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Learning a language: beyond grammar knowledge
Andrea Jaramillo
Learning a language is a process that requires different kinds of skills and competences. Besides the motivation and effort a person requires to learn a language, a basic knowledge about how the language is structured is necessary. In the following writing, I support the idea about the importance of the grammar in learning a new language, but also I state that this is not the most important aspect, knowing all the grammar rules does not represent the ability to talk the language. I will explain two important aspects that have to complement the grammar knowledge: speaking and reading, and the different challenges a person should face if he or she wants to learn a new language.
First of all, if a person wants to learn a second language, he or she has to be familiarized with grammar. She or he has to know since the beginning the structure of the sentences, the position of the words, the different times of the sentences, and the variety alternatives to organize a statement. Most people do not know how their mother tongue is structured and they do not see the importance of learning the grammar rules, as they consider that it is a waste of time, they talk and apparently that is the most important aspect of learning a language, but it is not. As Foppoli (n.d.) mentions “Grammar provides you with the structure you need in order to organize and put your messages and ideas across”. Even in our mother tongue we commit several grammar mistakes while we are talking and writing: we misplace articles, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, which affects the transmission or our message and communication. If we were able to understand the grammar of our mother tongue the learning of a new language would be much easier. The fact of knowing how sentences are structured in our own mother tongue gives us a clear understanding about the grammar of another language and therefore a facility to understand the structure of the language. However, the way how grammar is taught is the problem, most teachers explain to their students grammar activities away from reality, without showing them as something essential for their entire life. For instance, they just give exercises to memorize the structure of the grammar instead of having practical activities that integrate the daily dynamics of communication. Hence, the process of grammar has to be complemented with speaking and reading, otherwise the importance of it will be irrelevant. Great arguments!!
Secondly, speaking is essential for learning a language, if a person does not speak, the grammar knowledge does not have any value. Whereas a person is learning the grammar structure of a new language, she has to start developing the language by talking with the basic grammar resources she has, but with the time the process will be more complex and new grammar structures will complement the language. Both aspects speaking and grammar have to be together in the learning process; otherwise the acquisition of the language will have serious difficulties. For instance, in my country, most of the people know about the English grammar, but they cannot say any single word in English, which makes the grammar irrelevant. Nice example/comparison to your home country!
Thirdly, grammar and speakingGood topic sentence! need reading skills in order to improve communication, if a person does not develop the ability to read, her or his grammar will be affected as well as his speaking. Reading gives the people the ability to increase their vocabulary, acquire new knowledge about the structure of complex sentences and improve the ability to communicate. Besides that, it is a fact that more people read more skills they have for writing. Reading provides the tools to improve the learning process of a new language as well as better understanding about how people communicate their ideas in their own language.
Besides the three elements mentioned above, there is an important and essential aspect to learn a language, the ability to break the shyness. Most people feel afraid of talking in a new language, as they do not feel confident enough to talk. If they do not talk, they will not be able to gain more knowledge and practice in the target language, therefore less probability to improve it. We have to immerDo you mean “immerse”?se in the culture of the new language and try to make the best effort to talk and practice the grammar we know; otherwise the process will be very slow and demotivating.
In conclusion, there are lot of aspects to consider if a person wants to learn a new language. What is true is that a single dimension is not enough to perform a good communication. The grammar is the backbone of the language. If people do not internalize the importance of the language structure, the process of learning becomes more complex and the quality of communication and language will decrease.

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