Heads sunken in grammar books, classes of nonsensical grammar rules robotically doing grammar excises…. We’ve all been there. If you find grammar difficult, you’re not alone. In our Survey conducted in 2020, the most difficult aspect of learning a language was by far grammar. Here’s our explanation of why that is and how to make that easier.
Why is learning grammar so hard?
There are several reasons for learning grammar is…. well, just hard:
1. Weird grammar concepts
Lots of languages have weird rules that simply just are bizarre. Why does a word need a gender? What an earth is a case? When do I use the imperfect vs. the preterite?
2. Memorising rules
You’ve finally got your head around a rule. Great. Except when you come back to review it a week later you’ve completely forgotten it.
Rules were made to be broken, right? Well, that makes language learning a headache. Just when you think you’ve finally got your head around a rule and memorised it, it changes.
Our top tips for learning grammar
Whilst it may seem useful, robotically doing grammar exercises may not be the most helpful. A good way to learn grammar is to memorise phrases and expressions that you will use in a range of situations. This is not only a good way to learn grammar but will ensure that you’ve mastered the correct grammar in the most important contexts.
Examples of phrases include:
- Sentence started e.g. I’d like, as far as I am concerned, the most important things
- More natural expressions e.g., take your time, it’s raining cats and dogs
Testing yourself and setting measurable goals
There are no two ways about it; learning grammar takes time. Whilst it might seem like a good idea to try and learn hundreds of rules at once it is not very feasible. You’re less likely to select important rules and store them in your memory; let alone that it’s very unsustainable. Like with vocab learning, it is important to create a sustainable daily habit.
Our advice is to try to learn one new aspect every week, perhaps a new tense or clause. Whilst they may be a bit dull, grammar exercises are a good place to start. What’s important when doing them is to note down the mistakes you made and review them. So that you retain them in your long-term memory, we recommend reviewing them after 24 hours, a week and then a month.
About The Author: Arun is an Olea Ambassador (Team 1.0, March - Sept 2023) and is currently pursuing a BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Spanish ab initio) at the University of Cambridge. He speaks English, Spanish and French.