When learning a new language, you might find yourself wanting to crack down the mysteries of languages and understand the reason for everything. Unfortunately, languages are highly complex little critters and trying to understand the why of everything can really slow down your learning process. Sometimes it’s better not to force yourself to understand why things are the way they are and leave the mysteries behind.
As you are probably aware, many languages have genders. Meaning that some words are masculine and others are feminine. Now you might say: “Yeah, I’ve noticed that in Spanish a chair is feminine, but a stool is masculine, why is that?”. And I would just love to say: “Well, you see, the chair and the stool were once cute furry animals that evolved over millions of years to eventually become a convenient place to support our buttocks”. This would be fairly inaccurate. Unfortunately, the best answer I have to this question is quite disappointing: “Because that’s the way it is”. Arghhh… don’t you hate that? There must be a reason! Right? Well, there might be some kind of reason hidden in the deep roots of etymology, but trying to understand the why of everything in language learning will drive you wacky silly mad before you ever get to speak it.
Now the word “grammar” can make some people cringe like nails on a chalkboard, but it is important to realize that it’s the structure of the language. That’s all it is really! Like the frame of a house or a human skeleton, it holds it all together. Some grammar rules are straightforward and easy to understand, others, not so much. Languages evolve over generations in the most unexpected ways. Some foreign grammar rules, word orders and expressions will seem like they don’t make any sense at all. But remember, there are tons of things we say in English without thinking twice. “Catherine is a back stabber”, “That man went cold turkey today.”, “Does that ring a bell?”, “That puzzle is a piece of cake!”. Now, all these English expressions may seem completely normal to you, but very strange to someone trying to learn English.
As an English speaker, you automatically know how to use various complex grammar rules. But if you were to actually read through pages and pages of English grammar rules, it would likely make your head hurt. So let’s take a look at part of the grammar meaning of the English word “that” in the dictionary: “When it is used as a conjunction, it introduces a subordinate clause expressing a statement or hypothesis”. Oh! Thanks Mr. Dictionary. This just goes to show that many of the words and expressions you will learn are better learned by hearing them over and over again. You know how to shape complex English sentences and are familiar with hundreds of crazy expressions simply because you’ve heard them so much.
Now we’re not saying that you shouldn’t learn any grammar. In fact, we believe that grammar is absolutely essential when learning a language. What we are saying is that sometimes traditional grammar books and classes can make it more complicated than it needs to be. On the other hand, a lot of programs and apps out there do not teach any grammar or conjugation and expect you to learn absolutely everything from context. It is best to create a nice balance between the two learning methods.
A lot of grammar rules are very simple, and that’s absolutely awesome! But if you are trying to understand a grammar rule that’s three pages long with a gazillion exceptions, you should try to understand the basic idea and move on to more enjoyable learning methods. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will learn from it. If it makes your head feel like it’s going to explode, move on. As you start hearing things used in a natural way, by talking to people, watching movies, reading books and so on, everything will come together. Plus, the more you hear the language, the easier it will become to understand native speakers, which can be quite the challenge sometimes! For example, someone learning English may have learned the following phrase: “Do you want to go to Toronto?”. Then, someone comes up to them and says “Hey! Djawanna go ta Trono?”. They might have a blank stare on their face and wonder: “Wait… What? Where did all these words go?”. Now, for English speakers, it is completely natural to say “djawanna” instead of pronouncing every syllable in “do you want to”. But it’s something that only becomes natural by repeatedly hearing those words together.
Remember, grammar is very important and should be learned, but in order to learn a language successfully, you must also hear and practice it in ways that are enjoyable to you. So do learn those rules, but don’t spend too much time on them. Get out there in the world, watch movies, listen to music, read books and speak as much as you can. This will prove highly effective in your language-learning journey.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with your friends by using one the social links below. If you are looking for a language-learning method that teaches actual grammar and conjugation in a way that can be understood by mere mortals, check out our website at Ouino.com. Thanks a lot! Until next time!
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