HOME

TEACHING

ELT BOOKS

NEXT

Grammar syllabuses ------knowledge of structure remains important

The continuing popularity of grammar practice books, which account for a high proportion of the materials which language learners buy, indicates the folly of specifying an approach to language teaching and learning which excludes pattern practice and the assembly of structural components.

The most successful general English coursebooks have been those where both a structural and a functional syllabus have been mapped out together i.e. where authors have recognised the interdependence of syntax and semantics. Knowledge of patterns (e.g. verb tenses as well as the most frequent contexts in which they are used) plays an important part in the ability to recognise and generate meaning.

The purpose of the list below is to illustrate the grammatical items which past authors felt that learners of English should know in order to earn a recognised public qualification at the higher intermediate level. The examination syllabus for the Cambridge First Certificate is now presented in a way which brings language use more to the foreground.

However, ignorance of the grammatical items listed below would not serve the cause of using language communicatively. I would guess that there is still consensus among educators, examination boards, and coursebook writers as to what the grammatical syllabus should be at this level.


How things were ordered in the past - a look back at

The grammatical syllabus of the Cambridge First Certificate of English

as covered in FCE exam course books 1979 - 1987


Note: at this time the FCE examination syllabus was more structural in emphasis than the syllabus of the same name today.

The list of grammatical items (below) shows a degree of consensus among coursebook writers, though of course they were also following the brief of the examination board.

[ALL] ALLSOP, Jake "English for Cambridge First Certificate" Cassell 1979

[LJS] JONES, Leo "Progress Towards First Certificate" Cambridge 1983

[JGS] G-SPRENGER, J "On Course For First Certificate" Heinemann 1983

[RON] O'NEILL, R "Success At First Certificate" Oxford 1987

[SOC] O'CONNELL, S "Focus on First Certificate" Collins 1987

[WSF] FOWLER, WS "New First Certificate English: Use of English Book 3" Nelson 1984

Click here for book recommendations offering an inventory of sentence patterns and grammatical structures graded at 6 different levels of proficiency, corresponding with the levels used for graded readers (e.g. Longman Structural Readers) at the time.


The Cambridge First Certificate examination was revised towards the end of the period (1979-1987) to accommodate the approaches to syllabus design of D. A. Wilkins ("Notional Syllabuses" 1976) and The Council of Europe ("Threshold" & "Waystage" Specifications, Van Ek: Council of Europe, late 1970s).

However, the above course book writers made full use of contextualization and useful situational contexts. They were as skilled as any who have followed at providing naturalistic and meaningful contexts for presentation and practice of grammatical components of English. The latter still need to be learnt if a language user hopes to gain a high degree of proficiency in expressing and understanding meaning.

Grammatical lists may still provide a less bureaucratic way of specifying syllabus content than vague and lengthy operational objectives describing the required performance in terms of language functions. Imagine having a lengthy, tasked-based performance target for each item in the list below. Who would bother to consult such an unwieldly syllabus? The descriptions of the Key Stages in the UK National Curriculum present a similarly untidy challenge, though most teachers I know have their own precis or working documents; the examinations have also had to be streamlined.

Clearly there needs to be a bringing together of syntax and semantics, though this was already present in many course books that chose to spell out the grammatical syllabus. The Cambridge exam syllabuses needed to respond to new emphasis in the changing theories of English language teaching and testing. The ARELS Examination Board, which already emphasized oral English in situational contexts in its exam designs, was slightly quicker to adapt to the growing importance of semantics (Notions and Functions) in TESL/TEFL/Testing theory.

