Grammar lovers and grammar haters

There are two groups among language learners, the grammar lovers and the grammar haters. I would like to run a survey to find out which group is larger, at least among the readers of this blog. I would like your help in defining the two groups. I want to have two accurate definitions of these groups. How should I describe them. Here is a start. Remember, at this point, I do not want to know which group you belong to, I just want to know if these descriptions are accurate, if we can improve on them. The survey will come in a separate post.

Grammar lovers would say:

I love grammar, and I find it necessary to have a solid grasp of grammar in order to learn a language. I want to understand the logic of the language before I start. The many grammar terms are necessary in order to explain the intricacy of the language. Once I understand how the language works, I can learn it much faster. If I encounter a problem, I want an explanation of why this structure or word is used instead of another.

Grammar haters would say:

When I read grammar explanations my eyes glaze over. I cannot remember the explanations nor the various verb or noun endings or other details of grammar. I find most grammar terms, unhelpful and confusing and I ignore them. I prefer to get on with listening and reading, and acquiring words. Once I have some familiarity with the language, then I do not mind reviewing some grammar rules and tables, just to confirm what I have discovered, and possibly to fill in some gaps. When I encounter problems in the language, I just move on. I rarely ask why?

4 thoughts on “Grammar lovers and grammar haters

  1. I would adjust the first description as follows:I love grammar, and I find that having a solid grasp of grammar makes learning a language much easier. Since the structure and the components of the language are both indispensable and equal, I want to fully understand the logic of the language as my overall knowledge grows. The many grammar terms are necessary in order to explain the intricacy of the language. Once I understand how the language works, I can learn it much faster. If I encounter a problem, I want an explanation of why this structure or word is used instead of another.

  2. Perhaps there should be a third category: "Grammar Pragmatists". You can then move the following to that category: "Once I have some familiarity with the language, then I do not mind reviewing some grammar rules and tables, just to confirm what I have discovered, and possibly to fill in some gaps."

  3. I think you are making this too complicated. Rather than focusing on loving or hating grammar, why not find out an individuals concept of the function of descriptive grammar in language learning. I love grammar, however, I realize that descriptive grammar will not aid me in learning a language (it can, if used appropriately, help me understand content, which does help me acquire). I would simplify your statements.1. I like to talk about grammar as an essential means to becoming proficient in another language.2. I like to participate meaningful activities in a second language as an essential means to becoming proficient in another language. Again, I do not think it is a matter of loving or hating; it’s the attitude of the role of grammar. Ed SchifferP.S. I wish you were around when I was teaching ESOL in Miami. What a battle there.

  4. Whether you love or hate grammar may depend upon your learning style. How important grammar is (or is not) depends upon what you want to do in the language. I have taught English as a foreign language. My favorite students are engineers. Engineers can view grammar as engineering principles. They know the penalties for getting the principles wrong in critical situations. They know that the knowledge behind the study comes in handy if you need to fix something, or construct something new. Meanwhile, engineers know, as do we, that you don’t need a degree in Engineering to enjoy using modern technology. If you want to use a language socially, to make friends and explore new territory, then grammar is probably not a big priority. If you want to translate, do work in legal or technical fields, or write complex messages in the foreign language, then study of grammar will be worth your time. If you want to do something with critical impact, PLEASE make sure you have a good command of grammar. If you want to have fun, ignore grammar at the start, and give yourself enough input to insure your output will have the tone and personality you wish to have, while you’re having fun. (My background? My first foreign language in high school was Latin. For 2 years it was all vocabulary and grammar. I didn’t want or need to speak. Next came 1 year of German. We watched films & read magazines for about one-third of the classes, and I loved it. My third foreign language is Japanese. I’ve been greedy in my goals, and I am JLPT Ikkyu, top level. I signed up for LinQ to learn French, but am having trouble with the time factor.)

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