Macmillan English Grammar in Context at Kinki University

Kelly senseiBy Richard J. Kelly (Kinki University, Osaka)


The Department of English Literature and Cultural Studies in the Faculty of Literature, Arts and Cultural Studies at Kinki University, Osaka focuses on teaching essential English language skills (listening, speaking, academic reading, academic writing and grammatical structures) as well as literary and cultural content (poetry, drama, prose fiction and film studies). The teaching method is predominantly seminar-style teaching in small classes of around 8 to 10 students. The educational goal is to equip students with English language competency that can be practically applied to an appreciation of English literature and cultural studies.

 Macmillan English Grammar in Context forms the core grammatical instruction in my seminar classes: Tutorial I (essential) and Tutorial II (intermediate). These textbooks offer a clear and accurate explanation of English grammatical usage that makes it is easy for students to comprehend. In addition, the most important pedagogical feature of the approach to teaching English grammar in these volumes is that the authors, Simon Clarke and Michael Vince, provide ample opportunity for the students to practice and master a permanent understanding of the grammatical topic presented in each unit. The practical exercises also provide the students will the natural usage of English grammar in context which has the important effect of building up vocabulary and necessary wordlists unit by unit.

The one slight shortcoming in the volumes is that the number of exercises is a little too long and repetitive and, therefore, it would be better if this section of each unit was shortened and more refined. In addition, the book has 57 and 48 units respectively in each volume which makes it difficult to teach all of this content if the students use the book for just one semester (15 weeks). If one has the opportunity to teach the same students for two semesters (30 weeks), the number of the units works fine; however, this is generally the exception rather than the norm in Japanese universities in recent times. I suggest to the Macmillan editors to bear this in mind when contemplating any future revised editions of these grammatical volumes.

On the whole, these publications are a welcome contribution to English language teaching and fill a longstanding shortcoming in the effective teaching of English structures. The books are professionally compiled and structured. The authors clearly exhibit a very through grasp of the principles of English grammatical usage – so essential if students are to acquire a competency in the English language that will enable them to use it as an international communication skill that is anchored in accuracy and competency.

Macmillan English Grammar in Context BOOK PAGE