Why English Grammar is Important in Language Tutoring
The English grammar is less appreciated these days. When one talks about why grammar is important in foreign language tutoring, particularly in relation to English as a foreign language, the typical reaction one receives goes something like,
“HWGA (◔_◔) Whadday CWOT!!
K. G8, but lissen, I GTG RYT now…CUL”
The key to this cryptic code is as follows:
“Here we go again (eye roll emoji). What a complete waste of time!!
OK great! But listen, I’ve to go right now… See you later”
In this age of textspeak, internet slang and abbreviated messaging, it may be difficult for many young people to appreciate why English grammar is important in foreign language tutoring. There are 2.5 times more non-native speakers of English than there are native speakers. It is the language of the Internet. In the last few decades millennial netizens have readily adopted English as their own. The textspeak that we just sampled is arguably the result of non-native speakers dominating English language communication in addition to being a reflection of millennial pop-culture. Adhering to the strict rules of English grammar is seen as submitting to authority!
Be that as it may, non-native speakers are also the reason why it’s very popular now to learn English as a foreign language. While text-messaging standards may be what they are, global citizens still see a great value in learning proper English grammar. Despite the growing popularity of online grammar check tools that do help you clean up written content, people still go for English grammar tutoring, because you’re judged for your verbal communication real-time.
The best way to learn a new language
So, what is the best way to learn a new language? There are two (may be three) approaches for learning a second language.
#1 Listen to people => repeat what they say => learn the foreign language
All of us can communicate easily in our mother tongues and any other language we come across since our childhood. We do not need any formal grammar tutoring or the need for online grammar check. If your goal is to understand what foreign language speakers are saying and make sure you’re understood by them, then perhaps the listen>repeat>speak method is sufficient for you. The drawback with this method is that your language might end up being full of colloquialisms. You may pick up stubborn bad habits in speech that you won’t even realize you have until they’re pointed out to you. Here’s an example. When we asked a foreign intern if he wanted to join us for a drink, he replied quite enthusiastically, “Yes! I am interesting!”. What he meant was “Yes! I am interested”.
#2 Learn the rules from a foreign language tutor => practice the rules => learn the foreign language
For an increasing number of non-native speakers of English as a foreign language, the use of the English language goes beyond simple everyday communication. A foreign university student may want to learn English grammar to be evaluated highly in thesis work. English is the language of business in almost every multinational corporation in the world. Employees and associates would, therefore, want to have impeccable English grammar skills for both verbal and written communication. In such scenarios, the best way to learn English grammar is through formal grammar tutoring to get instructed on the rules.
Our opinion on the best way to learn a new language will depend on how it’s meant to serve us. Is it for just communication or for academic or professional use? We require a mix of both of these approaches for learning a second language.
Read more about 11 Steps to Learning Foreign Languages.
#3 Observe text messages on internet chats => adopt those terms in texting => go on learning a second language
This may sound a bit radical but text messaging language is swiftly growing into almost another dialect within the English language. Amongst a vast majority of netizens, textspeak is a totally acceptable form of communication. As of now, you may not land a job interview with textspeak but you could land a great date on a dating app! With tech giants like Google and Samsung taking measures to make next-gen texting mainstream in their technologies, who knows, very soon the wider world may start adopting it without judgement. Like my grammar-nazi aunt who texted the other day, “BYOB party this Sunday AMP. Cya there”. It was my turn to do the eyeroll!
(Key: Bring-your-own-booze party this Sunday at my place. See you there)
FWIW, I am going to list down a few scenarios to demonstrate why it’s important to learn English grammar even today.
The importance of learning English grammar
#1 Good English grammar makes your language easier to understand
The main reason to learn English grammar is so that our sentences don’t sound vague, strange or alien. Our message won’t mean anything to the recipient and may end up being interpreted in an unintended way. Take a look at this example:
A texted B: “Your pretty.”
B texted back: “My pretty what?”
Person A got mixed up between the homophones, ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. This is a very common type of error people learning English as a foreign language make, but also native-speakers.
In some situations the meaning of the sentence becomes open to interpretation because of poor sentence structure. Take a look at this example:
“Being a nasty person, Sam asked Max to leave.”
It’s not clear who the nasty one is! One should write the sentence in one of the below two ways:
- “Sam, being a nasty person, asked Max to leave.” Here we know Sam’s the nasty one.
- “Sam asked Max to leave for being a nasty person.” Here we know Max is the nasty one.
It is important that you communicate exactly what you want to communicate. For that, a grasp of English Grammar rules is a must. From a readers’ perspective a grammatical error has the potential to completely disrupt the reading flow. It’s the easiest way to lose the attention of your reader.
#2 Good English grammar gives you credibility
What would you think of a newspaper or a magazine where you spot a spelling mistake or a grammatical error? Maybe you’d ignore the first instance, but what if you keep noticing errors consistently over time?
