Are you looking for some of the best ESL books for adults? Then you’re certainly in the right place. We’re going to give you the rundown on the best conversational English textbooks, along with our top choice for business English as well as writing classes. Keep on reading!
Best ESL Textbooks for Adults: Top 8 Picks
Before we get into all the details about each of these top choices for ESL books for young adults or adults, here’s a sneak peak:
- World Link
- Four Corners
- Smart Choice
- New Interchange
- Market Leader (Business English)
- Side by Side
- Great Writing
#1: World Link
As far as 4-skills ESL textbooks for adults go, World Link certainly belongs at the top of any list. It has relevant, engaging topics that are applicable for students in most, it not all countries. The grammar and vocabulary are very well laid out and best of all, there is a wide range of interesting and engaging activities.
Then combine these things with a nice workbook that’s ideal for homework, along with a teacher’s resource book and it’s clear you have a winner. Find out more about this ESL book for adults to see if it’s right for your TEFL classes.
- From National Geographic
- Designed for young adults
- Second edition is updated and enhanced
- Warm-up video for each unit
- Online homework option
- Animated grammar tutorials online make this is a nice independent study option as well
- 4 levels (intro, 1, 2, 3) from beginner to advanced
“One of the best ESL books for young adults in my opinion. It’s very easy to teach from and doesn’t require a ton of time or effort to make supplementary materials for it. The activities and exercises for the most part are quite interesting and students are engaged throughout the class.”
“Love all the extra features that this book has like an intro video and online portal for the students. Awesome ESL textbook. My university in South Korea has been using it for freshman English for two years now and most instructors are very happy with it.”
If you’re looking for a book that’s easy to teach from and that has a ton of educational value, then consider World Link. It’s a solid choice for a communicative style of teaching and although it does lack a little bit in the reading and writing activities as opposed to speaking and listening ones, this is a very minor complaint.
Want to take a closer look at it? Check out the series for yourself on Amazon to learn more:
#2: Four Corners
If you’re looking for an all-round 4-skills, communicative textbook for adults, then you really can’t go wrong with 4 Corners. It’s come out in recent years and is super solid on the speaking, listening and conversation activities, while focusing less on reading and writing. Read out to find out more about it!
- From Cambridge Press
- 4-skills focused
- Designed for adults and young adults
- Strong focus on functional language
- 12 units per course book
- “Keep talking” activities help students build fluency
- Additional print and online practice opportunities for students
- 4 Levels (1, 2, 3, 4)
- Placement test
“I use this series to teach English at my Church and have to say that it’s amazing. Really easy to teach from it and my students seem to really enjoy the topics and activities. The additional practice opportunities for the students are great too for those who want to really improve their skills.”
“Excellent ESL textbook for young adults that really hits the listening and speaking in a big way. I’ve been using it for a year now and would love to keep using it for another one!”
Final Verdict on these ESL Books for Adults
Overall, Four Corners is a high-quality, well thought-out ESL book for adults that almost any teacher will be happy using. If you’re indecisive about which book to go for, then I can’t recommend this one enough to you!
Do you want to learn more about it to find out if it’s right for your TEFL classes? Click below to check it out on Amazon:
#3: Smart Choice
Another top option for a 4-skills ESL textbook that’s heavy on the communicative activities is Smart Choice. In particular, we like this one because of how easy it is to teach from without using any supplementary activities or having to skip over sections or entire chapters.
- Third edition
- From Oxford University Press
- Covers all 4-skills
- 4 levels (starter, 1, 2, 3)
- Balances challenge with support
- Helps students achieve fluency through games and activities
- Online games and activities that are optimized for Smartphones
- Online practice and written workbook options
“Love all the extras that come with this book that provide so many opportunities for my students to practice English outside of class.”
“Not that I’m super lazy, but I do love how easy it to teach with this book. The grammar and vocabulary are laid out nicely so that I don’t need to prepare extra PowerPoints and the activities and exercises are also quite good. I find that I can use every single thing in this textbook, unlike some other ones I’ve used in this past.”
If you don’t like spending a lot of time on lesson planning, then Smart Choice might be your #1 pick. It’s so well-organized that you can almost just open up the book a couple of minutes before class and then “teach” it. Not that you should ever do this, but in case of emergency? Not to worry.
