Choosing what textbook to use is a difficult decision. And if you want to improve your fluency, it gets even more challenging, since most English textbooks don’t focus enough on speaking.
To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best 15 textbooks that’ll actually help you become fluent in English. And if you’re looking for something budget friendly (i.e. free), jump down to the bottom!
Textbooks With a Focus on Speaking
The first four are good English textbooks designed specifically to get you speaking.
1. Practice Makes Perfect: English Conversation
Published by McGraw-Hill, Practice Makes Perfect was written for intermediate students trying to improve their English conversation skills. Each chapter starts with a real-life dialogue, followed by conversation tips, expressions commonly used in American English, and practice exercises.
One advantage of this book is that it comes with recorded dialogues that can be accessed online and in its mobile app, so unlike many other options, you don’t need a CD player.
2. Nice Talking With You
Nice Talking With You is a Cambridge series that is designed to get beginners speaking from day one. Each lesson has learners working on conversation questions and strategies, which they then apply to the listening and speaking exercises.
3. Let’s Talk
Also published by Cambridge, Let’s Talk is a course that helps students become fluent in American English through a variety of communication activities, while still covering grammar, vocabulary, listening, and other aspects of the language.
4. Collins Easy Learning English
Collins Easy Learning English is a series of books produced by the company behind Collins English Dictionary. The series includes two books on conversation: English Conversation Book 1 for beginners and English Conversation Book 2 for intermediate students.
Each book has 14 units that feature how English is used in different everyday situations. There’s also some business English for beginners.
Textbooks That Start Conversations
If you just want to dive into the world of conversation and don’t need exercises or explanations, the books in this section are for you.
5. Discussions A-Z
6. Compelling Conversations
Compelling Conversations: Questions and Quotations on Timeless Topics is a book designed to spark meaningful conversations among advanced learners. Each of the 45 chapters provides thought-provoking questions and quotations along with a list of relevant vocabulary words.
7. 1000 Conversation Questions
Published in 2016, 1000 Conversation Questions is exactly that: 1,000 questions — no more, no less. These questions are divided into 100 topics that come up in conversation, such as aging, cleanliness, family values, and more.
If you like this book, you may find another one by the same author helpful too: 500 Grammar-Based Conversation Questions. Published in 2014, this book introduces the most commonly-taught grammar patterns, followed by questions that let students practice them in conversation.
8. 101 Conversations in English
If you want to study real-life conversations to improve your ability to communicate with locals, then 101 Conversations is the series for you. Both 101 Conversations in Simple English and 101 Conversations in Intermediate English tell a story through 101 short dialogues set in London. Unfortunately, audio recordings aren’t available, but there are audiobook versions.
Textbooks That Teach Vocabulary
To have a conversation, you need vocabulary. The textbooks below don’t just teach any words; they teach the words and expressions that you’ll definitely hear and use in conversation!
9. Conversational American English: The Illustrated Guide to Everyday Expressions of American English
McGraw-Hill’s Conversational American English teaches 3000 American English expressions through illustrations. It also covers 350 common themes in everyday conversation, from politely leaving an event to asking someone for their name again.
10. Speak English Like An American
Speak English Like An American teaches over 300 commonly-used American English idioms and uses stories to show learners when and how to use them. You can try out a chapter for free in the online course.
If you find this book helpful, you can check out the sequel, More Speak English Like An American, or other books by the same author: Speak English Around Town and Speak Business English Like An American.
Each of these books comes with an app you can download to listen to the audio recordings.
11. Shortcut to English Collocations
If you enjoy learning idioms, then you might like this book as well: Shortcut to English Collocations (sample included). Published in 2017, this book introduces 2000 of the most common collocations.
Collocations are words that are often used together. For example:
- “take a shower” (instead of “do a shower”)
- “make friends” (instead of “get friends”)
- “come to an end”(instead of “reach an end”)
Knowing collocations makes you more fluent, as they allow you to speak in chunks instead of individual words. So check out Shortcut to English Collocations if you want to give your fluency a boost.
12. Oxford Word Skills
While Oxford Word Skills doesn’t directly help with fluency, we figured it deserved to be mentioned, as it is one of the most highly-recommended vocabulary-learning resources available.
The three books each contain 2000 words that have been carefully selected for usefulness in real-life conversations. Students who find these books helpful can also check out the two additional ones on idioms and phrasal verbs.
The books also come with free online tests that you can use to check your mastery of the words.
Finally, if you want a more comprehensive learning experience, here are some textbooks that teach all four skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) but still have strong speaking exercises.
13. American English File
American English File (sample included) is another series that takes learners from A1 to C1 level in American English. In addition to teaching vocabulary and grammar, each chapter has plenty of speaking exercises and pronunciation tips to get students speaking confidently.
14. Cutting Edge
Cutting Edge (sample included) is a British English textbook series that has students practice new vocabulary and grammar in context. Each lesson guides students towards achieving a communicative goal.
15. New Total English
New Total English (sample included) is a textbook series which helps students develop all four language skills from A1 to C1. The books use plenty of authentic texts and photographs which will bring students out of a classroom and into the real world.
Are You Broke?
At Engoo, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of students become fluent in English with our own English “textbook.” Our lesson materials are completely free and open to the public, so anyone can use them regardless of whether they are a student or not.
- Our Conversation lessons will prepare you to talk about topics that commonly occur in conversation, such as your favorite celebrities, countries you’d like to visit, and how often you exercise.
- Our Daily News lessons will get you to talk about all sorts of topics from health and tech to travel and environmental issues.