How to learn grammar effectively?

Grammar is the most challenging aspect of the English language for many students, yet it is also the most crucial alongside vocabulary and phonetics. Students often find it difficult to use tenses, prepositions, and articles correctly. English language textbooks provide numerous rules, tables, and explanations. However, even with a clear understanding of how to use a rule, students continue to make mistakes in speech or do not use what they have recently learned. Why does this happen? Our brains are wired in such a way that we acquire language exclusively in context.

Knowing how the Present Simple is formed doesn’t guarantee flawless usage in speech. When encountering a new grammatical structure, we typically see its form first. For example, to form the Present Continuous, you need to use the verb “to be” and add the suffix “-ing.” Then we learn its function – the Present Continuous is used when an action is happening at the moment. Seems simple enough, so where do the mistakes come from? The issue lies in the fact that at the elementary (A1), pre-intermediate (A2) levels of learning English, students haven’t yet gained enough experience in immersing themselves in the foreign language to accurately correlate rules and speech situations where they should be applied. 

When learning grammar, just like vocabulary, it’s crucial to read and hear a sufficient number of examples for a specific structure to be internalized. An exception is students learning the language in an English-speaking environment, i.e., in an English-speaking country. In this case, the process may happen the other way around – they first hear and see numerous examples, though they may not fully understand them yet, and then they encounter the rule. This is not a reason to pack your bags and change your place of residence! Grammar can be mastered from home and completely free of charge! How can this be done? I’ll demonstrate it using the example of learning the Present Continuous for Elementary (A1) to Pre-intermediate (A2) levels.

  1. Familiarization with the form. Open any textbook or grammar reference guide, carefully read the rule and examples. Pay special attention to the situations in the examples, as well as words like “now,” “at the moment,” “today,” and so on. You should form a clear association – if something is happening now, i.e., the action is temporary, then use the Present Continuous. Additionally, you can watch videos with explanations and practice your listening skills;
  2. Practice of the form. Complete exercises provided by the textbook. If it’s too boring or you want more practice, google “Present Continuous exercises” and you’ll find plenty of interactive exercises that will take much less time than doing them in a workbook. Again, pay special attention to the examples;
  3. Application of the rule in a speech situation. Come up with several examples that are directly related to your life. What are you doing right now? Are you looking at your notebook/textbook/window, listening to music or eating a sandwich? What is your mom, sister, friend doing? Write about them too! Write the examples down in your notebook and speak them out loud. This way, you will not only practice the form in real situations but also learn a few new words;
  4. Reinforcement of the form. Choose a few simple phrases, for instance, “I’m going to work,” and look for examples with this phrase on YouEnglish. If you have a very low level, don’t worry if much is unclear. Believe me, your brain subconsciously absorbs much more than you think! YouEnglish is a good substitute for an English-speaking environment and an excellent opportunity to accumulate the experience of immersion in the English language without the need to be in an English-speaking country. Remember that to truly internalize a grammatical structure, you need to see it, hear it, speak it, and write it.

Undoubtedly, this is not the fastest path, but the results will not keep you waiting! Although English grammar has many exceptions, and native speakers sometimes speak differently from what’s written in textbooks, there are many people who have reached level C1 and even C2 (the highest level of language proficiency, very close to that of a native speaker) without ever leaving their non-English-speaking countries. You can do it too! Of course, grammar is not the most enjoyable activity for many, but if you approach its study as an exciting adventure rather than eternal rule memorization, it’ll stop being a problem.

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia is an experienced course designer, and a passionate English educator dedicated to inspiring and empowering students to enhance their proficiency in the English language.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this content.

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia Tolstikhina

Anastasia is an experienced course designer, and a passionate English educator dedicated to inspiring and empowering students to enhance their proficiency in the English language.

Table of contents

Language »
Scroll to Top
hey
Let’s talk

Fluent English speaking is key to business success. Discover how our specialized courses can help you achieve your goals.

We will get in touch