Top Reasons Why You Can’t Ignore Grammar
In the realm of English language learning, whether grammar is important or to what extent grammar should be learned has been the most debatable topic. As a non-native English speaker, the questions alike once have been circling in my mind like the âTo be, or not to beâ soliloquy uttered by Prince Hamlet. Compare to practice speaking, listening, and memorize vocabulary, learning grammar appears to receive less emphasis. Is it true learning grammar is not that important? Of course not! When it comes to a second language or foreign language acquisition, learning grammar is extremely vital.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Chiang M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
From a linguistic perspective, âgrammar is the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in a natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules and this field includes phonology, morphology, and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics.â (Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. âGrammarâ). Grammar is a system composed of many interconnected components that ensures accuracy and meaning of communication, clarity, and correctness in writing and speaking the language, and proper interpretation and usage of words and sentences in the language. Our communication skills, logical thinking skills, all these abilities were established from the foundation of mastering the grammar.
Possessing a solid grammar foundation is essential to advance the level of English and good grammar skills lay the imperative groundwork for effective communication. Unfortunately, in reality, many learners lack accurate concepts or even neglect the necessity of learning grammar. Certain notions started to emerge that it does not require specific learning to master the grammar. All the learners need is great exposure to an environment with ample language input and acquire the concept via the method of âLanguage Immersionâ. Eventually, the language instinct or linguistic sense will come naturally to the learners, hence grasped and internalized grammar in an effortless manner.
Learning a foreign language through substantial exposure to language inputs does not assure the acquisition of concrete grammar standards. After the studies of Canadaâs immersion program, linguists have discovered that even with the engagement of extensive language inputs, foreign language learners still make numerous language errors and grammatical mistakes such as tense, clauses or phrases. Thus, for foreign language learners, grammar should be specifically learned. Merely relying on the language instinct and linguistic sense cultivated by language inputs and immersion has its shortfalls. Even in English speaking countries, grammar instruction was included in English language classes or as core academic subjects. Just do a Google search on the internet and we will find tons of grammar teaching materials designed even for native speakers.
So, what is the consequence without good grammar skills? Improper grammar foundation has a hidden impact and comprehensive influence on learning the English language. The underlying side effect is not as obvious when compared to incompetency in listening and reading. However, the lack of grammatical proficiency will limit the overall improvement of learnersâ receptive skills (listening and reading) and productive skills (speaking, and writing). Simply take a look from the reading perspective. Many learners may have encountered a scenario where they recognized or knew all the words in the sentence(s) but did not fully comprehend or understand what the exact meaning was.
Another scenario would be difficulties to differentiate defining and non-defining relative clauses. For instance, letâs compare the following sentences: 1) âHe is a gentleman, who never breaks his word.â and 2) âHe is a gentleman who never breaks his word.âWithout absolute grammatical comprehension, it is very easy to miss interpret the meaning inaccurate manner. The same effect applied to write as well. When a message is relayed with the correct grammar, it is easier to understand the purpose and meaning of the message. It is possible for a learner without appropriate grammar background to construct an odd sentence like âThis is my mother who loves me very much.â where the correct form should be âThis is my mother, who loves me very much.â Hence, without good grammar, clear communication is impossible.
Grammar âprovides the learner with a perfect understanding of language structures and contributes to eloquent self-expression. An English student who doesn't know grammar, for instance, the parts of speech, is like a composer who doesn't know the music notes.â (Dalil, 2013)
Grammar indeed plays an imperative role in enabling the improvement of the overall language proficiency. Good grammar foundation is an instrument to enhance language listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills. However, in foreign language learning, solid grammar concepts canât be subconsciously picked up and internalized merely by language inputs from immersion. Non-native speakers need to develop grammar skills through explicit or formal instruction.
Even for native speakers, grammar needs to be specifically learned to achieve an advanced level. In the journey of learning grammar, besides remembering the rules, it is also critical to fully comprehend each of the underlying principles and practice through reading writing, etc., to accomplish the desired mastery.
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