Danny’s new book, Teaching Grammar: From Rules to Reasons, discusses an alternative way of teaching and understanding grammar, which will help learners understand and communicate more effectively. We asked Danny about why he feels a new approach to teaching grammar is needed, and how his new book will use this.

Why do you feel a new approach to teaching grammar in the language classroom is necessary?

The English language is changing all the time and we know so much more about the way that speakers and writers use language than we used to. As the language changes and we discover more about it, we have also learnt that a lot of the rules aren’t strictly true and may not be that helpful. My friend and colleague Andrea Borsato has a lovely way of putting it. He said “We try to contain the language with rules, but the language keeps running away”. I think this really sums up the problem with rules and demonstrates why a new approach is needed. By looking at reasons instead of rules, we’re not trying to contain the language; we’re looking at what people do with it instead.

So with this in mind, what is Teaching Grammar: From Rules to Reasons about?

Put simply, this is a book about English grammar and teaching, but more than that, it’s a book about what speakers and writers of English do with grammar and how language learners can be guided to discover what they mean. As such, the book outlines an alternative way of looking at grammar and a different way of teaching it.

As well as being a methodology book, Teaching grammar: from rules to reasons is also a resource, with 18 text and task-based lessons designed to develop students’ awareness of specific structures whilst also offering opportunities for genuine communication. The book also includes teaching tips, examples of student work, overviews of various classroom approaches and suggestions on how teachers can work with the language that students produce. There is also guidance on designing lessons and creating your own materials.

What makes it different from other resources?

The first obvious difference is that rather than focusing on grammar rules, the book suggests that teachers should encourage their students to look for reasons instead. In other words, students should be guided to discover why speakers and writers have chosen to use certain forms and what they mean when they do so. This helps students understand that the choice of grammar isn’t dependent on the rules but on what the speaker or writer wants to say.

The second difference is that rather than taking examples of rules or meanings from grammar books or experts, all the new descriptions of language in the book have been created by language learners. In fact, some of the examples found in the book are extremely eye-opening, giving far more appropriate and accurate descriptions of meaning than those found in grammar books or published materials. It’s amazing what learners discover and create when they get the chance.

In part two, Danny discusses the benefits of this new approach, and how it can have a positive impact on both teachers and learners.

Danny’s book, Teaching Grammar: From Rules to Reasons is coming soon, and can be found at https://www.etprofessional.com/teaching-grammar-from-rules-to-reasons/