English grammar for non-English speakers
February 22, 2018 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a grammar book for an ESL student. She's around a 3rd grade reading level but has gaps in her knowledge. Starting with the basics is good. Can you recommend one?

I'm looking for these attributes....
  • Lessons are thorough but concise
  • Each new skill builds on the last one learned
  • Lessons are tested and re-tested
  • The majority of English grammatical structures are covered
  • Bonus: The text contains notes that highlight the differences between the learner's first and second languages
Any recommendations for a Spanish-to-English ESL learner?
posted by onecircleaday to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wren & Martin is a classic. May be at a higher reading level than hers (about 5th grade) but it's a fantastic and thorough instructional manual with plenty of exercises and examples.
posted by MiraK at 6:02 PM on February 22, 2018

You might look at the grammar books by Betty Azar (here's her site.) They're also at a somewhat higher reading level, but they have accompanying workbooks that could be helpful. An ELL student I had recommended them for all ELL learners.
posted by JulesER at 7:14 PM on February 22, 2018

Look through Cambridge University Press's Grammar in Use series, which go from beginner to advanced. I taught ESL/EFL out of them a couple of decades back, and found them so clear, concise and useful, I got them integrated into the curricula of several schools. In fact, this is how they are marketed.
Grammar in Use Intermediate is a highly successful grammar text known for its clear, concise explanations and innovative format. Ideal for students preparing for the TOEFL® test or other standard examinations, the new edition of this popular North American English grammar title offers even more support, with a larger format to include more explanation and practice, eight new units on phrasal verbs, and 10 pages of Additional Exercises. This edition, with answers, can be used in the classroom or for self-study.
Once students are too advanced for the advanced version of Grammar in Use (here's a sample) then Azar (cited right above) is a good place to go. I taught out of Azar's most advanced book years ago, too, and many of my students were professional English teachers in their own countries (so exceptionally fluent already), and it was exactly right.

The only caveat to my own advice is it's been a long time since I used them, and I see from the sample that they've been dressed up a bit. From the ToC of the advanced book, it looks like it's mostly just window dressing, though. So take a peek, and see what you think. As I said, in my estimation, they were always the best books on the market, clearly breaking down and conceptualizing ideas you don't typically see addressed in grammar books, but that stump non-native speakers nonetheless.
posted by Violet Blue at 11:44 PM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Barron's has an Complete English Grammar Review for Spanish Speakers book which you can 'look inside' on amazon.

I second Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy -- it comes in Basic.

My favourite is the Oxford Grammar books, which also come in Elementary, Intermediate and Advance. (Warning: some/all editions may use British English)

If you want something small that can be used as an easy reference, First English Grammar is also pretty good. (Also may use British English.)

I don't mind Oxford Living Grammar either.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 4:42 AM on February 23, 2018

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