Grammar Rules...and More Grammar Rules
Another common practice that ACE World wants to break is the constant memorization of so many grammar rules. This is a practice which is widely accepted by most students and teachers but sadly, this type of instruction has misled students. Let me make it clear that I don't oppose the explicit learning of grammar rules, as there is nothing wrong with the memorization of grammar rules per se. In fact, learning grammar is a very good way to determine whether or not students are speaking in a standard way.
However, many language instructors have made the mistake of teaching detailed grammar rules to beginners and intermediate students. This has resulted to the student's hesitance to speak. First, the student recalls the grammar formula. Next, he constructs a sentence based on that formula. These students eventually memorize rules without knowing how the words and phrases work together to form a sensible sentence. Here is an example of what happens when students are taught grammar formulas:
Teacher: Make your own example, then.
Student: As I was turning off the light, I fell asleep.
First of all, grammar means the whole system and structure of a language. In a sense, grammar describes the structure of a language. Grammar books describe the rules of grammar in very simple ways. These oversimplified rules don't show the student the totality of the language being learned. Some books explain these rules using grammar terminologies and jargon, but this method only makes learning more complicated for a student, as the student has to spend more time and effort understanding and memorizing these rules. Moreover, if we attempt to explain all the aspects or features of English using rules of DOs and DONT's, we will surely produce volumes and volumes of books.
Again, this brings me back to the point I previously stated. If one wants to learn how to fly a plane, there has to be a real plane he can operate, and not just the picture of its parts.
Learning a language cannot be done by memorization alone. This involves a new way of thinking, new thought patterns and new ways to use the speech organs. To be able to learn a language, a student has to first learn how to think and talk in the language being learned. How, then, can this be done?
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