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A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers - Tony Penston
A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers is a paperback book written by Tony Penston which guides English as a Foreign Language (ESL) teachers through how to teach English grammar to students learning English as a second language.
As some of you may know, I am currently living in Krakow in Poland working as an English Language teacher. Before I moved here I had never taught in my life, in fact far from it, since leaving school I had been trained in the print trade, so moving into the world of teaching was a big change and I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to be requiring some literature to help me along the way.
I purchased this book in May 2011 as I was intending to do a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course, also known as a TEFL course. When I booked my course it was recommended to me that I purchase this book as it would make my life teaching English easier and also help me to explain any grammar questions that may be thrown at me. So, I purchased the book through 'i-to-i' for £22.99. 'i-to-i' is the company who I booked my TEFL course with.
When the book arrived I have to admit I took one look at it and thought "OMG what am I letting myself in for?" I spent around an hour simply browsing through the book and reading little snippets here and there. I then decided that the book was best left until I had done the TEFL course and had more of an understanding of how to teach a language.
After completing my TEFL course I picked up the book once again and this time I felt more confident about it as firstly the TEFL course had covered a bit of grammar which had dusted off the cobwebs in areas I had forgotten about since leaving school in 1999! I also felt more confident as the TEFL course teaches you how to teach English without knowing the language of the country that you are teaching in, so feeling more confident I took A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers to work with me for some lunchtime reading.
After a short introduction the book is sectioned into 27 chapters and starts off with a short chapter about a simple sentence and the parts that make up a sentence, i.e.: nouns and verbs.
The book then continues to move towards Verb tenses, now, to me I left school way back in 1999 and have since pretty much forgotten a lot about verbs, nouns, adjectives and tenses so in a way I have felt like I have been re-teaching myself as well as learning how to teach grammar. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 cover past, present and future verb tenses, they have been split into Simple and Continuous for chapter 2, Perfect for chapter 3 and future markers, review tenses, stative and dynamic verbs for chapter 4. Each chapter is very detailed with the use of not only text, but also diagrams and extracts from other teaching aids and some very helpful examples of lessons or activities you could use to teach verbs in a way that can be understood and remembered.
After covering verbs over 3 chapters the book tends to stick to one chapter each for everything else. I wont go into detail over every chapter as this isn't really necessary and for 27 chapters would make this review almost as long as the book, but I will give you a general idea of what is covered.
Looking through the titles of the chapters for the first time I remember thinking a lot of "what's that?" this was the case with chapters covering 'Quantifiers' and 'The Infinitive' however I found that when I got to these chapters I did actually know the meaning and indeed when they were used and relevant, it had just been the terminology that had thrown me.
There is a chapter in the book about Irregular verbs, as well as examples of ways to teach irregular verbs the chapter also contains a very helpful table of irregular verbs which I have found to be rather useful during a couple of my lessons as I often find students are very responsive to tables as they find them easy to refer to and as they are laid out simply they also find them easy to learn from.
A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers covers everything and a lot more that you need to know about English grammar and how to teach it. I have been teaching English as a foreign language now for almost 4 months, I am teaching privately to students of various ages and language levels. While I am avoiding teaching grammar directly to the lower level students as advised by this book as getting a base of conversation and vocabulary is more important and can then be followed up by grammar as they progress and their confidence and ability improves, I have been working on grammar with a couple of my higher level students, one is a man of around 40 and the other is a man in his mid 20's, before each lesson I have been referring to this book as a guide for myself on both how to teach them the grammar and also to refresh myself on the exact terminology as this is one of the most important points to avoid confusion. Both of the students I have been working on grammar with are learning fast and they both refer to a tenses table that I made for them with the help of one of the references provided by this book.
The method of using a combination of diagrams, text and examples is continuous throughout the entire book. Each example of a lesson or activity also has a line of text beneath it stating where the original article came from, I realise this is really to give reference to the original teacher or author but I have found this very useful to myself if I have found a particular article I have enjoyed or think I would enjoy using as it has enabled me to look up the source and either download more lessons or purchase the original book.
A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers was first published in 2005 and is printed by TP Publications. I bought my copy of this book through the company I booked my TEFL course with, however it is available to buy on Amazon for £14.25, so cheaper than the £22.99 I paid. At both prices though I would say that I can highly recommend this book. It started off as a scary what am I letting myself in for but less than 6 months later I am now using it regularly as a reference guide for my English teachings and quite honestly would be lost without it. This book welcomed me into the world of Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is a must have guide that I would recommend to anyone else considering entering the world of TEFL.
Thanks for reading! :)