Sunteți pe pagina 1din 10

Running head: AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW

An ESL/EFL Grammar Textbook Review


Krista M. Boddy
Colorado State University

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


Abstract
In this ESL/EFL textbook review, I analyze Azar and Hagens (2011) fourth edition of
Fundamentals of English Grammar, which is designed for lower-intermediate and intermediate
English language learners. My review of this textbook provides insight into whether this is a text
I would use with my current intermediate and advanced ESL students. I have included specific
criteria in my evaluation, including the audience of the learners, the organization of the grammar
structures presented, the approaches used, the provision of samples, templates and/or guides, and
whether the textbook accurately and fully explores the grammar structure of comparisons in
particular. Through my critique, I hope to determine if the textbook is appropriate for my current
ESL classes for its accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness.
Keywords: ESL/EFL/ELL, grammar textbook, comparisons

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


An ESL/EFL Grammar Textbook Review

Azar and Hagens (2011) fourth edition of Fundamentals of English Grammar is


designed to teach lower-intermediate and intermediate English language learners. As an
intermediate level text, it can be easily modified for lower-advanced as well as lowerintermediate learners. My review of this textbook provides insight into whether this is a text I
would use with my current intermediate and advanced ESL students. I have included the
following criteria in my evaluation: (1) Does this text suit the level of ESL learners I currently
instruct? (2) Are the contents organized logically from less complex to more complex grammar
structures and are they useful to ESL learners? (3) Do I agree with the approaches adopted in the
text or would I prefer a different approach? (4) Does the text provide useful templates, samples
or guides I may use in my instruction? (5) Does the textbook accurately and fully explore the
grammar structure of comparisons?
There are fourteen chapters in this grammar textbook. The first three chapters focus on
present, past, and future tenses. Chapter four compares the present perfect with past perfect,
while chapter five teaches how to ask questions. Chapter six covers nouns and pronouns, and
chapter seven teaches modal auxiliaries. Chapter eight introduces conjunctions, chapter nine
focuses on comparisons, and chapter ten teaches the passive voice. Chapter eleven compares
count and non-count nouns as well as articles, while chapter twelve highlights adjective clauses.
Chapter thirteen emphasizes gerunds and infinitives, and chapter fourteen covers noun clauses
and quoted speech.
I dont believe that all the contents are organized from less complex to more complex
grammar structures. For example, chapter ten, which introduces the passive voice, is taught
before count/non-count nouns and articles. I believe the passive voice is more challenging to
3

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


English learners and is not as crucial as comprehension of count/non-count nouns and articles. I
am also surprised that the chapter covering count/non-count nouns and articles comes so late in
the sequence of the textbook, as these are significant grammatical structures to be taught in the
early stages of learning English. ESL students need to understand such concepts for everyday use
in their communities for shopping and ordering items.
The appendix provides helpful supplementary grammar charts. The listening practice
exercises include a CD as well as scripts for students to read along with the dialogs. The answer
key is the final section before the index. The inside of the front and back cover lists common
irregular verbs as a reference. This list is helpful, but in no way comprehensive. For example, it
is lacking the have/has/had form with the past participle, which would assist students in using the
perfect aspect.
The fourth edition includes new warm-up exercises to complement grammar charts,
listening practice that ranges from everyday conversation to academic speech, readings that
focus on specific grammar structures, writing tasks that feature grammar structures (samples
included), expanded speaking activities for students to express their experiences, opinions, and
relate the grammar structure to their personal lives, and corpus-informed content to reflect
authentic English discourse. I find the variety of exercises, especially games and group/pair
activities, very valuable. The written and spoken language in the text is authentic, modern, and
covers typical situations such as apartment living, schedules, school, work, travel, health, and
hobbies. Such topics are practical for my current ESL students and suits their needs.
Fundamentals of English Grammar uses a grammar-based approach, but incorporates
communicative methodologies to enhance the acquisition of all language skills. However, this
text barely touches upon pronunciation skills, which are often overlooked in ESL instruction.

