5 of the Best CELTA Books to Prepare: Recommendations from Experience

To keep this post clear and simple, I have mentioned the best books to prepare for the CELTA course in the following order:

  • The number 1 book to read before your CELTA course for an overview
  • The books I use most often
  • Other books you will likely see or hear about (but I don’t often use them!)

So, what are the best 5 books for your CELTA course?

  1. Teaching English by Jim Scrivener
  2. English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy
  3. Reward Resource Pack – Macmillan (Various Levels)
  4. Practical English Usage by Michael Swan
  5. Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener
    • NB: All of the above are Amazon affiliate links.

Now that I’ve laid these out for you, let’s have a look at them in a little more detail below, focusing on where each book has its own best use in the context of your CELTA course.

However, this should not be done before answering a key question that could save you time and money, as featured directly below.

Do You Need to Buy Books for Your CELTA Course?

Before you go and buy any of the books below, I strongly recommend checking whether you can borrow them from your CELTA centre, or ask if any are included in the price of the course (some CELTA centres do offer this).

Try asking any of the following people  or organisations to see if you can get a free or cheap copy of the recommended CELTA books:

  • The CELTA course centre where you have applied to do your course – just ask! They might have in their lending library, or provide them to CELTA trainees. The worst they can do is say no
  • Any friends who have done the course
  • In relevant CELTA course Facebook groups
  • Your local university library (if you have access)

I say this because there are lots of these books available second-hand and that can save you a lot of money!

I should also tell you that all the links to the books below go to Amazon.com. They are also affiliate links for my account so using them helps to support this site, with no extra cost for you. If you can find them cheaper elsewhere, buy them through the cheaper site!

OK, so without further ado, here are my tips for the main books to prepare for the CELTA course.

 The Best book to Read for How to Teach Grammar on the CELTA Course

 1. Teaching English Grammar by Jim Scrivener (Amazon UK Affiliate Link)

I have recently updated this post and put this at the top of my list for several reasons.

After looking back over this book 10 years after doing my CELTA, I can see just how clear it is compared to other books on the subject.

It wastes no time and gives practical tips and advice from start to finish, all of which are focused on teaching grammar in a practical CELTA style.

It is a book you can pick up, open on a page and use straight away. For this reason, I have put it at the top of the list.

What I like most is the clear layout, with images, illustrations and diagrams which help to make a fairly dry subject pretty accessible.

Remember, it is likely your CELTA centre will have a copy of this grammar book so check first before buying.

Books I use most often when teaching (and which I wish I’d known about on my CELTA course!)

2. Raymond Murphy English Grammar in Use (Amazon UK Affiliate Link)

This book helps with explaining grammar but don’t expect to use more than 2 exercises per page. I say this because some of them can take students a long time to complete.

It’s also pure grammar so they are not very high energy or exciting. You will need to add extras to these to turn them into more exciting activities (if needed).

Also, note that the different colours of each book means different levels of English. On a CELTA course, you are likely to be teaching low level to upper-intermediate (at the highest).

My tip is to ask your course provider if they can tell what range of levels you will be teaching (but they might not know!). On a CELTA course, you are likely to be teaching low level to upper-intermediate (at the highest). You could ask your course provider if they can tell what range of levels you will be teaching (but they might not know!).

That way you can also look into course books to prepare for the CELTA course observed lessons part as well as you will know the level.

What parts of this book can you get for free online (legally)?

You can get the free sample and the table of contents for this book again from the Cambridge official site.

3. Reward Resource Pack (Different levels available; Amazon UK Affiliate Link)

This is not a book to read, but it is the one I have used most often of all of them.

It’s called a resource pack because it is full of photocopiable activities which you can use to add some fun and energy to your CELTA lessons.

Most of the games in here are good, and almost all use a communicative approach, which is in line with the CELTA style of teaching.

Even if the games aren’t something you will use (some can take up to 45 minutes!), you can get some good ideas from them.

Books you will find helpful on your CELTA course (but I don’t use these often)

4. Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (Amazon UK affiliate link)

This is a grammar explanation book only and does not have exercises.

That said, it has very clear and detailed grammar explanations. Personally, I haven’t used this as much as English Grammar in Use but I know many teachers who keep a copy in their bookcase at all times.

In fact, I’d be amazed if your CELTA centre does not have a copy of this as this book is such a classic for CELTA teachers!

Personally, I didn’t really use it on my course but I know many CELTA trainees who found it helpful, hence the recommendation.

5. Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener (Amazon UK Affiliate Link)

I have included this book because it has been mentioned by many on social media as a core part of their CELTA course.

Although it wasn’t a major part of my CELTA course back in 2007, it was mentioned by my CELTA tutors.

Jim Scrivener is also a highly respected author in the field of ELT / ESL, for which reason his books are widely used. I think at least half of all CELTA trainees will have used one of his books to prepare for a CELTA course.

BONUS: CELTA Trainer’s Manual by Scott Thornbury (Amazon UK Affiliate Link)

As an extra, I would also recommend Scott Thornbury’s CELTA Trainer’s Manual. This book has everything about the CELTA course requirements and structure.

The reason I suggest the version for trainers rather than trainees is because the trainees’ version needs input from tutors to be really helpful, while the version for trainers actually tells you a lot more about the structure of the course and how it will be taught.

Although this sounds odd, I don’t think the trainees’ version will be that helpful for you alone as it feels more like an exercise book without the answers – not great.

Reading this book will help you feel prepared for the course and teach you all of the key terms. Doing so will be a major confidence booster for you. It will also let you focus on teaching more than learning new terms and words in the first few days.

I did my CELTA course back in 2007 and the book was only published that year, so I did not get to use it. However, I wish I’d had this kind of book to prepare for the CELTA course as it tells you everything about the course in enough detail to mentally prepare you to teach on the course.

It is very clearly laid out, with the main topics to cover on the course. Even just looking at the contents of the book in the first few pages can provide a lot of information on key topics such as concept checking questions (CCQs), teacher talking time (TTT) and more.

As this book is so complete, if you are only going to get one of these books to prepare for the CELTA course, get this one!

Scott Thornbury is also considered an authority in the field of EFL/ESL and is very well respected. He has a very popular blog about ELT.

What parts of this book can you get for free online (legally)?

You can see the contents page for this book free and legally through the Cambridge official website here (skip to page 3 for the most useful bits!).

You can also get a free chapter of this book from the Cambridge official website – see instructions for this below.

PS You may also like to get your assignments or application checked by Scribendi – an online proofreading service (affiliate link) I used to work for that provides high-quality work.

Looking for more CELTA info?

Be sure to check out the CELTA Helper YouTube channel now for more info and insights!!

Stephen Beale

After taking the CELTA back in 2007, I have since gained over 11 years' experience of teaching English in various countries. I have also worked in EAP for several years and like sharing what I've learnt along the way here.

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