Grammar in current ESL textbooks used in Australia and Hong Kong: A critical appraisal

Peter COLLINS, Fung King Jackie LEE

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper reports findings from a survey of current ESL textbooks used in Australia and Hong Kong (their selection determined via consultation with ESL teachers and booksellers), the aim being to assess the adequacy of their presentation of English grammar. Consideration was given to, amongst other things, how each book handled form-meaning relationships, how it dealt with the distinction between class and function, the existence of prescriptive content, the occurrence of factual errors, and the grammatical topics covered. A tendency was noted amongst some writers whose orientation was primarily traditional (in both Australia and Hong Kong) or functional (in Australia only) to neglect the principles of the structuralist model, despite its strong influence within the discipline of linguistics for much of the present century. These writers tended to rely on notional descriptions, thereby perpetuating the fallacy that categories of grammar and categories of meaning are isomorphic. The survey suggests that despite the popularity of the communicative approach there are many ESL textbooks, especially in Hong Kong, which continue to present grammatical descriptions without reference to text and context, and thus fail to provide opportunities for learners to use the target language meaningfully.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2004



Collins, P., & Lee, F. K. J. (2004, December). Grammar in current ESL textbooks used in Australia and Hong Kong: A critical appraisal. Paper presented at the International Language in Education Conference 2004: The Way Forward in Language Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.