The ABC of ELT

5 books You Should Buy Before You Do Your Teaching Course

So you’ve decided to do a qualification course to teach English as a foreign language. Great! I hope my advice helped you come to that decision. But maybe you want to get ahead of the game and prepare before you start.

Doing a CELTA course (or any other type of accredited course) can really test your knowledge of your own language and ability to teach. You can just turn up, start your course and go from there. It is what most people do and probably explains why most people find themselves completely overwhelmed during their CELTA courses by all the new information they have to process.

There is of course an alternative to this.

Read up and grab yourself a solid foundation before the course starts and then not feel so stressed during the course.

The books bellow are all recommended reading books from CELTA courses (and other related teaching qualification courses) and even if you don’t buy them in advance, you almost certainly will be advised to pick them up once you start. I have included two suggestions in each area so that you can compare two different options. In the future I’ll post a review of each one individually.

Teaching Methodology

Teaching Methodology is a technical term for the way you teach. Over the years there have been many different ideas about the best way to teach a foreign language and what tricks you can use to have the best lesson. These books not only contain details about different ways to teach but also general advice about how to manage a classroom and help students learn. (meaning you won’t have a problem with those naughty students in the back row)

They are both written by experienced experts in the field of TEFL and have been updated over the years to keep up with the latest developments in teaching. I personally used Jeremy Harmer’s book “The practice of English Language Teaching” during my CELTA

Grammar books

Having a good grammar book is very important, especially for someone who hasn’t learnt the language as a student. If you can’t tell your present perfect from your past participle then these books will at least allow you to learn the difference.

They include common terminology as well as a guide for looking up grammar points you may encounter. Although many Student and teacher books have grammar guides within their content, they are usually brief and don’t go include all the “exceptions” to the rules. These guides are much more thorough and are always available when you aren’t using a students book as well.

I personally used Michael SwansPractical English Usage“.

Classroom activities

These books don’t look at the WHY questions in the classroom (that what a teaching methodology book does) but instead focus on HOW. They contain some set activities that other teachers have used in their classes. Some of them even include photocopiable resources so you can prepare them very quickly. (Be warned, just because an activity worked for the writer doesn’t mean it will work for you. Understanding methodology will help you know what will and won’t work)


Some qualification courses will avoid giving you any type of published coursebook so that you aren’t reliant on them as a teacher (you never know if you will end up in a place with a coursebook or not!). However, most schools use some form of coursebook which have been put together by an experienced TEFL teacher. There is certainly no harm in looking through some different coursebooks to get an idea.

Bonus Extra: CELTA coursebook

I personally have no experience of this book and so can’t say how useful it is. However, it is endorsed by Cambridge (who regulate the course) and so probably has some insights into the course that could well be useful. (it is also written by Scott Thornbury, one of the leading experts in TEFL)

If you buy one of these books (or have bought one already) why not leave a review of it bellow.
The links in the article above are affiliated links, If you buy anything from the links above I will get a small commission and you won't pay any increase than if you bought them directly. If you don't wish to use the links above then please search for them on Amazon.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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