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I am finishing up my Masters in ESL and am planning to go to China in a year to teach English long term. I have several text books already, which I've obtained from my courses and several more I would like to purchase.

I am wondering how easy it is to find and order good quality English text books in China. Are English textbooks hard to come by? Are they easy to come by, but rather expensive?

I am interested in some more specific topics, such as discourse analysis and pragmatics and am not sure how difficult they would be to find. It is not an issue to order them now, but I am trying to avoid paying unnecessary shipping costs.

I realize that the school would likely have their own textbooks. Mainly, the books I speak of are for personal reference.:)

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Hi Jfranco,

Good quality ESL books are very difficult to find here. Partly this is due to the general Chinese education teaching style which is memorize and recite versus using the language in a meaningful way. Also almost all the classes teach the students in preparation for the tests. There are no oral English tests until Univerisity that I am aware of , so speaking is not something stressed, but it something they often get the foreign teachers to teach.

On books depending on your age group, I would get books with looks of pictures, activities, dialogues and games. The best are ones that say Photocopiable mmaterial provided. Most Schools won't agree to buy the books, but will have a copy machine and will let you make as many copies as you like.

The books you will find are 3 Read look listen for younger kids,

New Oriental (plagiarized from tests) books

and New Concept English (mostly reading comprehension)

Personally I like the ESL books put out by Penguin (Pair Work 1 , by Peter Watcyn-Jones an Deirdre Howard-Williams.

The version I have was published 2002 by Penguin Books and is quite good.

Good luck with your search and I would bring as many books and materials as your Suitcase weight allowance lets you.

Good luck,


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English text books are very easy to come by. Most book shops will have a large section devoted to English study. Whither you think they are good quality or not is debatable, but the quantity available is high and the prices are low.

If there's a particular brand or title that you would be bringing, post the name here and we can tell you if it is in the local shops or not.

Personally, I use Interchange form Cambridge, New Concept English form Longman and Side by Side which is also form Longman. I also have several books covering business English and some others for particular exams.

Rather than student materials, I think you would get more value form filling you bag with teacher materials; things like a good newspaper, wallmaps (in English) of the world and of individual countries, restaurant menus, flash cards and other props that you may use in class.

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