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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 November 2001
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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on 17 February 2013
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 October 2009
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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on 1 December 2015
Not for the faint hearted, but if you're an ESL teacher and struggling with more advanced grammar... this book will help YOU to understand what you're supposed to be teaching. Exactly what I wanted. This isn't a book for you to teach out of, it's designed to help you develop your teaching skills. Many horrendously pernickety and complex grammar questions have been answered for me by this book - all those niggly ones that English learners tend to have at some point. Thank you once again, Scott Thornbury.
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on 25 October 2010
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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on 5 March 2014
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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on 19 February 2012
This book proved to be extremely useful and interesting to read. It explains various parts of English Language Teaching in understandable language as well as using exercises which enable memorization of the points explained.
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on 18 March 2015
This is a very useful companion for English teachers who want to deepen their understanding from the smallest to the largest units of language. It is neatly divided into small, manageable chapters which each contain short awareness-building tasks. All the source material is authentic, which further enhances reader engagement and maintains motivation throughout. A great investment of time and money.
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on 13 July 2012
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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on 5 December 2013
Very useful book for uni students studying english with an objective of going into the teaching profession. Good value too
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