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Learning grammar A lot of students struggle with learning grammar. While this struggle is individual and differs from student to student, the difficulty all students face with this can, on the whole, be boiled down to this: They don’t understand how their own language works. When acquiring language as a child, we learn by imitation and repetition; very rarely do children acquire language in conjunction with any grammatical rules. Later at school, most children will encounter some sort of analysis of grammatical structures concerning their own language. In my experience, students struggle to dissect their language and boil it down to grammatical rules. This is mainly because they are trying to categorize knowledge that they did not even know they had, into very specific areas, each with several exceptions and even more rules. For example, students all use verbs in different verb tenses, but if we ask them to conjugate a common verb, such as “to eat”, in the various verb tenses, most of them won’t be able to do it. Although they are perfectly capable of telling us that “I ate a really nice sandwich today. But tomorrow I will eat something different”, only a handful of students will be able to identify that they have used the same verb in two different tenses, namely the past simple tense and the future tense. At this point, the same question usually arises: Why do we have to learn grammar? There are many answers to this question, but the one I like to give is the following. If you want to learn another language, that might enable you to travel, live and work abroad, you must first understand how your own language works. Before you learn to run, you first need to learn how to walk. Being able to speak another language is rewarding in more than just one sense: not only are you able to communicate to a range of people from different countries, cultures and belief-systems, it also opens up a whole new world of possibilities – whether it be travelling, studying abroad or living and working in a different country – learning a new language will most definitely enrich one’s life. While most people would agree with this, the journey to becoming proficient in another language can be somewhat arduous. Even when a student is highly motivated and eager to learn, there is one little word that instills a sense of dread into language learners: grammar. But why is that? While it is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort to learn new vocabulary off by heart, it is essentially a simply a question of “having to sit down and learning” it. If you put in the necessary time and several repetitions, it is likely that you will remember the words you are studying. When it comes to grammar, the assumption is that things aren’t quite as straight forward. While it is true, that grammar requires a deeper level of understanding of how a language works, learning new grammar rules does not have to be a struggle and something students dread. Once students have a basic understanding of how their own language works, learning English grammar does not seem so hard anymore: The same grammatical terms are applied and even though languages differ in their tenses, verb conjugations and many other areas, being able to compare it to their own language is not just helpful, but essential. So, before looking at how English grammar works and dreading having to study it, students first need to ensure that they have a basic grasp of their own language – then the rest will not be half as daunting.