DELTA Book Review: About Language

Almost a month has gone from when I started my DELTA and since my book review on English phonetics and phonology has been so popular (over 3,000 page views) I thought I’d make some time to review About Language by Scott Thornbury. Photo by thinboyfatter.

Sure, but what I wanted to say was ‘Knowledge is Power’

Book Details

About Language – Tasks for teachers of English by Scott Thornbury. Cambridge University Press 2007. 12th Edition.
What’s the book about?
I’m definitely starting to see the pattern with titles of ELT books and their content. About Language, is, to put it blankly, about language. Not just any language, but almost everything you’re likely to encounter as a TEFL teacher. There are nearly 30 chapters full of tasks to test, and add to, your knowledge of the English language system. I was advised to read the book as a type of reference book and pick out parts that I was interested in, but I ended up reading it from start to finish (yeah, a bit freaky). About 70-75% I knew already, but thanks to the way the tasks were set out my knowledge became deeper. Units cover the following themes: language standards and rules, forms, functions, notions, phonology, word formation, lexical meaning, sentence structure, negatives and questions, verb and noun phrases, aspects, modality, future, conditionals, adjectives, adverbs, cohesion, and texts.

How has my teaching changed?
Good question. At the moment my head is buzzing with about a million different aspects of teaching. Last night I couldn’t sleep because I had the history of ELT counting down from the 1950’s. On a serious note, my knowledge of English and confidence in teaching has gone up. The most useful chapter was the one on future which has ironed out a few doubts I had. It really makes you think about our language and realise how confusing and difficult it must be to learn. I don’t envy my students sometimes. 
New classroom activities
A lot of the tasks in the units you could do with your students if you wanted to. I haven’t yet, but the options are there. There’s a load to chose from. 
Would I recommend it?
Of course. I love the way the book is laid out because by doing the tasks, you learn at the same time. A type of inductive approach (look at me and my terminology). If you’re thinking of doing the DELTA then it’s a must read as it will assist you with several exam questions. Even if you’re not doing the DELTA, and just want to get a deeper understanding of the English language, then About Language is a great buy. Have a look on Amazon here. 
For my other DELTA Book Reviews and DELTA Diary have a look here.

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