10th March 2000 at 00:00

TEACHING ENGLISH IN PRIMARY CLASSROOMS. By Mina Drever, Susan Moule and Keith Peterson. Trentham Books pound;13.95.

The title of this book is misleading, promising much more than it attempts to deliver. It is not about delivering the national curriculum, nor even about teaching English as a second language. Rather, it aims to provide a rationale for, and an approach to, the explicit teaching of grammar through collaborative learning.

The introduction is densely argued in the worst sort of academic way - laboriously spelling out the obvious, while leaving technical terms and complex issues unexplained. Clarity is not helped by a pervasive failure in punctuation to distinguish between using and referringto a word.

Even though I was familiar with much of the argument (and, indeed, in sympathy with it), I had constantly to re-read ill-expressed sentences. Most teachers will simply find the rationale off-putting and scary.

Drever claims the intentional intervention in language development is unique. Yet the techniques and the content seem traditional enough - although none the worse for that.

We get some new ideas, either directly, or by being forced to think: "No, I would do it differently." The two class teachers involved are open and honest.

But when will editors have the courage of their calling? Too many publishers these days let too much bad writing and sloppiness get by.

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