Monday, March 18, 2013

Learning English Includes Mastering Grammar

English: An example Old English typeface calle...
"Blackletter": Old English (Wikipedia)
by Andrew Stratton

Learning English is not for the faint of heart. It's one of the most difficult languages to learn on the planet.

Because it's such a widespread tongue, becoming fluent in it can hold the key to your future.

Even people born in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia may get tripped up on grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

For ESL students, it's even more challenging. Once these linguistic challenges are mastered, opportunities for success will unfold.

Grammar Issues

Grammar is one of the common stumbling blocks when learning English. As if the rules weren't hard enough to remember, the exceptions to the rules are even more perplexing. This is an area, however, that's crucial to absorb.

Outsiders will judge even an intelligent person harshly if he or she doesn't understand grammar. Some of the most common blunders include verb tenses and alignment.

For example, if a person says: "Jane go to the store," instead of the more proper: "Jane went to the store," that person will be deemed not-so-bright. If a person says: "Dogs has four legs," instead of: "Dogs have four legs," he or she may be thought of as "less than."

Punctuation Problems

It's important to learn how to use punctuation marks properly. The comma is one of the most commonly misused punctuation marks. It can be overused, underused, or used randomly.

Semi-colons are also sentence structure busters. It appears that some people stick these little winking eyes into the middle of sentences simply because they feel like it. What they don't understand is that each of the two phrases on either side of the ";" must be able to stand on its own; otherwise, a comma should be used.

Spelling Snafus

There are lots of words that are commonly misspelled and for good reason. For example, there are three ways to spell: to/two/too. Each of these spellings has its own definition.

If it's used in the wrong instance, the sentence is incorrect and the writer is deemed not-too-bright. Many individuals have been taught the sound-it-out method of spelling but this only works for a portion of words.

For example, xylophone would be spelled with an initial consonant of "z" if the rule were consistent. There are about a zillion other daffy and inane-seeming word spellings that could make an ESL student's head spin. With practice, an excellent memory, and a good dictionary, these challenges can be overcome.

Learning English is challenging but can also be fun and rewarding with practice. Over time, non-native speakers can become quite proficient in understanding grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules. Once these learners have mastered these skills, they're on the road to success.

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