Market Leader Editions
The educational publisher Pearson has created the Market Leader business English textbook series for adult learners of English as a foreign language. The first editions of the series came out in 2002, and the 3rd edition of each of five levels, along with attendant resource materials, was published in 2010.
Market Leader adapts articles from the Financial Times for reading lessons and recruits leaders from real world businesses to record tracks for listening lessons. This keeps Market Leader relevant, and learners can feel that their English lessons are rooted in real world language use.
In addition to the relevance of lessons, Pearson provides a wide range of resources for educators, including complete lesson plans, interactive learning options, and a list of relevant web links for each unit in its first four levels (Elementary through Upper Intermediate).
Although other business English textbooks provide resources, few make extra resources as easy for teachers to use. Language instructors are often too busy to curate interactive lessons on their own, but with Pearson's help, EFL lessons can be made very professional with a minimum of extra planning.
Its strong focus on business skills gives students the language and confidence necessary to succeed in English-speaking business environment. Further, the "case study" at the end of each unit gives students the opportunity to really think in English, interacting with one another to discuss broadly interesting business topics.
Market Leader's British Bias
The popularity of theMarket Leader series is understandable given its many benefits, but it is by no means a perfect textbook. One of its major shortcomings is its undeniable bias toward British English. Because the books are produced in the United Kingdom, they use many expressions, grammatical constructions, and vocabulary that are specific to Britain.
Although the text occasionally points out differences between British and American English, these occasions are very rare. For learners living in English-speaking countries other than the UK, the British expressions could present a problem. Furthermore, the focus on British English detracts from the internationalism that business English should foster.
Not Enough Grammar
Another problem with Pearson's Market Leader is its lack of explicit grammar instruction. Grammar is integrated into lessons with an eye toward seamlessness.
For example, in the 3rd edition of Elementary Market Leader, the grammar of countable and uncountable nouns is presented as part of a lesson on entertaining business visitors and ordering at restaurants.
Although this is a perfectly logical topic to pair with countable and uncountable nouns, the sparse explanation of the grammar point risks confusing learners or giving them mistaken ideas about when uncountable grammar should be used.
In order to prevent such confusion, teachers must supplement Market Leader's grammar points with explicit instruction and even outside materials.
On the whole, it is no surprise that Pearson's Market Leader series has become the market leader in the world of business English textbooks. Although its shortcomings could result in the need to supplement the text with other materials and lessons, the time saved on planning lessons from the book should more than make up for it.
As always, ESL and EFL teachers should consider the specific needs of their students before choosing a textbook or textbook series. Some business English learners will be more in tune with Market Leader than others. For the moment, however, it seems that the international business English community is in favor of the series.