Learning grammar

No, I don’t mean memorising rules for conjugations and tables of declensions (although that works for me). I mean that to speak correctly, you must command the grammar, even if your knowledge is unconscious. As a native English-speaker, I can never consciously remember the rules for the placement of multiple adjectives, or for which verbs are stative and which are dynamic, not to mention the horrors of the complications for using definite and indefinite ariticles. Nevertheless, I do know the rules, but they live in my subconscious.

What I increasingly encounter are learners who think that being able to babble away in a foreign language is all right so long as you can more or less be understood. I was in a fifth-year German class a couple of years ago, and one woman was quite fluent. She was certainly confident, but she must have been taught under a method that told her to forget that corny old stuff about grammar. Who cares about genders, cases, and adjective agreements? The important thing is to talk! So it is, and nobody should be inhibited by the fear of making a grammatical mistake, but we should not settle for a “me Tarzan, you Jane” level of knowledge. How you learn grammar is up to you—whatever works—but we should learn it.

Hi HenriRaphael,

Your post is old, hope you’re still around here ! I totally agree with you. I think it’s even when we’re starting to be able to speak a language that we should really learn the grammar (that is know about it, not learn it by heart). It’s necessary to have a framework in the background. For English, as far as I am concerned at least, it helped me a lot to go through QCM type of grammar exercices (TOEFL more precisely). It automatized my English.