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Is Grammar Still Important in Spoken English?

Is Grammar Still Important in Spoken English? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

According to the Collins online dictionary, grammar is defined as “the ways that words can be put together in order to make sentences.” The Oxford learner’s dictionary defines grammar as “a person’s knowledge and use of a language”. If those two definitions were to be combined we could define grammar as the way we utilize the language knowledge we possess for the purpose of communication. In keeping with this definition then, it can be said that in order to communicate effectively, grammar is essential.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jheanelle M.

A new approach to study

There are patterns that facilitate communication within every language. These patterns are the ways that words are put together in their correct forms to make phrases and sentences. A knowledge of grammar can help learners to identify these language patterns that will allow them to express themselves fluently without error. There are many cases, however, where people choose to focus on studying a language without giving attention to grammar. Many popular language programs teach foreign language acquisition by repetitive drilling and exposure to audio. These programs can help learners to acquire a large vocabulary while at the same time training the learner’s listening skills. Utilizing programs such as these have helped many people learning a foreign language to understand much of what they read in books or watch on YouTube and other media sources.

Also Read: The Most Useful Corrections Techniques in the EFL Classroom

No grammar is needed to communicate

Developing speaking and listening skills are two very important facets of learning a language and by the use of drills to practice speaking and constant exposure to audio many persons have been able to acquire a measure of fluency in their target language. In fact children were first exposed to their native language by audio and started to speak their native language before going to school and learning grammar. There are also many cases where people speak their own native language having never studied its grammar.

According to the website teaching English.org “second language acquisition is mainly a subconscious process which happens while we focus on communication.” Therefore we can watch television shows, listen to radio broadcastings and if possible even move to the country where our target language is spoken and acquire much of the language in that way however when it comes to fluent communication, grammar is important to know.

Also Read: How To Write The Perfect ESL Lesson Plan

Common mistakes

Throughout the course of this TEFL course, various mistakes were identified that students might make when learning English. For example in unit four of this course, it was pointed out that students might not add ‘s’ to the verb when using the simple present tense in the third person or they might not make use of the auxiliary verb do when making a negative sentence. In many cases they are able to be understood regardless of the mistake in grammar while in some cases it may lead to a misunderstanding because of the misuse of a grammar point. In unit sixteen of this course the use of conditionals was discussed, which highlighted the importance of using the correct conditional because each conditional will convey a different meaning depending on what it is the speaker wishes to express. In written communication as well poor grammar can result in the meaning of the sentence being unclear which will confuse the reader.

Also Read: The 4 Most Common Learning Difficulties ESL Students Are Facing

Common grammar errors involving sentence structure, verb tense, and parts of speech can obscure the meaning of a sentence. In order to minimize such errors, in school, children are taught grammar in their native language to improve their written and oral communication skills. Therefore it only stands to reason that a person learning English as a foreign language would also need to study grammar in order to fine-tune their oral and written communication abilities. This is especially important if a student intends to pursue a career where English is utilized. Without the study of grammar, learners will be limited in how advanced they can get.

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According to one American author and business trainer Jeffrey Gitomer “your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total.” In conclusion in order to utilize language skills to communicate effectively many different skills are needed, for example listening, speaking and writing skills. The study of grammar will provide a good foundation for developing those skills.

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