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About Language - Tasks for Teachers of English (Cambridge Teacher Training and Development) Hardcover – 13 Mar 1997


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press ELT (13 Mar. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521561981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521561983
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 2.2 x 25.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,085,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I teach on an MA TESOL program for the New School, New York, and live in Spain. I am the author of a number of books on language and methodology, including How to Teach Grammar, How to Teach Vocabulary and How To Teach Speaking (Pearson), Uncovering Grammar, Beyond the Sentence and An A-Z of ELT (all published by Macmillan), Natural Grammar (winner of a British Council Innovations award in 2005) and Grammar (Oxford University Press); and Conversation (with Diana Slade) and The CELTA Book (with Peter Watkins) both for Cambridge University Press. My latest book, Teaching Unplugged (Delta Publishing, co-written with Luke Meddings) won a British Council Innovations award in 2010. I am currently the series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers.

My teacher training duties involve teaching courses in methodology and pedagogical grammar, both on-line and face-to-face, for the New School MA TESOL program. I also run workshops, and give talks and webinars, on a regular basis, and of a primarily practical nature, as well as moderating a very active blog for teachers (www.scottthornbury.wordpress.com)

Product Description

Review

'Scott Thornbury's book is a major contribution to this understanding, process and strategy. About Language is definitely a book worth recommending to all teachers, both those with considerable experience and novices.' Folia Linguistica Anglica, Poland, 1999

'The book provides a great wealth of ideas and strategies, for use in teacher development programs … The author and the publisher are to be congratulated on the production of such a useful book, which will be a valuable addition to the professional libraries of teachers and teacher educators.' VATME Newsletter, 1997

'I would have given my right arm for this book when I first entered the world of EFL. There are plenty of books that discuss what and how we should teach, and we seem to be swimming in books on grammar . What we don't have, however, are books designed to ease the novice teacher into the intimidating world of EFL 'grammarese'. About Language fill this gap. It is about the tools of our job: syllabuses, rules, functions, notions texts, phonology, morphology, sentences, grammar, cohesion, conversation and more.' BBC English, 1997

'I really felt that I was reading a book that has been written by somebody actively involved in the profession.' BBC English, 1997

'The book targets teacher trainees - indeed has been extensively trialled with classes of student teachers - but is also of value to teachers in any developmental program, native and non-native speakers, senior staff preparing inservice seminars and teachers in self-study. I have used it in a 'grammar clinic' context and found it both lucid and effective.' ' … this is probably not a book that one would slavishly follow from Unit One onwards, but rather one that allows a dip-into-according-to-current-need approach. Recognising this, the organisation of the book facilitates the reference process; it is a model of clarity, and its index is a welcome addition.' 'Thornbury knows as much about how people learn about their language as he does about the language of English.' EA Journal Volume 15 no 2

Book Description

This book raises the issue of what a teacher needs to know about English in order to teach it effectively. It leads teachers to awareness of the language through a wide range of tasks which involve them in analysing English to discover its underlying system.

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First Sentence
This unit is designed to get you started, and invites you to consider some key issues related to the teaching of language - language being the operative word here - since the focus of this book is less on methodology than on the nature of language itself. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jonny Lewington on 25 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If, like me, you want this book for self study, then whether it will be useful for you depends on your preferred style of study. For me, the book was dissapointing when it arrived because it felt like it was not really suitable for self study. The introduction to the book made it very clear that the primary aim of the book was for it to be used in teacher training classrooms, with usefulness for self study as a secondary aim.

The book doesn't contain chunks of information 'about language'. Rather it has a list of 'tasks' for each unit and then, in the back, answers for the tasks. For example, in the tasks section one task will ask you to match terms and thier definitions, and the 'answers' section in the back will have a completed table. This can make it cumbersome to use for self study if you don't already know most of the terms, because you end up studying the answers page and then returning to the tasks page. So, you end up flicking endlessly between the back and front, compiling information by finding answers to questions rather than just reading it. For some people this may be a useful method, but for me it just felt awkward. Evidently, the tasks are designed primarily for classroom use (although all can be completed alone).

'About Language' does cover a lot of key elements of the language though and, after I did wade through it, it did help me understand the language a lot better. Now I know, for example, what a bilabial fricative consonant is, and where it is on the phonemic chart!

In summary - this can be a useful text but bear in mind that the approach is 100% task based which (if like me you didn't pick up on the hint in the subtitle!) may not be exactly what you thought it would be.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Alan Waters on 2 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
For those involved in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages, this book is easily the most reader-friendly, comprehensive and balanced introduction to undertsanding a) how the English language works and b) the related pedagogical implications!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shakespeare on 17 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent textbook for self-study in preparation for MODULE 1 (the exam!). It has the answer key in the back.
One of the things I like best is that in each section it asks you questions about teaching practice, so it helps me remember / review methodologies and approaches which we will have to discuss in some detail during our exam. This activity is followed by another activity that prepares you for Paper 2 of the DELTA Module 1 exam that carries most of weight -- it's the bit where you are given a sample text to analyse and you have to break down components and evaluate them on the sentence level, paragraph level, context and discourse.
I'm still working through this book. I'm very happy I bought it because there is so little out there that is DELTA specific... I definitely recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By therealus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Oct. 2009
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Of the four grammar books recommended for my upcoming CELTA course, this is probably the best in terms of teaching me something and telling me things I need to know. In general the explanations are clear, the exercises are challenging and feel worthwhile, and Scott Thornbury has not shied away from tackling some thorny issues I perceived, not least in the field of Tenses, where he includes a thoughtful and lucid discussion of the many issues in English, and Parts of Speech.

I can't help, though, imagining the author at school, as one of those pupils who never stray too far away from an escape route. He's sometimes a little too smart with his questions, asking the reader to characterise items according to, say, a list of five terms, and then in the answers doing a Gotcha! by dropping a sixth or even a seventh term in there. It's not the tough kids who want to get him, it's the studious ones who know just a little less than he does. Also, the inductive approach he has adopted sometimes seems to be an excuse not to explain some things at all.

Overall, though, well worth sticking with.
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This is not the kind of book that you can just sit down and read through page by page. It consists of a series of tasks on all aspects of the English language, ranging from phonetic sounds and words to sentences and texts. To complete all the tasks in this book takes a long time. I have now covered 2 thirds of it and this was in two weeks of studying two chapters a day.

It is quite a lot of hard work to get through and the tasks, although engaging, can be quite exhausting. This is because Thornbury makes you work for the knowledge. Rather than just feeding it to you, he encourages you to find it for yourself in a variety of authentic texts.

I think this is a very good way of learning. Personally, it has helped me to assimilate a lot of new information about grammar and better understand central concepts in English grammar. But it was a lot of hard work!

So in a nutshell, the book is definitely worth buying, especially if you are doing to do the DELTA but don't expect it to be a breeze!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lord Houghton on 5 Mar. 2014
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Essential tool for the degree in teaching English Literature. A hard yet invaluable tool. This book reminds me of my days at school learning the grammar we so often hated but which is so sadly lacking these days. All my school kid days of learning grammar in a book. Excellent must have !
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