Grammar in Context

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Elbaum, Sandra. 2001. Grammar in Context 3rd ed. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.

Grammar in Context by Sandra N. Elbaum is an interesting approach to teaching grammar. Elbaum encases grammar in a much more useful mantle by using real life examples of U.S. culture and history. Grammar is an important part of language, but it is technical, abstract, and boring. In order for a text to engage a student it must be interesting and relevant to their lives. I think Grammar in Context could be effective because it does this by integrating grammar into the real world. I thought the foreword by the author was very touching. She starts off by giving an example from her own life showing how important it is to include real life contexts into language learning. She tells of being a child and having not only having to explain the language to her Polish born parents but also the culture. This is a fitting start to a language text because; what is a language without culture. They are intrinsically linked. The text starts off with a review. I think this is important because ESL students are not always at the same place in every category of language learning. Placement tests do their best to place students in an appropriate level, but learning a language is not like other subjects. For example, if you miss the lesson on the Korean War in history class you would still be able to understand a lesson on the Vietnam War. Language is much more integrated. If you don’t have a strong foundation it is very difficult to progress. Having a review section in the beginning allows teachers to quickly find weaknesses in any fundamental areas, and address these problems in the beginning of the course. I liked that lesson one began with creating a résumé and cover letter. A résumé is a very technical but also very necessary composition for many ESL students. So often the people who emigrate to the U.S. are well educated professionals who are prevented from rising to their full potential...
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