Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

Smart Choice

Smart Choice news

I’m really delighted to be able to say that Smart Choice Second Edition is now available in all its main markets.

Covers of Smart Choice Starter, plus levels 1 and 2

About Smart Choice

The original covers of Smart Choice First Edition - note that First Choice is now called Smart Choice Starter

Smart Choice is a four-level course aimed at teenagers and young adults and was first published in 2007. It’s being used in many different Asian countries, mainly in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and also in Latin America – principally in Brazil and Mexico. It’s also available in the Middle East and North Africa.

The story of how a Brit (me) came to write an American English course is a bit convoluted, but the simple reason is that OUP New York asked me to do it and I jumped at the chance. It was my tenth or eleventh course book project, my first American English one and my first books for OUP. And I’ve never regretted it.

The formula for the course was devised jointly with my original commissioning editor in New York, whose name is Jeff Krum. Jeff is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet, and certainly one of my all-time favourite publishing people (and I’ve been a published ELT author for 40 years!).

He’s also very persuasive, and got me to agree to certain features that I wasn’t completely sure about. It turns out he was right every time. Every feature that he recommended turned out to be a winner with end-users, both teachers and students.

Like most twenty-first century course material, Smart Choice has lots of components, and some of them – like the Click and Change CD-rom – weren’t written by me, which is why I can say that they are absolutely fabulous (without appearing the least bit vain).🙂

Times change, and technology now plays a bigger part in the packages offered with ELT main course material. In common with lots of other recently published course material, Smart Choice now has lots of new features, especially in terms of its online content. There is also a fantastic iTool which gives you lots of different ways of presenting the material onscreen, either with an interactive white board, or via your computer. 

You can find out more about the new online features of Smart Choice here – http://bit.ly/tEyJr6

The following is a rather nice endorsement of Smart Choice from Maria Cristina Salinas Guzmán from Universidad de Guadalajara Mexico:

Let me tell you why Smart Choice is the best series I’ve used in my 15 years’ career. My students are so motivated to be in class because they can do the Smart Choice activities every day with success. After many years with my students just sitting there, I see them now making an effort to speak in class. So, you can see why I am feeling very good with my textbook. Smart Choice really works! And the really satisfying thing is that I’m feeling good with ME as a teacher because I’m having so much success in class.

I’m especially pleased with this review, because it’s written by a non-native speaker teacher. I really love it when non-NESTs feel good about using materials, regardless of who writes them.

In 2011, I visited all the main markets for Smart Choice to promote the Second Edition. 


My first 2011 Smart Choice author visit was to Taiwan. I gave a talk entitled Ten ways to get your students to DO something at the following places.

Saturday 24th April Oxford Day, Westin Hotel

Sunday 24th April – Kaohsiung  Oxford Day, Grand Hi-Lai Hotel

Monday 25th April – Taoyuan  Gloria PLS, Taoyuan

Tuesday 26th April – Taichung  Feng Chia University and Providence University

Wednesday 27th April – Taoyuan  National Central University


I did a Smart Choice related visit to Brazil in July. I did conference talks in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, then a plenary at the Southern Cone conference in Curitiba. In between, I had a very enjoyable visit to Recife in the north east, where I did workshops for teachers at ABA and Britanic. 


The third Smart Choice venue of the year: The University of Guadalajara and its feeder schools are the biggest customer for the series. I attended the MexTESOL event in October.


I gave a talk at the OUP Oxford Day in Seoul in November.


Talk and workshop, forum and Pecha Kucha at JALT.

Comments on: "Smart Choice" (44)


    I notice that Ken Wilson will come to México in October, but he will only come to Guadalajara an Morelia, why isn´t he coming to D,F.?
    it would be nice if he can give a conference or some talks about his writing or his music to learn english.

    • Ken Wilson said:

      I will be in Mexico DF long enough to say hello, Armandina🙂

      • Where did you say we could go to generate worksheets and material for the students?

      • Ken Wilson said:

        Troy, you need to contact someone from OUP and they can tell you about the iTool. Best wishes!

  2. An extra Listening activity plus the online exercises have changed my impression about this book. Congratulations.🙂

  3. Hi, I’ve bought the Smart Choice 2nd Edition (with online practice)
    but I can’t download Listening part.
    ex) Smart Choice 2nd Edition Level 2
    page 13 Listening.

