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Concourse 2

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Finding your way in the language jungle

This course is intended for anyone who speaks English and now wants to teach it.  It has recently been upgraded and extended to cover much more ground and give you all you need to know at the beginning of your career.

If English is your first language, and especially if you were educated in Britain, you may know what's right and what's wrong but may not be able to put your finger on why because you have never been taught the structure of English explicitly.
Alternatively, you may have acquired English to a high level as a second (or third etc.) language but without being able to state the rules of grammar in English or describe it well for your students.
If either alternative describes you, this course is for you.

This course is quite a traditional approach to the analysis of English.  This form has been selected because it is familiar to learners and teachers and is the basis on which many syllabuses and course materials are constructed.  There is no assertion here that it is either the best or the only way to approach the analysis of English.
Understanding this nuts-and-bolts approach to the language will form the basis for an understanding of more sophisticated and interesting approaches should you wish to investigate further.
Advice concerning where to go next comes in The lagniappe.


The 10 course units

This course is divided into ten units and a small lagniappe or gift.
Some of the units (especially Units 3 and 4) are quite long because they cover a number of important ideas but all units are split into Sections identified by upper-case letters so you can stop at any time and come back for more later.
If language analysis is quite new to you, the best approach is to take each area in turn, starting with Unit 1.  The materials are designed to be cumulative so as you work through them and take the tests, your knowledge will build on what you learn as you go along.
If you are returning to check something out or do a little revision, feel free to go where you like.
Here's the index.  Click where you want to go.

Unit Learn about (the Sections) Unit Learn about (the Sections)
1 Pronunciation:
Connected speech
6 Tenses in English:
The names of the tenses
Talking about always
Talking about the present
Talking about the past
Talking about the future
2 Words:
Words or lexemes?
Word formation
Word classes
7 Aspect:
Primary auxiliary verbs
Progressive and continuous
Other aspects
3 Content words:
Words: meaning and relationships
8 Modality:
Types of modality
Modal auxiliary verbs
Other forms of modality
4 Function words:
9 Sentences:
Parsing a sentence
Cohesion and coherence
5 Subjects and objects:
Transitive and intransitive verbs
Passive and active voice
Multi-word verbs
10 Texts:
Types of text
Themes and rhemes
Understanding texts
lagniappe Where next?
Links for further study
Summary tests
Link to an abbreviated downloadable text version of this course

There are links on the left to Frequently Asked Questions about the course, a chance to re-take all the tests again and an opportunity to send feedback to ELT Concourse.  We'll be happy to hear from you.
In all units, when we give an example of an incorrect or badly formed piece of English, it is denoted with '*' before it.  That's the conventional way to do things.


How long will it take?

People know different amounts before they begin, work at different rates and have different ambitions concerning how informed they want to be so any comment here is an estimate and probably a wrong one.
Some of the Units are longer than others and some may well contain material with which you are already familiar but, overall, the ten units are doable in around 10 to 12 hours.

If you prefer to work with a printable copy of some of the materials, go to The lagniappe where you will find a link to download a version of the course.


You may not use this material for commercial purposes.  The material may be used with fee-paying learners of English but may not be used on fee-paying courses for teachers.  Small excerpts from materials, conventionally attributed, may be used on such courses but wholesale lifting of materials is explicitly forbidden.  There is, of course, no objection at all to providing fee-paying course participants with annotated links to materials anywhere on this site.  Indeed, that is welcomed.


Learn more

After each section of each unit, there are links to guides in the rest of the site in a box like this.
You do not need to follow them because the course is self contained but they are there for your reference to use now or in the future.
Links here will take you either to essential guides to the area or to the in-service guides which have a lot more detail and they all open in new tabs.