I have an impression that the majority of foreigners who want to improve their English are obsessed with English grammar. And mind this – I’m not using the word “obsessed” lightly. I’m using the word’s “obsessed” most extreme meaning!
Now I’m going to draw a typical profile of someone who wants to improve English – and don’t be offended if you recognize yourself by my description. I’m doing it for your own good, and you’ll find out why I’m doing it in a few paragraphs!
So here’s the typical foreign English speaker talking about his/her English fluency issues:
“I want to improve my English. My grammar is very bad and I feel embarrassed when I speak English with others. I can understand English very well when I read newspapers and when others talk to me, but when I start speaking I make many grammar mistakes. I know that I should improve my English grammar to start speaking better, and I’m desperate to become more confident. Can you suggest a good English grammar book or software that would help me improve my English grammar?”
Whenever I get to read or hear something like this, it makes me angry. No really, putting all jokes aside, it makes me really angry
“Why don’t you understand that English grammar has nothing to do with your spoken English confidence! Arghhhhhh!!!”
I’m not talking about those foreigners whose basic English knowledge is very poor. Those folks should indeed go and learn basic English grammar and vocabulary in the first place, it’s out of question.
I’m talking about those whose general English knowledge is good; they simply lack spoken English confidence and fluency.
But instead of jumping into enjoying life through English and communicating AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE they’re still stuck in the mindset of an English learner drilling through English grammar textbooks and writing sample sentences in a copybook. They’re still having a tunnel vision and can’t think outside the box. They’re still so obsessed with English grammar that they can see grammar as the ONLY way to confident and fluent English!
They think – “I need to improve my English… All right… Then I need to learn English grammar, right? Yeah, that’s what I need! English grammar, English grammar, how to improve it? What are the best ways to improve it?” So they commit themselves to this narrow, single-minded approach of English improving by focusing on grammar EXCLUSIVELY.
Are you a taken aback by what I just said? Are you even offended?
Sorry, but I won’t take my words back because I believe a shock therapy sometimes is the ONLY way to open one’s eyes to reality!
Welcome to English Grammar Matrix!
Remember Neo from the “Matrix” films? You’re the same if the only thing you can think of when it comes to improving your English is English grammar!
Just like Neo you live in a virtual reality. But unlike him, your virtual reality is created by your own beliefs. In this case, it’s a self-imposed and a thousand times reinforced belief that the only thing that you have to work on is English grammar, and then you’re English fluency will improve.
Sooner or later, however, the day of reckoning comes and the plug has to be unplugged and I’m not really sure if you can do it yourself…
Wake up, you don’t need English Grammar!
WAKE UP! YOU DON’T NEED ENGLISH GRAMMAR!
Are you shocked? Good! If you haven’t got a clue why I’m so against English grammar, here’s another confusing bit of information – I’m not saying English grammar is bad. I’m just saying you DON’T NEED it!
English grammar is something that exists on its own – it’s the rules that constitute English syntax and determine how the words are positioned in a sentence. Grammar is there regardless of whether we want it or not, and most importantly – regardless of whether we’re AWARE of it or not
I truly believe that you need to be able to explain the most advanced English grammar rules only if you want to become a professional linguist. Other than that, you’re perfectly fine by being able to SPEAK correctly, and while it doesn’t exclude speaking with perfect grammar, it focuses on natural speech pattern acquisition rather than on learning and recognizing grammar rules.
Do you start getting the picture now?
Once your general English knowledge is decent, you need focus your English improvement on communication and speech instead of the “I-need-to-improve-my-English-grammar” mindset. By improving your formal English grammar you’ll become proficient at knowing grammar rules and writing sentences on paper; when it comes to speaking English – it’s an entirely different story altogether!
Your formal grammar becomes useless, but not because it would be useless as such. It’s simply because when you try to apply English grammar rules in your speech, it becomes interrupted, hesitant and slow.
You can create a vicious circle whereby grammar books only exacerbate the issue but you’re clinging to them with even bigger vigor simply because… you believe that the more grammar you’ll learn, the better your English speech will become!
As I already pointed out previously, this belief is founded in the traditional English learning industry and quite naturally most foreigners adopt the same attitude. The reasoning is the following – “if it’s done at school, it has to be right!”
But no matter how badly you want to believe that it’s true, nothing could be actually further from truth!
Academic approach to English improving will make you more knowledgeable, no doubt about that. Your communication skills, on the other hand, will be left far behind
Is that what you want? Behind left behind and living in the glass cell like millions of other foreign English speakers in English language Matrix?
P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!