Teaching English as a Second Language

Giving New Learners an Everyday Grammar


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About the Book

This guide examines the concepts that most often confound ESL students, whose confusion can generally be reduced to one very basic question: Why does English work that way? Focusing on the grammar of conversational speech, the book goes beyond simple description of the parts of speech, tenses and modes, and other topics of instruction to consider the cultural differences in language use (for native speakers of Japanese, for instance, the painting may be on the wall—but the wall is also on the painting) and even the neuroscience of our speech patterns. With 36 illustrations, an annotated bibliography and list of online resources, a glossary, and end-of-chapter exercises, this book equips instructors and advanced students to explain everyday language choices that stymie non-native speakers. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Richard McGarry is the author of two books on sociolinguistics, The Subtle Slant and Students as Ethnographers, as well as numerous journal articles on intercultural communication, error correction and English for special purposes. He has published short stories in The Cold Mountain Review and Hackwriters, has a novel, Books on Tape, and is writing a second. He lives in Davidson, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Richard McGarry

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 188
Bibliographic Info: 36 illustrations, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7062-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9146-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents


1. The Mascagni Effect

2. Articles: Julie and the French Sailor
3. Prepositions: It’s Above Smitty’s!
4. The Subjunctive: If I Were a Rich Man
5. Gerunds & Infinitives: Remembering Loving Camping

6. The Verb: Come Together
7. Negatives, Interrogatives and Imperatives: Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell
8. Passives: Getting Yourself Invited to Izabela’s Party
9. Modals: Meeting Kelly by the Tree
10. Temporal Expressions: Come by, Say, the First of the Month
11. Reciprocals: Backscratching

12. Conclusion: The Zen of Grammar



Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Intended for teachers of English to speakers of other languages as well as students preparing to teach English to speakers of other language, this book is a down-to-earth, practical book…provides a unique view of the English language, one based on years of experience teaching…draws on practical occurrences and questions that have occurred time and again…useful as a course text as well as for professional development for the practitioner, whether seasoned or novice”—ARBA
  • “McGarry (an English for internationals professor) has compiled this handbook for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, which can also be used as a supplemental text for students enrolled in ESL courses. The book focuses on the grammar of conversation and explores cultural differences in the use of language”—Reference & Research Book News