Ever found yourself in a bookstore staring at the selections on the shelf, but wondering, “Which book should I choose?” Maybe you are an online shopper, and you have Googled the topic for your search, but given so many titles, you have not known which book to purchase. This is often the case when deciding which book would be best to help you learn English. Depending on your level, you may want something that is very basic. Everyday conversation and vocabulary, perhaps, are your focus, and you want a book that you can easily read and understand, as well as one you will enjoy using. You want it to be something to which you look forward to reading and interacting. You have tried apps and listening to blogs, but you really want something that you can physically hold in your hands and something that will provide interactive exercises for learning. The same could go for more advanced learners. You have the same desire to have a physical book, but reading through a text for a beginner speaker of English really will not help. Advanced students of English need something that will help build fluency in real world conversations, perhaps even books that will support the business side of English. In either of these cases, there are options to fit every learner’s needs. Here are CORE's top 5 books for learning English.
Starting with vocabulary, the first of the five top books for learning English is English for Everyone: English Vocabulary Builder. This book has pictures of tons of vocabulary words that any beginning English speaker should learn. In the language learning world, putting a picture with a new term is often referred to as “binding” because it does just that; it helps the learner bind, or better connect the term with its meaning. English for Everyone: English Vocabulary Builder “includes 3,000+ words and phrases related to ordinary objects, actions, and situations. There are also volumes for learning grammar, idioms, and business phrases,” (Lemanski). Along with these supplements, the book also includes listening and review exercises as well as a pronunciation practice on their website or free app.
Second in the list for the top 5 books for learning English is Practice Makes Perfect: English Conversation, Premium Second Edition. It offers readers a variety of common phrases, sample sentences, and interactive dialogues. Learners can practice skills using the book as well as the audio exercises online or on the app. This book is better suited for intermediate learners, or for a beginner who has a good ESL teacher to guide the lessons and offer clarifications.
The third suggestion on the list is actually a range of books put out by National Geographic. Inside, for example, is a set of texts that offers skills for varying levels in an engaging manner. National Geographic is known for its amazing pictures and stories. Its content is exclusive to the publisher. With those components, learners get clear and direct instruction for language functions, grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing skills, and more. The materials are highly interactive and designed for older students, specifically those in the middle or high school grades. Reach Higher, another National Geographic text, “is a six-level cross-curricular program which helps students in Grades 1-6 develop the literacy, academic language skills, and content knowledge they need to learn English” (National Geographic Learning). Although these texts are designed for learners in elementary, middle and high school programs, they can be used for ELLs of all ages. National Geographic also has a set of resources specifically for adult ELT (English language teaching). As noted on their website “Through [their] partnerships with National Geographic and TED, [ELLs] develop the language and skills they need to be successful global citizens and leaders.”
Next up, is a book to help improve conversational English. Speak English Like an American is a story of a family going about their day-to-day lives. Readers follow the family’s journey and learn over 300 of English’s most common idioms. These tricky phrases often confuse English language learners, so reading this text, you can expect to get lots of examples in the form of the dialogue and illustrations, and plenty of exercises so that you can practice using the idioms yourself. The book also comes with a CD, so you can listen to the dialogues and practice speaking alongside the family. Additionally, the book is offered as an online course. Author Amy Gillett also has several other books for Speaking English, including Speak Business English Like an American and Speak English Around Town.
Finally, for those learners who want to “clean up” their English, to make it sound more native, or to properly speak and write as a native, Cambridge’s English Grammar in Use is the top choice. Described as the “first choice for intermediate (B1-B2) learners,” English Grammar in Use is a wonderful text for learning about English grammar. It offers clear explanations and several practice opportunities which can be used for self-guided study or by teachers supplementing their curriculum. For those ESL students who want to improve their written and spoken grammar, this text is the perfect choice.
With the five above choices, English language learners and teachers have a great “jumping off point.” If that phrase makes no sense to you, have a look at book 4 to find out what it means.