HomeNews & ConferencesThree Question Interview – Michael Swan

Three Question Interview – Michael Swan




We have asked top ELT authors the following 3 questions:

  1. What’s your favourite ELT book?
  2. What or who has had the biggest impact on ELT in the last 25 years?
  3. What do you wish you’d known when you started out in ELT?

Here, Michael Swan answers these questions in a short interview:

Michael is a writer specializing in English Language teaching and reference materials. His publications include Practical English Usage (OUP), How English Works (OUP) and The Good Grammar Book (OUP). He is also co-author, with Catherine Walter, of the Cambridge English Course series. His most recent books are Grammar (in Oxford Introductions to Language Study) and Grammar Scan (OUP), a collection of diagnostic language tests written in collaboration with David Baker.

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Michael’s answers? Do you have a ‘desert island book’ for ELT teaching? What are your thoughts on exposure to a language in place of formal learning? How did you enter the world of ELT? Why not share your thoughts here.

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  1. Hi, First of all, thanks for sharing this with the world. I find it very insightful. I didn’t know M. Swan but through his books, and now I can put a face to the name. That’s really great.

    I’m just starting my career as an EFL teacher, and I find the job extremely hard. I’ve been in Teacher Training College for 7 years now, and I realized that theory is a million years away from reality. New technologies and inmense amount of information via the web is overwhelming. That is not taught in TTC. They go by the book, teach the communicative approach as it was so easy to implement. It’s like I’m in a desert island myself. ha.

    As for Krashen.. well, I do agree that he took the learning/acquisition dichotomy to the extreme. I believe they complement. We cannot stick with Krashen’s hypothesis, but resort to other authors that help this idea become more flexible, such as Ellis. However, I’ve had an inmersion experience that helped me inmensely to develop my language. I lived in a native speaking country for 9 months (New Zealand). My mother tongue is Spanish, by the way. I think that I’ve acquired communicative skills that no formal instruction could ever give me. Nevertheless, my previous formal education was the basis to be able to develop my comm. skills. I’ve met people from South East Asia living there for quite a while, and their language had serious errors, even if they managed to get the accent or intonation right. It’s a matter of knowing the rules, and then be able to apply them in a real context, not just let the context provide you with the tools to communicate. I don’t know, that’s my humble opinion from my experience.

    Thanks for sharing again! cheers.


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