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  1. #11
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    .
    Last edited by weiming; 06-Sep-2007 at 03:13. Reason: Accidental double post.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    Before -blouen- and others go plunging into the first grammar book they can find, I would like to remind all learners that millions of people speak English perfectly well without having the faintest idea why the way they speak is "right" or "wrong".

    They are native speakers, and they only consider grammar when they seem to be making mistakes and don't understand why, just as they only consult a dictionary when they cannot understand a word from its context. You wouldn't feel that reading the dictionary was more important than say...reading a book, for developing your reading skills, would you?

    Well in the same way, I feel, reading a grammar book is much less important than having frequent conversations in the target language, preferably with native speakers if they are available.

    To make a comparison,
    you don't have to have an understanding of thermodynamics or how to take apart the engine of a car before you drive one, nor would anyone suggest you could learn more about playing the piano by reading books on music theory than you could practising with a teacher.

    I remind all readers as well that I am not speaking based on theory. I spent five years in a Latin classroom poring over grammatical rules, I never did manage to reach conversational ability, however within a year and a half of living among native speakers in China, and being observant, I could answer, or at least immediately understand the answers to most questions on a standardised test on Mandarin grammar.

    In short, "driving" taught me how to "drive" much faster than reading books about it did. Speaking while referring to reference books when needed should no doubt help any learner to advance more quickly than reading first and doing later.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    I couldnīt agree more!

  4. #14
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    Smile Re: grammar or conversation

    Weiming,

    Thatīs one reason I had dialogs and not grammar books when I started learning English. I thought that learning English in theory would never make me fluent and reach conversational ability as youīve also mentioned. So I kept dialogs that would serve as a guide in what to speak whenever some instances arise. I only know the basic grammar rules that time but still I managed to speak in a way people can understand because of those dialogs. Of course, I practice with a partner, though most of the times I do it alone learning those spiels by heart. It was just when I learned of this site that I opened my eyes to knowing grammar.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    And now, in the style I am known and hated for, I will argue both sides of the issue.

    blouen>

    I think it is just as well that you have come to be aware of and concerned about grammar, but aware of it eventually, and not primarily.

    Anyone pursuing a career involving language, writing, editing, and so on will need more than a working knowledge of grammar and really, everyone should have a firm basic knowledge, just as everyone should have a firm knowledge of first aid (it saves lives). Again, I would never recommend reading the dictionary as a precursor to speaking, but everyone should absolutely have a dictionary on hand for reference.

    When we delve into the waters of deeper grammar, especially when learning an additional language, books on grammar and linguistics itself are indispensible.

    Of course the original question of the thread was which should be acquired first by a learner of language and in that sense I stand firmly by my previous position.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    I stand in the position that both are necessary for the learner of a language and even for native speakers as well. But for beginners I would suggest learning more through speaking, acquiring fluency before pursuing after the mastery of grammar rules. For laws, and rules usually prohibits people from doing something sidetracking, thus speakers get conscious of their accuracy and tend to speak less. Though we could do both simultaneously, of course, I donīt disregard this idea. But in choosing between the two, fluency is much preferable for beginners than grammar.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    I would prefer conversation than grammar.

    We have what we call contextual analysis, so even if we lack the words,
    the person whom we are talking to could still infer the meaning of what we are saying.

    Peace!

  8. #18
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    When we were born, our parents did not automatically teach us grammar. They simply talked naturally with us first, right?

  9. #19
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    Americans usually say 'It don't matter.'

    But it correct grammar, it should be 'It doesn't matter.'

    Either way, we could infer from the two statements that the subject is not of great importance.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: grammar or conversation

    Note that below opinions are of a non-native English speaker.

    I am one of those few guys who mainly aim to learn how to write, not to speak, in English. So simply I pay most attention to writing skills, to which I include not only grammar but also style and general writing skills. I pay almost no attention to conversation and dialogs, but when it comes to using the language in real life, I have no real problems with it, though I'm much worse in speaking than in writing. When I write I have time to think and to construct sentences and to revise and, last but not least, I have dictionaries and reference books, reading of which, by the way, do not make me sleepy whatsoever. In fact, I love reading reference books on English and on writing, have read quite a few of them, and am planning to read more of them. It's a kind of hobby of mine, and you are free to think anything about me in this regard; you may even think I am a freak - in fact, I think it myself.

    Concluding, what you aim at should help you choose how to learn English. However, I believe at the very beginning stage of learning English both grammar and conversation are equally important. Later you will be able to choose what you really want to achieve and do with your knowledge of the language.

    Nyggus
    Last edited by nyggus; 09-Sep-2007 at 19:09.

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