    Please kindly let me know where I can find the CD or Download etc.

  4. Simon said:

    I am using Smart Choice 2nd edition. The online practice tool is great.

    Although I can maybe understand Oxford wanting to reduce manufacturing costs by putting most of the the audio online for students/teachers to download, to make -some- of those audio tracks available only by purchasing the CD is pretty mean, in my opinion.

    I realise this decision probably wasn’t Ken Wilson’s to make, but with students feeling the economic pinch as much as everyone, I think it’s really unfortunate.

    • Hi Simon,

      first of all, you’re right when you say that I don’t have any part to play in decisions about production methods and content delivery. However, I’m not quite sure what you mean by your comment. As with all books, there is a CD of the listening content of the SB, and there is other material available online. This recognises the reality of the digital divide, both between different countries which use SC and indeed within some of those countries. It also recognises that there are certain parts of the listening that really should be done in a class context with the teacher, and there are other audio/video activities that are suitable for students to study in their own way and in their own time. I think SC is pretty much in line with other main courses in this way.

      However, your comment may have more to do with the particular Japanese way of doing things. I suggest that you might want to take it up with one of the local OUP people. They may have some suggestions to make.

      Best wishes, Ken

  5. Simon said:

    Hi Ken,
    Many thanks for your speedy reply.
    While I’m sure that the separately sold CD contains all of the audio for the exercises found in the book, the online component, which features most of the audio available for download does not include the audio for any of the student book listening sections.

    I certainly don’t wish to come across as being wholly negative! – The students are enjoying using the book and I am finding the unit test feature in the Teacher’s Book to be very useful.
    As you recommend, I’ll have a word with the local reps here for further guidelines.
    Best wishes,

  6. Quick question: If I buy a Teacher’s Book, can I get a teacher’s access code to sconlinepractice.com? I’ve only been able to access the Online Practice from the access code given in a Student Book – so I can only see what the student would see.

    I want to know how my students are doing on the online part, and I can’t figure out how to see their progress.

  7. Hi, Chris. I don’t know if you managed to find out the info by yourself, but yes, my Teacher’s Access Code card was in the back of my Teacher’s book.

  8. Yadira Oceguera said:

    Hello, I’m about starting a course for adults here in Guadalajara. I have only found the UDG’s edition of Smart Choice, but I can’t get the Teacher’s edition. Is it available? Thank you for your answer!!

  9. Hi, Ken! Looks like Smart Choice is indeed a smart choice. I will recommend your book to my students. Teens are quite a different breed of students. You gotta give them interesting and challenging material. Otherwise they will get bored of the lessons.

  10. First I would like to congratulate Ken Wilson for the Second Smart Choice edition it’s excellent!
    Second I want to share why I have chosen the Smart Choice to be used on my school.
    We have gone trough a big change here and we want to find a good book to be one of the best thing for us and make the students to feel excited and the learning better, because I believe the teacher role is very important but the material you’re using is very important.
    Boring books ,old methodology, grammar and translated material is not what we were looking for…so from the moment I read the name of the book ”SMART CHOICE” I have made my decision, this is it ,we must be smart and make a good choice!
    Thank you Ken Wilson for the second edition wich is wonderful and very helpful.
    I have met you on Braz-tesol in Curitiba and your words never got out of my head, since that convention I have been very happy teaching, it was a nice way to learn how powerful we can be!
    Kênia Camargo from Brazil!

    • Kênia!

      I’m really sorry that I only noticed your lovely comment now! I don’t know why I didn’t get a notification of it. Thank you so much for your nice words, and I’m glad you enjoyed my talk in Curitiba.

  11. Hi, name is Idwan from Indonesia
    My Language Instition, LIA Language and Vocational Training Center has been using Smart Choice second Edition since October 2013.
    We are looking forward to the webinar on November 27 this month.
    See you soon.

  12. Hello Ken,


    I would like to buy all the series of FIRST CHOICE. Please let me know how to go about. My son is teaching English in China and I want to give him your books as a Christmas present.

    Best regards and thank you in advance. Isabel

    • Hi Isabel,

      I’m not sure where you live – is .ch Switzerland? Anyway, if you go onto the Oxford University Press website, elt.oup.com, you will find the name and address of your local agent, and you can try to get the books through them.

