Smart Choice news

I’m delighted to announce that Smart Choice Fourth Edition is now available, published by Oxford University Press.

Starter Level and Levels 1-3 have been up-dated with about 50% new content. In addition, levels 4 and 5 are completely new.

00 SC

I want to thank everyone at Oxford University Press in New York and Oxford who worked so hard to make Fourth Edition a reality, with a special thank you to Louisa van Houten in New York, who has been working on Smart Choice since First Edition back in 2007. 

It’s an interesting time to be bringing out a new edition of a course book in print form, especially as most people will continue online tuition in the foreseeable future, in some cases almost certainly until the end of the year. With this in mind, I will giving a talk about ways of using the new edition at the JALT online conference in November.


Smart Choice – the story so far….

Smart Choice was originally 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 original covers of Smart Choice First Edition – note that First Choice is now called Smart Choice Starter
Smart Choice 2
The second edition of Smart Choice was published in 2012, and was the first to have comprehensive online practice.
01 Smart choice
These are the covers of the third edition of the course, which was published in 2016.

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 in the first edition and most of the online practice in the second and third editions – 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. 

In the third edition, there is a very clever tool to use with smart phones, to make learning possible on the move. 

You can find out more about the new online features of Smart Choice here.

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.


74 thoughts on “Smart Choice news

  1. 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.

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

      2. Hi Ken,
        I’m interested in the writing process for application questions for lower level students.
        I like the style and format of the book generally and particularly the review parts.
        But, to be completely honest was a bit shocked at how poorly thought through some application practice sections were. For example, in class yesterday for unit 9 there is a gap fill part for asking questions connected to travelling. It was tough for me to do the activity let alone the students in terms of producing a natural question. But more that that, It required grammar they hadn’t even studied before that point. It was completely demoralizing for them and me. I’ve also had a similar experience with some of the listening activities. To be honest, this is probably my pet hate when it comes to lower level textbooks and after my experience yesterday wanted to hear your thoughts.

      3. Hi Ken,

        Sorry for my late response.
        Take a look at the application question for smart choice 1 on p92 ‘Don’t miss it’ . Now can you make the question for number 5 for New Year in Times Square.
        And then ‘Australia Day’ no 3
        It celebrates the time when the ______________ (who) arrived in the countryYou have to stay there until ____________ (who) goes home?
        What is the answer? How can we expect students to make this question? What is the connection between the study content and this? Where is the actual answer? i couldn’t find it in the teacher’s guide.
        What was the thinking behind putting these questions in the application?

    1. Do you know if there is a downloadable placement test(s) for the Smart Choice levels Intro to 3? Also do you know what equivalent levels Smart Choice books 2 and 3 are to IELTS?

      Are there any more advanced book after Smart Choice 3? There is a possibility an IELTS class may be started after or in conjunction
      with a Smart Choice book.

      Any assistance or information will be appreciated.

      Thank you,

      Robert Hurly.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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

  4. 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,

  5. Quick question: If I buy a Teacher’s Book, can I get a teacher’s access code to 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

      1. Hi, Ken
        I was wondering how we can join the Webinar with you tomorrow for Indonesia. Any support team that I can contact?
        Thank you.

      2. Hi Idwan,

        sorry that I saw this note rather late. 😦

        In fact, the webinar was for teachers like you from the LIA language schools. I’m sorry if your branch didn’t hear about it.

        Best wishes,


  11. 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

    1. Hi Isabel,

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

      Best wishes,


  12. 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?

    1. 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!


  13. 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!

    1. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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 I want your great idea about this choice.
    Thanks in advance

    1. HI Magid,

      sorry not to have seen this comment before. Some comments have magically appeared after a long break. Thank you for your positive comments. I hope you continue to enjoy using Smart Choice.

      Best wishes,


  16. 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.

    1. Hi Marcelo,

      sorry not to have seen your comment before. If you haven’t already solved the code problem, send me your email address and I will pass it on to the good people at Oxford University Press.

