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IELTS Advice: you don't need a grammar book

Yesterday a student asked me to recommend a good grammar book. My answer to this question is that you don't need one. Let me explain my reasons for this view.

When I was at school, language learning meant studying two things: 1) grammar rules and 2) lists of vocabulary. The idea was that we should use the grammar rules to construct sentences, and the vocabulary would fill in the gaps. To me this seemed like a "mathematical" approach, where each grammar rule is like a formula. If you use a grammar book, you're probably following this method.

Nowadays I prefer a different approach, especially when teaching IELTS. Here are five reasons why I've moved away from the "grammar book" method:

  1. I believe that students can pass the test more quickly if they remember that grammar only accounts for 25% of their score, and they focus instead on the other 75%.
  2. I believe that the "mathematical formula" approach causes people to create unnatural sentences.
  3. I think that a better use of your time is to read and listen to as much native-speaker English as possible, so that you pick up the words, phrases and constructions that English speakers really use.
  4. If you want to improve your grammar for IELTS, I recommend that you ask a teacher to highlight your mistakes. Instead of learning rules from a book, just aim to learn from the mistakes that you make, and therefore gradually "edit" your English.
  5. You can check any grammar point with a quick search on the Internet. There's no need to slowly work through a book any more!

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