In the middle ages, grammar meant the study of Latin, the language educated people used to study. In fact, grammar was so closely associated with Latin that the word referred to any kind of learning. These days, however, it refers to the study of language, specifically, how words are put together. For some teachers, it means a set of standards that you must follow to speak and write “better”. This definition of “better” is quite subjective, as it changes according to the audience, purpose, and situation.
The study of grammar is a must, but it needs to be taking care of in a very intelligent way. Although it is true that structure is required to make progress in the language, there’s a tendency in classrooms of teaching grammar rules in a way that a student cannot relate the content with real situations. For example. Let’s say you want to learn the simple past. You will obviously need to do some grammar exercises to understand how to use it. However, if you are asked to write the bio of your favorite basketball player, you will feel passionate for doing the task, and you will start using the structures way often, I can tell you that.
In the old days, learning English was centered around grammar. It was the main component, and many students focused their efforts on learning grammar charts. Modern English learners, however, have different views and take different approaches about it. They learn grammar by making it more conversational and combine the structure grammar exercises provide with real-life situations students can feel identified with.
Regarding this issue, I always like to give my students some advice to make their lives easier, and in this article, I would like to share them with you.
- It is not a priority
Maybe some teachers will disagree with me on this one, but my experience has proven this to be true. My general advice for beginning English learners is simple: Don’t make it a priority. You will have the chance of perfecting your structures later in your English learning journey. For now, focus on communicating your ideas with the simplests structures you know and in as many situations as you can.
- You don’t have to know it all
Listen to me on this one. You will never know all the grammar. There will always be exceptions to the rules you know and they will become increasingly difficult to master as you progress. Modern language learners avoid discouragement by taking it easy and viewing grammar as a journey, not a destination. They learn as they go, make mistakes along the way and try to learn from them. This approach makes learning English fun and keeps your stress levels low. By doing so you will learn with no pressure and enjoy the process.
- Conversational grammar is still grammar
I don’t know if you were familiar with this, but actually, there’s more than one type of grammar. You have friend speak, conversational English and formal English (will look at each one in detail in the next article). Just because something is not grammatically correct when speaking “formally”, does not mean it is wrong in an informal context. In fact, speaking a language with perfect grammar in such a context will give away the fact that you are a foreigner faster than any accent could.
The key to all of this is simple. You need to take grammar learning in a relaxed way, and put every structure you learn in use as much and as fast as possible. By doing so, you will feel excited about learning new ways to communicate with others rather than discouraged.