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


The authors explain that the text is founded on a basic understanding of form and meaning, and
is designed to incorporate meaningful communication about real actions, real things, and their
real lives in the classroom context (p. X). The back of the book claims the fourth edition
features more communicative and interactive language-learning activities. I prefer the
communicative method of ESL instruction, and appreciate the amount of verbal practice
exercises that the textbook provides. Nonetheless, this textbook would be greatly improved by
pronunciation exercises to match the communicative approach the authors claim to feature.
This text provides useful templates, charts, samples and guides that I can use in my
instruction. The pictures and games are geared for adult learners. I find the phrasal verb list and
preposition combinations in the appendix worthwhile as these are especially difficult language
skills for adult learners to acquire (p. 398-403). The timelines showing past, present, and future
tense, with respect to the progressive and perfect aspects, provide a helpful visualization in
learning these complex concepts (p. 90, 98, 395, 396). The writing exercises apply grammar
structures in an authentic way. One way the textbook could be improved, is if it contained guides
for paragraph writing.
The grammatical topic of Comparisons (chap. 9) is evaluated in the following
paragraphs. This chapter discusses comparatives, superlatives, and their adjective and adverb
forms. The chapter begins with a chart that shows how to make comparisons using as +
adjective/adverb + as. It explains to use asas to say that the two parts of a comparison are
equal or the same in some way (p. 229). It also shows the negative forms, such as not asas,
not quiteas, and not nearlyas. The examples provided are realistic as they compare the
ages of four individuals. The chapter teaches common modifiers used before asas, such as just
and almost. This section also incorporates popular idiomatic phrases into a game using asas

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


(e.g., as hungry as a bear, as strong as an ox). This is an effective way to teach idiomatic phrases
related to the grammar structure.
The next chart in the chapter defines comparatives and superlatives. The following quote
explains the differences, The comparative compares this to that or these to those (p. 233).
However, there is no discussion about this and that describing distance relationships, which is
essential for ESL learners to understand. The text states, The superlative compares one part of a
whole group to all the rest of the group (p. 233). It also shows the forms for each: comparatives
end in -er or use more and superlatives end in est or use most. It also notes that comparatives
are followed by than, and superlatives begin with the. The chapter presents plenty of examples
and practice exercises.
Next, a more detailed chart is presented about forms of adjectives and adverbs using the
comparative and superlative grammar structures (p. 235). This chart is organized by adjectives
with one-syllable, two syllables, three or more syllables, and irregular adjectives (good, better,
the best, bad, worse, the worst). It also shows ly adverbs (e.g., slowly), one syllable, and
irregular adverbs (well, better, the best, badly, worse, the worst, far, farther/further, the
farthest/furthest). It notes the exception of early as being both an adjective and an adverb, and
provides its forms (earlier, earliest) (p.235). The text also explains that both farther and further
are used to compare physical distances and that further can also mean additional (e.g., I need
further information), but farther cant be used for this purpose (p. 235). The charts
descriptions are one of the most concise, easy to read, and complete examples that Ive seen in
an ESL textbook with regard to teaching comparatives and superlatives.
The next chart I found beneficial for learning about comparisons, is the chart on page 239
which explains the use of than with comparatives. The chart makes a comparison between

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


formal and informal English in the following, In formal English, a subject pronoun (e.g., he)
follows than (e.g., Im older than he is). In everyday, informal spoken English, an object
pronoun (e.g., him) often follows than(e.g., Im older than him) (p. 239). This explanation
describes the authentic use of the grammar structure to ESL students. The chart also
demonstrates how auxiliary verbs often follow the subject after than (e.g., He works harder
than I do). It explains that a genitive noun (e.g., Kates) or pronoun (e.g., mine) may follow
than (e.g., Anns hair is longer than mine) (p. 239). More exercises follow for further practice
of the target structure.
Another useful chart on the topic of comparisons illustrates how comparative adjectives
and adverbs can be modified by much, a lot, far, a little, and a little bit. The chart first
underlines the fact that very can only modify adjectives and adverbs, but not these in their
comparative forms (e.g., Incorrect: Tom is very older than I am) (p. 240). This is a significant
difference that should be brought to the attention of English learners.
The next chart I find helpful pertains to the use of lessthan and not asas, when
comparing two items. This chart explains, The opposite of er/more is expressed by less or not
asas (e.g., A pen is less expensive than a book/A pen is not as expensive as a book) (p.241).
The chart notes that these two forms are used with adjectives and adverbs of more than one
syllable. Only not asas (not less) is used with one-syllable adjectives or adverbs (e.g.,
Incorrect: A pen is less large than a book) (p. 241). This description is clear, complete, and
accurate.
The chapter illustrates the use of more with nouns in making comparisons. The text
explains that when more is used with nouns, it often means additional, and that it is used to
make complete comparisons by adding than (e.g., There are more people in China than there

