August 2014
TESOL HOME Convention Jobs Book Store TESOL Community

Book Reviews
Matthew J. Kessler, Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

For ESL instructors in preacademic and IEP programs across the country, finding the right textbook to assist students in making the transition into academia is both challenging and vital. In this search, it is even more difficult to find a textbook that not only attracts and holds students’ attention, but one that also contains relevant content and real language use. In order to address these areas of concern, Cambridge University Press and a team of educators have produced a four-level series entitled Grammar and Beyond, in which they attempt to assist preacademic ESL students in bridging the gap to academia by integrating both grammar and academic writing instruction.

Produced from a corpus analysis of the Cambridge International Corpus of North American English, books 1–3 of the Grammar and Beyond series are intended for beginning to high-intermediate level ESL learners. The fourth book in the series, Grammar and Beyond: Level 4, addresses the integration of advanced grammar and vocabulary with a specific focus on the instruction of genre specific essay types, including: cause and effect (Part 1), comparison and contrast (Part 2), narrative (Part 3), classification and definition (Part 4), problem-solution (Part 5), and summary-response and persuasion (Part 6).

Each “part” then consists of two to four theme-based units such as “Alternative Energy Sources” (Part 1: Unit 4), “Immigration” (Part 3: Unit 10), “Health and Technology” (Part 5: Unit 15), and “Privacy in the Digital Age” (Part 6: Unit 17). Each of these units are further subdivided into six sections in order to integrate both elements of grammar and academic writing. Section 1 of each unit is entitled “Grammar in the Real World,” which contains example essays that combine the specific genre and unit theme. Sections 2 and 3, or “Grammar Presentation,” include various grammar charts, rules, formulas, and exercises to assist in the application of the material. Section 4, “Vocabulary Presentation,” presents key vocabulary commonly used in or associated with the genre. In Section 5, entitled “Avoid Common Mistakes,” the authors present differences in colloquial speech and academic writing and include an editing task for practice. In the sixth and final section of each unit, labeled “The Writing Process,” students are provided with a step-based approach for putting it all together through activities and questions that are centered around prewriting, writing, and peer review activities.

With its extensive scope and coverage of grammar, vocabulary, and academic discourse, Grammar and Beyond: Level 4 is a combination of the two Pearson series, Focus on Grammar (1994) and Focus on Writing (2012). The authors have managed to construct a highly informative and well-designed textbook that could easily be used as the main or sole textbook for a preacademic ESL composition course. Additionally, because the textbook also has a companion workbook, instructors are provided with a plethora of additional activities to choose from to help supplement the textbook for usage both inside and outside of the classroom.

All of the units and material in Grammar and Beyond: Level 4 are well thought out, and there is an adequate balance of both grammar and writing instruction. Students and instructors will especially appreciate and enjoy the authors’ illustrations of the differences in language between casual speech and academic writing, as the authors clearly present exactly what it means to write “academically.”


Blass, L., Denman, B., & Iannuzzi, S. (2013). Grammar and beyond: Level 4 workbook. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Haugnes, N., Solórzano, H., Wiese, D., Ward, C., Beaumont, J., & Walsh, L. (2012). Focus on writing. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Schoenberg, I. E., Maurer, J., Fuchs, M., Bonner, M., & Westheimer, M. (1994). Focus on grammar (1st ed.). White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Matthew J. Kessler is an ESL Instructor for Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. His current research interests include CALL and ESP.
« Previous Newsletter Home Print Article Next »
Post a CommentView Comments
 Rate This Article
Share LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
In This Issue
Leadership Updates
Book Reviews
Computer Technology
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Print Issue
RSS Feed
Recent TESOL Press Releases
TESOL Launches New University of Pittsburgh Travel Award for IEP Instructors

TESOL Announces 2015 Board of Directors and Nominating Committee Election Slate