Skip to main content

ESL Textbook Reviews


Advice to trust when choosing an ESL or EFL textbook

Choosing a textbook is a very important step in planning your EFL classes. If you pick one that is not ideal, it will be hard to overcome and make your ESL class successful. However, if you choose a well-written, interesting, level-appropriate textbook, it will be easy to teach English and make your classes interesting, fun and engaging. Your students will experience success and you will have to spend far less time on preparation than you would if you had chosen poor textbooks.

There are so many EFL Textbooks that it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the best one. However, I have some excellent ESL Teaching Books for you to choose from on this site, as well as some warnings of ones to avoid. Most of the textbooks such as World Link, Smart Choice, 4 Corners or Top Notch cover the 4 skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing). But, I also have top ESL Textbooks for Kids, as well as writing classes.

"Smart Choice" by Ken Wilson - One of the best ESL Textbooks for High School and University Students

Smart Choice: a 4 Skills, general English Textbook.

For a few of my classes, I've been using the book "Smart Choice" by Ken Wilson. I've used all three levels and so far, so good and it's been pretty easy to make my classes interesting and educational. The pages contains a decent amount of material on them, with a good mix of information and practice. The topics are relatively interesting for university students in Korea and there isn't much in the way of irrelevant or annoying stuff. The only downsides are the dialogues that have substitute your own ideas, but it makes the conversations really wacky. Also, the review pages filled with singing and comics are not so helpful either. But overall, I would heartily recommend this series for young adults (high school or university).

An ESL Conversation Textbook


Interchange is a 4-level series designed to take students from beginner-high intermediate. It is an excellent ESL Textbook choice for high school, university and adults students. Each book has 16 units that are interesting, practical and cover the 4 major skills, with some nice grammar sections. A major strength is the speaking practice sections and pair/group work.

How to Get a Job in a South Korean University

Speaking of Speech - Harrington & LeBeau

Speaking of Speech: An Introduction to Presentations and Public Speaking

Speaking of Speech is an EXCELLENT textbook for an introductory speech class for ESL or EFL students. It's interesting, interactive, and easy to understand. The included audio files and DVD are very helpful for emphasizing the key points in the book. Also, there are 8 speeches already set up for you to use to evaluate your students (complete with evaluation grids). I can't say enough about how easy this book is to use, and how enjoyable the students will find your class.

"Cause and Effect" by Patricia Ackert: an ESL Reading Textbook

Thoughts and Notions

4 Corners

This is one of my favorite "4 skills" ESL textbooks. The grammar/vocab is presented in a simple, easy to understand way. The listening activities are graded nicely and the writing exercises are simple enough that they don't require a high level or reading ability. The speaking activities foster communication in a way that is unusual in most textbooks. Overall, an excellent series!

Let's Go: A great choice for children's ESL Textbook

This is best series that I've found for teaching beginner children English as a second or foreign language. Each page contains some actual content and not just fluffy pictures. But, the book is excellent as just having one main idea/page so it doesn't get too confusing. The book is interesting, engaging and the kids seem to love it. Plus, it's easy to teach because there's an excellent teacher resource book as well as flashcards packs that can be used to make up many games and activities.

"Let's Go" by R. Nakata - One of the top EFL Textbooks for Kids

Do you want to Teach English in South Korea?

"Touchstone" by Michael McCarthy: an Excellent Addition for your ESL Library

Touchstone: a 4-skills ESL Textbook

While this textbook series is comprehensive, there are some weaknesses including:

1. There is way too much focus on speaking like a native speaker, which just sounds so strange when an ESL student tries to do it.

2. The topics are not interesting and are way over-done in the ESL textbook world.

3. There is too much "stuff" on each page, which can be quite overwhelming for students (and the teacher)

If you have to choose a textbook for university students or adults, I'd recommend "World Link" over "Touchstone."

Get Ready to Write - For Beginner ESL Writing Students

Great Paragraphs - An excellent ESL Writing Textbook

Which ESL books do you like?

esl-efl teacher on November 25, 2014:

We LOVE the "New Bridges: Connecting People Through Language and Culture" series. They're available on Amazon - fantastic materials!

