You don’t need to study grammar to learn a foreign language


I read this fascinating article recently on how our current method of learning languages is essentially ‘broken’, in that it focuses way too much on learning grammar and not enough on actually immersing yourself in the language.

There are plenty of parts of the article I could quote, but the one that really stuck with me is this sentence:

Grammar rules are what fluent speakers use to describe what they already know.

Think about it: how many native English speakers actually have a good knowledge of grammar, unless they have learned a foreign language to a reasonably high level at some point? How many would be able to describe the difference between the active and passive voice, or the indicative or subjunctive mood? When you learn a language natively, you learn the grammar afterwards, and it gives context to the framework you have already learned. Learning grammar helps with reading and writing, but if you’re learning a language with the primary focus of speaking and listening, the importance of grammar falls by the wayside.

For anybody who is currently learning a foreign language, I really recommend reading the whole article.

So there it is – don’t get caught up in all the grammar – it’ll help with your all round linguistic knowledge and help you contextualize what you’ve already learned; but if you want to learn the language, you should get practicing your speaking, listening, reading and writing.