Hi ,everyone, This is Philip.
I have been always trying to seek out why the prestigious universities , such as Oxford and Cambridge , are still producing Grammar books and textbooks that won’t help in learning English and speaking English well. Don’t they know about the research that Grammar analysis and textbooks drills are not the best method to be able to write and speak well???
When I see those books, I feel really unsettled and they really bother me. Anyone know about the facts of this problem or want to share some opinions???
In my opinion , they just want to continue producing those books because of their economic or financial reasons.
I take it you are talking about the companies OUP and CUP? Financial reasons seems to be a good explanation. There is a whole industry worldwide based on teaching and learning English. Changing that overnight is not very likely to happen.
As an aside, please only post once and do keep your question titles short, they take up a lot of room in the dialogue list. Thank you.
Sorry for double posting . Sometimes it happens , because when I try to open a link or a website, an unwanted website appears. That’s why I think it is posted twice accidentally.
Ditto SanneT. Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press (the companies) are concerned with sales. They give the people what they want, not what research suggests is most effective. The universities themselves are equally self-serving when it comes to soft subjects like Second Language Acquisition.
I was in Waterstone’s book store in London on Sunday and was again amazed at the quantity of books on grammar, ESL, TEFL, linguistics and applied linguistics. I picked up a few and was again appalled at the obvious unnecessary complication of a simple process.
0.Then on the flight home as I read a book in Russian about the transition, in Russia, from a planned economy to a market economy. In the old Soviet Union there were economics institutions and countless economists producing studies on what kind of indicators were key to to an efficient planned Soviet economy. The market and free pricing just replaces all the indicators. All the learned studies were just so much verbiage and of little practical use.
The problem is that this is how people think languages should be learnt. Also, they do not know how to go about it a different way.
Having said that, it’s not as though they’re all a complete waste of time. As with the economy analogy, a free market has its disadvantages because of the assumptions it makes, and doesn’t work well if they are not fulfilled. The Soviets were trying to remove the need for assumptions, which complicates the model. Similarly for language acquisition through exposure: it assumes a level of motivation, dedication and understanding. Anybody can learn a second language, but many people need further support, which complicates things.
I would go one further: I hate textbooks. They make so many assumptions: that you are teaching to a class, that the students are aged 20 - thirty-something, are interested in British culture etc etc.
Thanks , guys , for your opinions.
Steve and Roan, you give your opinions and give analogy with economy which I don’t understand because I am a very young person and don’t know anything about the economy. So , could u explain your points with simpler English and simpler analogy ???
“…still producing Grammar books and textbooks that won’t help in learning English and speaking English well. Don’t they know about the research that Grammar analysis and textbooks drills are not the best method to be able to write and speak well???”
A major problem with this statement is that there simply isn’t any proof that grammar and textbooks are worse than any other method. At least I haven’t seen any. Some buy the “grammar is useless” argument right away. Some buy a grammar book for reference.
“A major problem with this statement is that there simply isn’t any proof that grammar and textbooks are worse than any other method. At least I haven’t seen any.”
Have you been trying?
I am sure you have been involved in numerous threads where I provided links to solid research to back up my claims. In light of that the following:
“Some buy the “grammar is useless” argument right away. Some buy a grammar book for reference”
Research this, research that… some learn languages by osmosis and by speaking from day 1, some never open their mouth (unless a gun is pointed to the head)…
Of course grammar books and drills CAN be useful. When there is something you don’t understand, a grammar book (or a web page) can give the answer. Whenever things just have to get automatized, I’ve found drills to be better than…hoping it’ll all be sorted out “eventually”.
That many publishers probably take advantage of updating titles (2nd edition, 3rd edition, “Comprehensive grammar”, "1000 irregular verbs you didn’t know you needed…) is something else. Grammar might still be useful (and I think it is).
"some never open their mouth (unless a gun is pointed to the head)… "
Could we add this one to the LingQ wish list?
I encourage you to read the links.
But if we are going to just cite anecdotal evidence: Learning Arabic I have found all grammar explanations redundant. Either it is so simple I have sussed it out already or it is so complex that explanation goes over my head. It is a nice diversion sometimes.
" I have found all grammar explanations redundant. Either it is so simple I have sussed it out already or it is so complex that explanation goes over my head. It is a nice diversion sometimes."
I found the same in Russian, however, now after 4 years, I found a book in Russia, written in Russian which reviews 53 patterns of Russian with minimal explanation. I found that it really helped because I could relate the patterns to something that I had already experienced.
woe !! , too many native speakers discussing in sophisticated vocabularies ; I don’t get them all.
Please explain your points in more simpler English so that almost everyone can understand , OK??
I found that with romance languages, it’s pretty easy to figure out the grammar. It doesn’t take a lot to figure out the past tense in French (the avoir + participle), and nor does it take a lot to figure out the verb endings in Spanish (if it ends in -mos it’s “we”, -n it’s plural etc, whatever the tense). From the little Chinese I’ve studied, it’s also pretty straight forward working out the grammar there.
However, with Russian, I have had to buy myself “Oxford Russian: Grammar and Verbs”. It’s small, fits in my pocket and it’s nice to quickly review it from time to time. I would be lost without grammar review in this language.
Have you tried Google to support your learning?
Googling the grammar rules? Yes, I used to do that. I just find books easier to read, and a bit more portable than my laptop.
If a rule isn’t explained clearly enough, I do go onto Google and read about it. Afterwards, I make a note of it in the book. That way, I don’t need to go back onto the internet to check up on it for a second time.
philip, if you do not understand the comments of others, that should be an incentive to step up your language learning. You can import these comments into your LingQ lesson page and study them.
OH! yes , what a great idea , Steve .
But how can I make sure the grammars and spelling used by the comments are perfectly correct ?? I am worried about the careless minor mistakes , u know .