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Is grammar really important to learn?

21.09.2016

rachel-schultzHello, My name is Rachel and I am the Assistant Director of Studies at Langports Gold Coast. Today I would like to talk about grammar and about the question that has been debated by linguists over many years: Is grammar really important to learn?

When it comes to learning a second language, is it necessary to learn grammar?

When we learn our mother tongue, did our parents sit us down as toddlers and teach us the grammar rules of our language? Of course not. So the question is, can we learn a second language like we learnt our own language without implicitly learning grammar.

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If people are immersed in (totally surrounded by) the language they are intending to learn, especially (but not limited to) being at a younger age, then acquiring (picking up) the language without any formal learning is possible and quite common.

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This is, however, not how many of us learn a second language. Sure, if we go to the country of the language we wish to learn, we will hopefully acquire a lot of the language naturally (vocabulary, idioms, slang and so on), but when it comes to putting the language together to make coherent sentences, grammar is important to know. Making grammatical mistakes when we speak or write is a natural part of learning a language and this is fine but to improve our production skills (writing and speaking), learning grammar is essential.  Grammar is the building blocks of any language and necessary for us to convey what we want to say properly.

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Also if you are interested in taking English Language proficiency tests where grammar is implicitly tested, learning English is essential for passing these tests with a high score.

For example, let’s look at a typical question from part VI of the TOEIC test.

The new software _________ by many companies since 2015.

  1. is used
  2. have been used
  3. has used
  4. has been used

The correct question is obviously ‘has been used’ but let’s look at why.

There are different grammatical concepts to consider here:

  • Subject verb agreement- software is uncountable and therefore a singular verb must be used.
  • Tenses – we must use the perfect tense as we have used the time marker “since” plus a specific time.
  • Passive voice versus active voice- we must use passive voice here as the verb “use “is transitive so it must have a direct object following it but there is no direct object after the verb in the example so the verb must be in the passive voice.

A native English speaker would automatically choose the correct answer because it sounds correct but if English is not your first language, it is often hard to tell if something sounds correct or not and so a good knowledge of grammar is needed.

Grammar is necessary and it can also be fun to learn so please remember this when you are learning grammar next time in class J

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 Thank you! Rachel

Related topics: English Tips

Advantages of using a dictionary: https://www.langports.com/make-dictionary-friend-stop-relying-google-translate/

What is a Determiner?: https://www.langports.com/what-is-a-determiner/

How you can improve your English: https://www.langports.com/can-improve-english/

If you would like to study at Langports and have an experience that will never forget, you can apply to study a variety of English programs at Langports. Read more about our courses here: https://www.langports.com/courses/