Grammar once more

I think that Michael’s perspective is different from mine. He needs to teach something in class. Grammar is a useful thing for a teacher to teach. It is a more or less logical explanation of how the language works. Students can understand it and feel that they have learned something. The teacher appears to impart knowledge to a group of students in a classroom.

In my view a language learner has to learn the language mostly on his/her own by listening and reading and then speaking and writing. The learner needs exposure and much of that exposure should happen outside of the classroom. But in reality few students are motivated enough to put the effort into acquiring the language outside of the classroom.It is not the time that is lacking but rather the interest or commitment. So we are left with the classroom. So what can one do in a classroom? One can talk, read out loud and do role playing etc. But with 15 or 20 or more students the efficiency is low. So teaching grammar is quite a useful thing to do. Nothing wrong with that as long as we do not expect that this will bring language fluency.

Someone said in a comment below that we need to teach the conditional to a beginner. In my view you do not teach the conditional to a beginner. Or at least you do no mention the term “conditional”. You do not give rules about the conditional. Many learners who have studied the conditional at school still say “Even I try hard, I still forget”, “Even I word hard, I do not make much money”. They have studied the rules but still get it wrong. They have to create the correct habits. They need to practice saying the correct phrase. “Even though I work hard… Even if I try hard….”. They need to create the habit of using the correct phrase. They need to become observant of these phrases when they see them.

The first time this kind of sentence is encountered it is explained. The learner is asked to be observant of similar phrases in his listening and reading. He is encouraged to save the words “even” or “though” to his database. This will create real sample sentences from his/her reading and listening. The learner may save “even if” and “even though” to his database and to study them. Then when he goes back to listening and reading he starts to notice them. Eventually this pattern starts to be natural.

The same is true for most grammar terms and rules. Knowing the term “modals” or “countable nouns” “phrasal verbs” “gerund” etc. is not going to help most people become fluent.

So find the best way for you to learn the patterns of the language. If for you this is grammar,fine. Unfortunately I have met many people who have studied grammar for 10 years and still cannot express themselves comfortably. It is for this group(and for myself when we start other languages) that I have developed The Linguist system.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s