An author of one of our forthcoming books, Susan J. Behrens from Marymount Manhattan College, USA, tells us here about how she came to write her book Understanding Language in the Classroom.
This book combines my training in both linguistics and pedagogy to create a manual for those in higher education who want to gain a better control of academic English.
My 2010 book Grammar: A Pocket Guide supplied a user-friendly guide to English grammar for those curious about what lies behind their linguistic intuitions. This new book extends the mission of Grammar by explaining in detail how language works in writing assignments, college-level texts, oral presentations, and class discussion. It also supplies lessons for classroom activities. Understanding Language in the Classroom clearly details the specific nature of language as used in higher education, by disciplines, modalities, and even by generation (professors and students don’t always have the same sense of how language works).
The first half of this book explores the nature of academic discourse and its central role in college success. The second half of the book is a series of conversations. These consist of questions about language that I have culled from the numerous interviews and focus groups I have run with students and teachers about their perceptions of “college level English,” matched with answers that supply a linguistic explanation and context. For example, teachers ask why students use the passive voice. I supply a discussion of voice vs. tense, the uses of the passive, and why students tend to rely on it. Another example: students ask how to avoid using run-on sentences or fragments. I supply the explanation and tips. The appendix supplies tons of worksheets for teachers to use with students or for students to use on their own.