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An A to Z of spoken grammar

3 November 2021

► Thank you for visiting this page. My name is Ken Paterson. For 20 years I was Director of English Language Teaching at the University of Westminster in London. My grammar practice books have been published by Oxford University Press, Macmillan and Delta Publishing. 

► 'Spoken grammar' is the term used to describe new items of conversational grammar discovered through corpus research. In my own research, I have selected a group of these that are useful, teachable (and enjoyable), but are rarely covered in traditional teaching materials. The A-Z below offers you brief descriptions. At the end of the 'Y' entry (I couldn't find a 'Z'!), you'll find a list of references for further reading. 

► If, after reading the A-Z entries below, you would like to introduce your students to spoken grammar (or begin your own research into this fascinating and evolving area), you might like to take a look at my online Udemy course, ‘Spoken Grammar: a Guide for English Language Teachers’, which offers teaching techniques and downloadable, editable materials. (There's a link to 'Sample lesson plans' from the course, and 'Reviews' of the course at the end of this page.)

► So here are the links to all the entries in my A-Z, posted on this website between October 2019 and January 2020. I hope you find some new and interesting things!

(Feedback is always very welcome: please message me on my Facebook Page )

Index to the A to Z

A is for  … adjectives as response tokens

B is for … binomial phrases

C is for … cleft structures

D is for … declarative questions

E is for … exaggeration

F is for … frontal ellipsis

G is for … grammar rules

H is for … heads

I is for … inserts

L is for … lexical bundles

M is for … marking spoken discourse

N is for … noun phrase prefaces

O is for … oh

P is for … placeholders

Q is for … quantities, vague

R is for … reporting speech

S is for … synonymous responses

T is for … tails

V is for … vague categories

Y is for … ‘y’ as a suffix


Sample lesson plans (on my 'Lesson plans' page of this website)

Reviews of Spoken Grammar: a Guide for English Language Teachers

Teacher reviews on the Udemy website:

'This course has already saved my life, and I'm only two days in' (N.A) ‘It was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!’ (H.O.) ‘Absolutely love the material. Very useful for teachers. Generous amount of material given for use in the classroom. Thank you!’ (A.S.) ‘A very well organised course with the type of information I've been looking for. I'm able to visualise using it with course groups and I appreciate the resources. Thank you very much.’ (M.B.) ‘The course is just great and practical . The simplicity and style of explanations are great, both for student and teacher’ (L.B.) ‘I'm enjoying this course very much. I'm learning a lot myself and am excited to share this knowledge with learners.’ (D.C.)

Reviews in journals and on websites:

Dr Katherine Quigley (School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, in the TESOLANZ Newsletter, WINTER 2020):

“Overall I found this a highly interesting course which opened my eyes to many lexico-grammatical points I hadn't thought about before. In my opinion, taking this course would benefit all teachers of ESOL at Intermediate level and above, enriching their teaching of both grammar and speaking."  

Pete Clements (ELT, July 2019):

“Other things I like about the course: Everything! I think this course is essential for anyone taking, or thinking of taking, a DipTESOL. It is a great way to enhance your subject knowledge and offers some nice practical ideas to integrate the teaching of spoken grammar into your lessons." Rating: 5/5. 

Hilary Livingston (IATEFL Voices, July/August 2019):

“I was truly impressed by the author's knowledge of the subject matter and his clear explanations in the videos. ... I think the information in this course would be great for providing teachers with the 'meat' to design a conversational speaking course that would be both practical and engaging for higher-level students." 

Wayne Trotman (EL Gazette, January/February 2019):

“This guide would be useful on the electronic devices of all language teachers I know, and at any stage of their career, who have a distinct interest in teaching English as it is really spoken."