Macmillan English Grammar in Context

Michael Vince (Macmillan 2008)
ISBN 978-1-4050-70540-6

Advanced ESOL learners are the target readers for the this textbook. The student’s textbook includes a CD-ROM, Grammar Index, review section and an answer key. There was not any reference made to an accompanying teacher’s book or student’s workbook. There are forty-four units and each unit contains a different grammatical point. The presentation of the text is attractive as there is a variety of modern photographs, illustrations and colours used. The layout is clear in that the grammatical rules and examples are in green whereas the exercises are mainly in white.

All of the vocabulary which is presumed to be challenging is highlighted and included on the word list at the back of the book and on the CD-ROM word glossary. A fact which I liked about the book was that the grammar was set within the context of modern topics and subjects relevant to everyday life, working life and academic life. There were plenty of exercises which contained individual sentences which were not part of a text but, on the whole, the exercises were based around a theme – such as science, history, the environment or a particular person’s life. In that respect it differed from English Grammar in Use (Raymond Murphy, CUP 2004) and Oxford Practice Grammar (John Eastwood, OUP 2006) which tend to use unconnected, individual sentences in their exercises.

Additionally, I felt that this book contained a greater variety of the types of exercise the student for the student to complete. In a large number of books on grammar most of the exercises tend to be gap fill activities where the student changes the form of the verb. Within this book, however, there are multiple choice activities, error corrections exercises and so on.

One criticism might be that many of the ‘contexts’ relate to the UK. You could argue, therefore, that this was a rather UK-centric textbook. For this reason, schools in other English-speaking countries might be reluctant to use it. To this end, ESOL learners outwith the UK might find the ‘contexts’ irrelevant to their lives. I do intend to use this textbook in future classes.


Angela Campbell
University of Strathclyde