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A Text that is Right for You

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Here I will try to make sense of the very large range of materials (texts etc) that are available to the explorer of the English language as well as the approximate levels the texts are aimed at.

Children and Young Adults

Focus on speaking, listening, writing, phonics (for reading)

GET SPEAKING and READING (around ages 7-9)

For young people with very little experience learning English we love this series of books. In my 30 years teaching children English this is the best book I have ever used. The pace is excellent and has everything kids need to progress in every area of English.

At present we use English Time 1 and 2 at the school.

READING TIME! (around ages 10-11)

We believe that around 10 years old you should be reading! Reading not only focuses the student incredibly, but also allows for self study and reading for fun at home. Fast Phonics is a speedy primer for moving into the text books that require reading and homework. While other courses require buying multiple texts, this book covers basic phonics well with interesting and relevant material.


Time Zones 1 is a good choice for those progressing from being able to read, to forming, at first, simple sentences. All skills required to communicate in English are covered with listening via audio tracks and video, reading, speaking and pronunciation being the focus. These skills, of course are built upon an integrated study of grammar which is introduced chapter by chapter.

This is Time Zones 2 which challenges experienced middle-school students or less experienced high school students with similar content to the previous "Time Zones 1"


First let's look at some of the levels in some of the different frameworks that provide an indication of ones proficiency in English.


The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international standard for describing language ability. It describes language ability on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners, up to C2 for those who have mastered a language.


The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native speakers. It is intentionally designed to measure the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment.

There are different forms of the exam: The TOEIC Listening & Reading Test consists of two equally graded tests of comprehension assessment activities totaling a possible 990 score; There are also the TOEIC Speaking and Writing Tests.

Approximate comparison of CEFR and TOEIC

Pre A1 (>220) A1 (220) A2 (260) B1 (430) B2 (590) C1 (730)




(Pre A1 A1 A2 B1 B2 C1)

For those who are approaching English after not having studied for a while and are not confident of their basic grammar, pronunciation, etc (around A1 level) these new National Geographic books look great! I looked though all the available catalogues and of all the providers (Oxford, Cambridge, Macmillian, etc.). I believe National Geographic provides the most innovative, dynamic and interesting books for A1 level for adults to push their communication abilities.




(1) National Geographic Learning

Life 1 A1

Focus on foundational grammar leading to communication! Great for those returning to English after an absence.

Inspire 1 A1-A2

Designed to 'inspire'

communication for the slightly more advanced 'beginner'.



(Pre A1 A1 A2-B1 B2 C1)

Inspire 2 A2-B1

A great follow up to the first book which I find to facilitate great conversations. I believe students who need to concentrate more on fluency than grammar and vocabulary would benefit from this book than, for example, "World English 2" below.

World English 2 A2

I find this to be more structured than "Inspire 2"with more focus on acquiring and using vocabulary through reading etc. Thus it is ideal for students who need practice with not only using words in sentences, but also for repeated usage of correct grammar.




(Pre A1 A1 A2 B1 B2 C1)

Voices 4 high A2-B1


Another great National Geographic/Cengage collaboration. Features more challenging grammar to make yourself understood in a wider range of situations.



(Pre A1 A1 A2 B1 B2 C1)

21st Century Communication 4 B2

Uses powerful ideas from TED Talks to teach learners to think critically and communicate effectively. Build fluency in listening and speaking skills. Skills include critical thinking, collaboration, visual literacy, pronunciation, speaking, presentation, note-taking etc.


(Pre A1 A1 A2 B1 B2 C1)

For those who are approaching native level.

Recently I had an inquiry into the higher levels of English. So here I will briefly run over some of the texts available as well as some of the 'reader' books we can have in our library. Also native-level books of interest that we can order for our library and you can borrow.

Texts (Mastery)

(1) National Geographic Learning

Core Program

(1) Life 6. (C1) The last book in the series. Critical thinking, communicating effectively in academic, professional, and social lives.

(2) World Class 2. (C1-C2)

(3) Keynote 4. (B2). The last book in the series. TED Talks, exploring life-changing stories for a deeper understanding of the world, develop confidence and skills needed to express oneself powerfully and proficiently in English.

(4) World Link 3 (B2) Topics like social media, urban art, and international lifestyles.

(5) Perspectives 4 (C1) Critical thinking, uses TED Talks.

Listening and Speaking


(1) 21st Century Communication: Listening, Speaking, and Critical Thinking. (Level 4) Uses powerful ideas from TED Talks to teach learners to think critically and communicate effectively. Build fluency in listening and speaking skills. Skills include critical thinking, collaboration, visual literacy, pronunciation, speaking, presentation, note-taking etc.

(2) 21st Century Communication: Reading

(3) Pathways (C1)

(4) The Talking Series p25 (to 800 Toeic)

(5) All Clear (to 800 Toeic). Teaches the high-frequency idioms, phrases, and contemporary expressions used in a range of conversational situations.

(6) Presenting in English (to 800 Toeic)

(7) Well Said (to 800 Toeic). Improve pronunciation and communication skills.

Listening, Video

(1) Listening and Notetaking Skills Series (to 950+)

(2) Dynamic Listening Comprehension (to 800 Toeic)

(3) Real World Listening (to 800 Toeic)

(4) Listening Pro (to 800 Toeic)

(5) Lessons from Leaders: Buffett and Gates Go Back to School. (to 950+)

Graded Readers

Page Turners (to 800 Toeic). KIDS?


(1) Pathways: Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking p48 (to 900 Toeic)

Other reading focused texts from p50 inc. Academic reading (p51)

Other areas include: Writing, Grammar, Vocal, Dictionary, Test Prep, etc;

(2) Oxford

Core Program

(1) Wide Angle L6 (C1) Pragmatic syllabus (how English is used in social situations).

(2) Headway: Advanced (C1)

(3) English File: Advanced (C1)

Also Oxford have a range of texts regarding various Skills

(3) Pearson

Core Program

(1) Start Up L8 (C1) Text messages, emails, social conversations, podcasts and talks: Also formal texts for academic and business situations.

(2) Speakout: Advanced (C2) "Developed in association with BBC"

(3) Road Map (C1). "General English course"

(4) English in Common (C1)

(5) Top Notch: Summit 2 (C1) "Interact confidently with native and non-native speakers"

(6) New Language Leader: (C1) "Ideal bridge between general English and academic English"

(7) New Total English: (C2) "Clearly defined learning objectives"

(8) Cutting Edge: (C1) "World Culture"

Also Pearson has Academic Purpose English, Skills Focus, Professional and Vocational, Exam Prep, Test Prep, etc;

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