Sunday, May 5, 2013

Learning Another Language? Intimidated By Grammar? Don't Be!

Grammar police
Grammar police (the_munificent_sasquatch)
by Erin N O'Reilly, PhD

I've heard the lament so many times, "I don't know grammar rules in my own language. I'll never be able to figure out grammar in another language!"

Before you give up so easily, here are some things you should know about grammar and language learning.

First, grammar typically isn't the focus in a language class.

For some reason there's this stereotype that learning another language involves a dictionary in one hand and a pencil in the other, as you translate word for word, trying to puzzle out the language.

This is what language learning was like 100 years ago, when people of a certain class learned Latin, not because they wanted to communicate in Latin, but because it was a cerebral activity. They were nerds and World of Warcraft hadn't been invented yet.

A revolution in the second and foreign language teaching fields took off in the 80s called the communicative approach. By far, this is the most common method used by second and foreign language teachers.

This approach emphasizes communication through interaction and activities with your peers. This means role-plays, puzzles, and problem-solving activities.

Does this mean you don't have to learn grammar? Sorry. You'll still be expected to learn grammar, but it probably won't be the main focus of your daily studies.

Second, there's a difference between knowing grammar terminology and understanding grammar rules. If you're struggling with understanding the difference between an adverb and an adjective, it might be because of the terminology, not the concepts themselves.

You can succeed in learning to communicate in another language without fully understanding the terminology. People do it all of the time.

I remember a particularly painful hour in one of my Arabic classes many years ago. My teacher kept using the word 'preposition' to explain how a sentence could be broken down.

I was frustrated because I had no idea what a preposition was in English. I could understand all of the Arabic in the sentence and how it was put together, but I couldn't understand the English grammar terminology!

If you find yourself in this situation, treat grammar terminology like any other vocabulary you need to memorize. Take a few hours and review key grammar terms in your first language. Figure out what the term means and how it is used. Jot down a few examples that you can come back to later.

Don't let the idea of grammar intimidate you! Focus on communication and the grammar will come in time.

Interested in learning more? Erin N. O'Reilly is a language coach specializing in second and foreign language learning strategies, helping learners at all levels reach their potential.

You can learn everything about how to learn another language and download the free 'English Grammar Terminology Checklist for English Speakers Learning other Languages' to test your English grammar terminology acumen by visiting:

Article Source:'Reilly,_PhD!&id=7691597

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