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When I taught myself English a long time ago I used (alongside Assimil's L'anglais sans peine and the BBC's Calling all beginners) a series of four books, Essential English authored by C.E. Eckersley and published by Longmans.
It was an impressively good set of boooks, with plenty of grammatical and cultural explanations, presented in a very British witty and amusing style and accompanied by funny but quite relevant cartoons and schematic drawings.

My question is whether English is still taught from these textbooks.
I confess that I was emboldened to ask this question by the mischievous thought that for once you native English speakers would be at a disadvantage to answer it (unless you teach English) as compared to us foreigners ...

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closed as off-topic by David M, Edwin Ashworth, FumbleFingers, tchrist, aedia λ Mar 10 '14 at 16:49

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a particular resource. Interesting, but not really on topic. – David M Mar 7 '14 at 21:16
Also, why a disadvantage? We can all Google! – David M Mar 7 '14 at 21:17
This question appears to be off-topic because it can be easily answered by a simple search for a single nigh-on-impossible-to-access reference work. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 7 '14 at 21:21
'My question is whether English is still taught from these textbooks.' My question is whether 90% of what these textbooks contain is still relevant / accepted as correct. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 7 '14 at 21:24
Echoing and expanding on @Edwin's comment below (Please don't buy it), I think it would be a very bad idea to use older textbooks that haven't at least been recently revised. Partly because language itself moves on, but mainly because teachers' attitudes to language teaching have moved on. 50 years ago I was probably mainly being taught the rules of language as applicable to writers/speakers from at least 3-4 generations earlier than me. At least today's teachers are only likely to be one generation behind the times! – FumbleFingers Mar 7 '14 at 21:27
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It seems they are out of print. But second-hand copies would appear to be available at a vastly wide range of prices. Book 3, in particular, must be a collectors item at £95! Others are available for pence. Try:


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Please don't buy a set. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 7 '14 at 21:16
Dear WS2, I own and cherish my set but thanks for the information. I encourage everybody to at least look at those books, independently of whether they want to learn from it. – Georges Elencwajg Mar 7 '14 at 21:43
@Edwin Ashworth: I find your writing four snarky, aggressive and completely content-free comments as well as your exhortation not to buy a book you had never heard of five minutes ago hilarious. – Georges Elencwajg Mar 7 '14 at 21:54
@Georges Elencwajg: But it's quite all right for you to post a 'mischievous question'? May I ask whether you had the propriety to check on whether or not your question was appropriate for this site before posting? The focus is on modern English usage. I quote: 'Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do. Ask about... Word choice and usage Grammar Etymology (history of words’ development) Dialect differences Pronunciation (phonetics and phonology, dialectology) Spelling and punctuation' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 8 '14 at 8:53
... And my exhortation was to a specific person, not general ... I would never advise people in general to avoid texts in Early Modern English, for example. But quoting examples from them to claim acceptable modern usage would be a misuse. As FF says, "I think it would be a very bad idea to use older textbooks that haven't at least been recently revised...." – Edwin Ashworth Mar 8 '14 at 8:57

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