An integrated skills approach series, 3rd ed.

Focus on grammar: An integrated skills approach series, 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 2006.

Reviewed by Safary Wa-Mbaleka and Vanessa Austin
Universidad Adventista de las Antillas
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

While learning a second language requires a special focus on various language skills, both second and foreign language learners frequently place a special interest on the mastery and accurate use of the grammar of the target language. As a result,English as a second language (ESL) and English as a foreign language (EFL) curriculum specialists, teachers, and learners are constantly in search of effective and efficient approaches for teaching or learning English grammar to help them. Presented for adult and young adult ESL/EFL learners, the Focus on Grammar series (3rd ed.) meets this need.
Arranged in five consecutive language proficiency levels from beginning to advanced to move the learner from the basic knowledge of the use of the verb be and the simple present tense at the beginning level to the use of clauses, gerunds, infinitives, and adverbs at the advanced level,each level presents English grammar instruction in a way which builds confidence through a unique four-step approach (grammar in context, grammar presentation, focused practice, and communication practice), repeated exposures to newly introduced structures, a complete reference guide, and ongoing assessment.
Presented as a complete package, each level comes with four types of materials: a student s text, workbook, teacher s manual, and assessment pack. The student s text, which is well illustrated and comes with an audio CD-ROM for each level, is divided into eight or more sections according to proficiency level, and the workbook provides additional self-study and self-assessment activities for each unit. The teacher s manual, which comes with a CD-ROM for instructional PowerPoint presentations, includes instructional approaches and supplementary learning activities to help the teacher guide students in the learning process. The assessment package, a new component that makes an important difference between this edition and the previous ones, provides four important components for learning English grammar: placement, diagnostic, and achievement tests; four proficiency tests; an audio CD-ROM that accompanies the previous two components; and a test-generating software package.

In a word, practicality best describes the four-step approach and materials presented in the series Focus on Grammar. However, no materials are without criticism, and this series, due to today s electracy, increase in technology literacy, is no exception: In a market where supplementary online multi-media materials are becoming the standard, the texts in the series seem to be missing the online support media which are often available in other instructional packages. Nevertheless, despite this shortcoming, each text s easy to follow presentation of contents, the integrated-skill approach, and the user friendly aspect with graphic illustrations; the workbooks additional opportunities for self study and assessment; the student and teacher CD-ROMs; and the teacher support materials makeFocus on Grammar an attractive tool for anyone teaching grammar to EFL/ESL learners.