Looking for the best books to learn English?
The real challenge with finding the best English books is not that there aren’t enough resources, but there are too many!
There are some great books, some average books and some that just aren’t really worth the money.
So, today I’m going to share with you 5 of my favorite textbooks to learn English.
I’ve also added some alternative language resource suggestions on to the end of the post in case you’re looking for more!
Let me know if there’s a book you’d recommend me adding to this list.
1. English Short Stories For Beginners - Olly Richards
This book doesn’t teach English.
It’s a graded reader aimed at beginner learners of English and is part of a very popular series in the polyglot community.
The whole point is to get you reading material that’s at your level as a new learner - stuff that’s challenging (but not too much).
It doesn’t give you the option to look up the English translation either.
You just get vocabulary lists and exercises, and can download the audio online.
I highly recommend the English Short Stories book to you if you like learning languages using stories.
2. Shaum’s Outline Of English Grammar - Eugene Ehrlich
Shaum’s has been an authority in language grammar books for a very long time.
They’ve produced some of the most comprehensive and thorough books outlining grammar, and their English edition is no exception.
Eugene Ehrlich (professor of English literature at Columbia University) has compiled hundreds of English exercises and painstakingly outlined every topic of English grammar, such as verb tenses.
If there’s one grammar book you get for English, make it this one.
3. Practice Makes Perfect Advanced English Reading And Comprehension - Diane Engelhardt
This is for very advanced English learners.
Diane Engelhardt, herself an experienced ESL teacher, has covered some of the most advanced English language topics I’ve ever seen in an ESL book.
This resource will get you developing your critical thinking skills, and taking your academic language to a new level.
4. English Made Easy - Jonathan Crichton
English Made Easy takes a unique - and very popular - approach to teaching English.
The book uses stories with pictures in the form of comics to teach English language concepts. The language explanations themselves are incredibly clear and concise, and the comics demonstrate the usage.
It’s a really high quality resource from Jonathan Crichton, who holds a PhD in Linguistics and an MA in Applied Linguistics. He also has extensive English teaching experience.
English For Everyone (DK) is a lot like the old Headway and Cutting Edge books for English students.
It’s really well presented, full of images and activities. This is a really good series for any English student wanting to work on their own with a good workbook.
Consider using Learning With Texts for English
So, Donovan’s written at length on a tool called Learning With Texts (LWT for short).
It’s a free and open source program that you can install on pretty much any computer (see installation instructions for LWT here) with some patience.
For languages like English, it’s an amazing tool for helping you read texts.
It’s called an assisted reader.
If you’re not technically-minded, there is a paid alternative called LingQ which is very similar in function and has a large database of reading material on it.
The basic idea is that you take a English story or article, copy the text into LWT (or LingQ), and then add the audio file if you want to.
Listening to English while reading is definitely more beneficial!
You can then go along and click the words to highlight definitions, get translations, mark how well you know the term, and so on.
If you’re into reading and want to use reading material to help your English, then I highly recommend installing LWT and using it as an assisted reader for English content you find online.
Other English resources, courses and alternatives to books
Of course, there are so many great alternative resources for learning English.
EnglishClass101: For the podcast learner.
EnglishClass101 (part of the Innovative series) is one of the most popular platforms for learning English these days.
It has a massive library of lesson content for English learners.
Lingoda: This should be part of every English student’s toolkit.
It eliminates the need to travel to an English-speaking country. You can book an inexpensive class on Lingoda (they also offer Business English classes).
Rocket English: Probably the most comprehensive online course for English covering multiple levels.
Rocket has a very structured, linear format taking you through each lesson from start to finish. For someone brand new to English and an inexperienced language learner, it’s perfect.
More expensive definitely but a lot more overall value and long-term use.
Any English books or resources I should add here?