Adjectives: <with> in adjectival phrases 13 JGS 139
Adjectives: ADJ + INF 47 154 JGS 47
Adjectives: compound SOC 55SB
Adjectives: describing shape SOC 212FB
Adjectives: ing -ed endings boring bored 35 JGS 154
Adjectives: use & formation (c.f. comparison) SOC 17FG
Adjectives: with numbers SOC 38SB
Adverbs: form & use (c.f. Word Order & Comparison) SOC 17FG
Adverbs: formation 106 155 JGS 29
Adverbs: frequency (+ phrases: every other day) JGS 31
Adverbs: frequency: hardly ever JGS 31
Adverbs: sequence of events (first etc.) Time exprssns RON 15.4
Adverbs: sequence: first, next, after that as soon as JGS 45
Articles: 18 88 114 SOC 114SB
Articles: Definite article JGS 169
Articles: Definite Article <THE> Use & Non-use WSF 15
Articles: indefinite article JGS 169
Articles: indefinite article a an some RON 18.2
Articles: indefinite article any JGS 108
Articles: mixed: def & indef: a an the OR preposition WSF 23
Articles: Use/Non use a/an (+ collective nouns), the All 15
Articles: zero article JGS 169
Causative: have / needs doing RON 16.1
Causative: have .... done V get.... done WSF 64
Causative: have something done RON 12.2
Causative: have something done SOC 157SB
Causative: have something done & need doing WSF 42
Causative: have something done, get sth dn/so to do ALL 12
Causative: have something done/ get JGS 116
Collocations: on his own by himself WSF 54
Collocations: as usual, in the end, by himself, at exp LJS 6.6
Comparative forms: further than the furthest from WSF 3
Comparative forms: irreg: good bad much many lit. few WSF 32
Comparative forms: more X than isn't as X as advs WSF 3
Comparison: (A) is like (B) ALL 6P
Comparison: adjectives SOC 18FG
Comparison: adjectives 24 42 107 JGS 24
Comparison: adverbs JGS 107
Comparison: adverbs SOC 18FG
Comparison: as if JGS 13
Comparison: as if/as though SOC 164FG
Comparison: as white (adj.) as snow ALL 8P
Comparison: as......as SOC 123FG
Comparison: as.....as JGS 24
Comparison: as/as more/than than I worse than LJS 3.7
Comparison: either......or JGS 49
Comparison: just as: X is just as A in boys as in men ALL 3P
Comparison: like: drink like a fish ALL 14P
Comparison: seem + adj SOC 213FB
Comparison: The easiest (adj) way of ..ing A is to B ALL 7P
Comparison: The.. ...er (A), the ....er (B) ALL 14P
Comparison: the.......the SOC 114FG
Comparisons RON 10.1
Comparisons (more comparisons) RON 11.3
Comparisons: A has a lot to do with B ALL 4P
Comparisons: as if (A) but in fact (B). (It seemed...) ALL 2P
Comparisons: as knowledgeable about Sp as he is abt E ALL 15P
Comparisons: I am not so much interested in A as in B ALL 4P
Comparisons: The fact that A is so, suggests that B.. ALL 3P
Conditionals: 1st SOC 61FG
Conditionals: 1st (facts & conditions) PS..PS/Fut ALL 1
Conditionals: 1st Even if....... I don't...... ALL 1P
Conditionals: 1st & 2nd RON 7.2
Conditionals: 1st 2nd & 3rd RON 19.5
Conditionals: 1st 2nd & 3rd WSF 98
Conditionals: 1st 45 66 158 159 161 JGS 158
Conditionals: 2nd ALL 10
Conditionals: 2nd SOC 66FG
Conditionals: 2nd 18 82 89 JGS 89
Conditionals: 3rd ALL 11
Conditionals: 3rd JGS 100
Conditionals: 3rd SOC 169FG
Conditionals: alternatives to = so/but (If hadn't..) WSF 57
Conditionals: cause & result in conditional sentences RON 19.1
Conditionals: I wish (X) would happen,happened,had hpd ALL 18P
Conditionals: I wish..... If only.. I wish I hadn't RON 6.1
Conditionals: I wish.........+ past SOC 164FG
Conditionals: if whether RON 18.2
Conditionals: If & unless LJS 5.7
