Grammar helps you navigate a language – as opposed to swimming in what feels like a sea of words – by understanding how they relate to one another.
The good news is, that you don't need to study grammar for months to get started with a new language. In fact, all you need to know are key grammatical terms, which you keep using across all levels, such as knowing the difference between:
- an adjective, for example: ''bon'', as in ''un bon vin'' (a good wine)
''Bon'' qualifies the noun ''wine'', which happens to be good.
- an adverb: ''bien'', as in ''bien manger'' (to eat well).
''bien'' qualifies the action of the verb ''to eat'', which is done well.
Knowing how to differentiate the two, means knowing when to use the gender or not, since every noun in French is gendered and the adjective qualifying it is gendered as well. Adverbs, on the other hand, aren't.
Knowing if you're using an adjective or an adverb, also means knowing how to organise these words in a sentence.
There are about 10 essential grammatical terms I teach my students. Once they know them, learning each new language point becomes easier. And if they're not sure what to say, or how to say it, or if they doubt themselves, they can analyse the sentence by identifying not only its key components, but how they relate to one another.
Going back to the metaphor of the car I've been using across several posts and in my teaching, knowing grammar when learning a language, is akin to knowing what both pedals do, why you have rear-view mirrors, and how gear sticks work, when driving a car. Without knowing these functions, you won't start the engine, why would you?
Learning grammar doesn't have to be painful and it certainly doesn't take long to learn the key concepts. And, crucially, grammar helps students feel empowered, as opposed to blindly repeating sentences, without knowing nor understanding what they're doing. As I always tell them, if you are able to explain the grammar point to someone, you know how to use it and you feel confident to speak. It's as simple as that!
Don't hesitate to send me your questions.