Sounds like exactly what you need to make your ESL/EFL classes even better? You can pick up this textbook for yourself on Amazon:
#4: Touchstone, One of the Best ESL Books for Adults
If you teach English to beginners, then you’ll seriously want to consider picking up Touchstone. Of all the textbooks, this series perhaps does the best job of covering basically everything in a comprehensive kind of way.
And, it also does a fabulous job of recycling grammar and vocabulary so that students don’t forget what they previously learned. Compare this to other ESL textbooks that may mention something once and never again and the difference is readily apparent.
- Cambridge University Press
- 6 levels
- 2nd edition
- Natural language in authentic contexts
- Helps build speaking fluency with explicit instruction on this
- Designed for 100% to 100% online, or anything in between
- Corpus informed by extensive research
- Inductive learning for grammar
- Common error section
“Really like the second edition of Touchstone, much better than the first actually. It’s ideal because students can use it either in class or entirely online. It makes it super easy to assign homework and cover all the material in a semester.”
“It’s obvious that this ESL textbook is based in real research as it’s well thought out. My favourite thing is the research informed vocabulary choices that are designed to teach students the words that people actually use. It’s a nice feature that I wish other ESL books had.”
If you’re looking for an ESL book for adults that takes students from almost absolute beginner to more advanced, then consider this 6-level series that does just that. It’s comprehensive and detailed and makes a nice option for programs or universities where students take multiple English courses.
Do you want to find out more details about one of the best ESL books for beginners? Check it out on Amazon:
#5: New Interchange
New Interchange is a very solid ESL textbook series from Jack Richards, one of the best in the business in terms of making easy to learn from and easy to teach from textbooks. It’s designed for adults and young adults and in my experience, the topics are relevant and interesting and the book is filled with page after page of very solid teaching materials.
- Cambridge University Press
- Designed for English for international communication
- Third edition
- North American English
- Website with a ton of supplementary activities and practice opportunities for students
- Ties into the TOEIC test
- 16 units, each of which takes approximately 90 minutes
“In my opinion, it’s the best conversational English textbook available today. Love that the new edition is up to date and there’s so much support online for both myself and the students.”
“Awesome English course book that my university has been using for the past couple of years with great success. I’ve seen students really improve their skills in a big way and sure, it’s partly due to my teaching but honestly, I just follow this great textbook!”
Do you want to pick up one of the most solid ESL books for adults? Students like it and learn well from it. Teachers like it too because it doesn’t require a lot of prep time or supplementary materials. What’s not to love? Find out more details here:
#6: Market Leader (For Business English)
If you want to teach Business English, one of the best (and in my opinion, ONLY) option is Market Leader. It’s a clear cut above the rest in terms of what students need to function in English in the business world. Keep reading to find out more about why it’s so good!
Features of these ESL Books for Adults
- Published by Pearson
- 3rd edition
- Five levels (elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate, advanced)
- Authentic texts from the Financial Times
- Provides essential business vocabulary
- Helps students with business skills like negotiation, emails, small talk, meetings, interviews, etc.
- Includes helpful phrases that can be used during role-plays (or real life)
- Self-study opportunities
“I teach business students in South Korea and have found that this book is really helpful for that. I used to just print articles and other resources off the Internet for my classes but since switching to a way more organized system like this, I’ve seen some great results. My students now have a ton of confidence to do things like write an email or negotiate a deal in English.”
“Students really seem to enjoy the topics and other things in this book. As a teacher, it’s quite easy to use because there are no “throwaway” pages and you can basically teach just about everything from this book.”
Do you want to pick up the best ESL book for business English? Head over to Amazon to check for the best prices right here:
#7: Side by Side
Another option for a 4-skills ESL book series is Side by Side. It’s a decent choice and could work well if you’re forced to choose something from Pearson. However, for my money? I’d take World Link, Smart Choice, Touchstone or Four Corners over this one. They just feel newer and more relevant which makes them far easier to teach from without lots of additional work or materials.
- Pearson publishing
- 3rd edition
- 4-skills series
- 4 levels from beginner to intermediate
- Additional activities for students on the Pearson website
“My university has been using this series for a couple of years now and it’s not bad. I do like the newer editions much better than the old ones.”
“Decent ESL textbook but honestly, the cartoon-like pictures? The other textbooks have real pictures which make them far more engaging and interesting for the students.”
