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Grammar?! No thanks 🤮

Well that is a controversial title for a blog post isn't it? At least in the language world. But we totally need to talk about it. I hate grammar. Yep, you heard me. Over all my years of teaching, I've learned that grammar is what stops people from actually being able to communicate in a language. Maybe that's a bit extreme. Let me rephrase.

Fear of grammar is what stops people from actually being able to communicate in a language. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of being judged. Fear of sounding stupid.

I'm not just making stuff up. I know from first hand language learning experience, and I know from first hand teaching experience. If you've learned a language as a teenager or an adult, you also know exactly what I'm talking about. Fortunately, we are not born with these fears. These fears are instilled in us by others - teachers, parents, family members, perhaps even friends. Let's not do this anymore. I've decided to make it my mission in life to help kids find their self confidence in speaking English, and the sooner they start, the better!

Just a quick note before I go on with my anti-grammar rant...Yes, grammar structures are the building of language, I'm not saying we can learn to speak a language without them.

Back to my rant - but, we can learn to speak a language without memorizing structures for a test and then forgetting them. We can learn to communicate in a language even if our grammar isn't perfect. So many people say, "No, I'm not ready to speak yet, I need to get better at grammar..." NO! The opposite needs to occur. We need to put grammar structures into speaking practice as soon as we learn them! And that's exactly how kids need to learn them - not by memorizing, but by hearing them and repeating them in natural conversation settings.


How kids should learn English grammar

Kids should “learn” English grammar in the same way that they learn to use their native language. By being exposed to it. Babies don’t speak for a year, AT LEAST! They are allowed to absorb sounds and words, and then little by little they start to understand the meaning behind these strange words and phrases that the people around them say, and only then do they even try to say just ONE word. Eventually, they start to say 2 or 3 words at a time, often just gibberish, until they can actually form a sentence that makes sense, and usually only it makes sense only to their parents. It is also very important the WHY behind children’s learning to speak their first language. TO COMMUNICATE. Not to get a 7, 8 or 9 on a test. Not to impress anyone, or make anyone proud of them. They want to communicate, just like they seeing all the older children and adults around them doing. That’s their motivation. Not a test score.

So, please tell me why learning a second language should be any different? It doesn’t matter what age a child starts learning a second language, be it 2, 5, 8, 10+ years old. They will still need the “silent period”, when they are allowed to just observe and listen to the second language. They will still need the “gibberish period”, where they are allowed to say and repeat words without having to worry too much about their meaning. They must also have a WHY. Why should they learn English? NO, IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO GET A GOOD GRADE AT SCHOOL. They need a real, personal motivation. It could be simply to communicate, if they have the chance to interact with native speakers (like a teacher) or other kids in group lesson settings. It could be that they want to understand and be able to sing along to all the Maneskin songs in English. It could be that they want to read or watch Harry Potter in its original language. This motivation, whatever it is, is what will help them to dedicate the time and energy necessary to learning more complex grammar structures as they get older.

So please, let’s stop stressing kids out. Let’s stop expecting them to be fluent in English after only a few years of English lessons (1 hour per week during the school year adds up to about 30 hours a year…30 hours aren’t going to make anyone fluent, but it’s a start). Let’s stop stressing about their school grades and passing Cambridge exams, and let’s focus more on helping them to understand their WHY for learning English.


Okay I’m done with my little rant for the day.

I’m very passionate about this, and seeing kids stress out about unnecessary things really just makes me sad. Which is why I put so much time into organizing lessons, courses and workshops to keep English fun, so that I can show as many kids as possible that English doesn’t have to be stressful, frustrating or difficult.

So, speaking of workshops, my next free work shop is May 4th. All elementary school kids are welcome, from 1st to 5th grade. Here’s all the details below. It’ll be great fun, so sign your child up before the spots run out!!

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