Top Business English Textbooks (ESL/EFL)
(Posted April, 2013)
Intelligent Business (Longman in partnership with The Economist)
Important Note: This series is no longer published (not since 2013).
I am a fan of the Intelligent Business series. I have used the pre-intermediate, intermediate, and upper-intermediate books. They are very business focused and every unit contains an up-to-date article from The Economist, which gives it the feel of a business magazine or newspaper.
Each unit focuses on a career skill (setting goals, negotiating, or presentations, etc.) and also has a “Dilemma & Decision” section for role-playing different scenarios. As an English learning tool, it is as good as Market Leader (below). However, I’ve found the articles in Intelligent Business fresher and more relevant. This makes the book more engaging for the students, who feel like they are studying ‘the real thing’ and not something artificial.
This series is my top recommendation. It was also chosen as the recommended series for teaching Business English at the conversational school I teach for here, in Prague.
Market Leader (Pearson, 3rd Edition)
I’ve used the intermediate and upper-intermediate books from this series. Similar to Intelligent Business, Market Leader was created in partnership with the Financial Times.
The book has authentic texts on business English topics such as advertising, investments, training, etc. Its units each focus on a career skill, such as negotiation, presentations, raising finance, and outsourcing. Each unit contains a case study which has students role-play a task or debate a scenario.
This is a solid series and an effective tool for learning business English.
International Express (Oxford, 3rd Edition)
This is not as business-focused as the above two series. My employer has chosen International Express as their “Professional English” recommendation because it bridges the gap between general and business English.
As per the Oxford University Press website, “International Express combines general English with business situations, giving students the social and functional English they need to work, travel, and socialize.”
The chapters include more general topics like travel, food & hospitality, and roles & relationships. I should note that compared to the above two books, I found the grammar difficulty level slightly easier. I also skipped more exercises with this series.
While this is not my recommendation for business English, if you have a group of students divided in what they want to study (i.e. business English or general English), then I would choose this series.
There are many business English textbooks. Naturally, I have not tried them all. This is a list of business-related books that I thought were worth mentioning. As with any textbook, you, the teacher, need to preread and determine how to use each chapter effectively. Even the best book has exercises that might warrant skipping over. Business English is often not very thrilling (at least for me); you’ll need to find ways to liven up a 1.5-hour class on your own.
I hope this has proved helpful. What books do you recommend for teaching business English?
– Matthew Barton / Englishcurrent.com