Hello everybody,

I’m not sure if I placed this topic in the right place.
I need some advice on course books and I hope you can help me. I want to do self study with them and I want to start again from beginner/elementary level. That is because I feel I’ve missed a lot of things while I was learning English and I want to be a writer or an editor when I’m older so my English must become near native. I would like to study the British variant by the way.

I’m 19 years old, so I can choose between a secondary of (young) adult course. The reason why I want to take a secondary course, is because I think there will a lot differences. You will learn teen language and I don’t know if the same aspects will be covered in adult books. What do you think?

I’m thinking about the following secondary courses (when needed):

- New Hotline (Oxford)

- Pacesetter (Oxford)

- Horizons (Oxford)

- English in Mind (Cambridge)

- Inspirations (Longman)

Does anybody work with these ones? What are your experiences?

Then the adult courses. I wanted to go for The New Headway, but the reviews on amazon.co.uk tell me that the new versions of this course have become to much American English. Can anybody tell if this is true? It’s impossible to buy the old versions here in the Netherlands, I’ve already looked for them and they’re sold out.

After the New Headway, I’m considering these ones:

- New English File (Oxford)

- Face 2 Face (Cambridge)

- The New English Cambridge Course (Cambridge)

Are these books useable for self study or do you have other suggestions? Which one should I take? With my future perspective in mind, do you think that I first should take a secondary course (or even a primary one) before getting on with an adult one?

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.
Hi Loesie,
You've already got some great advice from EnglishUser and Martin (and I want in particular to say a hearty "Amen!" to Martin's 3 points of advice!). The only thing that I can think to add is that spending some time in Britain, studying and/or working, could really help - surrounding yourself with the language and culture, 'absorbing it' even more... However, going to Britain may not be an option for you at the moment, so, in the meantime this forum can also help you. Greetings from Almere! Ann
Hi Loesie,

Welcome to the forums. I have a suggestion for you: try to read as much as possible in English: newspapers, novels, poems, plays, short stories... Judging from your written English your English is very good already, and I think you'd be wasting your time with study materials aimed at beginners. Of course, you might still like to improve your grammar and punctuation skills, for example. For this purpose I'd suggest you buy a good grammar book with exercises, preferably one for advanced students. I just don't think a regular coursebook for self-study would do the trick in your case. Study materials of this kind often emphasise on vocabulary building and relatively easy everyday-English-oriented grammar. These are all things I think you do very well with already as it is.

Let me know what you think.
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Hi Loesie,

I think the advice above is useful. I'd add a few things:
1) At 19, I would expect you to need an adult course (if any). All the secondary titles above are for 14-16 or so. Beyond this age, publishers consider students 'adults'.
2) Of the adult courses, I can't help you with a view on New Headway but both New English File and face2face are good courses. The New English Cambridge Course is a little old now so much of the content feels dated.

But ... the trouble is that these are classroom courses and as such, much of the material is designed for use in the classroom. While courses like face2face have very nice Workbooks, CD-ROMs etc. the syllabus is still built around that of the main book. Similarly something that began at elementary level would probably be very low for you.

So my advice partially echoes that above.
1) Get yourself some good grammar AND vocabulary books. The English Vocabulary in Use books (Cambridge) are good. Choose the one(s) that you think most suit your level. Similarly for Grammar. Flick through the many books out there and see what you think offers the right balance of explanation/practice. I would NOT necessarily advise an advanced book, though. They can be both difficult in terms of practice and sparse on information. And it sounds like you want some more guidance.
2) Read, read, read. Like novels? Get some high level readers - Cambridge, Oxford, and Longman all have series. Like film adaptations? Go for Longman/Penguin. Prefer original stories? Go for Cambridge.
You are not just improving your reading skills here, you are improving vocabulary, awareness of grammar, structure and everything else. After all, what does an editor spend much of his/her time doing? Reading. Similarly, writers (although you are not specific about what you want to write) MUST read widely for so many reasons.
3) Get other forms on input - TV, films, whatever you enjoy. You must hear language too - it will open up a whole new world for you. Look at the BBC alone - there are thousands of radio shows/documentaries in English - good listening skills are essential.

For your overall goal, accuracy may be necessary in the long term but a range of language skills is also important. Good luck!


 Annvan's reply was promoted to an answer.