Absolute Must-have’s for Better English and Self-Confidence

Invest in these very affordable books to improve your English skills


reference books


You can go to your local bookstore or the thrift shops online for these books, digest them to the last page and you will soon be on your way to having better English and a damn kick-ass confidence.


  • Dictionary – If you are not quite sure you will be able to tackle the words without the Tagalog translation, I suggest you buy an English-Tagalog/Tagalog-English dictionary.  While the pocket dictionaries are useful enough, they may not have enough entries.  Instead, try those that are a size bigger than them.  The last time I checked, the Merriam Webster edition cost Ph265.


  • Thesaurus – There are thesauruses that pack a sizable amount of words while still being amazingly light to carry around.  They also cost around the same as the regular student dictionaries.  So your vocabulary range won’t seem very limited and also so you won’t sound painfully repetitive and so dull, knowing at least a handful of synonyms is just so important.


  • Grammar books – I find those published by SAP (Singapore Asian Publications) very learner-friendly.  Their Grammar & Usage series is very neat, concise and interesting to read.  It covers almost all aspects of the English grammar.  The Word Link series by Thomson Asia is also a pretty good resource for situational English. Because there is a Philippine edition of these books, they have become affordable. But the grammar book I constantly refer to is the Grammar in Use book.  To me it is the definitive grammar book.  Its original copy is a bit pricey but it is definitely worth the expense.  Good grammar is the foundation of good English.  Master at least the basics.


  • Books of idioms– there are a lot of these that cost even less than a hundred pesos.  Idioms make your language more charming.


  • Writing practice books– I’ve found one by Mc Graw-Hill.  It’s titled “Teach Terrific Writing.”  Although it is meant for teachers, self-learners can also benefit so much from the book.  It has an edition for the Philippines so it also won’t break the bank.  But of course there are many other great writing practice books out there, take the time to look for one that suits your learning style.


I strongly suggest though that you scour the books in thrift bookshops.  Personally I love their books better not only because they are cheaper, but also because they are generally of better quality.  Not to degrade the locally published books but in these second-hand bookshops, you will find hardbound, glossy, and extremely well-illustrated colored books at prices you will not get in the regular bookstores.  Try visiting some of these thrift shops and you will know what I mean.   I especially love the hardbound literature and grammar books I’ve bought from these stores, not to mention the geography, history and various science books that have proven very handy in my line of work and in the general strengthening of my knowledge base.


For cheap copies of international books, you may also want to visit those Korean stores if you can find them in your area.  Most stock on these English books for their Korean customers.  As you know, many Koreans come here to study English with Filipino teachers and tutors.  Having been an ESL tutor myself for many years now, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of the books they use to improve their English grammar, vocabulary, conversation and writing skills.  If you’re lucky, you may be able to get a copy of the Grammar in Use book that I mentioned above or the Can You Believe It books which are a fun way to learn idioms.


The above-mentioned books are just the most basic ones that every one of us should have.  Later on you may expand your book collection to include the other kinds of books, but for now they are the absolute must-have’s.
September 9, 2017
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