My ELT library (part 2)

Part 1 was about methodology books. Now I’ll focus on some other books for each specific area. As I said before, it’s not my intention to come up with a comprehensive list, nor do I mean that these are the only good books there are in the market. It doesn’t mean, either, that these are the books I abide by and shun anything else. Much on the contrary, I’d love to hear some suggestions on books I have not mentioned so I can add to my own library. Besides, we all know there are tons of grammar books in the field of ELT, which would make it impossible to suggest all of them in one single blog post, right?

Books on Grammar and teaching grammar

1. “Practical English Usage“, by Michael Swan. This is one of the most practical books I’ve seen for teachers who need to find an answer when preparing a lesson. It’s very straightforward and easy to follow. It contains lots of examples to help the teacher better visualise the explanations.

2. Scott Thornbury’s “How to teach Grammar“. The book addresses the issues of teaching Grammar and, just like the other books from the “How to…” series, can be used in training sessions with teachers. Quite insightful.

3. Diane Larsen-Freeman’s “Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring” has been a great asset in my training sessions. Larsen-Freeman writes about the 3 dimensions of grammar and explains the importance of addressing grammar from such a perspective. The book is filled with investigation questions, teachers’ anecdotes and questions, which also render it impossible not to read.

4. “The Grammar Book: an ESL/EFL teacher’s course” was written by Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman. It’s a course for EFL/ESL teachers and it is quite thorough. It brings all sorts of tree diagrams, which might be an inconvenient for some, but, in my humble opinion, is something English teachers should at least be acquainted with. Each chapter end with suggestions for classroom activities which focus on form, meaning, and use of the grammar point of the lesson.

5. If you’re looking for a complete reference book to have at home, I’m actually going to suggest three. I have them at home and they will definitely sort out your questions regarding Grammar. The winners are: “Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English“, a corpus-based grammar packed with graphs with corpus findings; “The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language“, by Huddleston and Pullum; and Quirk’s “A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language“, which was written together with Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik.

6. If you’re looking for a more light-hearted way of explaining grammar and its intricacies, but at the same time you don’t want to go as deep as you would with the items mentioned in 5, you should try “Woe is I: the grammarphobe’s guide to better English in plain English“, by Patricia T. O’Conner. It’s a fun read.

7. Finally, if you’re looking for books to give you some practical ideas to use in the classroom, I’ll recommend two: “Teaching Grammar Creatively“, by Gerngross, Puchta and Thornbury – packed with full lesson plans ready to use in the classroom or to be adapted; and Penny Ur’s “Grammar Practice Activities“, which will also give you some ideas when you’ve got your “teachers’ block” and can’t come up with an activity or a different way to engage your learners.

What other books on Grammar or on teaching grammar would you recommend?

2 thoughts on “My ELT library (part 2)

  1. If I could have only one grammar book, Desert Island Discs-style, it’d be Practical English Usage – only rarely does it fail to come up with an answer. Still, all the others on your list are useful too, particularly Penny Ur’s book and the whole range she edits.

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