How do you approach grammar?
Working on Russian as I have been for the last week or two, using Memrise and one or two other online resources, as well as a textbook that is meant for those working alone, I realise that I’ve been pushed to try to make sense of grammatical forms I haven’t officially learned about yet, pretty much right from the beginning. I don’t know that I’d have planned to do it this way, but it seems to be suiting me down to the ground!
I’m coming across word forms and having to try to work out out, without explanations, why they are spelt/pronounced in certain ways and in certain combinations, and then go to my book and learn the rule. Doing it this way forces me to think about what is going on far more that I would if first presented with the rule and gobs of examples, and thus I tend to understand those rules and examples far better than I do if presented with them passively, even if my suppositions had been slightly incorrect and had to be amended.
It’s possible that I am somewhat unusual in this interest in working out grammar for myself – I studied linguistics at university, specialising in syntax (not morphology, although it came up in the more general classes) and strongly considered staying in the academic field before trying other things instead (I still wonder about going back to it some day) – and yet it would seem to me pedagogically obvious that complex structures are going to be learnt more easily actively than passively.
So why do I feel like none of my language teachers ever asked me to attack grammatical tables, or better yet true life examples, this way and try to make sense of them, rather than just learning the charts off by rote? (My linguistics tutors/lecturers certainly did, often with languages we weren’t learning at all.) Some have got closer to that when reviewing structures we were supposed to have learned already, and it often helped, but by then many times people (including me, on occasion) would be feeling overwhelmed and for some it seemed simply too late.
I’m certainly neither the first nor the last to decry grammar education in all our languages; what I want is to work out the best way(s) for me to familiarise myself with how to speak Russian well, and if I get to share thoughts on the topic with others along the way then so much the better!
- Grammar and Grammarians (octoberrevue.org)
- Spoken English Grammar (easysimpleenglish.wordpress.com)
- Seven bad reasons for teaching grammar (slideshare.net)
- Breaking down grammar to build up writing (plangereinternship.wordpress.com)
- Noguchi response (plangereinternship.wordpress.com)
- Do you get bad grammar off people? (tpemurphy.com)
- Grammatical Politics (plangereinternship.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Your Grammar Lessons a Little More Interesting (honhuhai.wordpress.com)
- Americans for Grammar: Biacthsmler (pixelpastahome.blogspot.com)
- How I’m doing with Russian (kaetslanguages.wordpress.com)
- Russian Grammar (russianreport.wordpress.com)
- What is needed to learn to read any given language? (readingwithphilology.wordpress.com)
- Grammar about “to do” & “of doing” (gradvi.wordpress.com)
- You can’t get away from grammar (conversationalwordsmith.wordpress.com)
- Grammar police (ask.metafilter.com)
- A Russian Conspiracy (ruthinrussia.wordpress.com)