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Why Smart Language Teachers Don’t Care Much About Students’ Grammar

Why Smart Language Teachers Don’t Care Much About Students’ Grammar

Learning a language – especially a new one – can be daunting to people. Not only are they trying to comprehend how to communicate effectively, they are worried about doing it in the right way as well.

In a certain sense, understanding the grammar that underlies the language can be extremely important, because it makes an individual sound intelligent enough to be using the language, but focusing too much on the grammar aspect while learning can be arduous and disturbing. Grammar is important and teaches one to properly utilize the new language, but individuals learn differently and grammar can be done in moderation as the newer language is shaped in the brain.

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Learning grammar as a side product

I’d argue that while I was younger and learning the English language of course grammar was taught. There were all of those videos that helped me learn it, but it was not all at once that I found out how to effectively use it. I never thought when I was young that I would be writing articles almost every day of my life that require putting together sentences with proper structure and flow that do not butcher the english language.

While I was diving through high school and college and my courses required more and more writing, I had an understanding of grammar. Did I ever take classes that just taught grammar? No. I did the usual course work where it was beaten into our heads how to talk and discuss and write.

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Knowing only grammar won’t get you far

I dabbled in two foreign language classes before; Spanish and Arabic. I did not become a prolific user of both, but as I stepped away from the classes I mainly remember certain words that mean particular things. With Spanish, which I took four years of, I mainly remember verbs and the pronouns (that being said my last Spanish class was over six years ago) but it could be enough to help me walk through the country if I was ever in a rut.

If I were to pick back up the studies I think I could figure out the grammar as I go. There is a unique thought to how to teach grammar from a top-down approach, basically asserting the fact that if you only studied grammar you would be useless without knowing the words to fill in everything else.

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Grammar won’t make you fall in love with a language

My first arabic class I had was strictly vocabulary, and my teacher only spoke in Arabic. It was a unique way of figuring out how to hear the language being used and dissecting what things meant while also learning how to use words (in second grade form) and form broken sentences. From that point on for six weeks in one of my classes I was only allowed to speak in that language for those two or three hour periods.

It was important to learn the basic state of grammar in the language while also focusing on the early words that help people function on a day to basis. Then came the simple expressions like how to order a coffee or beans or find the train station. From there on, the more words I knew the easier it would be to exchange them in the expressions and piece together how the grammar works.

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In multiple studies done in different time spans, over teaching grammar was not seen as the best way to fall in love with a language. Instead, researchers believe that just letting people write is a better option.

As a language teacher, it’s important to focus on grammar, but it’s not essential when it is taught the wrong way or forced too hard upon students. While English has been my language for over two decades, I taught myself more about grammar as I started finding it more useful in my day to day life.

Language is only going to become more and more easy to use as time goes on, especially as my intelligence (hopefully) raises along with my knowledge of what words mean and how to use them to make an argument such as this. After writing this, I think I want to re-download that Duo Lingo app and work with Spanish again to see how much grammar is taught there. From what I remember it was a great combination of vocabulary and expressions that helped start formulating the rest of the content to become fluid, we will see.

Featured photo credit: sebastiansantanam8qnfs via cdn.morguefile.com

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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