BEBC Review Panel – How to Teach Grammar

How to Teach Grammar     

Title: How to Teach Grammar

Publisher: Pearson

Author: Scott Thornbury

Reviewed by: Sharon Chalmers, Director of Studies, Live Language, Glasgow

© Copyright BEBC REVIEW PANEL 2014 – this review may be reproduced but only with this acknowledgement

Grade: 5/4/3/2/1

Comments (5 being the highest grade and 1 the lowest)


This title takes a highly-practical approach to teaching grammar.  After brief discussions on what grammar is, Thornbury establishes the framework for the rest of the text.  All lesson plans are evaluated based on the E-factor (efficiency) and A-factor (appropriacy).  Efficiency factors include economy, ease and efficacy. These look at whether the amount of time reflects the benefit etc.  The A-factor looks at whether the tasks are suitable for the students.  Instead of just suggesting activities or lesson plans, this framework allows teachers to establish the pros and cons and benchmark them.  This allows the tutor to choose the best approach for their learners.   It encourages the teacher to be more reflective and learner-centred which can only benefit their lessons.

After an examination of deductive and inductive approaches, the title goes on to ideas on how to teach through texts.  This is a particularly useful unit, putting the spotlight on scripted dialogue, authentic text and genre analysis among others.  Again, activities are evaluated on their efficiency and appropriacy.

Thornbury also looks at how to integrate grammar not only into lessons, but also different approaches such as PPP and task-based learning.  Although a particularly useful unit for newer teachers, it would be useful for more experienced teachers as part of their own professional development.

The text finishes with an extremely useful unit on how NOT to teach grammar.  This highlights the features of ‘traditional’ grammar lessons, and evaluates them based on the E- and A-factors.  It clearly points out the bad habits that teachers can fall into and how to avoid them.

There is a photocopiable task file for each of the units.  This provides an ideal starting point for teacher-training sessions.  The activities are well-designed and promote discussion around each section of the book.  This is great for teacher trainers or more experienced professionals and could essentially be the basis for a series of INSETT sessions.

Overall, Thornbury covers the teaching of grammar thoroughly without becoming too theoretical and getting bogged down in jargon.  All titles in the ‘How to’ series take a very practical approach to topic in question.   This makes ‘How to teach grammar’ an essential for any methodology section in schools.

What outstanding strengths/ weaknesses do you feel this title possesses?


  • Insightful evaluation of a large variety of lesson plans
  • The practicality of the text means it can be read as a whole or dipped in to at will

 © Copyright BEBC REVIEW PANEL 2014 – this review may be reproduced but only with this acknowledgement


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