What coursebooks do you recommend?

Hi folks,

I was browsing Caves bookstore today looking for good course books, etc. to use for private lessons. The three main categories I was looking for were reading, spelling and phonics. I waded through a whole bunch of them before coming to a sobering conclusion. I believe that most of these books, workbooks, guides, study aids and series were written by feces throwing monkeys who were given a stylus, paper and a steel diaper to thwart them! Furthermore, the 'editors’of the resulting volumes are obviously walleyed pigmy swamp goats with the attention span of a bipartisan collection of belly-button lint!

I mean really! I like to pretend to be smarter than I am on occasion, but never in writing! <hmmmm, wait a minute

Try writing your own EFL textbook and see how much of the good stuff gets edited out due to internationalisation.

Choosing a coursebook depends on your choice of syllabus (ie>functional, communicative, 4 skills, task based, lexical, etc…)
The lexical approach gets my vote, so I recommend any of the LTP texts for adult humans. And check out Crane’s Books rather than Cave’s.

I am considering rewriting some of the books and using it for my own teaching. I don’t really know ‘English teaching theory’ such as what to teach first etc. so I thought I’d take a decent existing book and rewrite/edit.

Thank you for the recommendation on LTP and Cranes Books. I am not familiar with the lexical approach though, so any further information about it would be great. I’ll try and look it up on the Internet as well.



There’s a bit of a discussion on this thread about the lexical approach. I know many teachers are doing this already without realising the terminology. It’s all to do with chunking.
As for rewriting books, I don’t think that’s really necessary if you’re using them to ‘springboard’ topics, activities and language foci.
I never go straight from any book in my classes.
Usually I’ll mix things up and draw from a variety of sources, including realia. This, I do even when my school has assigned a specific book to a class. The only thing I would advise, but this may not be necessary if you’re doing privates, is to tell the students you’re doing this and what items you’ve covered in class, so they can use the text as a review, or reference.
I once had a class which said I never used the book that they’d paid money for, but in actuality, I stuck quite closely to it. They hadn’t realised the material I’d covered was exactly that, but mixed up and reformulated. Once they were informed, they had no problem and realised the text was for the purpose of review. There are many schools which expect you to adhere to the books however, so be sure if you do this that you have a degree of freedom with your syllabus. Also, I believe it’s a lazy teacher who will only follow the coursebook syllabus to the letter and not experiment with other ideas. Don’t flame me on that please!

I agree with you about using your own judgement about how to cover the material, it’s just the material itself that I’m concerned about. I am going to be teaching private lessons soon and want to be as good a teacher as I can be. It’s good to shift off the beaten path for clarity and effectiveness as long as you still follow where the path is leading. I’m looking for a text that will show ME what to teach and in what sequence for maximum clarity and usability. I’m assuming my students will come to me from different backgrounds and I’ll need to figure out what they know, what they’ve missed and thus what to teach them. I’m new to teaching English but not teaching and just want the education I offer to be excellent in quality.


Could you pick up a little more on Lexical approach? This WP is in the air, everyone is talking about it and trying to use it. I’m trying to catch up on that too. Please enlighten me.
You said ‘Chunking’. What? How?
I’d like to try it out too.
Specifically, I’d like to know how it’s reflected
on the
curriculum level (language content, learning process, and outcomes),

syllabus (selecting, sequencing, grading, timing), and

if there’s anything special in the delivery of classroom activities?
Also, could you in brief describe the core activities for this approach.
Thank you

This looks like a pretty concise site for
Teaching Lexically.

But I would highly recommend picking up Michael Lewis’ 1993 book entitled “The Lexical Approach”. Cranes has it. It has become a sort of TEFL bible these past years.

Here’s somebackground.

It’s true that the importance of lexis is increasingly recognized in EFL. Nevertheless the ‘lexical approach’ is as misleading as the ‘communicative approach’. They are not methodologies in themselves.

Lexical chunks are certainly worth highlighting within particular contexts such as functional language however it’s pointless to teach the chunk if the student lacks the necessary vocabulary to attach to the chunk as is so often the case. Another criticism of lexical chunking is that it’s hard to decide where a chunk starts and ends. Let’s also not underestimate the intelligence of our students who are quite able to recognize chunks themselves.

The ‘lexical approach’ has promised much (like the communicative approach) but to date the only fully implemented lexical syllabus - the Collins Cobuild Lexical Syllabus - was not well received and is now out of print.

Lexis has however highlighted the need for more formalized vocabulary teaching, something that has been sorely neglected in today’s ‘communicative approach’. Teach lexical chunks if you like but remember that they are subservient to, and indeed made up of, the greater need for vocabulary.

Those are some pretty interesting links Alien, cheers. I’ve been casting about for new teaching ideas for my buxiban classes and this will definitely play a part in my thinking in the future.

Anyone also interested: Alien & others discussed this in more detail a while back in this forum, click here.