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Purchasing proper ESL manuals and grammar books.

Posted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:40 pm
by Wrath.Of.Crayon
I had a dandy list of very popular and much used ESL and grammar books for teachers, mainly one was a great grammar book that explained everything about the in's and out's of grammar. I can't seem to locate where I put this list so I was wondering if anyone was willing to point me in the direction of helpful manuals that they use?

Please help?

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:52 am
by fluffyhamster
Welcome to the forums! :wink:

Student grammar practice books such as Murphy's Grammar in Use series are a painless way of familiarizing yourself with the essentials and seeing how they can be contextualized (i.e. are used in basic situations). I also like Swan & Walter's How English Works, and some of its exercises or indeed Murphy's can be used or adapted for class activities, pairwork etc (but see next post below for activity books proper).

For more detailed coverage (i.e. teacher reference and research, preparation etc) the Collins COBUILD English Grammar is one of the clearest and most functionally-focussed references around (its explanations are often along the lines of "When you want to convey such and such a meaning, you can use such and such a form"*). It's actually a lexicogrammar, i.e. it supplies plenty of examples and lists in which the words have similar meanings due to them having similar structural patterns. The detail, authenticity and value is thus high compared to previous (and still even now certain) grammars produced without the benefit of masses of computerized data, that tend to rely on invented or all too simple sentences. There is also a Student's edition with exercises (by Dave Willis) that is similar in layout (explanations facing exercises) to the Murphys mentioned above. You can read more about (the COBUILD) lexicogrammars here , and COBUILD's Grammar Patterns 1: Verbs is available freely here (but this last is a fair bit more daunting if not complex than the earlier COBUILD English Grammar). Swan's Practical English Usage (i.e. PEU) seems to be a usual recommendation (for CELTA trainees, say), but its A-Z "quick access, individual points of usage" format lessens its utility as a read-through course of sorts for teachers (unlike the COBUILD, which carefully builds from word to text level, latter involves some marked variations in word order, e.g. passives, clefts, existential 'there', and so on, see ... =variation to get some idea of what I'm on about here LOL), and Swan himself in his Introduction states that those looking for a more 'systematically organised account of the whole of English grammar' that shows 'how the separate points fit together' should look to other titles instead (or at least in addition). A short comparison of the COBUILD versus Swan here: ... 1819#11819

An excellent grammar glossary:

I always recommend buying Chalker & Weiner's Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar though, because it covers everything from phonetics to discourse level. Unfortunately in the new edition the phonetics entries have been removed (by Bas Aarts, a somewhat theory-heavy linguist-grammarian drafted in to edit and "update" the book).

Bear in mind that advanced learner dictionaries can be very quick and useful for checking grammar (esp. word classes/the "parts of speech"), but unfortunately the free online versions of the Oxford and COBUILD appear to lack the explicit grammar codings given in the print versions. Take a look also at the online ALDs from Cambridge, Longman, Macmillan, and Merriam-Webster.

Lastly, a very useful collocations dictionary:

More on ALDs and corpora here: ... 5667#45667

I've posted a fair number of lists of multiple grammar-related books over the years, just ask if you want me to dig out the threads. Off the top of my head the book you might be describing is The Grammar Book by Celce-Murcia and Larson-Freeman (but that's more MA level, even though the insights it contains, esp. from Discourse Analysis, would be useful for all teachers).

If you are after grammar-focussed pedagogical discussion, there are a number of books, but one of the best I've ever read (though now out of print and perhaps dated in parts) was Bygate et al's Grammar and the Language Teacher. It contains papers by some big names: Leech, Swan, etc. I'll also mention Lewis' The English Verb, but you can get a taste of similar ideas here: ... 4082#44082

*COBUILD is justly famous for its introduction of carefully-written, stylistically-consistent full-sentence definitions (in its pioneering 1987 dictionary, that forced other ELT publishers to up their game), which are reminiscent of how a teacher might explain things. :wink:

Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 9:42 pm
by Wrath.Of.Crayon
Thank you for the helpful information! It was extremely helpful in finding what I needed! My last question for you then is do you have any more books that you feel one would need for teaching? (It'll be my first time teaching English in general)

Thanks for your time! Here's a bunch of smiley faces: :P :) :D :wink: :shock: :o :lol:

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:10 am
by fluffyhamster
You're very welcome, W.O.C!

The books I mentioned in my last post should be plenty for reference purposes, so now I'll suggest more practical, actual activity-related stuff.

You might want to get a general methodology guide (that covers "everything": how to teach sounds, words, grammar, speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc). One thoughtful classic is Lewis & Hill's Practical Techniques (another is apparently Scrivener's Learning Teaching), but that is out of print and/or costly, so you might need to settle for something like Harmer's basic but brisk, clear and relatively up to date How to Teach English. I also like books that delve into the history of ELT methods, such as Larsen-Freeman's Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching, Richards & Rodgers' Approaches and Methods in LT, and Howatt's A History of ELT. I'm also very much into the "teaching" of conversation, but books like Thornbury & Slade's Conversation: From Description to Pedagogy (currently at the top of my 'to completely finish~re-read' pile) will probably be slightly too heavy-going for you until you've gained a year or two of experience.

You can get books that focus on the teaching of particular areas - grammar, speaking, writing, and so on, but a general methodology guide should suffice in the beginning. I will however throw out a few titles on vocabulary/lexis as it is IMHO a rich and rewarding area. They are Schmitt's Vocabulary in LT, and Schmitt & McCarthy's Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition, and Pedagogy. I've mentioned these works a few times so maybe do a search of the forums. You might also find the following freebies (a paper, Sinclair & Renouf's 'A Lexical Syllabus for Language Learning', with additional end comments from Carter & McCarthy; and an out-of-print book, Willis' The Lexical Syllabus) interesting: ... labus.aspx

Most decent schools/employers will assign a textbook for classes and also have at least a few supplementary activity books (mainly grammar or task-based) for you to make use of. I'm not as up to date as I'd like in these areas (one soon or eventually becomes able to develop one's own materials), but over the years I've enjoyed using the New Cambridge English Course (Swan & Walter), Side by Side (Molinsky & Bliss, usable with kids as well as adults), Interchange (Richards), parts of stuff like English File (some nice activities IIRC), and most of Hollet et al's amusing In at the Deep End (Business English). Interchange is about the most recent book I've used, and I like its short dialogues and conversational focus. That's the sort of textbook I'd look for if I were you. As for supplementary activity books, the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series has some classic titles and is probably the best range available.

grammar books

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:16 pm
by KatrinaB88

I like all of the previous suggestions. Just to let you know, now I don't use any books at all. I prepare my own exercises for practice. Generally I just google a point to remind myself of the key points and then build contextual exercises around the point/s for my class. I find this works very well and is less rigid than sticking with books alone.