Why Smart Language Teachers Don’t Care Much About Students’ Grammar
Learning a language – especially a new one – can be daunting to people. Not only are they trying to comprehend how to communicate effectively, they are worried about doing it in the right way as well.
In a certain sense, understanding the grammar that underlies the language can be extremely important, because it makes an individual sound intelligent enough to be using the language, but focusing too much on the grammar aspect while learning can be arduous and disturbing. Grammar is important and teaches one to properly utilize the new language, but individuals learn differently and grammar can be done in moderation as the newer language is shaped in the brain.
Learning grammar as a side product
I’d argue that while I was younger and learning the English language of course grammar was taught. There were all of those videos that helped me learn it, but it was not all at once that I found out how to effectively use it. I never thought when I was young that I would be writing articles almost every day of my life that require putting together sentences with proper structure and flow that do not butcher the english language.
While I was diving through high school and college and my courses required more and more writing, I had an understanding of grammar. Did I ever take classes that just taught grammar? No. I did the usual course work where it was beaten into our heads how to talk and discuss and write.
Knowing only grammar won’t get you far
I dabbled in two foreign language classes before; Spanish and Arabic. I did not become a prolific user of both, but as I stepped away from the classes I mainly remember certain words that mean particular things. With Spanish, which I took four years of, I mainly remember verbs and the pronouns (that being said my last Spanish class was over six years ago) but it could be enough to help me walk through the country if I was ever in a rut.
If I were to pick back up the studies I think I could figure out the grammar as I go. There is a unique thought to how to teach grammar from a top-down approach, basically asserting the fact that if you only studied grammar you would be useless without knowing the words to fill in everything else.
Grammar won’t make you fall in love with a language
My first arabic class I had was strictly vocabulary, and my teacher only spoke in Arabic. It was a unique way of figuring out how to hear the language being used and dissecting what things meant while also learning how to use words (in second grade form) and form broken sentences. From that point on for six weeks in one of my classes I was only allowed to speak in that language for those two or three hour periods.
It was important to learn the basic state of grammar in the language while also focusing on the early words that help people function on a day to basis. Then came the simple expressions like how to order a coffee or beans or find the train station. From there on, the more words I knew the easier it would be to exchange them in the expressions and piece together how the grammar works.
In multiple studies done in different time spans, over teaching grammar was not seen as the best way to fall in love with a language. Instead, researchers believe that just letting people write is a better option.
As a language teacher, it’s important to focus on grammar, but it’s not essential when it is taught the wrong way or forced too hard upon students. While English has been my language for over two decades, I taught myself more about grammar as I started finding it more useful in my day to day life.
Language is only going to become more and more easy to use as time goes on, especially as my intelligence (hopefully) raises along with my knowledge of what words mean and how to use them to make an argument such as this. After writing this, I think I want to re-download that Duo Lingo app and work with Spanish again to see how much grammar is taught there. From what I remember it was a great combination of vocabulary and expressions that helped start formulating the rest of the content to become fluid, we will see.
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