Business English Textbooks – Which one to use?

The most common form of English teaching in Berlin is Business English. Whilst the underlying language is broadly the same as General English, it is presented in a different way in a business textbook. As the target-audience have a business background, you’ll find lots of business case studies/readings/listenings as well as a focus on business functions such as emailing and telephoning.

Benefits (compared to a general English textbook/no textbook)

  • Appropriate focus, e.g. presentations, negotiations and meetings compared to general English textbooks
  • Convenient for the teacher – a lot of the information and activities are there
  • Course planning and ensuring that you have a good mix of the different skills can be very difficult. A course book takes care of that.


  • Unless it has a very specific audience in mind (English for Engineering, for example), many parts of the book won’t be especially relevant to your student’s needs
  • Have a tendency to be boring – you need to bring the material off the page
  • Textbooks are out-of-date or don’t exist at all for some fast-moving and dynamic industries such as IT and online marketing

In my Berlin teaching experience, it is unlikely that you will be given or allowed to choose a textbook with which to teach your entire course. Instead, you have to ‘mix & match’ activities from different sources. For many teachers, this gives more freedom as well as responsibility and independence when planning classes. However, for less experienced teachers it can be challenging to select appropriate materials.

International Expressint express
Rachel Appleby, Angela Buckingham, Keith Harding, Alastair Lane, Bryan Stephens, Frances Watkins
Oxford University Press

One of the more popular and venerable business textbooks, it is written in an easily accessible style and has a lively layout. The content is very varied and covers many aspects of business as well as more general themes. Interesting readings and case studies are provided. The teacher’s book has lots of additional exercises and is a great resource.

Whilst the exercises are generally appropriate for the level, the book is certainly on the ‘general’ end of the business spectrum. Grammar is presented well but there is a lack of more specific business functions so students looking for more advanced business skills may find the book a bit light.
Whilst the grammar presentation is good, the practice exercises are a little unimaginative.

Overall, international express is a good choice, especially at lower levels.

Market Leadermarket
David Falvey, Simon Kent, David Cotton
Pearson Longman

Market Leader provides a varied course including a stronger focus on varied business skills which can be useful at higher levels. This book also has useful vocabulary and I especially like the idiomatic language that is found at regular points throughout the book. Whilst the activities cover useful functions, they can be rather easy for the advertised levels.

Unfortunately, ML tends to be rather boring in places. There are useful parts of this book and the language is often relevant but practice activities are either boring or badly put together – or non-existent. Listing vocabulary or phrases without any practice activities is my pet hate and is very common in this textbook. Additionally, you won’t find many extra activities in the teacher’s book.

All in all, I wouldn’t use this book exclusively but it is possible to pull out some useful bits and pieces as and when you need them.

Business ResultBusiness_Result_Int
Kate Baade, Michael Duckworth, David Grant, Christopher Holloway, Jane Hudson, John Hughes, Jon Naunton, Jim Scrivener, Rebecca Turner and Penny McLarty
Oxford University Press

Business Result goes through all the grammar that you need in your course as well as going into detail on some useful functions that aren’t covered in the other books. There are several fascinating and realistic case studies at the end of each unit which include listening parts and challenge the students to practice the skills they have learnt. The style of the book is accessible and well-written.

As a drawback, BR also uses that same hateful tactic of listing vocabulary without dedicated practice activities. Of course, you can plan your own exercises to mitigate this. The teacher’s book doesn’t contain any additional exercises.

Of the 3 books listed here, I’ve found Business Result to be the most useful and would certainly recommend it for use in class.

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