Reviewer: Dr David Keeble
10 April 2014
Grammar Sense 2nd edition by Cheryl Pavlik (OUP 2012) is a text book aimed at the basic user of English and is a suitable grammar for use in a general English course preparing students for intermediate level EAP programmes. It comes in a single volume (GS1) or divided in two, (GS1a and 1b) with each volume containing half the material. It has an accompanying teacher’s book, a CD with audio practice exercises and dedicated website accessed via password. The presentation is full-page format and liner, with a modest use of graphics – rather than the patchwork of text and graphics often associated with basic level language books – making it easy to follow. The graphics that are included are generally deployed as part of a task or to stimulate the student’s imagination.
The book initially introduces the concepts of nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions and – separated from nouns (strangely) – subject pronouns. These initial pages are followed by a series of 26 chapters divided into ten parts with the verb BE treated over the first three chapters. Nouns are dealt with next followed by adjectives and pronouns; the present; the past; articles together with quantity expression; the future; modal verbs; objects, infinitives and gerunds; comparatives and superlatives. Each chapter presents its grammatical item(s) in three ways: first, contextualised within a printed dialogue or other extended discourse, second, with a focus on the different (morphological /syntactic) forms the item can take, and third, by outlining the semantics of the item together with its pragmatic use.
Attention has been paid to the organisation and accessibility of the content, so the ordering of items and the transitions from section to section is carefully controlled. For example, the transition from nouns (part 2) to adjectives (part 3) has chapters which deal with both descriptive and demonstrative adjectives, the use of nouns as adjectives, possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives together with distinguishing plural and possessive inflectional morphemes. Tables of data on forms are often grouped together, for example, the forms of affirmative and negative statements, contractions, yes / no questions, and information questions, are all set out across a double page where they can be referenced easily.
The treatment of tense is appropriately limited and simplified for students with only a basic knowledge of the language, however, it seems remiss of the author to treat the simple past without distinguishing this from the present perfect since understanding the different uses of these two forms is of considerable difficulty for many students and can quite easily be explained with reference to time frames that finished in the past or that still continue at the time of speaking /writing.
There is a developmental element within the ‘writing’ sections in each chapter, involving a variety of tasks from simply completing sentences in ‘cloze’ exercises, to commenting ‘critically’ on the function and choice of some of the grammatical items. Production tasks include rewriting paragraphs in order to employ a target item, brainstorming ideas for a short composition, drafting, editing and eventually peer reviewing a paragraph constructed around a topic, and having explicitly prescribed elements of grammatical content.