June 1995 — Volume 1, Number 4
Grammar Dimensions: Form, Meaning, and Use: Book Four
Jan Frodesen and Janet Eyring (1993)
Boston: Heinle and Heinle Publishers
ISBN 0-8384-397-13 (paper)
Grammar Dimensions: Book Four is the last text in a four-part series that attempts to provide learners with an understanding of the interdependence between grammar and communication. Three primary aspects of grammar are considered: meaning, form, and use. This approach to grammar encourages meaningful and appropriate use of structures. Each text in the series may be used independently. However, grammar structures such as the passive are recycled throughout the four texts with increasing levels of complexity.
Each structure is introduced in a meaningful context while communicative interactions are provided to serve as culminating activities that tie meaning, form and use together. The series editor, Diane Larsen-Freeman, describes the philosophy behind the text when she suggests that “grammar might be better thought of as a skill, rather than as an area of knowledge” (p. xvii).
Grammar Dimensions: Book Four, for advanced learners, is concerned with grammatical structures considered necessary in technical/academic reading and writing. Topics include articles, relative adverbials, complex passives, modals, and preposition clusters.
Units open with Tasks that serve as diagnostic tests. Following the Tasks, Focus Boxes highlight various aspects of the grammatical topic: meaning, form and/or use. Each Focus Box is accompanied by one or more exercises. Finally, each unit closes with a set of activities that emphasizes the communicative importance of grammar. In addition, the activities may serve as post-tests.
Unit Five, Stative Passives, begins with a Task that requires the learners to read about a drivetrain of the kind found on any typical automobile. After the reading, the learners are to complete a chart by identifying various parts of the drivetrain. Here the stative passive is introduced in a meaningful context. Next, Focus One, Review of Passive Verb Forms, focuses on form. The similarity in form between dynamic and stative passives is explained as well as charted. Exercise One asks the learners to list all of the passive verbs from the paragraph about the drivetrain.
Focus Two, Stative Passive in Contrast to Dynamic Passive, explains through examples the differences in usage between stative and dynamic passives. In Exercise Two, learners are asked to identify each passive in the drivetrain paragraph as either stative or dynamic. In Exercise Three, agents are re-introduced and learners are to attempt to add agents to both the stative and dynamic [-1-] passives in Exercise Two. Here the “hypothesized” rule in Focus Two, “dynamics express action while statives express states or conditions,” is supported. In addition, learners are required in Exercise Three to change each passive in the chart from its present to past tense form. Learners are then asked to state a general rule about the tense of stative verbs.
In Focus Three, Adjective Participles in Contrast to Stative Passives, form and meaning are considered as learners read that the forms are similar, yet the meanings are different. Adjective participles express feelings and can be modified by the intensifier very. Exercise Four then asks learners to compare the tenses found in statives and adjective participles. Once learners deduce a rule, they are to test it on the example sentences in Focus Two and Focus Three. Exercise Five then asks learners to identify statives and adjective participles in an example paragraph.
The use of statives is then expanded; Focus Four, Common Rhetorical Functions of Stative Passives, explains the various descriptive purposes of statives. Learners then identify the descriptive purpose of each stative in Exercise Six. Exercise Seven consists of matching words or phrases from one column with phrases in another column that relate rhetorically. After matching, learners produce sentences from the matched pairs by supplying stative verbs.
The final Focus Box, Focus Five, Stative Passives in Relative Clauses, again considers form. Exercise Eight involves correcting sentences which contain relative clauses that have stative passive forms. Exercise Nine requires learners to edit a paragraph. Finally, the unit concludes with a series of activities ranging from student- produced exercises for peers to the creation of a trivial pursuit game.
The text probably contains too much information to be covered in one course (e.g. a quarter or semester), but instructors need not feel compelled to complete the entire text. Approximately four to five hours of instruction are required for each unit, and the text contains twenty-six units. An instructor’s manual and a student workbook which focuses on TOEFL preparation are also available. In the case of Unit Five, Stative Verbs, the workbook offers more practice in the form of five exercises which range from identifying examples of statives in an essay to describing in one’s own words the functions of each example given.
Besides being utilized as the main textbook for a course, Grammar Dimensions may also be employed as a resource to which instructors can turn once they have identified the needs of their learners. I highly recommend Grammar Dimensions: Book Four, as it addresses grammar through meaningful contexts as well as through “rule-hypothesis” formation and testing. Moreover, meaning, form, [-2-] and use are treated explicitly and through communicative, culminating activities.
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