Grammar nonsense 4: relative clauses

This is less a post about the craziness of description and more one about the way grammar is presented and the expectation that grammar should always be practised – and practised in particular ways. Grammar McNuggets and overprotectiveness Scott Thornbury has…

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When are questions and teacher talk too much?

We recently had a query from a reader regarding the kind of language-generating concept questions we advocate. Basically, he had received some criticism after a lesson observation that the class was too teacher-centred, too input heavy and students didn't have enough time…

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Questions about words

In my talk at IATEFL (and International House London, where a video was made of it), I explained some of the limitations of asking traditional concept questions, especially when looking at vocabulary. What follows is a list of alternative types…

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Van Gogh’s ear and wordlists

We’ve had a suggested adaptation of some material from a teacher, Amber Nowak, in the Netherlands. It’s a little bit different to what we initially envisaged here in that Amber has already exploited the material in the book, Go for…

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4 Language is patterned

We have already see that one problem with the grammar + words view of language is that words are difficult to define, but the same could equally said of grammar on its own. In the case of Pinker’s book, Words…

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3 Language is norm orientated

This use of the word norms here is inspired by Patrick Hanks’ recent book, Norms and Exploitations. It’s just the latest in a large number of articles, books and theories which have tried to account for the fact that despite…

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2 Words are difficult to define

We recently had an email about the text on one part of our website, where this question was asked - "Should it be language is the building blocks or language is the building block?" It’s a good question to lead…

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1 Lexis is more important than grammar

Absolutely central to lexical teaching is a view of language. A starting point on the road towards understanding this view is the commonly stated observation that without grammar you can say little, but without vocabulary you can say nothing. Take…

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