of the examples in the book and ask the students to guess their literal meaning.

Finally in this series of books is "English Phrasal Verbs in Use." Now available for Intermediate and Advanced students, these titles help demystify phrasal verbs and give excellent examples and explanations of the grammar involved.

Of course there are many books I could recommend for you, but I almost always suggest these ones if a student asks for books to learn English from, and they are great for teachers too!

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