Learning Grammar on Your Own

Learning the grammar of a new language can be one of the most challenging parts of acquiring it, but it is very necessary. Essentially, a language’s grammar is a connective framework that allows words to be combined and modified in ways that make meaningful speech.

But there is a lot of difficult terminology related to grammar, and it can be hard to grapple with such abstract concepts. The following points will help you make sense of all the terminology and come to an understanding of your language’s grammar, using real examples and online resources:

  • Whenever you encounter terms like these which you do not know the meanings of, you should look them up on Simple English Wikipedia. “Nouns, verbs, accusative, genitive, cases, adjectives…” You may be familiar with a few of these grammatical terms, depending on your educational background. Certainly, some of them will be used in your language textbook to describe the grammar of the language you are learning. (The regular Wikipedia website often defines these terms in more difficult ways, so Simple English Wikipedia is better, since it is designed for people who are learning English and gives very clear and easy to understand definitions of any term you might encounter.)
  • You should find examples of the new grammar in sentences from your book and write them down to study them. Grammar, since it is abstract and connective, is hard to get a hold of when studied in isolation. It is a pattern that creates meanings that relate those words to one another. So seeing grammar in context will show much more clearly what its function is. See Flashcards for Grammar for a technique to memorize and study these examples.
  • Practice the grammar in speaking. You should not do rote repetition, but instead think of some topic that you could address using the grammar you are learning and the vocabulary you know. For the future tense, for example, you could imagine what you will do the next weekend. You would then say out loud sentences using different verbs in the future tense to describe what you will do. If you are learning adjectives, you could imagine describing the appearance of things in your room (or the appearance of something that matches the adjectives you have learned).
  • Use the grammar in your written assignments. Your textbook will have chapter-based exercises for practicing the new grammar you have learned. Avoid those that are formulaic and just use substitutions of forms, or that are repetitive drills. Find creative writing assignments so you can write a whole paragraph in which you make sure to use the new construction.

NOTE: If your book doesn’t have any creative assignments like this, think of the vocabulary and grammar you know so far and come up with a topic you could write about. Use the new grammar in a short essay about that topic. For example, you could practice the past tense with a paragraph about your favorite weekend, or you could practice the verb “to be” by listing people and describing what they are.