24 English Course Books to Ramp Up Your Language Learning
If online English courses or in-person classes are not for you, or you want to supplement them with additional material, you want to choose a course book that will keep you interested.
So what’s the right course book to teach you and hold your attention?
Don’t worry: I will help you find the perfect English course book for you.
In this article, we’ll count down the top 24 English course books for all levels and learning goals.
- English Course Books for Beginners
- English Course Books for Intermediate and Advanced Learners
- English Grammar Course Books
- Business English Course Books
- Academic English Course Books
- Things to Consider Before Buying an English Course Book
- And One More Thing...
English Course Books for Beginners
1. “English for Everyone Course Book: Level 1 Beginner”
“English for Everyone” is a series of course books by DK, the famous nonfiction publishing company with a fantastic reputation in the world of educational books.
This course book for beginners covers all of the basic English topics such as the workplace, house vocabulary, leisure activities and routines. It’s specifically designed for self-study, so it works well for those who need something easy to understand and use.
The book also incorporates a wide range of activities covering all of the important language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. It includes plenty of visuals and exercises and focuses both on vocabulary and grammar rules.
As a bonus, “English for Everyone” comes with audio activities and lessons, which are available online or through a mobile app.
2. “Cutting Edge: Elementary”
“Cutting Edge” is a great choice for beginners looking to customize their textbook learning, because there are all sorts of purchase packages available.
You can order any combination of the following: student book, active book, teacher’s book, workbook with a key, online audio, access to the online English lab and DVDs or CDs.
The student course book and its accompanying DVD are broken down into 12 units and include guided speaking activities and video and audio exercises. These activities focus on applying cultural lessons and analyzing global issues.
One of the coolest components of this course book is the accompanying online portal called MyEnglishLab, and I recommend getting a package that includes the web access.
MyEnglishLab not only features additional video and audio content but also activities with voice recordings, which could be very useful for those looking to practice speaking and pronunciation skills.
3. “Practice Makes Perfect: Basic English”
“Practice Makes Perfect” is a very interactive course book that functions mostly as a workbook, with short lessons followed by lots of practice activities.
The lessons cover subjects such as verb tenses, possessive adjectives, prepositions, negative forms and more.
Each lesson focuses on only one grammar concept and is designed to take no more than 20 minutes to complete.
For example, rather than covering all verbs in the past tense, a unit will simply look at the verb “to be” in the past tense.
The exercises are meant to be fun and engaging and include everything from word searches to sentence scrambles.
A language lab app—accessible from both your computer and phone—is included as well. It contains audio pronunciation exercises, a progress tracker and recorded speaking activities.
4. “English Made Easy: Volume One”
“English Made Easy” is a series of course books that’s especially perfect for visual learners. The entire teaching premise is built on learning English through images, and each lesson contains loads of pictures to accompany the text.
The book is divided into 20 units, each one beginning with an overview of vocabulary you can expect to learn and a pronunciation guide. Lessons cover a wide range of beginner topics like introducing people, starting conversations, discussing occupations, asking for and giving opinions, shopping and talking about time.
At the end of each unit, there’s a reading activity in the form of a story incorporating all of the newly learned vocabulary and grammar. This is a great way to sum up what you’ve just learned and check your comprehension of the lesson.
Every fifth unit is a review of the previous four units to help you remember and build on the lessons.
5. “Global Beginner Coursebook”
A unique option, “Global Beginner Coursebook” is published by the renowned education publisher Macmillan English.
This course book has been carefully designed to include lots of reading on various international topics for adults. The course book focuses on teaching you rich vocabulary and many fascinating multi-cultural topics.
The course book comes with an e-workbook for listening and pronunciation practice, plus additional resources and activities. The activities include repetition exercises, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice quizzes, word searches and more.
English Course Books for Intermediate and Advanced Learners
6. “American English File: Level 4”
This book from the “American English File” series covers a wide range of topics such as writing emails, colloquial speech and various grammar lessons.
This course book’s main goal is to improve your English communication skills, and a large part of the book is dedicated to pronunciation practice. To help with this, “American English File” has even created their own sound chart that associates images with the phonetic alphabet.
When you buy this book, you also get a workbook with practice exercises, plus a DVD with video activities and lessons.
7. “English Unlimited: Intermediate Coursebook”
“English Unlimited” is another fantastic course book series that aims to teach communication skills by focusing on international topics and real-world lessons.
Apart from the core lessons, this course book includes additional reference tools, strategies for learning independently, a vocabulary trainer and ideas for developing your speaking skills.
