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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent ideas and key, over elaborate in some areas. Of less use to business learners., 10 Dec 2009
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This review is from: A Book on Writing (Paperback)
This is a book I discovered a couple of years ago. It's very different in style from it's competitors, whether intentionally or because it was published in 1997: spiral-bound, all black and white, no pictures. Furthermore, it doesn't try any of that 'humour' that many books have.

So, it is a very functional book, and get's straight down to business. It's split into five sections, which are:

1.Focus on coherence
2.Focus on cohesion
3.Writing letters
4.Correcting written English
5.Punctuation

Each of the above are broken up into easily digestible pieces which are a series of exercises that double up as chapters that general have a paragraph of introduction and then dive straight into a task. Most of the sections begin with tasks that make you think about what you're trying to achieve, rather than simply lexical/word-related tasks.

This is an interesting approach, and can be rather difficult to follow at times, as well as sometimes it being difficult to see the reason for some of the questions involved. I have been teaching for more than 12 years and am still unsure if the following are conjunctions or adverbs:

however, whatever, besides, consequently

and yet I am asked, at one point, to decide. My point is, does it matter?

Section 1 deals exclusively with essays, which is a shame, as it could easily be transferred to reports and proposals (I have to admit that it would make it easier for me too, as majority of my clients are already working in London and so don't have to write essays too often).

I most use sections 2, 4 & 5, which I find to be very well laid out and really quite challenging in places. They have been brilliant with my clients for getting them to think about the language in different ways, what differences there are between ways of using the language, some of which I still have trouble explaining.

Lastly, and one of the best parts of the book is the key. It takes up the last 30% of the pages, with detailed explanations of each exercise. This is a trait that all books should follow, and not enough do. If a book is to be used for both self-study and reference at a later date (as this can be), then it is less important that a student knows whether they are correct than that they know WHY they were wrong.

Overall this is a useful addition to the books on offer in the ELT sector. It is simple and unfussy, and has aimed to fill a gap in the market. It mostly succeeds, though I think that sometimes it covers what isn't necessary for a good grasp of the language. For teachers, this is a great book to have on hand, as there are many parts that are excellent. For the student this would be a good supplement to other coursework.
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A Book on Writing
A Book on Writing by Sam McCarter (Paperback - Mar 1997)
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