The same applies to all of us in a professional or academic environment. Your command of the English language and your English grammar proficiency is used to gauge attributes such as ability to learn, eye for detail, presentability or even IQ. Sloppy grammar will earn you a poor reputation. This is the prime reason for most non-native English speakers to go for an English grammar tutor.
A foreign language tutor can teach you the nuances of grammar and help you develop good speech habits so that you can avoid mistakes that make you lose credibility in your workplace.
#3 Good grammar boosts your confidence
While on the one hand it may be true that language proficiency and confidence are non-connected, it is also true that speaking a foreign language perfectly feeds into ones confidence and self-esteem. It’s a great feeling when a native fully comprehends what you’re saying in the foreign language. You gain the confidence to pipe into a conversation if you can trust your grammar.
Online grammar check tools have changed the landscape for written content to an extent. But when it comes to verbal communication, there is no replacement for learning grammar the hard way.
There is nothing to feel bad about if your grammar is work-in-progress. If you’re working along with your foreign language tutor to improve your grammar proficiency, then any progress you make is a very good reason to feel proud without worrying about perfection. Learning foreign language grammar can get tedious and boring at times. Steady progress not only builds confidence but also fuels your enthusiasm to get even better.
#4 Good grammar is the foundation of advanced skills
When you start learning a second language, try to go about the process with the help of a foreign language tutor. English grammar is particularly complex. Learning it the proper way from the beginning gives you a strong foundation to build on as you go along. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time and energy fixing errors at a later stage. A strong foundation in grammar makes the remaining process – building vocabulary, idioms and expressions and advanced sentence structures – very smooth and easy.
The best way to learn a new language is by having a foreign language tutor guide you on grammar as well as conversation. Other best practices to build a good grammar base include reading books and periodicals, watching the news in the foreign language, interacting with native speakers, and using digital resources such as online grammar check.
Read more about How to Master the English Language
English grammar serves different groups of people differently
What we understand by the word grammar is determined by what role grammar has in our lives. English grammar is a tool that serves different individuals in a fascinating variety of functions ranging from purely abstract ones to purely practical ones. You may want to examine this spectrum of functions and see where in the spectrum your need to learn English grammar lies.
#1 Theoretical/academic grammar:
Theoretical/academic grammar is how linguists study English grammar. Theoretical grammar describes and analyses structures and rules without consideration of the practical purpose. The aim of linguists and grammarians is to prove or support a certain theoretical view on the language and grammar and define “ideals” in that language. These are the ones who learn English grammar in order to write text books on the subject. They lay the foundations for all others users of English grammar to build upon and follow. Theoretical grammarians or linguists are the authority on the rules of English grammar but not necessarily the usage.
#2 Pedagogical/teachers’ grammar:
Teachers’ grammar is a foreign language tutor’s adaptation of theoretical grammar for teaching purposes. What it means is, if you’re someone trying to learn English grammar, your tutor acts as a bridge between linguists in English grammar and you. The English grammar tutor knows the rules laid down by grammarians. The tutor is able to communicate them to learners keeping in mind their practical goals of learning English grammar. For someone casually learning English as a foreign language, the goal may be no more than effective communication. A fluent speaker of English may still want to learn English grammar to meet the highest standards of English language in a professional context.
The teachers’ grammar requires very little use of complex grammar jargon and terminology. The job of an English grammar tutor is to understand the need and objective of the person learning a second language and develop a suitable teaching methodology. The English grammar tutor makes it easy for the learner to imbibe grammatical structures and rules of the language.
#3 Learners’ grammar:
Every individual who wants to learn English grammar has a context and goal in mind. Learners acquire grammar skills in a practical, selective, task-oriented manner. The reasons can be “I want to ace my SAT test” or “I want to get a VP promotion in two years” or “I want to be taken seriously by my English-speaking friends”. The tutor adopts suitable teaching tools according to what the learner wants to achieve.
If you notice, at one of the spectrum, Grammar is an object in itself. For the linguist it doesn’t need to serve any other purpose. At the other end of the spectrum, a learner of English as a foreign language will learn English grammar to serve a practical end.
The way forward
For many young people these days learning a second language is trouble enough. This is particularly true for those learning English as a foreign language because the expectations around speaking perfect English are set very high. If one wants to learn English grammar, one needs to know a lot of rules, exceptions to the rules and exceptions to the exceptions… you get the gist. However, English grammar tutoring is still growing in popularity. Even when quick-and-dirty is the punchline of the day, global millennials appreciate that mastery over grammar is the best way to learn a new language.
If you’re looking for a qualified English grammar tutor or a foreign language tutor, be sure to check ViTutors.com, where you can easily find highly experienced language tutors for all skills levels and budgets.