There’s even an e-portfolio DVD where you can record your progress. This is a great way to look back on how far you’ve come and compare your communication skills before, during and after the course.
8. “Insight: Advanced”
The “Insight” series of course books uses carefully selected texts to promote discussion about English culture and literature.
The advanced level course book covers the most complex English language skills you can use in academic and professional settings. The topics here are quite interesting, covering everything from figurative language to common prefixes in science words.
You’ll also read about economics, science, art and the cultures of English-speaking countries, along with new vocabulary for each topic.
The book is broken into 10 units. Each unit has a vocabulary section and review at the end, and there’s another more extensive vocabulary bank at the end of the book.
The course book comes with the opportunity to purchase additional material such as a workbook, audio CD and online practice material.
9. “High-Level Everyday English”
“High-Level Everyday English” is a very helpful course book aimed at advanced students who still struggle with some difficult English vocabulary, idioms and expressions.
The course book is written specifically for those who want to self-study and can benefit English students including those who work in business, translation or teaching, those studying at the university level or those simply wanting to perfect the language for personal reasons.
The book uses real-life examples and dialogues to teach advanced vocabulary and includes lots of exercises for self-testing along the way.
10. “Objective Advanced”
This is one of the more popular English course books aimed at advanced learners, and for good reason.
Not only does it cover all of the advanced topics you need in 25 units, but there are also examples from the Cambridge English Corpus to illustrate common errors learners make and how they can be addressed.
The book comes with an interactive CD-ROM that complements the book’s contents by giving you practice exercises. If you need the audio CDs, however, you’ll have to purchase those separately.
English Grammar Course Books
11. “Oxford English Grammar Course”
“Oxford English Grammar Course” is comprised of three volumes split into basic, intermediate and advanced levels.
These course books cover grammar for speaking, writing and reading. They use short explanations followed by lots of real-world examples and are full of images and cartoons to aid visual learners.
The series comes with a free downloadable teacher’s guide, which is also helpful for those studying on their own, since it contains lots of ideas for additional practice activities.
12. “Clear Grammar”
“Clear Grammar” is a series comprised of four volumes and published by the University of Michigan Press.
The series aims to teach grammar while focusing on vocabulary usage and writing, speaking and reading skills.
The books use charts, short exercises and mini-lessons to teach grammar points and connect those points to all aspects of English fluency.
Additionally, the books contain companion websites for practice activities, and there are places within the course books to log your scores from the online exercises. These activities and quizzes are meant to help you track your progress and ensure that you understand each unit.
13. “ESL Grammar”
“ESL Grammar” is for upper-level students. It begins with intermediate-level lessons and ends with complex, advanced ones.
This course book aims to provide simple, short grammar lessons followed by extensive exercises so you learn through practice. Once you’re done, you can go online and test what you’ve learned using 250 e-flashcards.
Throughout the course book, there are test-taking tips and techniques to help those studying for ESL exams such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
14. “English Grammar in Use”
In my opinion, anyone who’s studying English seriously should have at least one of Raymond Murphy’s “Grammar in Use” books on hand.
“English Grammar in Use” covers all the grammar points you need to know at the B1 to B2 level in clear, easy-to-understand language. They also come with practice exercises to help you review what you’ve learned and apply them in real-world situations.
You can use this book for self-study or to supplement the more structured lessons you’re currently taking.
15. “Practical English Usage”
If you’ve ever had a question about how to use a specific English word or grammar point, there’s a good chance the answer is in this book.
The book is divided into two parts. Part One covers the most common English grammatical issues, while Part Two covers common vocabulary issues that stump learners.
You’ll find plenty to chew on in this book—from general rules on spelling and word formation to differences between words that are often mixed up (“bring” vs. “take,” “classic” vs. “classical.”)
Plus, you’ll learn all about the nuances of the English language—idioms, polite speech, the differences between British and American English and so on.
Business English Course Books
16. “New International Business English”
“New International Business English” is designed for upper-intermediate learners who want to use English in the workplace.
The course book is divided into 15 units covering real-world business tasks such as using business English on the phone, writing reports, conducting business meetings, etc. You’ll also learn specific vocabulary and phrases for fields like marketing, trade and sales.
17. “ESL Business English”
“ESL Business English” is written by Lucas Burns, who’s taught business English around the globe.
His course book covers a variety of important business English subjects such as creating memos, sending emails, talking on the phone and giving speeches. He includes vocabulary for money and banking, marketing, company structure and more.
The book is well-organized, progressing from simple to more difficult concepts.
