Posted in Learning English

How to Explain English Grammar Easily

I have always believed English is an absolutely amazing language but also a very challenging one. It is my second language and I started learning it when I was 13. After living in the US for 4-5 months, I was fluent in speaking. But now, having spent more than 8 years in the US, I feel as if English is my native language. I’ve taught English for almost 7 years and I’ve developed some techniques myself while teaching. I would like to share them here with you. I think these techniques will help you better understand the basic concepts of English grammar.

But first, there are certain things that you need to pay attention to while learning English:

  1. Do not compare one skill to another. If you are speaking fluently, but making a lot of grammatical mistakes, that is not OK. Just because people understand what you mean doesn’t mean that you are good at English. You need to be equally good at writing, speaking, and listening. You also have to be good at vocabulary and grammar.
  2. You need to be patient. You cannot learn English in 2 weeks or 2 months. Learning a language requires a lot of attention and practice. But you improve it day by day. How fast you will learn totally depends on the effort and time you put in.
  3. Pay attention to exceptions. English language has a lot of exceptions and you need to learn them one by one.
  4. Pay attention to phonetics. English language is not pronounced as the way it is spelled. One vowel might have three different sounds or vowels can come together or in arrangement with certain consonants to make different sounds. You need to learn them.
  5. Involve English in your daily life. Either get a native friend to practice with, listen to English music all the time and try to get the meaning of the lyrics, watch English shows with English subtitles, Youtube videos, TED Talks, etc. Among my students, the ones who exposed themselves to English more in their daily lives succeeded way faster in learning English.

I believe that English as a Second Language learners have the common problems in following topics mostly:

  • Prepositions (e.g. in/on/at)
  • Phrasal Verbs
  • Gerund and Infinitive
  • Irregular Verbs
  • Perfect Tenses
  • Future Tenses
  • Conditional Sentences (If/Unless)
  • Collocations (For example: tell a lie – not say a lie or fast food not quick food, etc.)
  • Inversions (Not only had I been to the wedding, but also I gave the groom a gift)
  • Exceptions (e.g. Why if I ‘were’ you, not ‘was’?)

In this blog post I will give you tips so that learning (or teaching) these topics won’t be -hopefully- a pain anymore.

Before I explain anything here, I would like to tell you that my style in teaching has always been by introducing ‘Pairs’. Human brain can compare two things very easily but when the number increases to 3, things start to get complicated. Also, introducing a definition and giving an example is always a good start when introducing a new concept, but in order to solidify it, we need to compare it with a similar thing. This is how our brain works. It ‘compares’.

Some of the good ‘comparative pairs’ can be listed as follows: 

  • Present Perfect – Past Simple
  • Present Perfect- Present Perfect Continuous
  • Past Simple – Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect – Past Perfect Continuous
  • will – going to
  • do-make
  • do – go (do yoga – go running)
  • gerund – infinitive
  • when – while
  • if – unless
  • although/even though – Despite/in spite of
  • passives with one object, passives with more than one object
  • 1st conditional – zero conditional difference
  • 1st conditional – 2nd conditional difference
  • 2nd conditional – 3rd conditional difference
  • Moreover/Besides – However/Nonetheless
  • to/for
  • since/for

How to Teach With Comparative Pairs

When you present two familiar concepts next to each other and compare them, this will create a reference point, which will make the learner’s brain make correlations and learn the concept more quickly.

PP ve PP difference

Let me give you some examples that I prepared myself:

Intro

Past or PP

PP ve PPC difference

pp or ppc intro

asil pp or ppc

will intro

will or going to

make or do intro

do or make

pp intro

prepositions

How to Learn Irregular Verbs and Phrasal Verbs

  1. Technique for Irregular Verbs: 

English learners need to memorize irregular verbs’ present (V1), past (V2) and past participle (V3)  forms. My piece of advice is to study the similar looking/sounding ones together. Here is an example:

irregular verbs2. Technique for Phrasal Verbs:

Again, studying them in similar meaning groups will help you to remember when you use them in a sentence. Unfortunately, not all the phrasal verbs make sense in terms of the meaning of the preposition, but, most of them do 🙂

phrasal verbs

I hope you find these techniques helpful! Please share your opinions in the comment section. If you want me to put more interesting ideas up, please let me know.

