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Grammar Practice Activities with CD-ROM

An excellent source of readily usable additional material to use in conjunction with a text book
Reviewed for TEFL.net by Alison Susans

This is the second edition of Penny Ur’s grammar practice activities, a reference book aimed at EFL teachers. The book moves away from the dull and conventional grammar exercises found in the majority of text books (gap fills, completion exercises, etc) and introduces innovative and communicative ways of making grammar more fun while getting students to generate language.

The book lay-out is very user friendly, thanks to the clear language and uncomplicated format. The author starts by giving a general introduction to grammar teaching, offering useful advice on the general mistakes made in this area and what to look for when choosing activities for a class. This is followed by a brief description of the different types of activity suitable for grammar practice and the pros and cons of each method, along with tips and instructions on how to get the most out of an activity.

The next section deals with the activities themselves. There are 21 units, each one focusing on a particular grammar point. What I found particularly helpful was the box at the beginning of each activity indicating the focus, age group, level and running time along with details of any preparation needed for the activity. Preparation time is however virtually non-existent, given that all the required materials are included – you can either photocopy them directly from the book or you can open and print them from the CD-ROM. The advantage of the latter is that you can print them in colour, making the activities even more engaging. What pleased me a lot was the fact that the materials are realistic – shopping lists, symbols, forms and the pictures are uncomplicated, modern and real to everyday life. Students can relate to the activities more because of this, which also motivates them.

Instructions for each activity are then given along with tips, variations, follow-on exercises and notes. Any possible issues regarding the activity itself or the language have already been anticipated and suggestions are given on how to avoid or overcome them. A few of the activities have an interesting turn to them because they get students using other sources of input and not just the material provided. For example, in one of the activities on adjectives students have to use the internet. The advice on variations keeps the activities fresh and using the same activity does not become tedious to those teaching. I also found the ideas for follow-on activities really useful for homework ideas. Even the index is extremely well thought out. You can search by grammar point, by activity title or by type of activity – e.g. if you look under brainstorming you will find all the activities which use brainstorming regardless of the grammar focus.

The only information I would have found helpful that was not included is regarding the group size, although to be fair most activities can be adapted to accommodate any sized group. This book is however not really appropriate for one-to-one classes.

Penny Ur has created an excellent source of readily usable additional material to use in conjunction with a text book. It is also an ideal way for teachers to refresh their repertoire of class activities. I was so grateful to the author a few weeks ago when asked to cover a group at the last minute – a real life saver!

Reviewed for TEFL.net by Alison Susans
October 2009 | Filed under Grammar

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