on October 22 2009 01:03 pm 1

Learning a Foreign Language: Tips for Learning Grammar

Lots of people—even those who love learning foreign languages—claim they hate studying grammar. They associate grammar study with tedious gap-fill exercises, boring rote memorization and the frustration of getting it “wrong” again and again.

While you will, at some point need focused work on grammar, there’s no reason grammar drills should take up the bulk of your study time. To get communicative fast and save your sanity, focus on what you need for communication and then learn the rules of why you’re supposed to say something a certain way.

Work Backwards

All too many foreign language learning courses present learners with grammar rules before they’ve really had a chance to hear and see those rules in action. This is the exact opposite of the way we learn grammar in our native language. First we learn to say something like, “I want some cake!” and much later we learn that there’s a thing called the “first person present tense” (I want, I like, etc.).

When you’re first starting a new language, learn whole phrases that will be useful in your every day life and add words that can be used which those phrases. For example, “I’d like some…” and “water,” “tissues” and “more time.” Do this instead of just memorizing lists of words and facts about the grammar.

Which brings us to…

Memorize Examples

Instead of trying to memorize charts of verb conjugations and case endings, learn each one in the context of a phrase. If you’re having trouble understanding how to use a particular grammar feature, collect examples of the grammar in use until you get the hang of it.

Quality phrasebooks and text books (those that aren’t filled with grammar errors) are great resources for this, but don’t over look authentic (native) sources, either.

One way to collect grammar examples that works well with common grammar features is to open up a book or newspaper and scan the pages looking for examples.

For less common ones, choose part of the grammar feature you want to use, plug that into your favorite online search engine, and see what examples you come up with. For instance, if you’re trying to learn how to use the Russian preposition “k,” (to/for) type just that letter into google.ru and you can pick up examples like “k prazdniku” (for the holiday). [Apologies for the Latin letters. WordPress would take the Cyrillic.]

Songs are another great way to collect example phrases in general. We tend to listen to songs we live over and over and eventually memorize the words with no effort at all. In fact, it’s fun! Take advantage to free online resources like youtube.com and live365.com to find singers and bands you like to help build your vocab and grammar skills.

If you struggle with foreign language grammar and can’t stand tedious grammar drills, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong or you’re “just not good at languages.” In Faster Foreign Language Learning, I outline specific ways to reach working fluency in another language without memorizing charts or spending hours on grammar drills.

Related posts:

  1. Grammar: Now for the (Kind of) Bad News
  2. Foreign Language Learning for Introverts: Speaking Practice Tips for Immersion Situations
  3. How to Learn Second Language Without Stress
  4. Using Songs to Learn a Foreign Language: Get More From Your Pop Music
  5. Four Surefire Tips to Supercharge Your Spanish Studies

Filed under Grammar,Learning Faster

One Response to “Learning a Foreign Language: Tips for Learning Grammar”

  1. […] specific techniques you can use to make learning foreign language grammar faster, easier, and way less frustrating, visit Faster Foreign Language Learning. Share and […]

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