The Grammar Teachers Ought to Know and Often Don’t #ELTchat Summary 25/07/2012

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The Grammar Teachers Ought to Know and Often Don’t #ELTchat Summary 25/07/2012

This summary was written by Elizabeth Anne – @eannegrenoble on Twitter and is copied here from her blog with her kind permission



Although our dear moderators did try to nudge us towards the specific grammar points implied in the title of this week’s ELTchat – no one would go there and this evening’s chat brought above all a plethora of books to read, with just a few online references (videos mainly) towards the end – Would that be the call of beaches and parasols before the summer break? LOL – though actually, lots were very definitely reference books rather than a straight read.

Points brought up in the discussion about grammar and teacher’s attitudes to grammar were that:

– a “feel” for grammar is important to counteract the over-generalisations of text books, and the problems encountered when a student has been given the wrong end of the stick. (“the feel is important, esp when trying to convince that sth really doesn’t follow the rules they learned” )
-NESTs do not always have the knowledge to analyse their students’ mistakes , and PD is essential “we owe it to our students
-some chatters found grammar book boring whereas  there was general agreement  on the fact that ” it is true that consulting ONE grammar only is not enough
– it is sometimes difficult to pick up on what grammar needs to be dealt with in class, due to ss “avoidance” techniques – dictagloss was suggested as one way round this
– on the other hand, filling in grammar pages is what some ss call learning (and some teachers, and some exams…)
There is a difference (between) knowing the grammar to isolate and help students (and)  teaching it to the students”, “you need to know way more (than just one step ahead) cause u need to carefully ‘curate’ what to bring to class


photo by @theteacherjames

Some Suggested Resources and Comments

Parrott’s Grammar for English Language Teachers “I regretted not having started with this BEFORE doing a CELTAGeorge Yule “Explaining English Grammar”  “I recommend Yule for conditionals too, gr8 approach thinking of the meaning of each clause not 1st..”Someone mentioned Swann,
would that be Practical English Usage or The Good Grammar Book ?In any case, there’s an interesting article (online) by Swan – “Does Grammar Teaching Work

Murphy was not high on the list of grammar-for-teachers. But such a lovely person (online)

The Teacher’s Grammar of English” by Ron Cowen was recommended for US English

English Grammar Today (Carter, McCarthy et al)

Teaching tenses by Rosemary Aitken was highly recommended, “especially for NNESTs” and “esp for LA assignment on a CELTA

Grammar for Smart People by Barry Tarshis  with its subtitle “your user friendly guide to writing and speaking better English”  sounds like a cast off from the “Eats Shoots and Leaves” syndrome (to me, and I’m holding the pen keyboard)

When someone pointed out that the student’s L1 would influence the specific the grammar needed by teachers Marisa quickly pointed them to “Learner English” by Michael Swan, available in pdf,  which highlights the specific problem zones for speakers of 22 different languages (or language families)

Meaning and the English Verb by Geoffrey Leech from U Lancaster  is in it’s third edition and is still going strong after 30 years and was highly recommended though with “caution about what Leech says about degrees of certainty with the futures! #eltchat cf The English Verb – Lewis

In a more general vein there was:

My Grammar and I (or should that be “me”?) said to be very “readable”   #guydeutscher

But for truely pleasureable reading , I have to slip in Jean Aitchkinson’s Reith Lectures « The Language Web » Either the book or thedownloadable audio (5×45 mins)

For people wanting to take up Willy Card’s call to delve into Philiosopy, a great overview (first few chapters) in this “Fuzzy Grammar – a reader” edited by Bas Aarts (head of the Survey of English Usage group at UCL which was founded by Quirk).



  • Two 15 minutes of Krashen on language acquisition
  • Thornby, one hour video: 7 ways of looking at Grammar Google was actually said not to be the best resource (though I find that googling the point in question preceeded by EFL ESL quizz – is extremely useful for coming up with a few questions to illustrate the discussion)


    CUP are giving away a free 5 hour Grammar awareness course on their teacher network


    #ELTchatters who participated

About the Author


Elizabeth Anne

Elizabeth Anne

Love teaching English to scientists here in France



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