Learning English grammar may not be the most exciting thing to study. And maybe your experience learning English grammar was not the most enjoyable. But here you are, needing to use English everyday at work, at school, with your American friends. And you want to speak with some degree of grammatical correctness. But without having to go to school and take a class. Is that possible? Yes! This blog offers some ideas on how you can improve your English grammar on your own.
Easy ways to improve English grammar
An intuitive approach to grammar
One of the first textbooks I used in my ESL class when I started teaching college was Line by Line, English Through Grammar Stories, by Steven J. Molinsky and Bill Bliss. The approach is deceptively simple. Each chapter has several simple stories written in easy English, yet common enough in everyday usage. Every story in that chapter focuses on a particular element of grammar. At the end of each story is a list of questions. Answering those questions require you to use the pattern. And they are so easy that a correct answer is guaranteed. In fact, it’s so simple that when you finish the exercise, you’d think “that was an exercise?” It’s THAT simple!
I wish more grammar books follow this approach. It’s intuitive and builds your confidence quickly. If you come across another grammar book like this one, please let me know. I would like to add that to my recommended list. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to apply this approach in what you usually read
Although Molinsky’s book is intended for more beginning English learners, you can apply the same principle if you are an advanced English learner. Here is what you can do. Choose some content that you usually read for work, for school, or for fun. With writing styles and grammar patterns you want to master. Take one or two sentences and substitute the nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. while keeping the pattern. Even if it’s a non-sense sentence, it’s okay. You are familiarizing yourself with the sentence construction and grammar parts.
An example from Molinsky and Bliss’ grammar book
Another way to apply Molinsky’s approach is to make up questions like he did. But in a way in which you will be using the sentence pattern as is. For example, in one of Molinsky’s chapters, one of the paragraphs was about what different people were planning to do for the weekend.
“Doris is going to plant flowers in her hard. Michael is going to paint his house. Tom and Jane are going to go to the beach.”
Then Molinsky wrote the following questions:
“What’s Doris going to do this weekend? What’s Michael going to do? What are Tom and Jane going to do?”
Deceptively simple, isn’t it? You cannot fail with this method. And yet, when you finish the exercise, you know the pattern. And you can use it in your daily life.
Experiment with this method for different parts of speech. See how you feel when you use this approach. Do you feel more successful? More confident that you know the pattern?
If your interest is to learn English prepositions specifically, the article How to learn English prepositions go into details on the topic. There are suggestions on grammar books to use, as well as techniques to build your confidence of mastery.
If you find this blog helpful, here is on one You can be your own ESL tutor.
Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking. To schedule a session with her, please email email@example.com