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Why learning grammar is harmful

Many language learners have been conditioned to think that they need to learn grammar to learn a language. This is wrong, wrong, wrong! When I go to learn a new language I avoid explanations of grammar and avoid all questions or exercises based on grammar. Instead I look to the language to teach me.

I listen and read and observe the new language. I take it in small doses. At first it is only 30 seconds or 1 minute at a time. In time the doses can be longer. I repeatedly listen to these small doses and occasionally read them. Of course I need help in having the meaning explained. This help can come from a teacher or can be  automated as we did on The Linguist system  Thereafter it is just me and the new language.

The grammar learner is conditioned to think of rules and ask why? “Why is it said this way? I thought the rule was something else.” Half the time the learner has the rule wrong. Besides, if every time the learner wants say something he/she has to remember a rule, he/she will never speak fluently.

For most languages there is a lack of interesting material to learn from. Most textbook material is just too artificial and boring. The main purpose seems to be to explain points of grammar. So there is a tendency for the learner to lose interest. It is just too tiring and not enjoyable. If the main purpose seems to be to learn grammar it is too difficult to continue after a while.

This need not be a problem for English. At The Linguist we have created a library of interesting audio and text files of real language, not text book language. There a person can learn and enjoy it. One day we will do the same for other languages. We will not teach grammar, but people will learn, the way I do.