Conditionals: if only........ JGS 98
Conditionals: if only.......... SOC 163FG
Conditionals: provided that...(c.f. subordinators) SOC 62FG
Conditionals: Supposing, what if, suppose that, assum JGS 129
Connectors: addition cause/result (cf sub) concession SOC 67SB
Connectors: also as well as both...and (Pronouns) JGS 49
Connectors: but (I don't mind X, BUT what I obj to is) ALL 18P
Connectors: but (Stat A NOT BECAUSE X BUT BECAUSE Y) ALL 9P
Connectors: conjunctions & linking words: though both LJS 5.6
Connectors: consequently JGS 58
Connectors: firstly at first (c.f. Adverbs/sequ) SOC 137FG
Connectors: furthermore Not only....but also.... SOC 67FG
Connectors: however SOC 210FB
Connectors: however 111 JGS 41
Connectors: Lastly, ... At last.... SOC 136FG
Connectors: meanwhile (Time expressions) c.f. Adv/seq SOC 137FG
Connectors: Moreover,.... JGS 111
Connectors: so, neither, etc small words:big meanings RON 4.1
Connectors: such as, for instance , for example JGS 82
Connectors: Therefore, ..... JGS 58
Connectors: whereas while (contrast) SOC 168FG
Connectors: while (time) SOC 137FG
Connectors: yet (contrast) JGS 111
Contrasts: after v afterwards (prep/subord. v adverb) SOC 137FG
Contrasts: as v like 6.31 (subord. v prep) WSF 6
Contrasts: describe it v tell me what/how it was like WSF 55
Contrasts: everyone/thing except & the only who didn't WSF 56
Contrasts: It is important to distinguish betw A & B ALL 12P
Contrasts: It's time for us to go V It's time we went WSF 61
Contrasts: It's time...(+past) SOC 164FG
Contrasts: It's time......... RON 19.5
Contrasts: may v perhaps (You may v Perhaps you...) WSF 35
Contrasts: neg/pos: Such is <A> that....even <B> ALL 20P
Contrasts: opposite of v opposite to SOC 37SB
Contrasts: the reason for v the reason why WSF 49
Direct & indirect speech: Apologies: sorry: apologised WSF 58
Direct & indirect speech: Invitations Would you? ivtd WSF 34
Direct & indirect speech: Offers Shall I..? offered WSF 28
Direct & Indirect speech: Regrets & Complaints: I wish WSF 60
Direct & Reported speech RON 4.2
Exclamations: How...! JGS 155
Exclamations: So & Such WSF 36
Exclamations: what (how/such/so) 28 155 JGS 98
Gerund & infinitive RON 11.2
Gerund & infinitive RON 11.5
Gerund & Infinitive WSF 16
Gerund & infinitive: as SUBJECT of SENTENCE RON 16.3
Gerund & infinitive: regret (+infinitive) prefer SOC 159FG
Gerund & infinitive: Remembering v It is x to remember WSF 48
Gerund constructions ALL 1
Gerunds (& Participles) go - ing JGS 31
Gerunds (Bird-watching is/ By - ing: Vbs/Preps as Sbj) JGS 24
Gerunds (how/what about ...ing) SOC 210FB
Gerunds (it NEEDS/WANTS ...ing) JGS 116
Gerunds (it's not WORTH ...ing) SOC 93FG
Gerunds (it's not WORTH ...ing) 84 JGS 28
Gerunds (Participles: for + -ing purpose) JGS 138
Gerunds (Participles: for + -ing purpose) need SOC 159FG
Gerunds: avoid prevent (cf. subordinators neg purpose) RON 9.3
Gerunds: look forward to prefer SOC 92FG
Gerunds: remember, forget, try SOC 158FG
Indirect speech: 125 126 165 JGS 188
Indirect speech: accuse admit advise agree beg deny WSF 47
Indirect speech: exclaim explain inform invite offer WSF 47
Indirect speech: order prefer promise refuse remind WSF 47
Indirect speech: suggest warn wonder WSF 47
Infinitive v -ing: Senses: I saw/watched the x -/-ing WSF 7
Infinitives SOC 106FG
Infinitives: 4 types RON 15.5
Infinitives: a table to eat at ALL 2
Infinitives: after ADJ easy to 47/PURP so as not to 58 JGS 154
Infinitives: after ADJ easy to assume (vb) that... ALL 7P
