• Learning Grammar - English as a Second Language Basics


    Several months ago during a dinner date, my friends commented on the articulation and enunciation of my speech. They said that they were not accustomed to hearing such language outside of a classroom environment. They suggested that I use utilize this natural ability to teach young children in a formal environment. However, I was deeply entrenched in the business realm and I could not fathom the thought of switching careers at this point in my life. It took a year working abroad in South Korea to reassure myself that a real need was present for my talents. I noticed the true motivation of my South Korean friends to learn the English language. They could readily identify and pronounce certain things but they were hesitant to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing. They lacked basic grammar skills. Harnessing correct and idiomatic English begins with learning basic grammar essentials. Parts of speech, parts of sentences, phrases, clauses, and types of sentences are the basic building blocks to learning grammar.

    In English grammar, parts of speech has eight sections. They are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Each part of speech plays an integral role in conversational skills. A student must be able to comprehend the relationships between these parts of speech in order to communicate his/her message correctly. It is important for the student to understand the different tenses of verbs when correlating facts and events. The use of descriptive words will paint a better picture of the story for the receiver of the message. It is far to common for foreign native English teachers to forget to develop this section of grammar even though this is a basic building block for studying the English language.

    The next basic building block of grammar are the parts of sentences, phrases and clauses. Students must learn how to coordinate and utilize the parts of speech in order to express a complete thought. Through the understanding of the parts of sentences, phrases and clauses, students will have the ability to express their messages and thoughts in a clear and comprehensible manner. Whether composing a story/essay or communicating an idea, the student will be able to clarify his/her statement. The application of this part of grammar will strengthen the student's connection to the English language.

    The last basic building block of grammar are the types of sentences. There are two basic types of sentence classification: clause structure and purpose. When studying the first classification, students develop well-organized and coherent thoughts. The overall effect will reinforce the students' interpretation of the English language. The study of the second classification encourages the application of English in daily conversation. It focuses on what most native English speakers refer to as small-talk.

    In conclusion, mastering a language, whether it is your own or a second language, is an ongoing process. There is never simply one way to say or write a sentence but many ways to present the same thought. Knowing the parts of grammar and how they function in sentences gives the learner the power to say or write exactly what they mean. If the learner understands how words function in sentences, he or she is better able to identify why a sentence is confused, awkward, or not as clear as they anticipated.

    Vincent Smith