I was a knowledge-hungry kid.
I loved to learn!
But I couldn’t take lots of classes for all my interests, because they were usually very expensive.
So my parents did the next best thing: they bought me books.
In fact, I’m not lying when I say that almost everything that I’ve learned has come from reading books.
So if you’re an engineer looking to improve your workplace English but don’t have access to private training, there’s no need to fret.
There are plenty of affordable, well-written engineering English books out there. Many of them even come with audio materials, interactive exercises and more to teach you all there is to know.
Plus, studying in this way makes you more disciplined and self-motivated about your language studies. Reading English for engineering books regularly is a wonderful way to develop that drive.
You’ll thank yourself later when you notice your communication skills and employment opportunities expanding!
How to Get the Most Out of Every Page
Anyone can read a book if they know the language, but if you want to make the most out of a self-study book, you have to know how to read it “right.” These tips below will show you how.
- Scan the whole book once first: Pretend it’s a storybook and scan (read through it quickly), to get familiar with the overall structure and ideas.
- Mark out the important sections: After scanning the book, you’ll have an idea as to which chapters or sections are most important to you. So sit with a pen, highlighter or sticky notes and mark the sections that you’ll come back to later and study in detail.
- Do all the exercises: Most of the exercises are meant to be done within a specific time limit and it’s advisable to stick to that. For instance, if it’s a short report, try to complete it within 20 minutes. Allow yourself fixed time-slots for reading and understanding, and for completing the activities.
- Keep revising: Once you master a section, feel free to move on to the next one—but make sure you also regularly review what you’ve learned. One way of doing that is to schedule review time every week.
- Research unfamiliar topics: A book will often lead you to other books. If you come across something that you can’t understand or is unfamiliar to you, don’t ignore it. Make a note of it and look it up online or check out the book’s bibliography for further material.
- Finish it, even if you get bored: There are times when you’ll feel like giving up. It’s normal. But don’t lose hope and motivation. Remind yourself every day of all the successes that learning English will bring to you.
When you lose energy, take a short break and come back to the text later with renewed enthusiasm.
- Make use of supplementary material: Business English textbooks often come with a CD or links to useful online resources that have “bonus” content designed to help you. Don’t ignore those! They often provide listening and pronunciation practice that a book can’t.
And don’t be afraid to round out your learning with other English tools, too! FluentU is a great option that’ll help you apply your textbook learning in real-life settings.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
English for Engineers: The Top 7 Books for Airtight Language Skills
You might be overwhelmed by the sheer variety and number of similar-sounding books available for English learners in the engineering field. You might have no idea which one is the right book for you.
Of course, everyone has different skills, strengths, weaknesses and learning goals—so keeping that in mind, I’ve made a list of seven books that are worth checking out for engineers of many different specializations and English proficiency levels.
“Cambridge English for Engineering”
This is an all-purpose book for engineers from any specialization. It covers all the relevant technical vocabulary needed in workplace communication. There are 10 units covering different branches of engineering (civil, mechanical, etc.) with activities that’ll help you get comfortable with the language.
In fact, customer reviews have particularly praised the quality of the audio CDs that come with the book. This is great self-study material for all English-learning engineers.
“Professional English in Use: Engineering”
This book is actually by the same author of the preceding one, and is primarily concerned with developing your workplace vocabulary. It has over 1,000 words and phrases that you’ll learn to master by completing the different practice exercises.
At 144 pages, it’s a handy and useful book that covers all the essentials of engineering English. I’d recommend this for beginners.
“Oxford English for Electrical and Mechanical Engineering”
Although this book was published way back in 1995, it remains popular as ever. As the title suggests, it’s a specialized, informative book aimed at mechanical and electrical engineers. So I’d only recommend that you go for this book if you’re from those two fields.
The 30 units cover a wide range of engineering topics, from mechanisms to work safety to robotics. The exercises are designed to hone your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
The last section even focuses on job applications and CV writing. It’ll also teach you how to read an advertisement for a job and respond to it in the best way possible.
“Science Research Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English”
This book is perfect for all those engineers and scientists who are looking to get into research and would like to improve their technical and academic writing skills. The book was written particularly for intermediate English learners.
The book will guide you on every aspect of science research writing, such as strong abstracts and memorable conclusions. It even has a glossary of common abbreviations, word prefixes and vocabulary used in science writing.
If you’re in the process of completing your master’s or doctoral thesis, this book is a must-buy.
“Pocket Book of English Grammar for Engineers and Scientists”
Many engineers are worried most about their grammar skills. If your main area of concern is improving your grammar, then this book is your best friend.
It’s only 160 pages long and covers all the key grammar concepts and parts of speech using flowcharts, diagrams and illustrations. If you have trouble understanding grammar rules or keep forgetting them, then make sure you keep this book at hand.
The book is written in American English, has lots of effective visuals and doesn’t contain extensive scientific jargon, so it can even be used by non-engineers as well.
“Technical Writing: A Practical Guide for Engineers and Scientists”
This is a comprehensive book covering all types of technical writing such as reports, articles, summaries and the like. In fact, if your primary goal is to improve your writing skills for work, I’d suggest you go for this book.
It’ll even guide you on how to edit and publish your articles online or offline. Moreover, this book was written by a professor of software engineering, so yes, you’re in quite safe hands!
However, you’ll need to know your grammar basics to make the most out of this book.
“Essential Communication Strategies for Scientists, Engineers, and Technology Professionals”
This is a practical guide for engineers and other professionals to develop their writing and presentation skills. It’ll teach you how to use a technique called “scripting” to communicate in a logical, attention-grabbing way. This is perfect if you need to ace any presentation or group meeting!
The language is motivational and filled with humor, so it promises to be an engaging and enjoyable read.
You won’t master the English language in a day, but if you promise yourself to keep at it by reading and reviewing regularly and applying what you learn to real-life scenarios, you’re bound to make extraordinary progress in a short span of time. So incorporate self-study via educational books into your daily routine, remain disciplined and motivated, keep believing in yourself and you’re sure to succeed magnificently.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, artist, educator and a self-taught Italian speaker. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.