Unlocking Language Learning: How to Choose the Perfect ELT Coursebook

It is an undoubted fact that coursebooks are a great resource for language learning. Every ELT classroom is unique, with distinct student personalities, needs, and skills. Therefore, the coursebooks chosen should reflect this uniqueness, aiming not only to teach but also to help learners unveil their full potential in an effective and even enjoyable way. As a matter of fact, there are several important criteria to consider when it comes to choosing an ELT coursebook. Let’s break them down:

  1. Language Level: It goes without saying that the coursebooks chosen should be appropriate for the students’ current language level. Whether they are beginners or advanced learners, finding a coursebook that matches their proficiency will ensure that the content is neither too easy nor too challenging. Therefore, they will be encouraged to learn and progress, without feeling bored or discouraged.
  2. Teaching Approach: How about the teaching approach used in the coursebook? Some popular approaches include communicative, task-based grammar-focused activities. Teachers should think about which approach aligns with their students’ learning styles and goals. A communicative approach, for example, emphasizes real-life language use and encourages active participation.
  3. Content: Having relevant and engaging content is key to a perfect coursebook. Check if the topics covered in the book are interesting both to you and the students and if they reflect real-world situations. A good coursebook should provide a variety of reading, writing, listening and speaking activities to help all language skills be developed.
  4. Supplementary materials: Do additional resources or supplementary materials come with the coursebook? Great! These can include audio CDs, online resources, workbooks, teacher’s guides or even fun games. Having access to all of these can enhance your learning experience and provide extra practice opportunities.
  5. Cost: It is really important to consider the cost before choosing coursebooks. Some can be quite expensive, especially if they are accompanied by supplementary materials. Consider the general budget and weigh the value you will get from the coursebook against its price.

Pedagogical approach is another crucial aspect.
Some coursebooks follow a communicative approach, focusing on real-life language use and interaction. They often include activities that encourage students to use English in meaningful contexts, such as role-plays or discussions. They prioritize developing speaking and listening skills, while integrating reading and writing.

Other coursebooks may have a more traditional approach, emphasizing grammar and vocabulary. Some learners prefer a more structured approach that explicitly teaches grammar rules and new vocabulary. These books provide clear explanations, examples and practice activities to help students grasp new learning concepts. They often include exercises that focus on accuracy and precision in language use.

There are, also, coursebooks that follow a task-based approach. This approach emphasizes learning through tasks or projects. The students are provided with opportunities to work on meaningful tasks, such as planning a trip or solving a problem. The aim of this approach is to develop both language skills and critical thinking abilities.

 It all comes to your teaching style and learning goals. When the teaching approach matches the coursebook, it enhances engagement, motivation and overall learning outcomes.

Is it easy to choose the correct coursebook? Of course not, and that is why teachers should be aware of some common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid.

First of all, relying solely on the book’s reputation. It is easy to fall into the trap of choosing a coursebook based entirely on its reputation and popularity. While a well-known coursebook may have its merits, it might not necessarily be the best fit for your learners or your teaching style. It is important to carefully evaluate the content, activities and methodology of the book before picking it.
Another mistake teachers often make is overlooking their learners’ needs. Each group of learners is unique and their language goals, proficiency levels and learning styles should be taken into account. It is crucial to choose a coursebook that caters to their specific needs and helps them achieve their language learning objectives.

Do your students look at their coursebooks as a rigid set of rules? Then, you should focus on finding a coursebook that allows for flexibility and adaptability. This means being able to modify or adapt activities to suit the needs and interests of your learners. A coursebook that offers room for customization can make the experience even more engaging and relevant.

Here are some practical tips when searching and using the perfect coursebooks:

  1. Start by conducting online research. Look for reputable websites, forums or blogs that provide reviews and recommendations for different coursebooks. Read reviews from teachers who have used the coursebooks you are considering. This can give you valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each option.
  2. Reach out to your colleagues or experts. Language teaching professionals can give you their insights as they may have firsthand experience with certain coursebooks and can provide valuable feedback. Do not hesitate to ask for their opinions or suggestions. Collaboration and sharing ideas can be incredibly helpful in making the right choice.
  3. Trial versions are everything! Many publishers offer sample materials or trial versions of their coursebooks. Take advantage of the resources to take a close look at the content, activities and teaching approach. This will help you assess whether the coursebook aligns with your learners’ needs and your teaching style. You can also ask your students for feedback on the sample materials to involve them in the decision-making process.
  4. Consider attending workshops or seminars related to ELT. These events often have publishers showcasing their coursebooks and providing demonstrations. It is a great opportunity to interact with publishers, ask questions and get a better understanding of the options available.

Remember, the key to choosing the correct coursebooks for your ELT classroom is to gather as much information as possible and make an informed decision based on your learners’ needs and your own teaching style. Feel free to consult colleagues, fellow teachers, and why not, even your own students. All in all, selecting the ultimate coursebook provides a dynamic and engaging learning experience that benefits everyone in the ELT classroom!


  • Anna Kefalidi

    Language School Owner, English/ French Tutor, BA English Language and Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Anna Kefalidi

Anna Kefalidi

Language School Owner, English/ French Tutor, BA English Language and Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens