Whether you’re a motivated English learner or ESL teacher looking for new books to improve your English lessons, this list of the best books to learn English will help.
Below you’ll find my top recommendations for ESL books specifically tailored for beginner to intermediate students. I personally recommend these books to my own students, depending on their English level and the areas of the English language that they want to improve.
If you have any recommendations to add to this list, let me know in the comments section below!
Table of Contents
The Best Books to Learn English in 2023
English For Everyone (Self-Study Series)
Great for: Visual Learners.
Colorful, detailed, and easy to use, the English for Everyone series has some of the best books for learning English in its collection. With books for all learning levels, the series covers grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and listening.
Clear explanations, well-designed layouts, and a wealth of exercises help students learn, understand, and practice using their newly acquired English language skills. And with a self-study approach, the English for Everyone series allows beginners to progress at their own pace while receiving comprehensive language instruction.
Easy English: Step-by-Step for ESL Learners
Great for: Beginner English.
One of the best-known titles among ESL students, Danielle Pelletier’s Easy English Step-by-Step for ESL Learners provides students with an easy-to-follow approach to learning English. Covering grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing, the book provides clear explanations, practice exercises, and progress checks every step of the way.
By breaking language learning into smaller steps, the book gives students a solid grasp of the fundamentals of English. With its structured curriculum and interactive exercises, it serves as a valuable resource for beginning ESL students seeking comprehensive language instruction.
English Made Easy: Learning English Through Pictures
Great for: Visual Learners.
Full of illustrations and artwork, this book is perfect for visual learners. Offering a comprehensive beginner-level course that focuses on grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills, English Made Easy offers clear explanations, practice exercises, and audio material for interactive learning.
Complete English All-in-One for ESL Learners
Great for: Beginner English.
Complete English All-in-One is a comprehensive book that covers all aspects of English language learning, including grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and conversation. It is a valuable resource for ESL learners as it provides ample opportunities for practice, reinforcing language skills and building confidence.
With its wide range of exercises and explanations, it serves as a self-study guide for learners seeking a comprehensive approach to mastering English.
The Oxford Picture Dictionary
Great for: Visual Learning, Vocabulary.
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If you’re a visual learner, you’ll love this book. The Oxford Picture Dictionary by Jayme Adelson-Goldstein and Norma Shapiro presents vocabulary alongside vibrant illustrations, making it easy for beginner ESL students to learn, understand, and remember words.
Covering a wide range of categories, The Oxford Picture Dictionary is a fun way for students to expand their vocabularies. The dictionary also includes helpful dialogues and exercises, allowing learners to practice using the vocabulary in context.
English for Everyone: English Idioms
Great for: Spoken English.
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Learning English Idioms is an essential step in achieving English fluency, because native English speakers use them in conversation all the time.
Dedicated dedicated to teaching common English idiomatic expressions, English for Everyone: English Idioms provides clear explanations, contextual examples, and practice activities to help beginner ESL students understand and use idioms effectively. By mastering idiomatic expressions, learners can enhance their spoken and written English, and better understand informal conversations.
The English Grammar Workbook for Adults
Great for: English Grammar Practice.
Good grammar skills are the foundation of every student’s journey to English fluency. That’s why the The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing is high on my list of recommendations for ESL students.
Designed to help adults improve their grammar skills for personal and professional contexts, this workbook has one of the most comprehensive approaches to English grammar you’ll ever find in an ESL book dedicated to grammar. Covering various topics such as sentence structure, punctuation, verb usage, and more, this workbook provides clear explanations, examples, and exercises to help students speed up their grammar learning and avoid common mistakes.
English Grammar in Use
Great for: English Grammar Foundation.
Perfect for intermediate ESL students, English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy is a comprehensive grammar book full of clear explanations of English grammar rules. It covers a wide range of topics, making it a valuable resource for building a strong foundation in English grammar.
