Oct 11, 2011


In about a decade ago, I happened to know there is a community on the net for English tadoku and I have become one of the avid tadokers soon after. My enthusiasm for tadoku hasn't waned at all till now and I still read lots of easy books.Whenever I have a chance, I strongly recommend this approach to young people if they really want to be a good user of English and they are ready to do anything to make their dreams come true.

However, I've been feeling lately that I should stay away from other enthusiastic tadokers, especially from those who have started tadoku recently and are now striving to reach the first goal of one million words' read, and also from those who're longtime doers of tadoke but have no further interests to do anything with English other than reading books. I'm simply afraid my nonchalant comments, precisely saying rants, about tadoku or learning English at gatherings or in the forum might hurt their feelings and discourage them from reading. I don't think many will be quite happy to talk about English grammar. But isn't it high time already to discuss what we really need to do beside tadoku to be a fluent and confident user of English?

So, today's entry is about English grammar books.

You might have several textbooks and books for grammar to learn English. What books do you recommend? GIU, grammar in use, is quite popular among tadokers, but have you ever done that book from the beginning to the end? Me? Ha! Nooo! I have not! It's got too much sample sentences to read and exercises I have to struggle with! Anyway, I'm going to show you some books from my bookshlf and the ones I bought today hehe.

高校英語入門―高校初級用 (集中2週間完成 (4))
高校英語入門―高校初級用 (集中2週間完成 (4)) If you're not sure you remember well what you learned at junior high, then this kind of thin familiar looking textbook might be a good start. Don't spend too much time to study it, just read the example sentences through and answer the questions. You don't need to undestand everything here. Tadoku will offer you affluent chances to understand those basic rules thoroughly with ease.

日本人の英語 (岩波新書)
日本人の英語 (岩波新書)続・日本人の英語 (岩波新書)続・日本人の英語 (岩波新書) I highly recommend these two books. It's not too much to say that they're the books that let me realize my understanding of English is too shallow and I have a long way to go before I finally able to use English as easily and contentedly. They also made me think English can be really interesting once you know the principles and objectives of English grammar.

マーク・ピーターセンの図解!英文法入門 (AC MOOK)
マーク・ピーターセンの図解!英文法入門 (AC MOOK) This can be said as an easier version of the books above. I'll say this book hasn't got well appreciated by teachers so far and unfortunately remains unknown among students, what a shame. If you take a peek at the contents' list, you'll see what I mean. The explanation starts with from the items that Japanese learners find most difficult and they tend to make mistakes if not careful enough. It starts with a section about past tense and present perfect, followed by present tense, present progress, will&be going to, relative, and a/an/the. See? the order of the sections doesn't follow the one with other grammar books in general.

総合英語Forest 6th edition
総合英語Forest 6th edition I don't know what other tadokers have to say, but I think this popular book is handy and very easy to use. What I like the most is that each section is divided into three levels,  これが基本、理解する、深く知る、so you can choose which entries you're going to start with first and which leave for later use, depending on your level and need. To skim through これが基本 might not take long, but it contains the right amount of crucial concepts of English grammar.

表現のための実践ロイヤル英文法 The chances are quite slim that I'd come across a book that can thrills me enough into buying these days, but I should say I'm greatly regretted that I've not ran into this one till now... I don't like the original ロイヤル, which is too complicated for someone like me with simple mind, but this got to be different! Well, truth be told, I can't resist the urge to put a book down when I see a name of 柴田元幸さん。。。
I'm hoping to hear from you that what English textbooks you found the most useful, and also the other way around, the most dreadful...


Whiskers said...

Wow...where I should start I don't know, so please let me write whatever comes to my mind related to this entry.

One thing in common among enthusiastic English learners might be that they believe that they have to master grammar and try to finish one or more textbooks. And very often they cannot do so or even if they did, they find themselves still imperfect and feel disappointed and defeated.

I guess the fastest or most practical way to learn grammar is to learn it while using the language, not just studying it with a textbook from cover to cover at desk.
You have to use the language and make mistakes, then you'll realize what you don't know. It's the best chance for you to learn the grammar, vocabulary, collocation or whatever it is.

But I have to tell you that it's not the way I learned it. You know, I'm from the dinosaur age like I'd never seen a foreigner in person till the age of 15.

The reason why I think like above (not the part about myself) is the tadokers I have been observing these years including of course you, emmie-san. The blog entries, comments or tweets, through which I witnessed the remarkable progress with my own eyes. If it's only you, I won't say this, but the same thing has been happening to other tadokers, and to me, too!
At least, I feel more at ease to write in English now. I owe you a lot, emmie-san!

Since my English maniac days at SHS, I've never studied grammar seriously, so I don't know any good grammar textbook. (Of course I have some reference books, though.)I used several textbooks to teach, but there was none that impressive.
I have a second-hand very old GIU at hand and from time to time I consult it. I picked it up after some graduate threw it away I have to confess.XD In it I found conditional and unconditional if-clauses were explained on the same page and saw the difference between grammar books written by japanese scholars and one by native speakers.

In the past I bought some popular grammar books published in Japan, but none of them were eye-opening despite the flashy advertising words. They just repeated the old explanations or what I already knew.

Emmie-san, you were not an English maniac like me when you were a 'bad' highschool girl, Right? Why don't tell us how do you think you improved your writing or specifically you enhanced your grammatical knowledge? It'll be very informative and will place a remarkable example for other tadokers.

