Do you need to study English grammar? | DailyStep English

Do you need to study English grammar?

Jane Lawson,  English Teacher at DailyStep EnglishHello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English and welcome to my Audio Blog!
This week's topic is one that is very important to me. Do you just want a "quick fix" for your English or would you prefer to speak and write English with the confidence and enjoyment that comes from a deep, solid knowledge of how the language works? In my audio article below, I'll explain my view on how you need to learn English.
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Do you need to study grammar?    
by Jane Lawson at

Do you need to study grammar

There is a fashion among some English teachers and English learning methods for telling students they don’t need to study grammar. They say you can master the English language in the same way that a child does, speak like a native and never study boring grammar rules. Do you think that’s true? 
Let’s take a look at these claims. 

A child does learn English without studying grammar in the first 5 years of life, when they have little else to do but listen and learn, but this first 5 years is what is known as the ‘critical period’, when the human brain is at optimal function to absorb a language. If children do not learn their home language before the age of 5, they will probably never learn it properly. Young children are also at the ideal age to learn a second language by listening and speaking alone.        

When children go to school and learn to write, they always need to learn some grammar rules. But even so, many native speakers never master grammar properly and this can damage their job prospects. This is why grammar books are so popular even with native English speakers. Even though they might feel that certain phrases, sentence structures or punctuation are wrong, they don’t know exactly why they are wrong, and therefore how to avoid similar errors in future.  

Of course if you are in a café chatting with friends, grammar is not nearly so important. Your friends don’t really care if you make a few mistakes (although of course they will be more impressed if you don’t make them). But if you want to use English for your job, for business, or perhaps to attend a job interview, or if you are taking English exams, or you need to write emails, letters, business reports and so on… then a knowledge of grammar and its rules is absolutely essential

It’s true that you can some absorb some grammar structures without studying them, and re-use them effortlessly later in conversation. DailyStep Audio Lessons are a great way to do this, because the DailyStep learning method means that you hear and speak the same short dialogue many times, so the grammar patterns are easy to remember next time you want to use them, and the detailed lesson notes help to fix them in your mind.

But if you want to be professional and fully confident with your English speaking and writing, and also to fully understand the nuances of what you read and hear, you do need to study and learn the rules of the English language. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise!

And really, any teacher who describes grammar as ‘boring’ is probably in the wrong job!  If the teacher is not fascinated and passionate about how the English language works, how can they convey this passion to you, and help you to enjoy the process of learning English properly? It’s like a mathematics teacher telling you not to study “boring” equations! Or a builder telling you that your house does not need to be built on foundations, that you just need to start building from the ground upwards! You rely on your teacher to guide your learning process, so if your teacher is telling you not to study the rules of grammar, then it’s time to change your teacher! 

Grammar is like an amazing puzzle. It fits together in logical ways, leading to beautifully-crafted sentences and paragraphs. Once you know the rules, you can choose when and how to break them to suit your meaning, just like expert native speakers and writers do. Yes, there will be parts that you find difficult and don’t enjoy, as they stretch your mind to new horizons, but the satisfaction that you will get from mastering new areas of grammar will far outweigh the frustration you will sometimes feel during the learning process. A solid understanding of one grammar rule is often a shortcut to understanding a different grammar rule, so the process becomes quicker as you go along. Also the more grammar patterns you learn, the more you realise how similar or different they are to your own language, and this can mean that whole areas of English will suddenly become clearer to you at the same time. 

If you want to lose weight and get fit, you will find plenty of websites and ‘diet gurus’ telling you that you don’t need to do any exercise and you can eat as much food as you like, as long as you buy their product. But you know it’s not going to work in the long term. We all know that if you want to be healthy, you have to eat good food and do some exercise.

So if you want to sound well-educated, get higher exam grades, impress your boss or get a better job, then you need to study English grammar, and learn to enjoy it. Let me help you do that, because I love it! 

In my DailyStep English blogs coming up soon, we’ll be looking in detail at verb tenses. This will be useful learning or revision for beginner to advanced level students of English. We will then move on to clause types, sentence structure and many more important grammar topics. I’ll also continue with IELTS practice in other blogs. So get ready for some serious improvement and let 2016 be the year you take control of your English.

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