Real English Grammar

Title: Real English Grammar
Author: Hester Lott
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Ltd
Reviewed by: Paula Swenson
Review date: July 2005

This text is designed for both self-study and classroom use by Intermediate level students. Its strongest points are good solid grammar explanations that are also concise, and exercises that have a context beyond the grammar. Its publishers say that it is a rival to Murphy's English Grammar in Use, and it will probably be welcome to those who may have tired of that text. On the other hand this book is laid out in a totally different style, and those who prefer the familiar may have an adjustment period.

The photos and colorful illustrations are something not normally found in Grammar texts, and certainly added to my students' enjoyment of the book. Another nice touch is the CD that comes with the book. Each unit begins with a passage of authentic text to provide a context for the grammatical or lexical area. The CD allows students to listen to the texts read by a variety of native speakers, at natural speeds, in a variety of accents. This is a nice break from the ordinary and will be especially useful to teachers outside of English-speaking countries.

Most of the exercises in the book have a narrative and there are characters that reappear. Often the exercises take the form of conversations, interviews or other natural speech. My one quibble with the exercises is the often tiny space provided for students to write their answers. Teachers familiar with Cambridge EFL (ESOL) exams will find the format of many of the exercises quite familiar, which could be a great benefit for students within that testing system.

The book is well organized and could be used front to back, with appropriately increasing difficulty. On the other hand, it is also possible to pick and choose, as the units are perfectly capable of standing alone.

The tables at the back of the book provide a handy reference for students, although the American English grammar (Table 5) is somewhat misleading and so brief, it really doesn't seem worth including.

All in all, this new Grammar text, with CD and separate answer key booklet is worth a look. ESL Reviews & ArticlesPaula is currently the Director of Studies at Language Studies International in San Diego, California and has also taught in Poland & Germany.