Not so long ago, the focus of language learning used to be mainly on grammar. It seemed to be the main component of the learning process, and lots of students, abandoned their language journey, due to complicated rules they were unable to memorise, let alone use.
But thank heaven, modern language students and most language learning providers, have a different approach to the whole process, and specifically to the way grammar is incorporated.
How is grammar viewed nowadays?
- Grammar is a complement of language study and is not considered the most important aspect of foreign language learning.
- Modern language learners know that it’s highly unlikely that they will master the bulk of grammar rules in their target language, and they consider this perfectly OK. They are conscious that they will make mistakes along the way, but they adopt a more positive mindset, and view those mistakes as an opportunity to learn. The whole process of language learning becomes more fun when the added stress is out of the equation.
- They learn grammar ‘on the job’. They read content destined to native speakers, listen to how natives use the language and they mimic them knowing that conversational grammar might differ from the academic grammar, but they don’t make a fuss about it.
No one denies that it is the backbone of any language, as it gives it structure, nevertheless it should not be given any priority over the other features of language like phrases, vocabulary and conversations. As a matter of fact, they are all necessary components to reach fluency.
So, the modern language learners approach grammar with a more relax attitude and see it as a means to an end.
So, how should you incorporate grammar in your language study?
- When starting a new language give yourself time to get familiar to the language pattern. Observe, read and listen until you understand. This might mean to repeat the lesson until it’s clear to you. Remember that repetition is key in language learning, it allows you to commit these information to your long-term memory. Don’t feel frustrated, if you see that you are moving forward slowly.
- When listening and reading, pay attention to the word order. You will start noticing how every sentence is structured, the common place for nouns, adjectives, verbs, and articles. By doing so, you’re already studying, in a natural way, the basic grammar for that language.
- Buy a dictionary and a conjugation book .E-books might be a good option, because you would have them at your fingertips any time you need them.
- Download a mobile translation app so that you can investigate the meaning of words and expressions. As a result, you’ll be able to use the correct phrases when needed.Google Translate is a good option.
- Include films and videos in your language routine. It allows you to get familiar to the flow of the new language, as well as the intonation, and the grammatical arrangement of words and phrases (syntax).
- If you’ve been reading my articles, you may have noticed that my favourite advice is practice. I can’t stress it enough. Practice does make perfect, or near perfect. Listen to audio books or podcasts in your target language, on your commute, when jogging. Find songs with lyrics, on You Tube. Learn them.Memorise expressions that are new to you. Use the language daily. Find natives on the internet to practice what you’ve learned. You don’t need to be at the advanced stages to do so. Even at the beginner’s level you will reap the benefits.
- Reading will help you with grammar. If just starting, read children’s books. At more advance stages, read books you would read in your mother tongue. For example, if you’re interested in Thrillers, find books of the genre in your target language and enjoy a relaxing activity that will kill two birds with one stone.
- Write every day. Keep a journal, write a few sentences every day. It will reinforce the knowledge you’ve been acquiring. It might be difficult at the beginning, but with time and practice (that word again) it will get easier, and become second nature, just like in your mother tongue.
- Don’t worry about the mistakes. Children make plenty of grammar mistakes but that does not prevent them from carrying on learning by being exposed to real life situations. They relax and learn grammar instinctively without giving it too much thought; so should you.
YouTube can be very handy as there is a myriad of short videos about verb conjugation and grammar topics for a wide variety of languages.
. Study grammar for short period of time. When you study in short period intervals, you get better results than studying one hour straight through. It boosts the consolidation of memory. Try to use what you just learned in your conversations, your writing, in multiple occasions in the following day so that the concept might be saved in your long-term memory.
Don’t feel overwhelmed or disappointed when you make mistakes. Learn from them. Language learning is a complex process, and you should enjoy the journey. The key is to focus primarily on conversations. By doing so you will learn vocabulary, phrases, expressions, and, obviously, grammar in a more relax way, just like native children.