“The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation” by Jane Straus

The author of the book The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Jane Straus, dedicated her book to the main rules connected with parts of speech and punctuations usage. Jane Straus highlights the necessity to develop knowledge in this sphere as the basic one for further linguistic education. The whole textbook can be divided into two parts. The first one discloses rules correct usage parts of speech. The second one deals with punctuation. The material that is disclosed in the textbook is huge. That is why there are subchapters that explore a definite aspect of language. For instance, the first part (parts of speech) is subdivided into such subchapters as “noun”, “adjective”, etc. The author dwells upon each part of speech in the subchapters to facilitate the perception of students. The subchapters are sequenced according to the principle of successive complications of the material.

In other words, it is easier for students to percept information first about nouns and then about verbs. In further subchapters, the author explains in what way different parts of speech can be connected and what correlation may be between them. By the way, it is a good point that punctuation is explained after the chapter about parts of speech, as the level of punctuation reveals correlations between parts of speech stated above. However, it is a usual approach of all grammar textbooks that contain information about both parts of speech and punctuation. The units of the textbook contain information about parts of speech or certain types of punctuation and rules that are connected with them. By the end of the course, the student should know all parts of speech and all punctuation rules described in the textbook, and use them correctly during writing speech. Each unit of the textbook suggests exercises that help students to develop skills of correct parts of speech and punctuation marks usage.

Although the textbook by Jane Straus offers good material for grammar learning, there are some changes that are to be made. However, the adaptation is to be carried out on several levels. “The adaptations are cumulative: adapting at the unit level involves adaptation at activity level; adapting at the syllabus level involves adaptation at the unit level.” (Graves, 2000, p. 188). First of all, the assignments of each unit should be changed from the point of view of communication purposes and the complex study of each aspect of grammar. In other words, Jane Straus suggests rules and tasks that are aimed to fasten skills in isolation. If the unit is dedicated to the description of the noun as a part of speech, it means that there is nothing about its valency with other parts of speech. It means that when a student goes further to the unit about adjectives, he/she has no background in what nouns correlate with adjectives. It is obvious that the unit level should be adapted as well. One needs to offer a variety of exercises of different complexity levels to develop durable linguistic skills. All in all, the textbook by Jane Straus can be used as a good basis for teaching English grammar. Still, one should adopt it to develop grammatical skills in a proper way. Another thing that should be changed is the cultural aspect. The information that is given in the textbook, should have a cultural context in order to develop knowledge about the culture of English-speaking countries.

Reference

Graves, K. (2000). Designing Language Courses: A Guide for Teachers. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

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