What a grammar book does for me is give me the tools in the same way that I had the tools when I learned the alphabet. If you give me the tools, the syntax, and the grammar, it still doesn’t tell me how to write Ulysses – a novel.
Grammar is to help you organize words into sentences, and there are many ways to do that. As I can also say, ‘words can be organized into sentences in many ways’ and grammar helps you do just that. How can you put together a sentence without using ‘Grammar’ be it any language – you need some rules, DOs and DON’Ts etc.. ‘Grammar’ also helps you to clearly understand the meaning of words spoken by others – including your trainer. There are 3-essential things to Learn 1)Types of words or Parts of Speech; 2)Sequence of words or Sentence Structures; and 3)Tense or indication of time. Every SENTENCE should make some SENSE and should be formed in the right TENSE!
“Besides good Grammar one needs: – clear pronunciation to be a ‘public speaker’; very fine vocabulary to be a ‘book writer’; and both of them need a Great Story to Tell”
Do I need to do ‘all the grammar’ before I begin to Speak?
Can you drive a car in a city like Delhi without knowing the directions or traffic rules?
Not possible … without getting lost or caught. So, knowing and following basic directions and rules are needed if you don’t want to get caught or get lost!
Whereas, if you don’t need to be a traffic cop in Delhi, you don’t need to know or even read the complete ‘Motor Vehicle Act.’ Similarly, for Spoken English you only need functional or Basic Grammar which is taught to you in the form of activities in the class and simple DOs and DON’Ts. The good news is that you don’t need to learn all the rules, learn all the tenses or read through the complete grammar book before you begin to speak right sentences. Another good news is English Grammar is very easy even as compared to Hindi grammar. There are also lot of similarities to understand quickly and some differences that you may need to know.
In doing conversations in English, there is no possibility that you can cram all the sentences that you may need to speak even as you do simple chit-chat or gossip with a friend – forget answering interview questions without basic knowledge of Grammar. By this time, you may have realized that applying Hindi grammar OR any translation based method from any book does not work. In my view it cannot work, it won’t work. So my humble request to you “stay clear from English teachers or trainers who tell you that you don’t need any grammar.”
On the other side, you need to learn ‘Wren & Martin’ level of grammar and composition if you want to be an excellent speaker – a TV anchor Or ‘write a book’. And yes, I agree with you that learning grammar by the book, from the CD, without any speaking practice, opportunities or real-life situations and on your own is a rather tedious task ‘akin to’ knowing the complete Motor Vehicle Act.!
Where to start leaning grammar and how to improve as I speak.
So, you have understood that, you don’t need ‘all the Grammar’ but you need to know the Basic rules of the game before you start playing it or to play it better. As you begin to play the game, you lose more than you win but you are learning ‘as long as’ you stay ‘in the game’. Later as you absorb more and more of this rule-book called grammar, you definitely also play better.
The start point is self-assessment and if you are able to speak your sentences than you know the basic grammar behind even if you don’t know the terms used by a grammar teacher….you only need to speak more, use new words and expressions and keep correcting your mistakes under the guidance of qualified coach.
I am a trainer of communication skills, my task in the language class is to get my students to speak as much as possible while I do grammatical corrections on the go…pointing out mistakes as politely as possible. I sometimes need to explain to you the grammatical error and its implications on your image as an English speaker.
Since some of you may not understand the ‘Terms of Grammar’ (or English Jargon), what I do in my first few classes is avoid using any grammatical term before we discuss it and all the students in the class understand it properly. To make you Learn functional Grammar usage and composition of sentences for your ‘Spoken English’; We do a lot of activities and I give you a lot of examples (we need to avoid Hindi but grammatical similarities can be drawn). The result is that you understand the BASIC rules of English grammar as deeply as possible almost as much as you understand them for your first language. You also See, listen, Read and Speak (or do it yourself activities in the L@b) so that you really learn the grammar by interesting and ‘fun-to-do’ methods. you do not really need to cram the rules or learn them ‘by the rote’.
I also keep correcting your small grammatical mistakes as you speak in the class; so you follow ‘the rules of the game’ and learn them. Next time, you try to play it right and when sometimes you do it wrong your still learn from the mistake… Later, as you grow with the usage of simple DOs and DON’Ts of English conversations, you win more & more games and lose some…You learn best by ‘staying in the game’ and playing it again and again.
Keep playing the game of ‘English Conversations’ and have fun as you go for the Long Drive!
At T.r.i.c.k.s , we give unlimited practice time in an English Language L@b and have the most innovative tools to help you understand the functional parts of grammar and give you ample opportunities to use it for construction of new types of sentences/questions or expressions and speak them out in the class…