Speak the language without learning the grammar of that language

Dear Torsten,

Many people in my country (Iraq) and especially in my location in Baghdad want to learn the English language. They want to speak the language smoothly and fluently. The problem is that, they want to learn how to speak the language without learning the grammar of that language. I am facing such situations all the time in my academy.

In fact, I told them that I will not teach them grammar but later on and systematically, I intended to imply grammar indirectly. I really don’t know whether this is a correct way in doing so or not, but please if there is any other special unique, so please let me know.


Hi Hadeer,

Learning English is very simple but it’s not easy. All you need to do if you want to learn English is change some of your habits. The problem most people face when it comes to learning English is that they find it very difficult to change their habits. Habits tend to be very strong.

So the question you need to ask your learners is this: Are you ready and willing to change your habits? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you can ask them which of their habits they are ready to change and how fast.

At any rate, your learners must surround themselves with spoken English on a daily basis. If they fail to do this there is no way they will learn English. Only if they complete the 30/30 Challenge do they have a chance to actually learn English in earnest. The 30/30 Challenge is very simple but it’s not easy. More on this here: 30/30 Challenge[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: A landlord talks about his business[YSaerTTEW443543]

I am not Torsten, however, I have some experience in teaching. To teach grammar is hard: everything seems clear and easy to you, but your students just cannot get it. To learn plain grammar is boring. What you do is called The Communicative Approach, if my memory serves me right. You introduce grammar via communication, like themed life situations, dialogues, funny or fascinating stories, play games with you students, learn songs, watch movies and do things we normally like doing, so that you have their attention and attendance as well. The grammar patterns are “hidden” in all those activities, the students can remember a verse from a song or a funny joke much more easily then tables and plain rules. So, when they have a pattern in their heads, you can explain why it is so. Especially it works better with slower students. What you do is scientifically proven to work:) Good luck!!!

It’s possible to learn a language without hearing it. I know. I am Swedish and I have learnt much English without hearing it. I had a classmate who was Swedish and deaf. He was very good at English. He has studied at Galludet a university for deaf and hard of hearing people. Now it’s easier for deaf and hard of hearing Swedish people to learn English thanks to all the video-DVD’s with subtitles. Of course hearing people is better in English than hard of hearing and deaf people as they can hear what other people is saying. I tried to translate a text written by a deaf person once. It was very difficult as her English was to bad. Deaf peoples first language is sign language.
It’s also possible to learn a language without learning grammar. English speaking children don’t learn grammar. They learn English without learning grammar.

Thanks a lot my dear friend Natasha. It is really a good advice.
God bless you


Yes, you are right dear. Children learn English by acquiring the language from their parents. Natasha and Torsten have said the same idea. Thanks for your interest and concern.


Hi Hadeer,

Please note that ‘advice’ is uncountable so no native speaker would say ‘a good advice’. The most effective way of learning English grammar is to use phrases that are used by native speakers. It’s much more effective than trying to learn grammar rules.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC short conversations: A client thanks the gardener for his good work[YSaerTTEW443543]

Thanks Torsten, point taken

But my dictionary says a piece (bit, word) of advice.
What to say if you get good advice from somebody ?


You can say “some good advice” or “a piece of advice”.

: o)


