Put the books right

May 12, 2000

In Raphael Salkie's review of the Concise Encyclopedia of Educational Linguistics (THES, March 31), he appears to endorse uncritically the book's conclusion that research proves that "the formal teaching of grammar appears to contribute nothing to the development of writing and reading skill".

Analysis of this "research" by one of us (David Tomlinson), widely publicised in a book by the other (John Honey, Language Is Power, 1997), has drawn attention to widespread and disabling flaws in that body of research and its interpretation, to the extent that there is no longer any credibility in its conclusions.

When the original volumes of which the new book is a derivative were published, it might have been understandable not to be aware of the debunking of that material, but Salkie has had since 1997 to get up to date with the debate.

If he knows of some research in support of the anti-grammar case, he should surely have shared his knowledge in his review.

David Tomlinson. Kumamoto Prefectural University. Kumamoto 862, Japan.

John Honey. University of Botswana. Gaborone, Botswana.

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