General · Language Learning

Did I really need that…? Books and other purchases

Despite the fact that I have too many books already (so my bookshelves tell me), I’m continually buying more – the majority of which I use for university or my job at school. And when I say use, I mean I buy them without a specific purpose, with the self-reassurance that ‘I’ll use them eventually!’ (Does this happen to anyone else?!?)

Over the last few months I made a few languages purchases as well as some related to Geography (which is one of my A Levels and is a subject that I support in). Most of these purchases were made at a British book and stationary retailer, WH Smith. ‘Smiths’ as we call them in the UK sell books, magazines, stationary, games, DVDs, CDs and lots more. They’re not known as discount retailers, and books are usually half price, but a Smiths sale can be a goldmine! Any books I mention will be linked on UK Amazon as well, for those interested in purchasing or wanting more information.

Starting with the oldest, I’ve been trying (once again) to get back into learning French. Since I know my vocab needs work, I purchased the GCSE French Interactive Vocab Tester – DVD-ROM and Vocab Book (A*-G course) from Amazon. Although the courses have changed now and the grading scale too, the words and topics will likely be fairly similar, and at a bargain price of 1p (! Prices may now have changed) I thought it was a good start.

My second French purchase is from WH Smith, and is the  Facon De Parler 1 Activity Book: French for Beginners: Activity Book Pt. 1. this cost about £3 and is great for beginning reading and writing in French (there’s no audio CD so you need to know pronunciation already). The book also comes with an answer key which is also really helpful.

My final WH Smith French purchase was this Easy Learning French Grammar from Collins. This only cost me £2 (on the link above Amazon are selling it for 1p!) and as always is really clear and easy to follow, although not probably recommended for absolute language learning beginners.

Working chronologically, my next purchases were also from WH Smith, but in a different city on my birthday. As I said above, I’ve been purchasing Geography books as well as languages ones, since I have had and expect to have a lot of Geography lessons to support next year. Also looking at teacher training, if I need to be able to cover another subject, Geography is my second strongest. With that in mind I bough two books. The first I actually rather nostalgic as it was the AS Level textbook I used when I did my AS Levels in 2010. Although the course has changed significantly now, lots of the topics I covered at AS are in the new GCSE. Since the concepts of Geography haven’t changed I decided to splash out and spend £3 on AQA Geography AS: Student’s Book. I also spent £2 on the old GCSE AQA A Revision Guide – whilst the school I work at follows Edexcel and this book is fore the old syllabus, lots of the topics cross over, and the CGP guides give lots of information and graphics in an accessible way. I hope to use it my 1:1 lessons for exam revision next year. In keeping with the Geography theme, I purchased I Used to Know That: Geography for £2 in The Works – one of my highly recommended bargain bookshops. As the title suggests, in the 7 years since I took A Level Geography, a lot has slipped out of my brain – hopefully I can recapture some with the book.

My final book purchase was also from WH Smith and is for English as an Additional Language. Recently I’ve been working with an EAL student who has learnt some English in their home country, but has recently moved to the UK. Next year I also expect to work with another EAL student – to start with I’ve been working on basic vocabulary using the British Council website, but now his English vocabulary is better, it’s time to work on constructing better sentences. Since I’ve never taken a TESOL course and there were none offered at my university, I’ve had to do a lot of research. From my school department I’ve borrowed a few books for over the summer. Raymond Murphy has written several books on English Grammar, varying in complexity. When I found English Grammar in Use with Answers and CD-ROM: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Learners of English for just £10 (albeit missing the audio CD) I couldn’t say no! I hope to take an EAL course in the future (there’s a good Certificate/Diploma/Masters course offered through Distance Learning at Birmingham University that I’ve rather got my eye on!) and with my language specialism I think that it’s something that will be really useful in the future.


In total, I think my book hall over the last few weeks has come to around £25 – which is less than the EAL English book full price! I really is worth scouting round the clearance sections carefully, particularly the reference areas to find great deals on language learning books. WH Smiths where I live almost always has MFL and English dictionaries on sale and the odd thesaurus too.

What are your recent book purchases? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me using the sidebar!



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