Home > Uncategorized > Why it can be difficult to learn foreign languages by explaining “GRAMMAR”

Why it can be difficult to learn foreign languages by explaining “GRAMMAR”

In many foreign language courses, teachers like to explain many things via GRAMMAR.

This is extremely discouraging for most students, not just beginners, but also intermediate students.

The reason is simple: we don’t know English grammar very well!

Tell me – how many of these words do you understand from a grammatical perspective: subject, object, verb, adjective, adverb, participle, gerund, conjuntive tense, locative, ablative, personal pronoun, proper noun, past perfect, present perfect, preteritum???

Actually, let me correct myself -> we don’t know English grammar consciously.

We know that “I admire you.” is different than “You admire me.”, and that “Admire I you” makes no sense, and “You I admire” sounds like Yoda talking.

So based on these two observations, we can solve the problem in 3 ways.

First, when teaching a foreign language, the teacher could explain the grammar of the original language before introducing the grammar of the new language.

Second, don’t make reference to grammar nomenclature at all.  Just teach the initial parts of the new language as if you would teach a young boy or girl.

Third, students interested in learning foreign languages should revise the grammar of the native language (e.g. English) first.  I think this is the hardest to do because I can’t imagine anyone picking up a grammar book for a language that they know already.

I’m not saying that grammar is not useful.  It’s just harder to draw a parallel for most students trying to pick up a new language and that’s when they start to get discouraged.  Eventually grammar helps to guide us towards the proper use of the language so that people speaking all dialects of it can understand a standard version of the language.

So… I hope you find this post useful.  😀

Here’s how you can make it more useful:  Students who find themselves being drilled with too much grammar, speak up and ask for an alternative explanation.  Teachers who tend to like to explain things via grammar, take a step back.  Your students will start asking you about grammar one day when they get tired of the chaos of remembering a multitude of different tenses.

What do you think?

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