I don’t think we can compare children with adults as far as learning a language is concerned. Children do not come to the world with a tabula rasa. They come ready to acquire language. There is something innate about that. Unlike adults, children acquire language effortlessly even though they are exposed to a limited input data. Adults often have insurmountable difficulties learning a language even if they are exposed to a rich input data. The difference between children and adults is that the former are innately prepared to acquire language. The latter are not because there is a biologically determined period to acquire language. After a certain age, one will not acquire language easily as children do. They call this The Critical Period Hypothesis. It is true that there is a debate about it, but I think it is true. I think the case of Genie, the lady who was discovered in Los Angeles locked inside a bedroom for most of her childhood, proves the above claim. Some also say that there is an access to these innate abilities (they call it Language Acquisition Device (LAD), Universal Grammar or whatever) in the case of adults learning a second language. But when we compare children and adults learning, we find that there is a huge difference in the outcome. Children speak the language fluently whereas adults don’t. So if they have access to those innate abilities, why don’t they reach the same level?
But if there is a, say 50% of access to these innate capacities, one should be exposed to the language to allow these capacities to function. They are like a car, when you turn the key on, it starts. When you don’t, it does not start. The key here is exposure. There were some attempts before to know what the original language is. Some people (I think Frederick II, the Mughal emperor Akbar and some others) isolated kids and didn’t allow anyone to talk in front of them (no exposure). All they got were deaf-mute children and some of them died. There was another case of an Egyptian king who did the same experiment and one of the children uttered Becos, which means bread in a language but I don’t have the information at my fingertips. Anyway, the most important thing to conclude is that exposure is of paramount importance in leaning languages. LAD will not function without exposure. The only thing that would allow you to learn a language without learning grammar rules is exposure. As Torsten said, learners should surround themselves with spoken English on a daily basis. We should follow the same stages children follow to acquire language even if we don’t have a full access to LAD. I think this is the only way to learn a language without learning grammar rules.

: o)

But deaf people learn the oral language were they were born. There are many forums for deaf people on the internet. Of course they use webcam a lot as they find it easier if they have a possibilty to have webcam. I have joined a network for deaf and hard of hearing people. Many of them have a very bad language but many write a very good language. Sign language got accepted in sweden as the language for the deaf in 1981. Before that teachers were not allowed to use sign language in school and when the deaf and hard of hearing learned a very bad Swedish.

I think people with health problems often excel in some things than those with no health problems. The deaf, for example, are good writers. Most of them develop a very good writing style. I know someone who cannot see things clearly. I don’t know the thing he suffers from exactly. But he has an unbelievable ability to memorize things. You only need to say something once, and then he will repeat it. He has excellent communication skills, and he speaks automatically.


But deaf people and blind people have no problem with their health. Some of the deaf and hard of hearing people have a bad balance but not everyone.

Deaf and hard of hearing people don’t get more sick than oher people. Of course blind and visually impaired people may get hurt more often as they can’t see properly.

I have learnt very recently to look both ways before crossing a road even if the traffic lights are green. I didn’t thought of it before. I learnt that when I was nearly killed by an ambulance a few years ago. The traffic light were green and I came going and was to cross the road when a person grabbed my rucksack and I stopped. In the next second came the ambulance.

We have drifted a long way from the subject though.

" Can they learn the language without learning the grammar?"

Yes they can, but their intelligence will ever be held in question, simply because they will not be able to structure sentences and questions correctly.

Let’s take it from there…

Almost every English speaking people is bad at English. I have emailed an American for a long time. He is an author and every book he writes is proofread by another person who change his way of writing.

I am sure he uses correct grammer but maybe the other person thinks he makes a lot of linguistic errors. I got an essay corrected by a British person and he found a lot of linguistic errors in my text. I am surprised that he didn’t find grammer errors with prepositions. I have checked my essay for common errors I used to to like forgetting the plural s for example or using the wrong tense.

I believe that Grammar is an essential part of any language. You cannot speak a language without knowing its grammar. Even if your vocabulary is 5,000 words, but you do not know how to put them together, what is the point??? When you know the rules and speak/write/read correctly, you show a certain level of your education and general back ground. And I am not even talking about foreign languages. How many the so called native speakers do not have a proper command of their own language?(any language) Torsten suggested listening to the native speakers as a good way of learning; I’m sure, he meant the educated ones, but if you learn just by listening to the native speakers, you will not go far…:(:(:(I guess, listening to TV news, where a reader is professionally trained to speak properly, is a good way of learning:):):slight_smile:

To sum it up, I would like to say that it may be possible to learn a language without learning its grammar, but to speak this language properly without any grammar knowledge is impossible.

Hadeer, keep on “tricking” your students, they will appreciate it one day.:):):slight_smile:

Maria, sweetheart, it is Grammar:):slight_smile: not grammer:):):slight_smile:

Ooooohh Natasha, you little proof-reader you. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: