Books to Learn
How to Help Your 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
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
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
"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
and give excellent examples and explanations of the
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!