I recommend this book to my students because it has a lot of helpful practice exercises and a very user-friendly layout. Because the author uses accessible language, even beginner learners can use it to understand and apply grammar concepts in everyday situations.
English Vocabulary in Use
Great for: Improving Vocabulary.
I love recommending English Vocabulary in Use by Michael McCarthy and Felicity O’Dell, because it covers a wide range of vocabulary topics, including common words, synonyms, idioms, and phrasal verbs.
Each unit offers clear explanations, example sentences, and practice exercises to aid retention and application. And it emphasizes practical vocabulary usage in real-life contexts, making it an invaluable resource for beginner learners seeking to expand their word bank and improve their overall communication skills.
English Collocations in Use
Great for: Fluency, Conversational English.
Collocations are one of the hardest areas for ESL students to grasp, especially when they’re just starting out in English. That’s why English Collocations in Use: How Words Work Together for Fluent and Natural English is high on my recommendations list.
This book focuses on teaching ESL students collocations—the natural pairing of words in English.—so that they can sound more natural in everyday conversation. Covering a range of collocations that are used in everyday English, clear explanations and contextual examples help learners understand how words combine to create fluent and natural-sounding language. If your ESL learners want to enhance their vocabulary, accuracy, and overall language proficiency, mastering collocations with this book is a must.
Learn English Through Stories (series)
Great for: English Reading Comprehension.
Learn English Through Stories: 16 Stories to Improve Your English Grammar and English Vocabulary leverages the power of storytelling to enhance ESL students’ English language skills.
Inside you’ll find 16 engaging stories that incorporate practical grammar and vocabulary exercises. Because the book immerses you, the reader, in relatable narratives, it gives you a context for language learning and helps you apply grammar rules and expand your vocabulary in a practical way.
This book is an effective resource for ESL students as it makes language learning enjoyable, promotes language acquisition through context, and provides opportunities for meaningful practice, leading to improved grammar and vocabulary skills.
Short Stories in English for Beginners
Great for: English Reading Comprehension.
Short Stories in English for Beginners helps beginner ESL students improve their language proficiency through reading. The book includes a collection of accessible and relatable short stories that are designed to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary.
I recommend this book to my students because each story is accompanied by vocabulary explanations and exercises, which makes it a lot easier to learn and memorize new words and expressions in context. If you or your ESL students need an easy-to-follow book with vocabulary that they can use in everyday situations, encourage them to practice their reading skills and expand their vocabulary and English sentence structures with this book.
Advanced Writing Skills For Students of English
Great for: Written English.
Need to improve your English writing skills? Look no further than Advanced Writing Skills For Students of English by Phil Williams. This book covers a range of advanced writing techniques and strategies, including academic writing, formal letters, essays, and reports. And because it includes clear explanations, examples, and practical exercises to develop proficiency in written communication, it’s an invaluable resource that focuses on the specific challenges they may face in expressing their ideas effectively in English.
This book will help you you improve your writing skills and communicate confidently and competently in English, whether you’re in an academic, professional, or everyday English setting.
Practice Makes Perfect: English Conversation
Great for: Conversational English.
Practice Makes Perfect: English Conversation focuses specifically on improving conversational skills in English—one of the most useful areas of English for any ESL learner to master. It offers a variety of dialogues, prompts, and exercises to practice and develop conversational fluency.
ESL learners who need more practice using English in real-life scenarios will gain confidence and improve their ability to communicate effectively in English with this study resource.
102 Simple English Conversation Dialogues For Beginners
Great for: English Speaking Practice.
One of the best ways to gain confidence in spoken English is to speak English as much as possible. 102 Simple English Conversation Dialogues For Beginners offers a collection of simple dialogues in American English, providing learners with practical conversational examples. It is beneficial for ESL learners as it focuses on building confidence and improving spoken English skills.
By engaging in dialogue practice, learners can develop their conversational fluency, vocabulary, and pronunciation, allowing them to communicate more effectively in real-life situations.