Infinitives: after TOO & ENOUGH too poor to JGS 114
Infinitives: after VERBS 13/ VBS OF PERCEPTION 155 JGS 18
Infinitives: bound to, sure to, certain to, likely to JGS 161
Infinitives: with or without "To" RON 11.5
Intensifiers: such so JGS 28
Modals: (ability) able to SOC 82FG
Modals: (ability) can could SOC 43FG
Modals: (ability/skills) able to can JGS 74
Modals: (advice) SOC 209FB
Modals: (deductions) can must 13 69 JGS 131
Modals: (deductions) must & can't WSF 43
Modals: (deductions) must have been done RON 17.5
Modals: (deductions) must/might/should have RON 14.2
Modals: (future) could SOC 43FG
Modals: (obligation moral) had better had better not RON 18.2
Modals: (obligation) had better JGS 84
Modals: (obligation) had better ought SOC 108FG
Modals: (obligation) have to need 211FB SOC 48FG
Modals: (obligation) need to, necessary for & needn't WSF 53
Modals: (obligation/advice) had better & should WSF 40
Modals: (obligation/advice/criticism) ought 18 114 116 JGS 159
Modals: (obligation/necessity) have got to JGS 51
Modals: (obligation/necessity) mustn't X/don't have to RON 9.3
Modals: (obligation/poss) must need should ought can't ALL 13
Modals: (permission) can could may would JGS 122
Modals: (permission) can could may might 210FB SOC 70FG
Modals: (poss/prob) can could (certainty/doubt/) SOC 142FG
Modals: (possibity) may might JGS 69
Modals: (requests) can could may JGS 100
Modals: (suggestion) could SOC 210FB
Modals: (suggestion) should SOC 210FB
Modals: modal auxiliaries: did was would ought must LJS 3.6
Modifiers: quite, fairly + ADJ very JGS 8
Negative forms: Neither..nor Not...either. WSF 52
Negative forms: No one (else), No other, Nothing as WSF 51
Negative forms: Not only A, but also/not even B ALL 17P
Negative forms: Not only........as well. RON 12.1
Negative forms: negative sentences: hardly none no LJS 7.7
Negative forms: neither v either SOC 129FG
Negative forms: neither: either v neither SOC 129FG
Negative forms: none SOC 129FG
Negative forms: Not doing A, she + made a mistake ALL 9P
Negative inversion: No snr/hardly/barely/scrcely had I ALL 13
Negative inversion: No sooner had X than Y JGS 95
Nouns: Compound SOC 186EP
Nouns: Countable JGS 109
Nouns: Countable & Uncountable SOC 122FG
Nouns: Plural form SOC 65SB
Nouns: Uncountable JGS 109
One ones the one the ones WSF 4
Participles: in clauses Perfect Participles SOC 55FG
Passive RON 12.3
Passive RON 13.5
Passive RON 17.1
Passive SOC 153FG
Passive 29 116 122 136 139 142 JGS 179
Passive: (Reporting experiments) ALL 17
Passive: Active & Passive LJS 4.7
Passive: Active & Passive WSF 38
Passive: by (agent) JGS 136
Passive: use to avoid repetition (descr: a PROCESS) RON 18.2
Phrasal verbs ALL 1
Phrasal verbs ALL 3
Phrasal verbs ALL 4
Phrasal verbs ALL 5
Phrasal verbs ALL 7
Phrasal verbs ALL 11
Phrasal verbs RON 3.1
Phrasal verbs RON 5.3
Phrasal verbs RON 8.2
Phrasal verbs RON 10.3
Phrasal verbs RON 12.3
Phrasal verbs RON 13.3
Phrasal verbs RON 16.3
Phrasal verbs RON 19.1
Phrasal verbs: 9,98,183 (="Compound" verbs) JGS 98
Phrasal verbs: break SOC 54SB
Phrasal verbs: bring SOC 99SB
Phrasal verbs: catch SOC 4SB
Phrasal verbs: come SOC 129SB
Phrasal verbs: cut SOC 84SB
Phrasal verbs: get SOC 52SB
Phrasal verbs: get II 185EP SOC 113SB
Phrasal verbs: go SOC 136SB
Phrasal verbs: let SOC 80SB
Phrasal verbs: live SOC 6SB
Phrasal verbs: look 189EP SOC 106SB
Phrasal verbs: look into look up go down (alt meanings)RON 1.2
Phrasal verbs: make RON 18.2
Phrasal verbs: Particles in up on down out ahead off LJS 4.6
