Best Books for Teaching Business English (ESL/EFL)

Top Business English Textbooks (ESL/EFL)

(Posted April, 2013)

Best books for teaching business English (ESL)

Business English textbook Intelligent BusinessAmazon: US & UK

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.

Business English textbook Market LeaderAmazon: US & UK

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.

Business English textbook International ExpressAmazon: US & UK

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.

teaching English current wave

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 /

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11 comments on “Best Books for Teaching Business English (ESL/EFL)

  1. John Nguyen (Posted on 9-18-2014 at 03:43) Reply

    To whom it may concern

    Warmest greeting to everybody at your organization

    I am Looking for book of English for business including audio clips. I have read your ad so I hope that I will get your exact advise for my interest. John Nguyen – 094.875.1239.

  2. Arnold Quiroz (Posted on 5-18-2015 at 22:42) Reply

    I have taught those two books except International Express. Those two are superb with splendid results, it shape up the mind of the student particularly on how to be critical in their point of views.
    The International Express may I know your insights for this book because I’m looking for a book that best describe about International Business Culture. Most especially that my students are Business Travelers.thank you.

  3. Arnold Quiroz (Posted on 5-18-2015 at 22:47) Reply

    Before I forget, does this book have audio listening even for watching materials.Let me know your response.Thanks

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-22-2015 at 01:31) Reply

      Hello Arnold. My knowledge of International Express is summarized in the article. You can, however, get more information on its contents here: . Click on the ‘Look Inside’ link to view the table of contents of the most recent versions of the series. Regarding audio, yes, there definitely is a CD that corresponds with the listening exercises. I am not certain about videos; you can check the link for that information as well.

      All the best.

  4. Fred (Posted on 6-28-2015 at 06:20) Reply


    Thank you for this article.I was interested in Intelligent business, but at my local bookshop, which is specialised in Languages, I was told that it is a bit old now and nobody buys it anymore.
    She would’nt order the upper intermediate for me :-(
    Do you think it still can compete with more recent editions of International Express, In Company 3.0 or Business Result?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 6-28-2015 at 12:00) Reply

      Hello Fred. I haven’t taught with a business English textbook since 2013. I have not used In Company or Business Result. Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance.

  5. Mark (Posted on 7-21-2015 at 04:40) Reply

    I’m a big fan of in company. I own all 4 levels, but I’d say Intermediate and Upper-intermediate are the most useful. But even some articles inside are becoming outdated, so I would like it if they came out with a new edition.

  6. Nadia (Posted on 2-8-2020 at 07:40) Reply

    Thank you! Brief, clear and useful! Intelligent Business is just what I’ve been looking for!

    1. MB (Posted on 2-8-2020 at 12:18) Reply

      This book is outdated now! (I don’t think they make new editions)

  7. Iain (Posted on 6-10-2020 at 16:08) Reply

    I use bits and pieces from Market Leader, which has useful practical language and real interviews with people who have direct experience of each topic. I also use parts of Business Result which has good phrase banks for meetings , presentations and negotiations.

    However, I’m using textbooks less and less as both the language and the whole business context goes out of date so quickly.

    For example distributed working / remote teams / teleworking is completely changing management , communication, recruitment and many other aspects of business faster than textbooks can possibly keep up with.

    For this reason I tend to build classes around sources such as BBC business/Entrepreneur articles, TED talks, comedy sketches such as Tripp & Tyler so that sessions don’t become too dry.

    1. MB (Posted on 6-10-2020 at 19:32) Reply

      Great advice, Iain. Thanks for sharing.

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