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


are in the U.S.). It adds that when the meaning is clear, the noun may be omitted and more can
be used by itself (e.g., Do you have enough coffee, or would you like some more?) (p. 242).
This chart is a useful guide which presents clear explanations of the usage of more in making
comparisons.
The chapter contains a short explanation about repeating comparatives. It claims,
Repeating a comparative gives the idea that something becomes progressively greater, i.e., it
increases in intensity, quality, or quantity (e.g., Because he was afraid, he walked faster and
faster) (p. 244). It next discusses using double comparatives by describing them as having two
parts which both begin with the... (e.g., The harder you study, the more you will learn) (p.
245). The text further explains, The second part of the comparison is the result of the first part
(p. 245). The chart also reveals two popular expressions in English with their meanings: the
more, the merrier and the sooner, the better. Again, this is a great way to introduce common
idiomatic expressions within the context of the grammar structure.
An additional chart I find beneficial outlines common lexical phrases used with
superlatives. For example, it lists superlative + in a place (e.g., the largest cities in the
world), superlative + adjective clause (e.g., the most generous person Ive ever known),
and superlative + of all (e.g., the best book of all) (p. 246). It also explains that the least
means the opposite of the most. The text lists another common lexical pattern used with
superlatives, one of + plural noun (+ singular verb) (e.g., One of the best students in the class
is Ali). This is a very thorough explanation of multiple ways that the superlative is used in
English. The chapter also provides helpful practice in using common lexical phrases. It is
essential that some of the exercises (e.g., Exercise 37, p. 249) include verbal practice of the

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


grammar structure. Many grammar textbooks in my experience do not provide verbal practice,
but instead consist of fill-in-the-blank exercises, which dont reflect real communication.
A final chart I find valuable summarizes the forms of the adjectives: the same, similar,
and different. It notes the always precedes same, the same is followed by as, similar is
followed by to, different is followed by from (however, than is often used in place of from
by native speakers, though from is more formal) (p.252). It also explains that a noun may
come between the same and as (e.g., She is the same age as my mother). The form for using
like and alike are shown as: noun + be like + noun (e.g., My pen is like your pen) and noun
and noun + be alike (e.g., My pen and your pen are alike) (p. 252). The chart makes a
worthy point about like following certain verbs, primarily ones dealing with the senses (e.g.,
feels like, tastes like, looks like, sounds like, etc.). It also states that alike may follow verbs other
than be (e.g., look alike, think alike, act alike, talk alike, dress alike) (p. 252). This information
is crucial for English learners to know the form in which the language is used. This chapter
accurately and fully explores the grammar structure of comparatives, superlatives, and the
adjectives and adverbs used to make comparisons.
Overall, this textbook is much more than just a simple grammar textbook. The charts lay
out common patterns in comprehensible and organized ways, and provide many examples and
practice for ESL students to learn. In my opinion, it does what it claims to do in providing a
basic understanding of form and meaning. This grammar text shows accurate language in how it
is used by native speakers, and the explanations are appropriate for this level of ESL. The
Fundamentals of English Grammar would be a great addition to my current ESL classes for its
accuracy, completeness, and appropriateness.

AN ESL/EFL GRAMMAR TEXTBOOK REVIEW


References
Azar, B. & Hagen, S. (2011). Fundamentals of English Grammar (4th Ed.). White Plains, NY:
Pearson Education. 474 pages.

10