In 2017, IA Sprog language school released its very own grammar book for foreign learners. The three authors behind the book are teacher Anne Hilt, department manager and teacher Lise Rifbjerg and educational leader Eva Jensen. We met for a chat about the book.
Why did the school need its own grammar book?
Eva starts: “There was a wish among the teachers for being able to refer to the same material across levels and classes. One advantage of having our own grammar book is also that we can make just the right grammar exercises to go with the book.”
Many grammar books can be difficult to understand, but Basic Danish Grammar for Foreign Learners is written in a simple language, so even beginners can use it, and it can be used in both Danish Language Course 2 and Danish Language Course 3.
“But because the book had to be simple, we were not able to go in depth with everything – we had to make some cuts. Instead, we have made room for a little bit about pronunciation, as well as a verb list”.
The verb list is a separate booklet located at the back of the book, with conjugations of more than 400 of the most common verbs.
How have the reactions been to the grammar book?
Before the book went into print several teachers have had the chance to make their mark on it, and it was also tested in a few classes. When the book was released and then handed out in school, some of the students in higher level classes asked for elaborations on certain things, but otherwise the reactions from the students have been predominantly positive. “The book made a great splash!”, Lise exclaims.
Teachers have also embraced the grammar book. There have been a few proposals for changes from the teachers, but that is precisely the advantage of developing your own materials instead of buying them.
Lise explains: “The advantage of having created the book ourselves is that we can regularly update it with new adjustments and input, so there will be more issues later on. And teachers are still welcome to contribute. ”
As we speak, a second edition has already been published, and more versions may come.
The process – a huge task to write, edit and publish a book
It often takes a long time to write and publish a book – it’s a huge task to accomplish. The three authors acknowledge that, but at the same time they found the task quite interesting.
In the process, several discussions arose about what parts of the grammar should be included, and how it ought to be explained.
“I saved all of our corrections, and sometimes we went back after having rejected something and ended up using it after all. It has been quite difficult to keep track of all the adjustments,” Anne says.
In addition to being the authors, they also held the role of editors. Lise explains:
“We have acted as editors ourselves and would have to make decisions about things like graphic design – when to use italics and so on. We have had many more tasks than regular authors.”
But all in all the three have been happy to get the chance to write the book, and they appreciate all the input and all the help they have received from their colleagues.
Anne thinks it has been a gift to be allowed to write the book, and Eve says “It was delightful and exciting. It was fun to be able to nerd it out a little bit.”
Now the wish for a common grammar book has been fulfilled. But there is still another wish and a need of many students and teachers; grammar exercises for the grammar book.
The exercises are underway, and they will be available at the school and students’ internal online learning platform mit.iasprog.