Phrasal verbs: put 182EP SOC 27SB
Phrasal verbs: Review RON 20.1
Phrasal verbs: Separation verb<it/them>particle Y/N RON 2.3
Phrasal verbs: set SOC 71SB
Phrasal verbs: take 194EP SOC 172SB
Phrasal verbs: take run RON 4.3
Phrasal verbs: wear SOC 63SB
Preferences: RON 10.3
Preferences: would rather + INF SOC 108FG
Preferences: would rather you didn't X (PAST) SOC 164FG
Preferences: would rather/sooner rather JGS 22
Prepositions ALL 1
Prepositions ALL 3
Prepositions ALL 4
Prepositions ALL 5
Prepositions ALL 7
Prepositions ALL 8
Prepositions ALL 11
Prepositions ALL 12
Prepositions: adjectives & prepositions SOC 9SB
Prepositions: between / among RON 19.5
Prepositions: like JGS 82
Prepositions: PLACE: (+dependent preopositions) SOC 212FB
Prepositions: PLACE: for from at with round of LJS 1.6
Prepositions: PLACE: in out of wth to like btw fr abt LJS 7.6
Prepositions: PLACE: in out on off into onto out of WSF 12
Prepositions: PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES SOC 63SB
Prepositions: PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES SOC 145SB
Prepositions: PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES SOC 158SB
Prepositions: TIME: at in on WSF 9
Prepositions: TIME: by JGS 158
Prepositions: TIME: for v since JGS 79
Prepositions: TIME: for v since SOC 34FG
Prepositions: TIME:41, place 64, means 47, ins ag pur JGS 158
Prepositions: VERB + PREPOSITION SOC 37SB
Prepositions: VERB + PREPOSITION SOC 121SB
Pronouns: (reflexive) Do it yourself/The Queen herself WSF 19
Pronouns: (reflexive) myself yourself etc. RON 16.2
Pronouns: (reflexives & reciprocals) ALL 7
Pronouns: (universal) all both each JGS 106
Pronouns: (universal) both (A) and (B) ALL 17P
Pronouns: (universal) all v both SOC 129FG
Pronouns: (universal) each & every SOC 129FG
Pronouns: mixed: we us ours ourselves (our) WSF 21
Qualifiers: quite v rather WSF 14
Quantifiers & determiners both all an the plenty much LJS 2.6
Quantifiers: Enough SOC 123FG
Quantifiers: Enough 158 181 JGS 114
Quantifiers: Few A few Little A little RON 2.1
Quantifiers: Few A few Little A little WSF 20
Quantifiers: Few little JGS 108
Quantifiers: Few little a lot of SOC 123FG
Quantifiers: hardly any JGS 108
Quantifiers: Too Not enough..... WSF 33
Quantifiers: Too small small enough RON 16.2
Quantifiers: Too x INFIN, so x (THAT), such x (THAT) WSF 50
Quantifiers: Too/Not enough: X is T../N..E for me to ALL 5P
Question tags JGS 116
Question tags SOC 146FG
Questions: (embedded) I wonder if you could tell me JGS 100
Relative adverb (where I was brought up) I was up in WSF 39
Relative clauses without <who> (apposition) RON 13.1
Relative clauses: Defining 146 JGS 138
Relative clauses: Defining & non-defining WSF 10
Relative clauses: Defining (& relative pronouns) ALL 18
Relative clauses: Defining (& relative pronouns) SOC 5FG
Relative clauses: Non-defining JGS 146
Relative clauses: Non-defining (& relative pronouns) SOC 5FG
Relative clauses: Omission of relative pronoun LJS 8.7
Relative pronouns: who which that RON 11.3
Relative pronouns: which that RON 14.3
Relative pronouns: who which (with adj description) RON 13.4
Relatives: <what> clauses RON 13.2
Relatives: co-ordinate clauses ....., which was good. WSF 62
Reported speech LJS 6.7
Reported Speech RON 7.3
Reported speech: reporting suggestions RON 15.2
Reported speech: say tell WSF 46
Reporting questions SOC 125FG
Reporting statements SOC 111FG
Reporting: (verbs + dialogue transformations) ALL 14