18. “Intelligent Business”
If you’re looking for a book that puts business English in context, there are few better resources than “Intelligent Business.” For starters, the book features articles from The Economist, one of the top business publications in the world.
You’ll also learn valuable business skills such as writing business reports, leading meetings and making presentations. In case all that sounds a bit overwhelming, the book features basic business English phrases you can use in your day-to-day work.
19. “American Business English: A Coursebook for Business English”
This book is authored by Eric Thomas, who’s had 10 years of experience teaching business English around the world. He’s also worked for well-known multinational companies such as Chevron, General Motors (GM) and Johnson & Johnson.
All those years of experience translate to a concise book that covers many of the important fundamentals of business English. You can decode common phrases such as “doing everything ahead of time,” “following up” and “market slump,” and hone your skills with interviews, presentations, negotiations and more.
Academic English Course Books
20. “Cambridge Academic English”
The “Cambridge Academic English” series is divided into three volumes for intermediate and advanced learners, each more difficult than the last. These course books target university students or others taking academic courses. They cover a wide range of subjects from different disciplines.
The books include audio and video material comprised of lectures, seminars and student interviews from Cambridge University.
Topics include listening practice, discussion skills and note-taking in English, and there are many study tips to help you along the way. Another perk of using these course books is that each unit is independent, so you can learn in whichever chapter order you prefer.
21. “Academic Writing: An Introduction”
If you’re not quite ready to dive into a full-blown academic English writing course yet, you can get your feet wet with this introductory book first.
Aside from the conventions or rules of academic writing, you’ll also get introduced to the basics of researching your topic.
Writing for different disciplines require different conventions as well, and this book addresses that by touching on how to write in fields like the social sciences and natural sciences.
22. “Academic Vocabulary in Use”
There are words that are appropriate to use in an academic context, and those that aren’t. If you’re looking for a resource that can help you decide whether a certain word or phrase should be included in your paper or not, this book can be useful to you.
The book is full of reading passages, concise explanations of new vocabulary and practice exercises. You can also make use of the phonemic transcriptions to help you sound out some of the more difficult words.
And if you’re preparing for the IELTS, this book should have a place in your stack of study materials.
23. “Academic Writing for Graduate Students”
You don’t have to be a graduate student to benefit from this book. Through it, you can pick up skills that will benefit you no matter what stage of your academic career you are.
For example, this book gives a primer on what academic papers are for, how research methodologies are used, how to write summaries and other skills you need to call yourself a scholar or expert in your field.
There’s a plethora of examples of academic writing throughout the book, which give you an idea of the style and tone required for formal writing. There are also research-based tasks to hone your skills in looking up and analyzing sources, interpreting them and writing about them in a way that you can defend in front of a thesis panel.
24. “Advanced Academic Writing I”
This book contains four assignments on writing MLA-formatted papers that will help you refresh your knowledge of academic vocabulary and grammar. You’ll also learn how to structure a paper and interpret proofreader marks that indicate how your paper could be improved.
What makes this book unique is the inclusion of real academic papers from the author’s students with notes on how they could have done better and what they did right.
If you like this book, you can take a look at the author’s other books on advanced academic writing.
Things to Consider Before Buying an English Course Book
There are many important factors to consider when looking for the perfect English course book.
For starters, you’ll need to think about which type of book is relevant to you. This means first identifying your English level, easily done through one of the many reputable online tests, like this one used by the British Council.
Then, you need to target a book that addresses your language needs. In other words, are your goals simply to learn the basics of English, prepare for a trip to an English-speaking country, get into an English university or perfect your business English? The books above cover a range of goals and learning levels for you to choose from.
You should also reflect on what sorts of additional resources appeal to you as a learner.
For example, auditory learners might want to focus on books that have audio companions. Visual learners may want a book that incorporates lots of vivid images to explain English concepts.
If it’s important to you to be able to test yourself along the way, you’ll want a course book that has exercises and quizzes so you can check your progress. Though many books include the option for companion workbooks or suggested activities, not all include answer keys.
Lastly, there are plenty of English course books that come with online components in the form of games, videos or other activities, which can be very beneficial for interactive learners.
Of course, most course books aren’t going to contain all of the above perks. Consider ranking the importance of these aspects and then focus on getting something that fits your needs and learning style.
Book learning is a great start, but it often isn’t enough to just read about a language. You’ll need to actually see what you’re learning in use. That’s why it’s a good idea to reinforce your studies from any book with immersive, multimedia English learning on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Now that you’ve got some great English course book ideas in mind, it’s time to get studying!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website 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 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? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)