English textbooks for India

The market for English textbooks in India is vast. Breaking into and then maintaining this market is not so easy! In the early 1970s, my father, David Horsburgh, who had been writing textbooks for government schools in south India, wrote a series of English readers for Oxford University Press. The series was called Spring Readers, and initially the books did quite well. After the series had been published, schools demanded workbooks; they also wanted more help in the form of exercises and tests. Workbooks were duly produced, and the books were revised, however, the general format of the readers was not changed.


Gradually, apart from a few staunch supporters who continued to use the books into the late 1980s, the books were dropped from the prescription lists of many schools.

In the early 1980s, Oxford University Press asked my father to write a fresh series of textbooks more geared to market demands. He was to write the readers and I was to produce the workbooks. We began work on the new series – Modern English - sometime in 1983, but in 1984 my father fell ill. He died on August 8, 1984. He had completed the first two books and part of the third by the time of his death, so I took up the challenge and worked on the rest of the series by myself.

Modern English is a series of ten readers and ten workbooks, along with a Teacher’s Guide for each level. It was completed shortly after my departure from India in July 1987.

In 1989, and in subsequent years, I toured India on many occasions to promote the books and to run workshops for teachers. In due course, special editions of Modern English were produced for the North Eastern States. Other series of English textbooks followed.

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"New Oxford Modern English has established itself as one of the most popular ELT courses among both teachers and students for almost three decades. Taking into account the insightful feedback of its users, the series has been revised regularly to address the evolving needs of the learners.



● a wide range of literary genres and themes with new prose lessons and poems

● enhanced glossary and updated wordlists

● engaging posters illustrating different literary devices

● Marcia Williams' simplified and illustrated retellings of Shakespeare's plays

● graphic stories

● enhanced digital content (warm-ups, worksheets, games, animations and audio)

This revised edition includes a host of new features for its users. The series comprises Primers A and B with Primer B Activity Book, Coursebooks 1–8, Workbooks 1–8, Teacher's Resource Packs, Oxford Areal, and Oxford Educate with an accompanying Test Generator." OUP

The Fifth Edition of New Oxford Modern English - Revised Edition is available now.

Authors: Nicholas Horsburgh, David Horsburgh and Claire Horsburgh