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Thread: Good book on stinking grammar

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    Good book on stinking grammar

    Hi folks.

    So, in preparation to moving to Thailand and teaching English I've been working pretty hard at learning Thai. That's kinda fun even if there are 17 different letters that can function as a "t". I don't know how it's happening, but I am becoming able to read.

    Anyway, I haven't been working on my English grammar much. Thing is, I never really learned the nitty gritty of it. It came naturally enough, and I always did well at English (and crappy at math) without even having to put any effort into it. Math? I think I would have had to do my homework.

    I've started to look at a couple grammar books, and my eyes start to glaze over pretty quick, and then my head falls forward and I begin to drool. 'Tis a bit boring, what. I can read the same explanation 3,4,5 times and still just be reading the words.

    So, I need a good grammar book with exercises that will help me crack this nut. I mean, shit, if I can learn Thai, I can learn English grammar. I'm sure some of your had the same problem. Maybe my TEFL (or whichever course I end up taking, which I will do in Thailand as part of my acclimation process) will do the trick, but I got 3 months before I move, so thought I'd brush up a little ahead of time.

    What's a great book on the topic? Not so much a reference book (glazed eyes…), but one that I can pour through and get the shit to sink in?

    [I don't stop for typos.]

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    Can you rephrase the question into 2 or 3 sentences?

    Thanks in advance.

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    Murray? Murphy? Start with the beginner book. Do the exercises. He doesn't use that many technical terms, just examples.

    Be careful with books, though. Alien slime makes the pages stick together.
    "The times I've been mistaken, it's impossible to say" - by the Moody Blues

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    Alienslime, you already know English grammar, or you wouldn't have been able to put together your post. Do what most teachers do: learn the bit you're going to teach a couple of hours before you teach it. After a year in the job, you've pretty much covered all of it without noticeable effort.

    Cheers,

    BB
    I blame the scapegoats...

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    benbaaa, how serious are you with that advice? I worked with an Englishman who was scared to death of teaching grammar; avoided it like the plague. It can be very daunting, especially when Pongsaronapat asks, "Why do we use a present tense in the infinitive when it's about the past?"

    Besides, it might take more than an hour to figure out HOW TO TEACH 'I will go there" versus "I am going to go there." Esp. when many teachers think those are distinctively different meanings, which they aren't in some native speaking countries.

    He probably needs to brush up if he's got doubts about grammar.

    Is it Murray or Murphy? And do they come in different colors?

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    Ha, ha, ha. That actually occured to me recently, that I'd only have to be a few steps ahead of the class.


    Quote Originally Posted by benbaaa
    Alienslime, you already know English grammar, or you wouldn't have been able to put together your post. Do what most teachers do: learn the bit you're going to teach a couple of hours before you teach it. After a year in the job, you've pretty much covered all of it without noticeable effort.

    Cheers,

    BB
    Added after 5 minutes:

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBlondie
    It can be very daunting, especially when Pongsaronapat asks, "Why do we use a present tense in the infinitive when it's about the past?
    yeah, that would be the type of question I'm not prepared to answer. I've found a few books that seem OK, but thought one of you might know the one that is the proverbial bomb.

    PS. I think alien slime ironically doesn't stick but burns through steel, like in the movie.

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    Senior Member Array johnny larue's Avatar
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    when Pongsaronapat asks, "Why do we use a present tense in the infinitive when it's about the past?"
    Most Thai students are not interested in asking questions and some get annoyed at having to wake up in order to answer yours.

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    I think you will find that you know more than you think you do, as long as you are prepared to analyse your own speech. Of course you need to know the parts of speech and the structures of tense. Easily learnt, but not from Murphys. It is about as clear as mud.

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    I kinda' look forward to figuring out how to deal with student apathy. I'm sure there will be days when I go strangle a lamp post, but, I think this forum's got a good vibe for pooling teacher's heads and coming up with strategies to deal with many situations. I don't know what you can get away with doing in the classroom, and I never taught (well, I taught art to undergrads, but that's different), so my ideas are borderline worthless at this point.

