Concise, Clear, and Practical

Summary
Pros: 
Concise, Clear, and Practical
Image of Grammar in Use Intermediate With answers: Self-study Reference and Practice for Students of English
Author: Raymond Murphy, William R. Smalzer
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (2000)
Binding: Paperback, 352 pages

Raymond Murphy's "Grammar in Use" series (Cambridge University Press) provides concise exercises, clear examples, a simple format, and a systematic approach to learning English grammar. It's almost ideal for self-study since each lesson (unit) can stand alone and unit answers can be easily found and understood.
Plus, the "Grammar in Use" books cost about half as much as the other "classsic" texts like Betty Azar's overrated and impractical "Fundamentals of English Grammar." Administrators and teachers, especially ones working with immigrants and refugees, should consider price and practicality when choosing texts.

Just compare "Grammar in Use" with Azar's "Fundamentals of English Grammar." Murphy's text uses 340 pages to explain esential grammar points while Azar takes almost 600 pages to overwhelm students with exceptions to rules. Murphy's book focuses on common expressions and everyday language; Azar's thick book offers the drill and kill approach to learning languages.

Granted, many ESL teachers have an almost religious faith in the Azar series. They can recycle their grammar lessons year after year. But the Azar series costs far too much, weighs too much, and contains far too many impractical exercises of limited practicality. ESL Teachers may find the Azar's grammar charts fascinating, but adult students will find Murphy's series helps them actually using English at work, school, home, and shopping. What is the goal, anyway?

Since immigrants and refugees don't need, want, or have the time to master these often silly grammar distinctions without a difference, I strongly recommend Cambridge University' "Grammar in Use" series. Don't busy adult students deserve an accessible, practical grammar text?

I don't usually like requiring grammar books for adult ESL classes. The desire to speak "correct" English can sometimes morph into a strange cult of some idealized English that one can't find spoken in American cities. Still, Murphy's clear exercises avoid this common pitfall by focusing on essential grammar points, using practical examples, and skipping over the peculiar oddities that mesmerize too many grammar fundamentalists. This affordable book lives up to its title and helps students learn English by using the language.

Finally, "Grammar In Use" stands out as the most student-friendly grammar series that I've seen in a decade of teaching English composition and ESL. Buy it.

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