      Best wishes,


  13. Pat Ata Emig said:

    I think Smart Choice is good Choice 😊 to teach English in a communicative way. However, I feel there’s a lack of essential vocabulary (seasons, weather, times, dates, months, clothes, parts of the body, sickness, places, furniture, jobs, etc). I always need to add extra photocopies from others text books. How can solve The necessity of vocabulary using Smart Choice?

    • Hi Pat,

      thank you for the positive comment about Smart Choice and for your pertinent comments about vocabulary. In fact, some of the items you mention – clothes, sickness – are covered in the syllabus but I accept that some of the others aren’t. There are two reasons for this – firstly, that there are only 12 units per level, therefore only 12 possible lexical sets per level; secondly, before we wrote the series, we did a lot of research with teachers of the main target groups, and they indicated the kinds of vocabulary groups they wanted to see in the book.

      re where to find help for the words you want to teach. First, I will recommend the British Council ELT site, which has lesson ideas for just about everything; secondly, check out the English Language Practice Facebook page, where they have fantastic graphic ideas for teaching vocabulary, grammar and idioms.

      Keep on enjoying teaching!


  14. David said:

    Hi Ken,
    I am a student using Smart Choice 2 for learning English. I was very confused with the question ” My mother and I …………….. ( buy) clothes while my father was getting his hair cut.” This question has 3 choices : a. bought, b. had bought, c. was buying. I was wondering if the answer c is right. Should we rewrite “was buying” into”were buying”. But when I see the answer key , the answer was the answer a. I saw the exercise from smart choice 2- Unit 9 test. Could you explain it to me? . Should I choose a or c.
    I hope to see your feedback soon.
    Have a nice day!

    • Hi David – is that from the workbook? It doesn’t look like a sentence I would have written. But of the three choices, a. is the only possible one. To have two past continuous verbs in one sentence would look a little strange.

  15. Joan Jekabson Tartarotti said:

    I would like to buy your collection of books, even students and teacher’s books, but I can’t go to your meetings. Can I buy it by an website or an e-bookstore?

  16. Magid Dokhanian said:

    Dear Mr. Wilson
    I am an iranian man,the manager of an English Institute in my city.For the teenagers we were working on HEADWAY books.To me headway books mostly focus on reading and vocabulary and sometimes students get boared.Newly we changed the books to your books ie smart choice .I think that these books are working on listening and speaking more than the books we previously working and these books are more flexible to teach.now I want your great idea about this choice.
    Thanks in advance

  17. marcelo mesquita said:

    Dear Mr. wilson,
    I bought the smart choice student book 2 two weeks ago. When I was scratching off the paint that covers the code, I think that it was too hard and so I had a problem to read the whole code( I can’t read three or four numbers of the code and so I can’t practice the online practice. What should I do?
    Best regards,
    Marcelo Mesquita.

  18. Abdul Qadir said:

    Dear Ken,
    Thank you so much for your book.
    I have two points:
    – I have heard about the book but unfortunately I didn’t find it in most of the famous libraries in Saudi. so do you have any supplier in Saudi, or not yet ?
    – Do you have a sample of the book (free pages or units) so that I can have a look, if I find it interesting I may order the book from other county.

    Best Regards,

  19. Abu Omar said:

    Hi. I’m an English teacher and a producer .I shoot short movies and English lessons. i really need to meet you and make a short clip as a meeting and talking about smart choice . I have my own youtube channel and the viewers are over 135,000 . how can I contact you ?

  20. Moises Hdz said:

    Where can I buy Smart Choice 3 Second Edition Teacher’s Book?

  21. le tung thuan said:

    hello sir,
    I ‘ve bought a student book 2nd edition and i was recommended downloading CD files online but I don’t know what link to download the CD for that book.
    Please let me know.
    thank you so much.

  22. hi. how can i get code for online practice.? i live in iran

  23. My name Cheu live in Cambodia, I also appreciate to your textbook of smart Choice. It really useful for everyone. I chose to use it since 2008 in my pre-beginner class.
    Can I request to send me the code for online practice. My email is cheuhing@yahoo.com.

  24. Hello Dr Wilson,

    I cannot get hold of your email address. I want to invite you to our 2017 conference as a plenary speaker. Kindly provide your contact details as I do not want to post the invite on your blog.

  25. Hi, How can i get code for online practice ? I live in Indonesian

  26. fira216.ns@gmail.com This is my email

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