BTW, now I want to read 「「日本人の英語」. I have to check if our library has it or not.

Tsubasa said...

The best grammar book for me was スーパーレベル 英文法 written by 植田一三.

After this book and GIUs(Basic and Intermediate), I haven't done any grammatical study and still don't feel like doing it ^^;),because, at present, I feel what's needed for me is getting sorta sense of English... and "unlearn"^^;).

But one day, when the right time for me comes, I believe I'll do it without any hesitation no matter what they say. ^^

NEO said...

Hi, emmie-san

My best one is ....

英会話に役立つ基本単語のやさしいルール [単行本] 大島 希巳江

This book shows us how to use easy words for a natural way of speaking but the most of Japanese English learners can't use these easy basic expressions and they would be very difficult parts for Japanese.

We don't need complicated English grammar like school's. I think the point is a simple dirct expression and Japanese Enlish learners aren't used to it. I really recommend this book and want everybody to notice we can express easily without complicated English grammar.

Mrs. Malone said...

Hi Whiskers-san,
The same applies to me! I also lived in the dinosaur era which you were unlikely to meet anyone from abroad in the neighborhood, and I'd never listened to natural English till I was eighteen. I didn't know that we say, see you, in English when we leave. All I knew was "bye bye," when I first joined a class in a language school in NY... I still remember the expression my classmate from Iran put on when she said "see you" to me. I didn't know what to do and just froze, and I noticed she made a face... very annoying one...

You're quite right to say that I was an annoying student for teachers in high school. I had my hair permed and colored, put on a make-up, and cut class often when it rained...
But it's completely wrong to say that I have good knowledge about English grammar. Didn't I tell you that Senyo-san once snickered me when I said, I don't know "together" is Hogo in "we went to school together." ←この場合、togetherが補語といものなのよね??I still don't know what Hogo is. As long as not being able to tell why I to-be-a-user-of-English have to learn what Hogo is, I won't be able to remember rules...

When I was a high schooler and started to study for jyuken in the third year, I simply didn't have enough time to study grammar because I was to take 共通一次 and had to study all the subjects from world history to mathematics, so I hadn't done anything exclusively for grammar but just memorize all the sentences in 700選... what a cliche...

Having been a tadoker for about ten years, I've grown a bit of interests in English grammar finally...

Whiskers said...

Beep, beep, beep! Tadoku-broke alarm!!
You seem to already in another phase of Tadoku-broke, emmie-san. Picture books, books easy to read for boys, and now grammar books...

At least I haven't pressed a 'buy' button on amazon jp site yet. Hee hee. Luckily I could borrow 日本人の英語 from my school's library and right away I started to read it. From the very start, it's quite depressing because this book is like a blow to smash what little confidence I built in my English... I'm sure I'm one of those who would eat 'a' chicken in the backyard. Articles are sooooo difficult that I often think that I'll never be able to grasp the idea of it. At least I can shout 'I hate articles!' Darn!

Yesterday I intended to ask my colleagues how much grammar they think is necessary for non-native speakers but I could only talk with my American coworker.

At first she pointed out what seems to be difficult for Japanese, in what area we make mistakes the most, in other words. Singular or plural, she or he, subjective or posessive-like she or her-, articles and tense.

What interested me was that she said she never corrected her son's English grammar.
He was born in Japan and educated totally in Japan. However, she wanted him to acquire English so that she could communicate with her own son to the full, and she tried very hard: she showed American children shows or movies, read English books to him, listened to English audio books together, and more than once a year she traveled with him home or to other places where they can immerge themselves in English speaking environment. I'm sure his Japanese is perfect and guess his English is almost perfect because now he is attending an American college and seems to have no big problems.

She said if she corrected his English, it'd be no longer his English but hers. However, she taught him how to construct his essay.

I thought maybe this could be a hint for us.
If you start to use English-communicate in English-, inevitably you will recognize your own mistakes which you might just ignore or you'd try to fix. In that way, probably you'll start to speak in your own English.
Then, if you knew a better way to express yourself in your writing or speach, wouldn't it help you communicate your idea more smoothly?
Here I want to say that you might be able to learn grammar better through experiences, but as for the construnction it'll be much easier to learn if you had somebody or some good book to advise to you.


Well, probably I thought so because of the sentence-to-sentence-nonsense-translation-English-education I received. Duh.

Like, you'd never felt a problem without knowing those names or titles because you could 'use' them. That's the key.

Well, gotta go!

Mrs. Malone said...

Hi Tsubasa-san,

I went to Kichijyouji yesterday and dropped by a bookstore without any book particularly in mind, but as you might suspect, I ended up buying an English textbook, which I may not have been attracted with if not for your recommendation...
I bought スーパーレベルライティング  http://amzn.to/n8Tozi
written by the same author as the book you recommended.
It's for those learners with high English proficiency and I thought the writing in the book is natural and well balanced with formality and a bit of wit.

Mrs. Malone said...

Hi NEO-san,

You know, why I suddenly started to talk about textbooks? It's thoroughly because of having read your blog entry. Without textbooks, language learning should be a dauntingly difficult task, but I thought there should be some other approach for you to improve E writing and also enjoy it!
When it comes to writing, we tend to be excessively nervous and use such a word that we're not familiar with enough, and that makes our writing sound off-balance.
If I'm to show you a bit of tip about writing, it'd be "write as you speak." Use those words you often utter while speaking, then your writing may become more natural and flow well... ^^