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the best way to learn languages.

 
 
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2017 11:47 pm
Is there any value to learning the grammar of a language when just starting to learn it. Of all the languages I'm fluent/conversational, none have I learned to speak from studying grammar. Only after learning them did I bother to understand their structures. For the last few months I've made an effort to learn the grammar of the languages I speak because a teacher i had, who I thought was really smart at the time, lamented that public schools have stopped teaching English grammar. Now that I'm trying to teach myself Japanese I seriously wonder if memorizing grammar rules has helped me learn the language. I've made very little progress even though I've dedicated a lot of time to understanding sentence structures and where to use the various particles.

Does anyone here who speaks another language think grammar was essential to their learning of the language?

Have you ever learned a language without much exposure to fluent speakers of the language? If so, how did you learn?

Thanks.
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 321 • Replies: 11
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roger
 
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Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2017 11:49 pm
@perennialloner,
My feeling is that using a language till it becomes somewhat intuitive is much better than learning grammar. It is also quite difficult.
perennialloner
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2017 11:58 pm
@roger,
I think you're right. The problem is sometimes people don't have the resources to begin learning a language intuitively, leading them to rely on grammar as is the case for me right now. Though when I started I supposed I was doing the right thing. Right now I'm not sure how to learn Japanese if I don't spent time on grammar. Do I just watch a bunch of Japanese films with English subtitles and vice versa. I don't want to be wasting time because learning languages takes time, even more when you don't live in an area with fluent speakers.
roger
 
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Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 12:07 am
@perennialloner,
You will at least need some vocabulary to get anything out of films. I doubt subtitles are going to be helpful, especially when they are a liberal translation. My own feeling is that fictional writing in a genre you are comfortable will be more useful initially, with films using ordinary conversation will be helpful for learning cadence and possibly pronunciation. Again, you will need at least some textbook knowledge to benefit from either books or films.

My opinions are only opinions, of course.
perennialloner
 
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Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 12:14 am
@roger,
Perhaps. I'll do some more research. Thank you for your suggestion. It's not a bad idea.
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Sweet-sweet
 
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Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 12:19 am
@perennialloner,
I live in USA two years and I have the same problem. I have learned English grammar at Ukrainian school and was excellent in writing but not listening. My oral speech and hearing are awful. I wonder what is the sense of learning grammar if I can't apply in my everyday use? The way to understand grammar is the exposure of foreign language environment. Then language will come intuitivly and all rules which were learned before will be consciously but fluently understood in practice (some linguists even say that this perception is unconscious but maybe I am exception since I still catch myself that I have difficulties and a lot of questions).
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 12:39 am
@Sweet-sweet,
Most of us learn our native language at home and in everyday living. Somewhere along the line, we have the subject in school where we learn why we speak the way we do. If we had good examples at home, we go to school to justify the way we speak naturally.
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saab
 
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Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 02:16 am
Our mother tounge we learn as children by listening and repeating. We also get the grammar naturally as the growns ups will correct the mistakes.
Later we learn grammar at school - and grammar does help learning a new languages.
If you know that as a rule words in plural has an s at the end in English - with few exceptions - you willl make less mistakes. If you know that 3rd person singular in present time also needs an s as a rule - again you will make less mistakes. Language without grammar to a certain degree - no.
I speak four languages and teaches three.
Some people - especially men or/and mathematicians - like to learn grammar and build up their knowledge putting everything together the correct way.
Some often women or like to learn a language by talking and without listening.
For them grammar means little and the language does not develope well.
perennialloner
 
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Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 08:08 am
@saab,
How would you recommend learning languages then for someone learning on their own?

I speak three languages. Four if I were to count Arabic as separate from my regional dialect. I'm not sure I understand this:

Quote:
some often women or like to learn a language by talking and without listening. For them grammar means little and the language does not develop well."


In my experience talking is what helps the most with listening, especially if talking with someone whom you're comfortable and can ask for help with pronunciation.

I concede that grammar is important for learning language, but only in a passive sense imo. People don't need to 'learn' grammar through lessons if they just get in the habit of using it through talking regularly with people who speak the language they're trying to learn.

My question is not really about the importance of grammar itself but rather its efficacy as a guide to a new language.

You're Swedish, right? I think Swedes have the luxury of living in a country where in most places most people speak English. In the US, and maybe in the UK too, people aren't usually surrounded by people who speak a language other than English. I took Spanish at my high school for three years, but I've only started becoming fluent in Spanish because of Hispanic coworkers who are happy that I've taken an interest in their language and talk to me so I improve. And I have, rapidly. I've learned more Spanish in a couple months than I did in all my daily Spanish classes.

I wonder how language classes in Sweden differ from those in the US. Like if you spend more time conversing with your peers which is something we rarely did.

As I said before, I simply wonder if a thorough study of grammar is a waste of time. All those people who are experts in Latin and classical Greek, I wonder how many could have a fluid conversation in those languages. I suspect not many, if any. I think at this point I'd rather get to a point where I can understand Japanese even if I don't know why someone used particle a instead of b for whatever reason. Obviously I will passively internalize the grammar if I ever get to that point.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 09:41 am
@perennialloner,
1.Learning on your own is more difficult, but it works out.
Get a book for learners with a CD. If you have a microphone and you can record the CD and your own pronounciasion it is a help. Read childrenĀ“s books, then for young people and continue as you knowledge developes
2. There are women who talk and talk and never listen, which means they do not regiistrate what a well spoken language is - not even in their own language.
3. A language without learning some grammar is difficult, but possible.
Grammar can be a good guide to understand certain things.
4. Yes Swedes do speak English, but we do not as a rule speak English with oneanother.
5.No we usually do not converse with the other students in school. But I must admit that there is more conversation than maybe in other countries when learning a new language.
What helps in Scandinavia is that all films from other countries have subtitles.
That means we are used to hear a foreign language from childhood.
6. Lots of people study Latin and old Greek, and I know one person who could converse in Latin. He always wanted to meet someone he could converse with - it never happened. He was a pastor so he should have had a chance.
It is interesting that many Germans maintain it is easier to learn a foreign language if you know Latin. In Scandinavia that discussion stopped already in the 1920ies or a bit later. Scandinavians are better in speaking English than the Germans.
perennialloner
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2017 03:41 pm
@saab,
How would he know if he can converse in Latin if he never had someone to converse in Latin with? Thank you for the information. That's interesting.
saab
 
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Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2017 12:34 am
@perennialloner,
He spoke several languages and knew how to put words together to a normal sentence. He probably also could talk to people who knew Latin, but were not good enough to answer.
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