I just put this question into Google and the results were very interesting! The first article I read said we don’t need to study grammar at all. Then I found an article saying the opposite and listing all the reasons why grammar study is important. Let me tell you what I think.
First, what is grammar? It’s just how we put the words together to communicate so that the other person understands us. It doesn’t have to be a boring list of rules or a lot of technical jargon.
Some students love grammar but more often it’s the least favourite part of an English lesson. I think this is a shame because understanding how the language works helps us to use it more easily and correctly. And isn’t that what most learners want?
We don’t all think and learn in the same way. I have met learners who want to know all the rules all the time (and I’m probably one of those too) and I’ve met others who can speak really well even though they’ve never learnt any of the rules. I would say that the people who have become fluent without any grammar study are the minority though. For most people, some attention to grammar is helpful.
I’ve also met people who know all the grammar rules but can’t communicate. If you just do grammar exercises all the time and nothing else, you will never get better at speaking English (or any language). It’s important to use the language as much as possible. Most people learn English because they want to speak it so of course you have to practise speaking! Writing is good practice too.
Don’t forget that you also need vocabulary. Grammar rules are no use if you don’t have any words to put together to make a sentence! When learning a language, it’s necessary to get a good balance between production (speaking and writing), comprehension (reading and listening), vocabulary and grammar.
So I think it is useful to learn some grammar but it’s not the only important thing. It’s also necessary to practise speaking as much as possible and to build your vocabulary. When I’m teaching, I like to explore grammar with learners but we also practise speaking a lot. Sometimes, I correct mistakes from the conversation and explain the grammatical reasons behind them. Learners often remember these real life grammar tips the best.
So can you learn a language without studying the grammar? Maybe yes, if you start young or if you have a gift for languages, but I don’t think this is the best approach for most people. I personally cannot imagine trying to learn a language without learning at least some of the grammar rules.
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