The Structure of the English Language
Applied Linguistics 629
Spring 2012

C. Meyer
Office: Wheatley 6-68
Office phone (with voice mail): 287-6748
E-mail: meyer [at] cs [dot] umb [dot] edu (note: emails sent on weekends will be answered on Monday)
To get this handout on line, go to:
Office hours: W: 2:30-4:00, Th: 2:30-4:00, or by appointment (I'm also available on Skype; contact me to make arrangements)

Required texts and materials:

Andrea DeCapua, Grammar for Teachers (available in the UMB bookstore or from online vendors such as Amazon, which sells print and Kindle versions of the book)
Additional readings (either on e-reserve in the library or available on the World Wide Web)

Course goals:

Apling 629 has three primary goals: (1) to briefly trace the development of English from Old English to Contemporary English; (2) to discuss in detail the grammatical structure of Contemporary English; and (3) to explore issues related to the teaching of grammar to speakers of English as a second language. This will therefore be a course in both language theory and language pedagogy.

Course requirements:

  1. Regular attendance
  2. Participation in class discussions
  3. Familiarity with UMass-Boston's policies on plagiarism and academic dishonesty
  4. A paper investigating a disputed usage in one or more computer corpora  (6-8 double-spaced pages in length; counts 30% towards your final grade). 
  5. An annotated bibliography based on textbooks and websites that could be used to teach grammar to second language learners (6-8 double-spaced pages in length; counts 20% towards your final grade).
  6. A collaborative oral summary and evaluation of one weekly reading. Two people will work together for each presentation. Presentations will be given on the day we cover the reading, and should be no longer than 15 minutes. More details forthcoming. (counts 20% towards your final grade; a sign-up sheet will be posted on Blackboard by next week).
  7. Final exam (counts 30% towards your final grade)
Students with disabilities

If you have a disability and feel you will need accommodations in order to complete course requirements, please contact the Ross Center for Disability Services (Campus Center 2nd Fl., Room 2010) at 617-287-7430.

Academic support services

If you’d like help with your writing, go to the Graduate Writing Center, Campus Center (within Academic Support), 1st Floor Rm. 1100 Phone: 617-287-6550, email:

Blackboard Vista

We will be using the Blackboard Vista online learning system to communicate outside class. Information on how to use and log into Blackboard can be found here. I will talk more about this in class.

Electronic Devices

Please make sure that all cell phones are turned off (including those set to vibrate). It's fine to use the campus WiFi during class for class-related purposes, but please no web surfing, texting, checking email, etc. during class.

Topics and Reading Assignments

GT = Grammar for Teachers
All other readings are on either e-reserve or the WWW
(to obtain an article on e-reserve, go here and then click 'accept' after typing in the course password, which I will give you in class).


Jan. 25: Course policies and goals; introduction to the study of language.

The English Language--Past and Present--and the Rise of Prescriptivism

Feb. 1"A Brief History of the English Language"; Wallraff, "What Global Language?";  Irwin and Nagy, "Bostonians /r/ speaking:
A Quantitative look at (R) in Boston"
; Wallace,  "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage"; Regional New England Pronunciations 

Talking About Grammar

Feb. 8: GT, "What is Grammar?," ch. 1, pp. 1-18; The Multiple Meanings of Grammar; Meyer, "Twentieth-Century Developments in Traditional Grammar" (on e-reserve); GT, "Morphology," ch.2, pp. 21-43; Hypertext Books, The Clause Rank: From and Function

Noun, Adjective, and Adverb Phrases

Feb. 15 and 22: GT, "The Noun Phrase," ch. 3, pp. 45-71; Abbott, Definite and Indefinite; Teaching Definite and Indefinite Articles; Flow Chart for Teaching English Articles; GT, "Adjectives and Adverbs," ch.4, pp. 83-118.

Verb Phrases

Feb. 29: GT, "Introduction to Verbs and Verb Phrases," ch. 5, pp. 121-160; Pinker, "Broken Telephone" (on e-reserve); Dennis Oliver, "Phrasal Verb Page" (located on Dave's ESL Cafe). 

March 7: "Time, Tense, and Aspect of Verbs," ch. 6, pp. 165-202. Paper #1 due.

March 14: No class, spring break

March 21:  GT, "Modal Auxiliary Verbs and Related Structures," ch. 7, pp. 211-241; Meyer, "Corpus Linguistics, the World Wide Web, and Language Teaching"; Go here to get a copy of "AntConc," the concordancing program I will be demonstrating in class to illustrate one way to use corpora in the second language classroom. There are versions for Windows and Macintosh computer.

Prepositional Phrases/ Form and Function Revisited

March 28: Grammar Book, "Prepositions," ch. 21, pp. 401-424 (on e-reserve); Tan, Fixed Expressions in EFL: The Case for Prepositional Clusters; "Form and Function", pp. 1-8,  Internet Grammar of English, Survey of English Usage, University College London; Kosur,  English Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases: The Six Main Functions of Prepositions (Note: we will examine this reading to see why some of the author's analyses are wrong).

Clauses and Sentences

April 4 GT, "Basic Sentence Patterns and Major Variations," ch. 8, pp. 245-276 and ch. 9, "Compound Sentences and Introduction to Compound Sentences," ch. 9, pp.281-315

April 11  GT, ch. 10, "Complex Sentences Continued: Relative Clauses," ch. 10, pp. 319-347 and "Complex Sentences Continued: Noun Clauses," ch. 11, pp. 353-379.

April 18:  GT, "Verbal Constructions," ch. 12, pp. 383-411; in class parsing exercise.

April 25: Meyer, "Functional Grammar and Discourse Studies" (on e-reserve); Biber et al., "Speaking and Writing in the University" (on e-reserve); in class parsing exercise (cont.); Paper #2 due.

Teaching Grammar

May 2: Diane Larsen-Freeman, "Teaching Grammar" (on e-reserve); David Mulroy, "The War Against Grammar"; Marianne Celce-Murcia, "Grammar Pedagogy in Second and Foreign Language Teaching" (on e-reserve);  Krashen, "The Formal Effect of Grammar Teaching: Still Peripheral" (on e-reserve); Sandra Fotos, "Cognitive Approaches to Grammar Instruction" (on e-reserve).

May 9 Stephen Andrews, "Why do L2 Teachers Need to 'Know about Language'? Teacher Metalinguistic Awareness and Input for Learning" (on e-reserve); Rod Ellis, 1998. “Teaching and Research: Options in Grammar Teaching.” (on e-reserve); Byrd, "Grammar FROM context: Re-thinking the teaching of grammar at various proficiency levels"; Jan Frodesen, "Grammar in Writing" (on e-reserve).

The final exam will be sent out by email on May 10, and will be due no later than 10:00 am on Thursday, May 17 (more details later)