Published: 26th September 2018
How can one improve their fluency in grammar? Here are four tips to speak good English
Develop your confidence: Confidence is the key to success while taking steps to master English
Here is an interesting query from a reader in Madurai — Studying grammar is very boring. Is it possible for someone to learn English without learning the grammar of the language? Is grammar important? Another reader had sent in this query — I am able to write well, but I am unable to converse in English fluently. How can I improve my fluency in English?
Let me deal with the first query. Yes, it is possible. No, it is not possible. Either answer depends on the purpose for which a person wants to learn the language. If the person’s objective is only to converse in English in informal situations, he only has to learn spoken English. He need not learn formal grammar. For example, if a taxi driver is required to talk to customers in English, he will learn only functional, conversational English. He will be familiar with some common questions and certain formulaic expressions. It is sufficient if he is able to understand what his customers speak to him and respond to them. The driver need not learn formal grammar. When he is exposed to an English speaking environment, he learns it intuitively and naturally.
In India, there are many who do not know how to read and write in their mother tongue but are able to converse in the language fluently. Most of them are able to utter grammatically correct sentences though they have not studied the grammar of the language. They have learnt grammar in an intuitive and natural way. Their constant exposure to the language helps them understand the structure of the language and use it appropriately. Everyone learns their mother tongue this way, without studying the grammar of their language. This can also be effective in learning a foreign language.
If someone needs to use English in formal situations like making presentations, sending emails, writing reports and letters, then they need to learn formal grammar as it helps them speak and write without grammatical errors. Without studying grammar formally, they won’t be able to speak and write well in formal situations. We say someone is a good communicator when the person’s utterances and writings are marked by accuracy, brevity and clarity (ABC).
Now, let me deal with the second query. Our students learn English in school for over 12 years in a very formal manner, but they are not able to use the language effectively. The reason is that they lack exposure and practice. They know the rules of grammar and the definitions of all grammatical terms, but do not know how to use the language. Such students lack communication skills and proficiency in the language. This is a very common problem among students in India and in countries where English is taught as a second or foreign language. As grammar does not help learners speak fluently, it is a waste of time mastering grammar. It is the purpose for which we learn English that decides whether it is important to study grammar or not.
How can one improve their fluency? Here are four tips:
Develop your confidence: Confidence is the key to success while taking steps to master English. How to gain confidence? Tell yourself that it is not at all difficult to learn English. If it is possible for others, it is possible for you too.
Listen to people who speak good English: A good listener is a good speaker. By listening to those who speak well, you learn how words are pronounced, how words and phrases are connected and how the language is spoken. You can download interesting audio and video files from the internet. Listen to and watch the programs you like. Enjoy listening.
Learn words in chunks and be familiar with set phrases: There are hundreds of set phrases. Be familiar with such phrases. Use them in appropriate contexts. Here is the link to 80 of the most common phrases in English — https://englishteacheradriana.com/80-common-english-phrases.
Practise English regularly: Practice makes you perfect. Practice can help you improve your English amazingly. Maximise your listening and speaking time. Practise. Practise. Practise.