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Book review
Learner English cover

Learner English
2nd edition

Edited by Michael Swan & Bernard Smith
(CUP 2001)


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Review written by Thomas Simon

Learner English has been around for quite a while now so the release of a relatively new edition gives us the chance to reaffirm the usefulness of this unique reference. The sub-title is 'A teacher's guide to interference & other problems' & the introduction states:

'It is meant to help teachers to anticipate the characteristic difficulties of learners of English who speak particular mother tongues, and to understand how these difficulties arise.'

'The book is written especially for the non-specialist teacher .....Technical linguistic terminology has been kept to a minimum, and contributors have in general aimed at producing clear simple descriptions of usage rather than detailed scholarly studies.'

.The book deals with 22 language groups. This 2nd edition adds the following groups; Polish, Speakers of South Asian languages, Speakers of Dravidian languages & Malay/Indonesian speakers.

In each chapter the language is analysed under the following headings; distribution, introduction, phonology, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, & a sample of the written language with a word-for-word translation. Each section then has its own sub-sections which are informative & to the point. The information that the book gives, builds your confidence in dealing with most nationalities you will teach. And as the book is the work of the expert 'contributors', who are given credit at the beginning of the book, it is clear that the information being offered is an authentic aid to dealing with learners' problems in class.

Due to increased migration, these days when teaching abroad, it is common to have more than one nationality in the class & when in an English-speaking country the chances of not having more than one nationality in the class is very slim. So this is where Learner English has a perpetual use as you never know which nationalities you will be teaching in the next course.

So, whether you are teaching monolingual or multilingual groups of English learners, or whether you are just starting out or a more experienced teacher, Learner English is an indispensable reference to have available in the staffroom.


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