– Ece

Author:

Science lover, book enthusiast, a nerd who dedicated herself to education.

10 thoughts on “How to Explain English Grammar Easily

  1. So here are my ideas:

    Learned English as my second language. Studied at ordinary state schools. Never ever been to the US. Never felt the need to listen to English songs all the time, nor to watch English movies and series day and night.

    Also, the grammatical errors in this essay of yours are unfortunately not few enough to be ignored.

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    1. Dear Tukenmez Kalem, thanks for your comments. Please feel free to correct my mistakes here. I wouldn’t have written a blog if I wasn’t open to criticism. Also, that’s wonderful that you got the chance to improve your English on your own. Maybe you might want to share your methodology here as I shared my own experience. There is no one size-fits-all when it comes to learning languages. It would have been a more helpful comment if you included some of your suggestions for people who want to learn English on their own, like you.

      Like

      1. Resuming…

        Let me begin with the essay that I mentioned in my previous comment.
        You may reach it through the following link:
        https://kesinlically.wordpress.com/2019/08/27/tdk-seckin-aydinlara-guzel-turkce-konustururken-halka-neler-oluyor/

        And my methodology…
        I have bean learning English for over a decade. One key thing is that you begin learning a language at an early age.
        You will be able to read if you visit the “About Me” section of my site that I have lived almost all of my life as a blind person.
        We use screen readers to use our computers and mobile devices.
        A screen reader, as its name suggests, is a piece of software that reads out the content displayed on the screen. Back then, we had English versions of those apps, and this both enabled and forced me to expose myself to English and do plenty of listening.
        I have learned English mostly by listening, just as a baby learns their mother tongue from parents; and therefore will not be able to offer much help with visual matters…
        Though one thing I can say is that, as I listened to the screen readers, I constantly referred to a dictionary so as to get what it meant. But I can fortunately prefer their Turkish meanings even though I can just use English words and phrases in my daily speech as some do.
        Also, I have done and still been doing lots of reading and writing and translation.
        And I personally recommend everyone that it is so beneficial that you read on a wide range of topics ranging from politics to biology…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is truly wonderful that you were able to learn English by yourself. It must have been challenging for you, especially considering your condition. Of course by no means I can understand what you have been through. My dear aunt, who is also my best friend, has been blind all her life and this did not stop her from learning, either. Although she could not learn a language (unfortunately she was not as lucky since she is 50 now and in her time, there were no such software), I have read books on tape for her and we spent hours together so that she could finish high school. Now she just got into a university and she is studying social studies.
        Anywho, I think you misunderstood one part that I want to clarify. Nowhere in my writing I mentioned the people ‘should go to an English speaking country to learn English’ I have just told my own story to introduce myself and how I got into language learning/teaching. Also you mentioned that you never felt the need to listen to the music or watch English movies (referring to including English in your everyday life) but you did practice English in your everyday life using the screen readers. Although the situation is different, you did exactly what I suggested. I do believe there are other ways to practice English every day rather than watching series and listening to songs, but they are certainly among the most fun and most easily accessible ones.
        Reading a wide range of topics is very important, I agree with you. Especially in terms of learning new vocabulary and practicing grammar in context.

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      3. I congratulate her, and you too for your help and support.
        My apologies for the misunderstanding…
        As for listening to songs and watching movies, what I should clarify before everything else is that I’m never totally against it. What I just said is that I have not felt the need to…
        I did not suggest that everyone use screen reading software either. This would be unreasonable already. Why not just replace it with “informative documentaries or podcasts” for yourself.
        Songs and movies also teach us a lot if used appropriately, but what they usually and mainly do is unfortunately to let us rest comfortably in the arms of the US hegemony.
        All those popular songs and actors and legendary heroes…

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