podcast and blog about my English learning

The Linguist and Grammar

Posted by shashi on April 6, 2006

At the linguist, Steve has more emphasised on ‘not to concentrate on the grammar rules’. Initially when I had just started learning English, I thought that grammar was necessary to learn English. During our school days I learned English only through the grammar. In our classrooms, teachers only taught us about grammar. Our exams were also grammar oriented and they contained only grammar questions and puzzles. As a result, our whole school days were gone only on studying the grammar and nothing else.

I had completed my graduation in English only but that was just an academic English. I would give speech in English and so I was thinking that I could speak in English. When I had finished my graduation and came in real world, then only I realised that I wasn’t able to speak in English. Then I had tried different grammar books and my school’s notes on grammar, but I was not succeeded. It’s only when I joined the linguist, I have picked up my learning English. Initially I didn’t have belief in Steve’s methods. I was wondering how could it be possible to study English without studying grammar. Even though I had started to study with the linguist, I was still referring to dictionaries and grammar books. Every time when I found difficulties, I just referred to grammar books and spent a lot time on studying the grammar rule. Sooner I found that studying grammar is not only like to wasting time but also getting more confused with it. Initially I was curious about knowing the grammar behind every phrase and word, but I found that it affects fluency. As, more and more I concerned about grammar, more and more it affects my learning desire. Then I stopped learning grammar and focused only on reading and listening.

So now when I find difficult word, I just save it in the data so that I can see vast examples of sentences of that word or phrase and I can get used to that word or phrase. By doing this, I am training my brain for that word so that I can use it in my speaking. It’s really amazing but simple technique to embed words and phrases in brain.


6 Responses to “The Linguist and Grammar”

  1. Shashi,

    Thank you for the comment. I think the exact reason theLinguist is working so well for you is because it addresses the _other_ half of the learning method, the one your original study did not.

    My feeling is that if you just started with Steve’s method without any grammar, you would hit the same frustration from the other end. Specifically, I think you would be having troubles with more complex structures. An example from your own post:
    >>Even though I had started to study with the linguist, I was still referring to dictionaries and grammar books.

    You have past perfect tense here, which you synchronised with the simple continuous past to indicate first action occuring before second, with both of them still in the past. This is usually a lesson in the grammar book and is fairly difficult to understand through memorized phrases. In fact, it is not a conversational pattern.

    Do let me know if I am wrong.

    Finally, you are currently living in London, which must be helping you to accelerate your study by fully immersing you in the real language and making you to deal with the language on daily basis. This makes a lot of difference as well. Do you think you would have as much success if you were doing the course remotely from India?

  2. shashi said

    I think to some extent you are right. Even Steve has mentioned that the learner should study grammar only when he get used to that language to some extent. I alsoagree that it's impossible to command a language without knowing a single thing about grammar. What Steve wants to stress on is 'not to concern about grammar at beginner level, it may discourage you to learn.' and that's true because sometimes It frustrates me when I try to learn about grammar. As a matter of fact, in the linguist we are encouraged to ask HOW instead of asking WHY and that's the simple way to learn language.

    Steve says that and I agree with him, without grammar you can learn language and can speak and understand language. The grammar is useful for intermediate and advanced learver who wants to master in their writing ability.

  3. Shashi,

    I hear you saying that Steve thinks the grammar is good for intermediate and advanced learner. But, I don’t hear him saying it. Every single entry on the blog that talks about it is about the grammar being useless, not about it being of specialised use.

    So maybe, it is a sales pitch technique and I am just getting in a way. Often it is hard to tell.

    In any case, I am glad that the service works for you. For me (as a programmer) not getting an answer to WHY is extremely frustrating and limiting. I would much prefer to see the answer even if it is above my current level of comprehension. I find that to build complex phrases (of which I am fond), HOW does not provide enough information to connect the pieces together. WHY does. Again, that’s my way and not for everyone.

  4. Steve said


    I find your blog just outstanding and an excellent resource, not only for you, but for other English learners. Congratulations! I have to learn more about blogging from creative bloggers like you. Alexandre has provided me a few tips and I will be putting them into practice.

    I am sure that Alexandre is an excellent language learner. I stick with my point of view that grammar instruction, which has been and remains the backbone of most language teaching, is largely counterproductive.

    A grammar book can be a useful resource for the person who wants a grammatical explanation or summary. A teacher is also a useful resource. The language itself, in its many forms, written and spoken, is a fantastic resource. Our Linguist system and our tutors are a resource. Your blog is a great resource. The key figure in all of this is the learner who needs to take best advantage of these resources.


  5. shashi said

    Thanks Steve for spending your valuable time and commenting and encouraging me. Sometimes language learner like me gets stuck around the grammar and spends lots of time just on grammar explanations. It happened with me and I was spending time just on grammar explanations until you suggested me not to concern about grammar. Since then I just follow you suggestion and concentrate only on example sentences. Now I found myself more comfortable and enjoy learning English without much stress. That’s your success.

  6. Chai15 Arch

    I have enjoyed reading your article, thanks.

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