David on September 15, 2014:

I am writing in hopes that you would be able to provide a book that I recently published a review as well.

Here is the information for the book and it can be found here on Amazon:

Inglés: Fácil y Divertido Básico Nivel 1: Fundaciones: English: Easy and Fun Beginners Level 1: Foundations (Volume 1) (Spanish Edition)

Scroll to Continue

If you could provide me with your address I would be happy to send you a copy for free. I can be contacted at 303.997.9207 or

EricRoth18 on September 12, 2014:

As somebody who teaches English to elite international university and graduate students in the United States, may I suggest that the vast majority of major ESL/EFL publishers systematically censor their books? By adopting a "do no harm" policy, the publishers take the red lines of the most repressive governments (and major buyers) like Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, and even Iran and impose them on English language learners in Brazil, France, and Canada. The result remains often very boring textbooks that avoid controversy or even the subject of luck since some theocratic governments believe that the notion of good luck implies that God is not completely in charge of our fate.

I've written a bit on this topic, and you can go to my blog at

And I've also co-authored some conversation textbooks for intermediate and advanced English language learners that encourage both authentic reflection and natural language. They are niche textbooks, clearly more comfortable for adults living in democratic countries like Western Europe and the United States where you don't have to have an 8-positive adjectives to 1-negative adjective ratio as in some dictatorships. (We have also published a "censors friendly version" for Vietnam because I directed a summer high school English program there.) You can find some sample chapters at .

May I also suggest that a tad more scepticism toward phrases and euphemisms like "harmonious communication" deployed by many ESL/EFL training programs would reduce the shock of many English teachers when they find themselves teaching abroad in closed and semi-closed societies?

anonymous on March 18, 2014:

I'm using Touchstone series, the first edition, purchased just before they brought out the second edition. They seem to have mixed up the conversations and exercises just for the sake of it in the second edition. You can only download the audio for the second edition now from Cambridge. This audio doesn't correspond with the first edition book.

Feeling totally frustrated! The books weren't cheap. Paid for a Teacher's Manual, the Student book and Workbook, only to find out I still need to pay for the Class Audio. What? Would never recommend this series. They have made the beginners level far too complicated with their new "update."

KathyZ1 on October 16, 2013:

Great lens, thanks for your sharing!

KathyZ1 on October 16, 2013:

Great lens, thanks for your sharing!

anonymous on December 27, 2012:

You can't do without this innovative teacher's guide for kids!

The essential tool for today's modern teachers.

With audio files and cartoons of the poems, songs and rhymes we all grew up with.

This guide includesa full set of digital flashcards with both British and American pronunciation.

It is full of games and activities for large and small groups and full of practical and useful suggestions on how to teach.

Created and tested within a project which involved over 15,000 kids over a two year period.

Designed to guide, help and inspire teachers and parents wanting to teach their children their first English words. The ibook is called Twinkle, twinkle, little star by Ian George Bolton

PennyHowe on November 18, 2012:

Hey, Sammy24, thanks for the comments. Here in Mexico, lots of people use a series called 'Side by Side'.

nifwlseirff on November 16, 2012:

I've recently been using the BBC and Pearson's SpeakOut series - very up to date, with video and audio materials and discussions on modern technology. Although, many of my more elderly students like to skip those parts - it's great for university students. Even when teaching with other textbooks, I use exercises from SpeakOut as extras.

Unfortunately, no textbook series is geared towards an older market - most have topics that are unsuitable (getting a job, etc. -- why, when they are retired?) Most of my students are over 40, and some are in their 80s.

Sammy24 on September 23, 2012:

The best ESL activity book is the "Gear Up" series by les éditions Guerin. Written by real ESL teachers who have been teaching for years with REAL students!

eslpulse on August 28, 2012:

Some good stuff here - thanks for making the lens

anonymous on July 20, 2012:

I N T E R C H A N G E ! ! !

anonymous on May 30, 2012:

Speak out

jerviewagon on August 22, 2011:

I became exploring on line for a few information since yesterday night and i also finally found this! This can be an excellent website in addition, but itâs a bit tough to read from my cell phone

Fisher Capital Management

Related Articles