Reporting: (verbs in past tense: can could etc.) ALL 6
Reporting: (verbs used: tell, advise, warn, remind) SOC 112FG
Subjects: It v There LJS 1.7
Subjects: It.......(introductory) JGS 181
Subjects: There is v It is WSF 22
Subjects: There is/are has/have got WSF 29
Subordinators: (A) for the simple reason that B anyway ALL 12P
Subordinators: (A) is achieved by doing (B) ALL 13P
Subordinators: (contrast) despite in spite of SOC 67FG
Subordinators: (Contrast) Allowing for X, Y... ALL 19P
Subordinators: (contrast) although SOC 67FG
Subordinators: (contrast) although despite RON 9.1
Subordinators: (contrast) although X, Y ALL 2P
Subordinators: (contrast) although, even though, spite WSF 59
Subordinators: (contrast) but although besides JGS 41
Subordinators: (Contrast) regardless of X we must do Y ALL 19P
Subordinators: (Contrast) so far from -ing X, in fact ALL 8P
Subordinators: (Contrast) whatever X, Y is also so. ALL 20P
Subordinators: (contrast) while whereas JGS 111
Subordinators: A in such a way that B is the result ALL 10P
Subordinators: after (+ past perfect) 95 JGS 174
Subordinators: as (reason) as a result/because of JGS 58
Subordinators: as a result of SOC 67FG
Subordinators: as long as (c.f. conditionals) JGS 159
Subordinators: as long as (c.f. condit.) SOC 62FG
Subordinators: as long as (It doesn't really matter wh ALL 15P
Subordinators: as soon as before JGS 95
Subordinators: as soon as / once (A), (B).. ALL 13P
Subordinators: because of SOC 67FG
Subordinators: by by means of JGS 140
Subordinators: due to JGS 58
Subordinators: due to SOC 67FG
Subordinators: if unless until (by) (c.f. condit) RON 15.3
Subordinators: If you X, you can tell whether A or w B ALL 11P
Subordinators: in order to JGS 58
Subordinators: in order to SOC 140SB
Subordinators: instead of/ rather than doing (A), (B) ALL 10P
Subordinators: neg purp or alts: so as not to/to avoid WSF 44
Subordinators: neg purp: in case (c.f. condit) JGS 170
Subordinators: neg purp: in case 11.31 WSF 45
Subordinators: neg purp: in case if (c.f. condit.) RON 18.1
Subordinators: on account of owing to due to JGS 158
Subordinators: provided that (c.f. condit.) JGS 161
Subordinators: sequence of events: after when during LJS 2.7
Subordinators: so so as to so that (purpose) JGS 58
Subordinators: so that (Do A so that B will result) ALL 5P
Subordinators: unless SOC 62FG
Subordinators: unless, if not, provided, as long as WSF 41
Subordinators: Unless: (A), unless you count (B)... ALL 16P
Subordinators: until JGS 47
Subordinators: until, as soon as, when, as, unless VT ALL 5
Subordinators: when until before + Pres S & Pres Perf WSF 63
Subordinators: While (although) it is true that A, B.. ALL 16P
Subordinators: You can tell (A) by the fact that (B) ALL 11P
Time adjuncts: already JGS 79
Time adjuncts: already SOC 34FG
Time adjuncts: already, still, yet, no longer WSF 31
Time adjuncts: before SOC 34FG
Time adjuncts: ever JGS 31
Time adjuncts: ever never just recently lately up to n SOC 34FG
Time adjuncts: just JGS 79
Time adjuncts: still yet already RON 7.3
Time adjuncts: still yet already no longer WSF 2
Verb forms: do did have done RON 5.5
Verb tenses ALL 12
Verb tenses: (Fut & Condit) won't/wouldn't be able to WSF 96
Verb tenses: By the time A was so, B had happened ALL 6P
Verb tenses: Future "going to" 51 91 JGS 100
Verb tenses: Future (further forms of the Future) RON 15.5
Verb tenses: Future (immediate) about to + INF JGS 175
Verb tenses: Future (will going to: arranged future) ALL 3
