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Instructional design

Textbooks contain a variety of instructional materials: they have an introduction, formal rules presentation (FORM), a use explanation (USE), examples, a short summary about the form and the use, exercises and relation with other topics (RELATED)
(See https://open.books4languages.com/english-a1-grammar/chapter/cardinal-numbers).

Textbooks include tables and bullet/ number lists to simplify the content visually
(See https://open.books4languages.com/english-a1-grammar/chapter/possessive-adjectives/).

The section Examples and Exercises of the grammar books has to match with the Vocabulary of the corresponding level.
(For example: the topic in Grammar 1.2 has to match with the vocabulary in Vocabulary 1.2)

Each section has its own use and characteristics, and it is fundamental not to confuse them.


The introduction is used to let the students understand what the topic will be about, and it is made with simple words and in a summarized way (in active voice, in one paragraph). In the introduction, we want to make students understand just what they are going to learn, so that they can relate it to their L1. The content created here is complementary, it can have repeated information in some cases, but it never offers information to replace what it must be explained in other sections. This means that the introduction has to be expendable for the understanding of the topic.

The introduction has to answer to the following questions:

  • What is what we are going to study?
  • What is it used for?


How is the vocabulary unit, functional expression, or grammar structure formed?

How is a unit of language formed?
(Which are they?Where is it positioned? )

Form refers to the visible and audible parts of vocabulary, functional expressions and grammar units:  the spelling, phonemes, syllable stress, words in a phrase, prefixes or suffixes, syntax (word order), choice of noun or verb, etc for a particular place in a sentence, and/or punctuation. 

For example: the present perfect is formed with have been plus the past participle of the main verb;  tired of is followed by Ving/gerund not an to V/infinitive, in my opinion and not on my opinion; the word is spelled c-o-n-t-e-n-t and the second syllable is stressed

The form explains rules of words formation, grammatical structures and the way in which they appear in a sequence with other language elements. It should be explained in the easiest possible way, using tables or other formulas (in active voice).If it is possible, this section begins with 1-2 lines of text to identify the grammatical element among all the similar grammatical rules.

The form/rule in the sentence.  If it is possible, we create an explanatory formula (always in bold and dark grey #808080). The new formula will be in a new line within the same paragraph (shift-enter).
For example: subject + verb + not + … (See https://open.books4languages.com/english-a1-grammar/chapter/present-continuous-affirmative/ ). If the explanatory formula has just 2 elements, we do not write it by default. We write the information as a sentence, excluding tenses and auxiliary verbs.
For example: subject pronouns are used before verbs in the sentence (Subject Pronouns).

In this section the distribution of information will always follow the same pattern (Present Simple Affirmative):

  • general information;
  • explanatory formula;
  • information that completes the explanatory formula;
  • the explanation of how to create and combine the different elements of the formula (tables, terminations, words lists…) (Present Simple Affirmative).


The Use section put the grammatical element in the grammatical and situational context.

When or why is the vocabulary, functional expression or grammar structure used?

When and why is the unit of language used?
(What is it used for?)

The words, functional expressions, grammar structures we choose to use are determined by the situation we are in and/or what we want to communicate to our listener(s).  Use is interconnected with meaning.

For example:  Please note: Mail will not be delivered on Thursdays until further notice. The passive voice is used appropriately here because it is more formal and objective; because listeners know generally that postmen deliver the mail and that this decision was made by a nameless government or postal official; and because the what is crucial to communicate is the fact that there will be no postal delivery on the specified day for the foreseeable future.

For example:  Good morning! is a greeting we use with friends, family, our boss, etc. when we see them before noon.  If we say Good morning! to a family morning as s/he gets up in the afternoon (because they were out late the night before), we are being ironic and perhaps indicating disapproval.  We would probably not say this to our boss when s/he came in late.

We do extend the USE with the Meaning


What meaning does the vocabulary, functional expression or grammar structure have in the (specific) context?

What does the unit of language mean?

There are two aspects of meaning.  First, what is literal or ‘essential’ meaning of the word, phrase, functional expression or grammar structure?  Second, what does it mean in the context it’s being used in?

For example:  She’s wearing a red skirt.  The literal or essential meaning of the word has to do with naming a particular color. 

She’s red from sitting in the sun.  Her skin has turned a particular shade of pink indicating sunburn.

He was a well-known red. Red indicates the person’s political beliefs and affiliation.


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