Complete English Spelling and Pronunciation Rules
Great for: Written English, Spelling Skills.
Complete English Spelling and Pronunciation Rules: Simple Ways to Spell and Speak Correctly helps ESL learners improve their focuses on spelling and pronunciation rules in English via clear explanations and practice exercises.
ESL learners love this book, because it offers a simple, systematic approach to understanding and applying spelling rules (which are often confusing!!), enabling them to write and pronounce words accurately. By mastering English spelling and pronunciation, English learners can sound more natural and professional in written English.
Best Books to Learn English Grammar
The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need
Good for: Grammar Basics.
Just like the title suggests, The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Susan Thurman is one of the most comprehensive guides to English grammar rules and common usage errors available today. I love this book, because it covers a wide range of English grammar topics in language that’s easy-to-understand for ESL learners.
My students find this book particularly valuable because of the practical examples and clear explanations in each chapter. Beginner to intermediate ESL learners can use this book to find answers to common questions and fix any pesky grammar errors that they make in written and spoken English.
Perfect English Grammar
Good for: Grammar Basics.
This book is fantastic for understanding English grammar and improving both written and spoken grammar skills. I highly recommend Perfect English Grammar: The Indispensable Guide to Excellent Writing and Speaking because of the way it explains complex grammar rules in simple terms.
If you or your students are trying to perfect English grammar to write an essay, give a presentation, or engage in everyday English conversations, this book will help.
The Perfect English Grammar Workbook
Good for: Practice Exercises.
This is the companion workbook to Perfect English Grammar. I love recommending this workbook, because The Perfect English Grammar Workbook: The Indispensable Guide to Excellent Writing and Speaking helps ESL learners practice, practice, practice—which is easily the most important step in achieving English fluency!
Inside this workbook, you’ll find a range of practical and interactive grammar exercises that teach and reinforce the reader’s understanding of English grammar concepts and rules. You can use this as a self-study tool and use the exercises to practice and apply correct grammar usage in a range of real-life situations.
English Grammar in Use
Good for: Practice Exercises.
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy is another fantastic resource for learning English grammar. Suitable for ESL learners at the pre-intermediate and intermediate levels, the book covers all the important English grammar topics and includes plenty of practice exercises to reinforce the learning process.
If you’re looking for a book to learn English grammar rules and use them correctly in everyday English, I highly recommend English Grammar in Use.
Best Books to Learn English Speaking
Fluent English: Perfect Natural Speech
Good for: English Speaking Foundation.
One of the most comprehensive books on learning English speaking skills, Fluent English: Perfect Natural Speech, Sharpen Your Grammar, Master Idiomatic Expressions, Speak Fluently by Barbara Raifsnider is an excellent resource for intermediate ESL learners.
The book helps readers improve speaking skills and fluency by focusing idiomatic expressions, natural speech, and grammar. With clear examples, explanations, and speaking exercises, English learners are taught how to speak clearly and communicate confidently in everyday conversations.
English Pronunciation in Use
Good for: Pronunciation Practice.
English Pronunciation in Use by Mark Hancock is designed to enhance English pronunciation and speaking clarity. Covering English sounds, intonation patterns, and rhythm, the book offers clear explanations and audio material—an essential teaching tool for English speaking practice.
With a strong emphasis on improving pronunciation, ESL learners are taught how to improve common mistakes so that their spoken English sounds more natural and clear to others.
Speak English Like an American
Good for: Speaking Practice.
If your goal is to learn American English, then Speak English Like an American by Amy Gillett is an excellent resource. The book predominantly focuses on conversational English and the idiomatic expressions that are commonly used in American English.
Like most other resources in this list, it comes with clear explanations and examples. But the real value is in its practice exercises: ESL learners can use these to understand and incorporate these expressions into their spoken English to, well… speak English like an American!
Speak Business English Like an American
Good for: Business English.
