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Tutor Greg R 's Column

Don't Worry So Much About Grammar

Aug 1, 2015

I must warn you, not everyone will agree with this post.  However, I think the following comments are worth considering.  My personal belief has always been that students who want to learn to speak English often times worry too much about grammar and grammar rules.  I did a quick internet search and I found a few people who tend to agree with me on this topic.


Information on Grammar pertaining to English Speaking

In order to obtain English fluency for ESL students, studying grammar can slow your progress down significantly. Basic grammar is a necessity, but focusing on grammar will prevent you from being able to speak English fluently in a reasonable time frame. Grammar is most effective to improve communication and writing skills, but this only pertains to those who have a solid foundation in English fluency.

One commonality among everyone in the whole world is that they learned to speak before they learned grammar. Speaking is the first step for any English learner. So if you are a novice at English, please focus on your speaking and listening skills prior to studying grammar. After being able to speak English fluently, you will realize how much easier grammar is. But it does not work the other way around. Being fluent in English speaking will help you with your grammar studies, but studying grammar will NOT help you with your speaking.


Information on Grammar pertaining to English Speaking

Personally I stopped studying English Grammar the traditional way years ago.  By now I’ve actually forgotten most of the grammar terms and rules I had hammered into my brain, and just as well – they only prevented me from speaking English fluently?  Why?  Simple enough – I used to spend way too much time analyzing my thoughts, applying Grammar rules and preparing my speech in my head.  It was killing my English fluency, and it took me quite a while to figure out the simple truth – English collocations (phrases, idiomatic expressions, most commonly used sentences) already contain all necessary grammar in them!  When I speak English now, I don’t think about grammar anywhere near as much as I used to. I just rely on my “gut feeling” and get fully involved in conversations. My intuition takes care of English Grammar!


How do I improve my English speaking skills in a very short time?

·       Speak out loud.
The best way to improve your language skills is by speaking the language.  There is no substitute for practicing with real people.

·       Develop intrapersonal communication.
Think in English. Talk to yourself in English in your mind. Plan your day in English. Talk about things you see in English. For instance, talk about  the weather while walking on the road.

“Oh, It’s so hot today. I should have brought umbrella to avoid the scorching sun. The road is so narrow and dirty. Who puts all this trash on the road? I hope I reach office on time today. Why isn’t the bus coming?  Been standing here for so long.”

·       Try to imitate/emulate/reproduce/mirror/copy the speakers you admire.
Listen to speech or dialogues and repeat it aloud. Repeat it until you feel satisfied. It will be fun and when you do it frequently, you will start enjoying it. This will help mouth; lips and vocal chords get into action. This will also help in losing the mother tongue influence and gaining good pronunciation.

·       Watch News. Journalists are very good communicators.
The news channels try to be succinct because more words costs them more money. Observe the choice of words of the journalists, guests, experts, correspondents who try to put forth their argument in a convincing and persuasive manner. Observe how they present a story in a structural manner.

·       Pick a topic to talk about.
Pick any topic and start speaking. Talk about the articles you read. Express your thoughts on issues like Deforestation, Climate Change, World Hunger and Poverty, Global Warming, Global Financial Crisis, Human Population, Environmental Issues, etc with your friends. You can even talk about your morning.

·       Paint a picture with your words.
Go to
 flickr and describe the photograph to your friend. Try to paint the picture with your words. Speak about the contents of the picture, the expression of the people. What do you feel when you see the picture? Does it remind you of something? Try to express yourself.

·       Watch the TV shows you like.
Watch television shows with. Watch anything you enjoy. It is important that you enjoy what you are watching. Observe the body language, emotions and expressions in connection with the speech or dialogues.

·       Listen to podcasts. Listen to radio programs.
Listen to any topics you like. You can download the podcasts to your portable devices and listen to them anywhere, anytime.

·       Download the lyrics of the songs you like and sing along.
Everyone has a little singer in them. You can do this when you are tired and taking a break.

·       Watch YouTube videos you like.





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