Final Verdict of these ESL Books for Adults
As far as a ESL books for adults go, this is a decent choice. However, there are certainly better 4-skills ESL textbooks out there including the ones at the top of this list.
Do you want to find out more information about this series? Check it out for yourself over on Amazon by clicking the button below:
#8: The Great Writing Series
If you’re looking for an ESL book series that takes students from sentences and paragraphs to essays and research, then you’ll seriously want to consider the Great Writing Series. Honestly, it’s the best textbook series to teach writing skills to English learners.
It’s like the ultimate combination of product and process approaches to teaching writing and the best part? Students’ skills really improve in a big way after a semester or two of working through these books.
- Published by Cengage
- 5 levels (sentences to research and everything in between)
- Engaging National Geographic images
- Nice combination of examples texts to emulate and then opportunities for practice
- Practical suggestions for homework exercises
- Ideal for group work in class
“So far, so good. I’ve been using this book at my university in Japan to teach students how to write essays. It’s the best ESL writing book I’ve come across and can’t really recommend it enough.”
“Love how organized and well designed this whole series is. If you’re a students, you could honestly start at the sentence level and get into essays and paragraphs and not be bored by the end of it.”
Get Yours Today
If you teach writing to English learners, then you will certainly need to check out this book. I can’t really emphasize this enough! Your prep time will be cut significantly as there as just so many solid things in the book from which to teach from. However, most importantly, students’ writing skills will really improve in a big, big way.
Do you want to find out more? Check out the book on Amazon by clicking below:
Help Me! I’m Required to Use a Terrible ESL Textbook
Are you working with an ESL or EFL textbook that is less than stellar? It’s not ideal and you can hopefully avoid that by using one of the best ESL books for adults. However, there are certainly ways that you can overcome this and still have a really good course. Keep on reading to find out how.
A Terrible ESL Textbook: Here’s How it Happens
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We’re given a terrible ESL textbook that most fittingly belongs in the trash. It certainly doesn’t belong in the hands of our students, who’ve done nothing to deserve this fate, nor does it belong in the hands of the teacher, who has plenty of better things to do with their time than make something terrible work.
It usually is the result of administrators designing courses, which isn’t so terrible, unless they’ve never actually set foot in the classroom before. They’re at a total loss, but are often scared to admit this and ask for help in choosing a textbook from the teachers.
Best case scenario is that you can choose you own. However, in the ESL teaching world, it doesn’t often work like this.
A Terrible ESL Textbook: Here’s What to Do
Don’t use it. That’s the best option of course! And, you can sometimes avoid this is you’re able to make your own syllabi and design the course curriculum.
Unfortunately, I know, that’s usually not an option in most cases. (“The parents have already paid for the book”) That’s okay and there are certainly things you can do.
You can visibly use parts of each chapter and supplement it with more useful materials. Look critically at each lesson for something salvageable: theme, vocabulary, grammar, etc. Take what you can use and find or create related materials to actually teach them. If the dialogues are riddled with errors, create your own as a model, and have students make and perform dialogues.
If the activities are too easy or difficult, modify them accordingly. As long as your students are opening their books each class and writing something in them sometimes, you are “using the book.”
Nobody Will Notice, Trust Me
I’ve been given a lot of garbage to work with, but I’ve never been taken to task for adding to it. As long as I followed the expected time frame and taught the vocabulary and grammar presented, no one ever noticed that’s all I was using the book for.
As with so many things, appearances count. It is enough just to look like you are using the required textbook. And of course, at least try to do one or two token things from the textbook each class. After all, the students have paid money for the book and made the effort to bring it to class so they’re usually unhappy if they don’t need it.
Need More Tips and Tricks for the ESL Classroom?
This advice about making a terrible ESL textbook work is from the book: ESL Classroom Management Tips and Tricks-For Teachers of Students Ages 6-12. It’s available on Amazon in both print and digital formats and it’s going to make your teaching life easier, guaranteed.
If you read this book and don’t pick up at least 3 tips and tricks to make your classroom run more smoothly and effectively, get in touch with me and I’ll refund your money.
The book is available in both print and digital formats. You can keep a copy on your office bookshelf as a handy reference guide. Or, take a copy with your for some learning on the go.
Have your Say about the Best ESL Books for Adults
What’s your top pick for an ESL textbook for adults? Is it one of the options from this list or do you have your eye on another one? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. I’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful resource.