    Glad the grammar isn't soooo important. I started working on it. I did some exercises, got most right. But, the thing isn't to do them right, it's to know the stinking RULES. But, y'know, if a Thai person can understand the explanation of English grammar, aren't they pretty far along?

    I mean, I've been practicing Thai for about a year, and if someone tried to explain Thai grammar to me in Thai, I might get one of those George W. Bush expressions that indicates the brain has gone into "limp sponge" mode.

    Thanks for your help.

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    Senior Member Array Marmite the Dog's Avatar
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    Murphy's is the simplest, best presented grammar book. If you can't pick something up from that, you're a merkin.

    But I wouldn't really waste your time trying to teach grammar anyway. You're better off just trying to teach the students stuff that they will actually use and you'll probably spend most of you're time trying to think of new ways to review stuff already presented. Some of these kids have Teflon brains - nothing sticks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by benbaaa
    Do what most teachers do: learn the bit you're going to teach a couple of hours before you teach it. After a year in the job, you've pretty much covered all of it without noticeable effort.
    at last some sensible advice from BB

    Added after 3 minutes:

    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog
    Murphy's is the simplest, best presented grammar book.
    agreed. just looked in me cupboard & came up with the following...

    murphy's basic grammar in use (second edition) - ISBN 0-521-62600-5

    exercises with answers & a CD.


    Added after 5 minutes:

    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBlondie
    It can be very daunting, especially when Pongsaronapat asks, "Why do we use a present tense in the infinitive when it's about the past?
    when a sts comes up with a question such as that, i'll pack my bag & walk out.

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    A complete list of grammatical terms with explanations and sentence structure examples.

    http://www.uottawa.ca/acedemic/arts/.../termindx.html
    The really important thing in life is not to capitalize on your gains.Any fool can do that...
    The really important thing is to profit on your losses.This requires intelligence...
    It makes the difference between a person of intelligence and a fool.......
    A smart man learns from his mistakes...
    A wise man learns from others mistakes.......

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    You think that once or twice a year, dealing with students above the age of 14, you won't get a question such as, "Why do we use a present tense in the infinitive when it's about the past?"?

    In my first semester of teaching, 15-year old Wasin asked me what a gerund was. The next week, I was expected to follow a Thai teacher who had just covered about 15 tenses of the passive voice. So if you were sincere that

    "when a sts comes up with a question such as that, i'll pack my bag & walk out" then you'd better wear walking shoes to class.

    No, I don't mean we should TEACH grammar as if it were the main subject. But it's in the language and it's in the textbook. In the next five days, I'll teach the present progressive as contrasted with the present simple, to a total of 632 Matayom 1 students during 14 presentations. I'll be walking, looking, standing, sitting, listening, talking, turning, lifting, putting down, raising up, not swimming, not sleeping, not eating, not drinking, leaving, entering.....and EXPLAINING the differences between those verbs and their present simple forms.

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    Is it not the case that a lot of the Thai students will have studied some formal grammar whether in class or from books whereas native speakers tend to have learnt pretty much by instinct and everyday practise.

    As for knowing the technical terminology I 'spose you should ask whether you would trust a mechanic who told you, "Well the problem's with that little black metal thing that's shaped like a banana" - I would.

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    You don't need to learn grammar, you need to get used to looking up grammar before you teach. The trick will be in getting students to use the language you give them, not getting them to understand the grammar.

    The key to the above is having a grammar that makes sense to you. While Swan's ever-present Learner English is probably the most EFL suited text (and contains lots of non-grammar helpfulness) I prefer the Longman Grammar, which makes sense to me because I studied Latin (formal/rigid presentation by structure, even though the entries allow for alternative theories of language apart from grammar based ones), because they have lots of color coded examples, and because it's as conscise as can be (Swan rattles on a bit).

    Those two are the choice of 90% of TEFL grads out there. You definetly shouldn't buy both -- choose one. The Longman is slimmer and easier to pack along, too...

    Longman: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books

    Swan:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books

    If you have a good bookstore nearby try looking at their selection of grammars and picking the one that makes sense to you. These things aren't that commonly stocked though, so Amazon.com (or powells.com) might be your only bet...

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