Verb tenses: Future Continuous SOC 82FG
Verb tenses: Future Continuous/Perfect/Simple JGS 158
Verb tenses: Future Perfect SOC 83FG
Verb tenses: Future Simple (Conditional 1st) SOC 61FG
Verb tenses: Future Simple (Future fact/prediction) SOC 81FG
Verb tenses: Future Simple (Sudden decisions) SOC 78FG
Verb tenses: Future Simple (Threats & promises) SOC 78FG
Verb tenses: Future: "going to" SOC 74FG
Verb tenses: Past (talking about a long time ago) RON 15.1
Verb tenses: Past Continuous (Condit 2nd 66FG) SOC 25FG
Verb tenses: Past Continuous 95 100 JGS 173
Verb tenses: Past Perfect 95 98 100 JGS 173
Verb tenses: Past Simple SOC 21FG
Verb tenses: Past Simple 79 82 95 98 JGS 173
Verb tenses: Past Simple & Continuous (past emphatic) ALL 8
Verb tenses: Past simple & Past Perfect (narrat sequ.) ALL 2
Verb tenses: Pres P & Pst: ever never for since ago WSF 27
Verb tenses: Present Continuous for fut arrange 51 JGS 36
Verb tenses: Present Continuous: (future) SOC 74FG
Verb tenses: Present Continuous: (temporary situations)SOC 10FG
Verb tenses: Present Continuous: 12 13 18 91 JGS 12
Verb tenses: Present Perfect & Past + Pres Perf Contin WSF 97
Verb tenses: Present Perfect & Pres Perf Contin JGS 79
Verb tenses: Present Perfect Continuous SOC 37FG
Verb tenses: Present Perfect Simple SOC 33FG
Verb tenses: Present Simple & Continuous ALL 4
Verb tenses: Present Simple & Present Continuous WSF 95
Verb tenses: Present Simple fut time cl 45, 1st cond JGS 45
Verb tenses: Present Simple hist,timetable, 12 51 JGS 51
Verb tenses: Present Simple state,habit,instruct 13 41 JGS 45
Verb tenses: Present Simple: (Conditional 1st) SOC 61FG
Verb tenses: Present Simple: (Future) SOC 74FG
Verb tenses: Present Simple: (Permanent situations) SOC 10FG
Verb tenses: Review RON 15.5
Verb tenses: Sequence of Ts in temporal clauses (Subo) ALL 5
Verb tenses: Simple (stative) & Contin (Meaning change)ALL 16
Verb tenses: was about to/was doing/had done: pst actn RON 8.1
Verbs: (not commonly used in continuous form) SOC 11FG
Verbs: (perception) SOC 96SB
Verbs: (perception) feel see hear notice watch JGS 155
Verbs: appear JGS 13
Verbs: do v make JGS 186
Verbs: do v make RON 16.3
Verbs: do v make 195EP SOC 23SB
Verbs: give cause make bring RON 10.2
Verbs: know how to JGS 74
Verbs: lie lay bring take fetch carry wear RON 12.2
Verbs: look JGS 8
Verbs: look/seem/feel/taste + adj V look like + Noun SOC 213FB
Verbs: make & let SOC 108FG
Verbs: make v let (s.o.) do (sthg) ALL 12
Verbs: manage to could must be done RON 17.1
Verbs: need to need -ing need sthg 51 116 74 JGS 122
Verbs: rob v steal SOC 46FG
Verbs: say JGS 125
Verbs: say (that / sthg to..), tell & talk (to/about) RON 1.1
Verbs: say v tell WSF 13
Verbs: seem sound look appear JGS 13
Verbs: spend (time) v spend (money) + particles WSF 37
Verbs: take (It took me/I took v ..did/it take/y take) WSF 30
Verbs: Used to + INF v To be used to + -ing RON 8.2
Verbs: Used to + INF v To be used to + -ing 41 JGS 188
Verbs: Used to + INF v To be used to + -ing v Would WSF 11
What (The thing that.......) WSF 17
Who What: subject & object questions (How much/many) RON 1.1
Word order: adjectives JGS 139
Word order: adjectives SOC 41SB
Word Order: Adjectives (tall, young mother) WSF 18
Word order: Adverbials: frequency, degree & manner) ALL 9
Word order: adverbs (sequence) SOC 78FG
Word Order: Adverbs of Frequency: always (BE) (AUXS) WSF 5
Word Order: Adverbs of Manner, Place & Time WSF 8
Word Order: direct & indirect questions WSF 1



