Describing and Explaining Grammar and Vocabulary in ELT: Key Theories and Effective Practices, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Describing and Explaining Grammar and Vocabulary in ELT

Key Theories and Effective Practices, 1st Edition

By Dilin Liu


272 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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Language description plays an important role in language learning/teaching because it often determines what specific language forms, features, and usages are taught and how. A good understanding of language description is vital for language teachers and material writers and should constitute an important part of their knowledge. This book provides a balanced treatment of both theory and practice. It focuses on some of the most important and challenging grammar and vocabulary usage questions. Using these questions as examples, it shows how theory can inform practice and how grammar and vocabulary description and explanation can be made more effective and engaging.

Part I describes and evaluates the key linguistic theories on language description and teaching. Part II discusses and gives specific examples of how challenging grammar and vocabulary issues can be more effectively described and explained; each chapter focuses on one or more specific grammar and vocabulary. An annotated list of useful free online resources (online corpora and websites) for grammar and vocabulary learning and teaching, and a glossary provide helpful information.


"The book, while packed with information about grammar and vocabulary, has useful examples throughout, which makes it both interesting to read and enlightening. It is likely that all of us, language teachers, will want to have it on our bookshelves." - tesolanz news

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Language Description: Purview, Importance, and Principles

1.1 Introduction

1.2 The purview of language description

1.3 The importance of language description

1.4 Principles for language description

Part I: Foundations: Key theories and approaches to language description

Chapter 2. . Prescriptive, Structural, and Generative Linguistics

2.1 Prescriptivism

2.2 Structuralism

2.3 Generativism

Chapter 3. Sociolinguistics and Systemic Functional Linguistics

3.1 Sociolinguistics: An overview of Communicative Competence and Speech

3.2 Systemic functional linguistics: An overview

3.3 The impacts of sociolinguistics and SFL on language teaching

Chapter 4. . . Cognitive Linguistics

4.1 Theoretical underpinnings and important basic concepts

4.2 Cognitive Linguistics-inspired language description

Chapter 5. . . Corpus Linguistics

5.1 Overview

5.2 Significant contributions of corpus linguistics to the study of language

5.3 Impact of corpus linguistics on language teaching

Part II: Putting Theory to Practice: Striving for Enhanced Language

Description and Explanation

Chapter 6. . . Vocabulary Description: Basics, Parts of Speech, and Other

Challenging Issues

6.1 What information should be covered in teaching a word?

6.2 Describing/teaching spelling, pronunciation, and morphological rules

6.3 Defining/teaching parts of speech

6.4 Collocations/semantics/register: Other key issues to be addressed

6.5 Explaining/teaching challenging issues with new insights

Chapter 7. . . Sentence Structure Description: Basics, Verb Structure/

Subcategorization, and Other Challenging Structural Issues

7.1 Sentence structural analysis: Tasks and processes

7.2 Established practices for describing/analyzing sentence structures

7.3 Explaining/teaching challenging issues with new insight

Chapter 8. . . Tense and Aspect

8.1 English tense and aspect system: An overview

8.2 Established useful practices for describing/teaching prepositions

8.3 Explaining/teaching challenging issues with new insights

Chapter 9. . . Articles

9.1 The English article system: An overview

9.2 Established useful practices in describing/teaching English articles

9.3 Explaining/teaching challenging issues with new insights

Chapter 10. . Prepositions, Prepositional Adjectives/Adverbs, and Particles

10.1 Overview: Basic information, importance, and difficulties

10.2 Established useful practices for describing and teaching prepositions 10.3 Explaining/teaching challenging issues with new insights

Chapter 11. . Structural Alternation: English Object Placement, Subject/Object

Deletion, and the Passive voice

11.1 Explaining/teaching object placement with new insights

11.2 Explaining/teaching subject/object deletion with new insights

11.3 Explaining/teaching the passive voice with new insights

Chapter 12. . Word Meaning and Usage: Polysemy, Synonymy, Culturally-

Loaded Words, and Register

12.1 Polysemy: An overview

12.2 Synonymy

12.3 Established useful practices for teaching polysemes and synonyms

12.4 Explaining/teaching challenging issues with new insights

Chapter 13. . Word Collocations

13.1 Overview of collocations

13.2 Established useful practices in collocation teaching

13.3 Explaining/teaching collocations and collostructions with new insights

Chapter 14. . Multi-Word Expressions: Idioms, Phrasal Verbs, and Formulae/

Lexical Bundles

14.1 Describing idioms/phrasal verbs/formulae and their functions

14.2 Explaining/teaching idioms and phrasal verbs with new insights

14.3 Explaining and teaching formulae/lexical bundles with new insights

Annotated List of Free Online Resources for Grammar/Vocabulary Learning/ Teaching


About the Author

Dilin Liu is Professor of Applied Linguistics/TESOL, Department of English, The University of Alabama, USA.

About the Series

ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series

This series provides essential texts on teaching English as a second language and applied linguistics. It includes authored and edited volumes to be used as primary or supplementary texts in graduate-level and teacher training courses to enhance students’ and practicing teachers’ professional qualifications and knowledge. Each text is designed to promote the current and growing body of knowledge in applied linguistics and second language teaching, including advances in teacher education and the study of language.

Specifically, the series includes, but is not limited to, current uses of applied linguistics research in teaching a variety of second language skills, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening; materials and curriculum design; literacy; English for academic purposes; and research methods.

The texts also deal with broad domains of professional preparation related to socio-cultural perspectives and current issues/topics in teaching and learning a second language.

Books in the series benefit not only students, but experienced teachers, curriculum developers, teacher trainers, program administrators, and other second and foreign language professionals seeking to advance and update their knowledge and expertise.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Bilingual Education
FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / English as a Second Language