      Best wishes,


  17. 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,

    1. HI Abdul,

      I’m really sorry that I didn’t see your comment until now. It seems to me that some comments were invisible, but now I can see them.

      I don’t know if Oxford University Press have a representative in Saudi Arabia, but you can find out by going to

      Best wishes,


  18. 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 ?

    1. Hi Moises,

      sorry not to have seen your request sooner. Send me your email address and tell me which country you live in and I will try to help.

      Best wishes,


  19. 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.

    1. Hello Le Tung Thuan,

      first of all, my apologies for not replying sooner. For some reason, I didn’t see a lot of requests about Smart Choice. If you can send me your email address and tell me which country you live in, I can pass it on to the people at Oxford University Press and they will be able to help you.

      Best wishes,


    1. Hello Sok,

      first of all, my apologies for not seeing this note sooner. Can you explain more about your enquiry? Do you have a code in your student’s book to permit you to download audio?

      Best wishes,


  20. 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

  21. 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.

    1. Hi Okon!

      for some reason, a whole series of comments here on my blog have just become visible. Fortunately, you were able to contact me by other means although unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend your conference.

      Best wishes,


    1. Hi Oscar, apologies for not replying sooner. I just came back to my blog after a long break. I have forwarded your enquiry to OUP New York.

  22. Hi Ken,

    On page 57 of Smart Choice Level 2, you can fine this sentence: I crashed into someone when I was learning how to ski. I think using ‘while’ instead of ‘when’ is better to help us understand the following grammar about the combination of when, while, simple past and past continuous. Would you tell me your idea?



  23. Hi Ken, I really enjoyed using Smart Choice for over a decade but wanted to comment (perhaps a bit late) that after the major changes in the third edition it’s sadly no longer the best choice for me or my classes. Most of my complaints are relatively small but add up and result from the (probably the publisher’s) decision to – I think unnecessarily – digitize the course and take key elements online. No CDs? As a private ESL teacher in Japan I’ve been using SC with group lessons as part of an overall teaching plan so it was taking longer than a year to get through, and the passwords for the online listening section became a problem when they expired. The students and I miss the CDs, though I’ve been photocopying the audio script and getting some reading and intonation work out of it, and also the Resource Guide with extra activities (a little heavy on ‘Bingo’ though, lol). Also, the need for a tablet is burdensome, which the places where I work aren’t willing to provide and I can’t really justify the expense simply for classroom use, when a teacher’s edition in book form was already perfect and doesn’t break if you drop it. No improvement was needed, except perhaps to lose the small print and go back to the format used in the second edition. In short: just because something ‘can’ be digitized and taken online doesn’t necessarily mean that’s an upgrade or the right choice; It certainly wasn’t for Smart Choice. Another challenge I’ve had with SC all along was the large jump from level 2 to level 3. I’ve had otherwise fairly high-level students struggle with level 3 and have not made it through the book once with any student, even one who herself is extremely fluent and teaches English to kids! I’ve always wished there were a ‘level 2.5’ or ‘2B’ with more lateral expansion for intermediate students. (Not sure about other countries and not applicable to academic courses, but a lot of Japanese adult students are more-or-less ‘hobby’ students and attend for social reasons: improvement is actually rather low on their list of language priorities.) Rather sadly I’ve made the decision to move on from SC when my classes are finished with the current run-through of it, opting for a more free-form, activity and communication skill centered course not anchored with a text. Should you and the publisher ever decide to upgrade by taking it back to the better basics, someone please let me know via email! Thanks though for all the fun and work we got from it for over 10 years! Best regards, -Scott-

    1. Hi Scott! Thanks for your comments. I agree with a lot of what you say, especially about the increase in digitalisation. These decisions are taken at board level, and the authors don’t have any input into that at all. And interesting that you think the change from level 2 to level 3 is a jump. I didn’t write SC3 third edition, and I was also worried. But when i went on an author visit to Latin America, they seemed to really love that level. I suppose the reality is no course can satisfy everyone.

  24. I love smart choice 4E. It is fantastic to learn and teach this book.. Hope it comes to Vietnam soon.

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