Book recommendations for specifying a structural syllabus

  1. English grammatical structure [Longman Group Ltd 1975] by L G ALexander, W Stannard Allen, R A Close and R J O'Neill.

    This is an inventory of sentence patterns, grammatical structures and lexical items which could be used as a guide in the planning of curricula, textbooks and readers for the teaching of English as a foreign language. The book is divided into six stages, which are offered as an endeavour to mark steps towards progressive levels of competence. Note that in this book, the listing is of structural patterns, whereas in the list (above), echoing the past syllabus of syllabus the Cambridge First Certificate of English, the list consists mainly of grammatical descriptions.

  2. 1968 The Longman Structural Readers Handbook contains a Basic Vocabulary of 2,340 words divided between six Stages representing levels of proficiency. Words given in the Basic Vocabulary for each Stage may be used freely within the limits set by the structures for the Stage. Other content words required for the subject matter may be used, provided each is repeated within a few lines, and again a few pages later. Note that a Stage 6 learner, familiar with 2,340 words, would be far from being a really advanced English reader. A vocabulary of circa 10,000 words is needed to read & understand an English novel, looking up a maximum of 4 to 5 words per page.

    This really makes the case that entry-points into unfamilar language systems are needed if language educators are going to offer their learners a fair challenge. In this regard, it is foolish to abandon a significant component of structural syllabus design, though wise to select usable content to fulfil a functional syllabus at the same time. See Robert O' Neill's article on the limits of functional /notional approaches - [or 'My guinea pig died with its legs crossed']

    I have the 1972 (New impression: ISBN 0 582 53700 2) of 'The Longman Structural Readers Handbook'. Although the author's name is not credited, I believe that the handbook was compiled by Robert O'Neill, editor and contributor (as an author) to the Longman Structural Readers series.

    It is interesting to me that Robert made a comparison of a number of well-known English Courses on the market at the time, in coming to his own selection of structures and vocabulary for each Stage within his reading scheme. Without knowing of this previous research, I performed a similar survey in identifying the list of grammatical items above showing that there was considerable consensus (perhaps the result of guidance from UCLES!) among course book writers (1979-1987) on the grammatical syllabus of the Cambridge First Certificate exam. FCE level here would correlate with Stages 5 & 6 in Robert's reading scheme.

    The structural tables are clearly laid out. 43-page pamphlet therefore succeeds as a working document, where many longer specifications of syllabus content have failed through being over-elaborate. Robert continued to justify the provision of simplified texts & adapted materials for learners of English, especially at lower levels of proficiency. He also defended the role of the ELT coursebook over photocopies selected randomly (i.e. with little reference to the difficulty levels of vocabulary and syntax). I largely agree with him. Although his structural tables were never offered as parameters to be followed absolutely, his correlations between 'level' and 'structural form' continue in my view to offer useful guidance:
    Stage 1 (PRESENT CONTINUOUS; PRESENT SIMPLE),
    Stage 2 (PAST SIMPLE; PRESENT PERFECT; FUTURE SIMPLE),
    Stage 3 (PAST CONTINUOUS),
    Stage 4 (PAST PEFECT; PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS; FUTURE CONTINUOUS),
    Stage 5 (PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS; FUTURE PERFECT),
    Stage 6 (COMPLEX SENTENCES).

HOME

TEACHING

ELT BOOKS

NEXT