How to remember grammar rules in foreign languages

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If you have/want to learn a foreign language your biggest problem is usually the variety of grammar rules that you have to remember and then apply correctly.

As a language teacher I can tell you that through my large experience of teaching foreign languages to the students of different age groups I could see what ways really work and help them learn. I’d like to share with you one of them, which my students often use successfully.

 

For example, you want to remember that if you formulate a question in English you have to take a question word (if necessary), the predicate (your verb that shows the activity in the sentence), then the person/thing who does it, and then the rest (where, when and so on). You think of a simplest phrase that can be formulated as a question and that you can easily remember afterwards. The last is very important. I would recommend something like:

“How can I help you?”

That is the phrase that everyone in the world knows because it is always useful in any circumstances. I doubt that you’ll have difficulties remembering the exact word order here, because you’ve heard the sentences millions of times. That can be your example for remembering how to formulate your questions in English.

What can you do if the rule you need to learn is a more complicated one and it’s not possible to find any simple phrase to remember it with. Then you think of a longer one, but a very bizarre or strange in meaning. For instance, you want to remember that sometimes there are two activities happening in the past and one of them gets interrupted by another. In those cases you need to use Past Continuous/Progressive for the initial activity and then the Simple Past form for the interrupting event. You could consider this phrase as your example:

“As I was taking a bath, a bunny opened the door and began to throw apples at me”

That’s a really weird situation, which is why it will be easier for you to remember, because our brain can learn faster the things that appear strange or funny.

Make a list of such phrases for many different rules that you need to know and then you’ll see that it works and that a foreign language is not so foreign anymore!

Elaine - EducationYour teacher,

Elaine

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2 Comments


  1. //

    Thank you, Ro
    Yea, conjugation is one of the most difficult things to learn! Good luck!
    What language do you learn?

    Cheers,
    Catherine


  2. //

    Brilliant suggestion. I'm currently learning a new language and struggling with conjucation. Thanks.

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