If you want to learn American English and you need to improve your business English skills, then check out Speak Business English Like an American by Amy Gillett. This book is aimed at ESL learners who need better English skills in the workplace.
Covering all of the important business idioms, phrases, and vocabulary that are commonly used in U.S. workplace scenarios, Speak Business English Like an American can help readers master business English, communicate in professional settings, and enhance their career prospects in English-speaking countries.
Using English Expressions for Real Life
Good for: Sounding Natural in Conversation.
Spoken English is full of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms. Learn to use these and you’ll sound like a native English speaker. This book, Using English Expressions for Real Life: Stepping Stones to Fluency for Advanced ESL Learners, will show you how.
With a long list of everyday expressions and phrases to enhance spoken English, the book shows ESL learners how to use these expressions in various real-life scenarios.
Perfecting Your English Pronunciation
Good for: Spoken English Pronunciation.
ESL learners who need to learn English for school or work will find Perfecting Your English Pronunciation by Susan Cameron particularly helpful. With 150+ minutes of audio practice and 45 minutes of video exercises, the book focuses on helping improve the technical aspects of spoken English: vowel and consonant sounds, stress patterns, and intonation.
Practice exercises and audio materials are great practicing spoken English and communicating more accurately and confidently in the real world.
Cambridge Academic English
Good for: Advanced Academic English.
Need better English skills for university? Then check out Cambridge Academic English: An Integrated Skills Course for EAP Student’s Book, C1 Advanced Level. Specifically designed for advanced ESL students who want to improve their speaking skills in academic settings, the book (designed as a self-study course) teaches ESL learners how to organize essays, take notes, use appropriate language in academic settings, and engage with spoken and written academic content.
Make good use of the practice activities and examples in this book and you’ll quickly improve your speaking skills and excel in your studies in an academic context.
Best Books to Learn English Writing Skills
Let’s face it. Learning about English punctuation and grammar can be pretty boring… but Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation has found a way to make it fun.
With humorous examples and engaging explanations, the book shows ESL learners how to use punctuation to convey meaning and maintain clarity in written English. in conveying meaning an maintaining clarity in written English. If you’re always asking yourself “where does that comma go?” and “Should I use an emdash here?” this book will help you out.
I love, love, love Eats, Shoots, and Leaves for so many reasons. But my #1 reason? It’s FUNNY and a pleasure to read. It’s great for ESL learners, but even native English speakers can benefit from this book.
Can You Eat, Shoot & Leave? (Workbook)
Good for: Written English Practice.
Practice is the most important part of learning English. It solidifies everything you’ve learned. So if you want to practice your English punctuation skills, grab a copy of Can You Eat, Shoot & Leave?, the companion workbook to Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.
Focusing on punctuation rules and their impact on writing clarity, the workbook is full of practical exercises and activities that reinforce proper punctuation usage and help learners develop a better understanding of how punctuation affects meaning and overall writing effectiveness.
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
Good for: Exercises & Quizzes.
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Lester Kaufman and Jane Straus is another fantastic resource for putting your grammar and punctuation skills to work. Full of quizzes and exercises, use it to improve your English grammar and punctuation skills.
How to choose the best books to learn English for YOUR English level
All of the books in this list of recommendations can help you enhance you build confidence and strengthen your English skills.
But the trick to getting the most out of these resources is to work with books that match up with your current learning level (beginners should aim for beginner-level books, intermediate students should consider intermediate-level books, and so on).
A great way to always choose the right books for you is to use the 5-finger rule. Here’s how it works:
Open a book any page and read what’s on the page. Then, using your hand, count the number of new words that you see.
- 0-1 new words: This book is too easy.
- 2-3 new words: This level is perfect!
- 4 new words: This is a “challenging” level. Try it if the book seems interesting and you’re up for a challenge.
- 5+ new words: This book is too difficult. You probably won’t enjoy it.
I hope you enjoy these learning resources as much as my students do! And if you want to recommend any other ESL books for English language learners, please let us know in the comments below!