Today I’m answering a listener question about striking a balance in your English learning between grammar and the rest of study. I’ll also be giving some of my advice to school students on how to approach language learning while balancing school studies too.
First of all, it’s very normal to feel negatively about learning in school. This was actually the reason I decided to start teaching online in the first place. I hated the way languages are taught in schools and the focus on grammar while ignoring everything else, so I felt determined to present language in a way that’s fun for more people.
Advice for School Students
Make the most of your free time
I used to wake up early to study Japanese every day and I also had one language exchange a week on my lunch breaks. What can you do to make good use of your time?
Find a way to make the language fun
Schools seem to suck the fun out of the language (unless you like learning lots of grammar), so it’s important to find a way to make it fun again. Watch TV series, listen to music, chat with people online, play online games. Why not play online games where you can chat in English?
Combine school study with your regular study
Use what you’re learning in school to write some stories, talk to people or language partners, or something like that. Make it fun!
Integrate into your life
If you find you’re too busy with studying to make extra time for language learning, integrate it into your life. Obviously, podcasts are a good way to do that, but also get more input in the form of reading, games, movies and try to get some output by speaking to yourself, making friends who speak English and chatting to them on the phone, or whatever works for you. It doesn’t have to take up too much of your time. Just change what you already do into English if you can.
General Advice for Finding a Balance
I currently believe that grammar doesn’t have to be the main focus or even a large focus in your studies.
I recently changed my language learning approach to simply input and output, with no study, and it’s been the best thing I’ve done for my language learning in a long time. The only grammar that I really look at is when I read or hear something new, I will practice some sentences using that grammar with my teacher. But I don’t write anything down.
The method isn’t so important, it’s the consistency. Find a way you like to study and keep going with it until you succeed.
- To paint a picture (6:26) – To give a clear example of something using words (so clear, it makes a photo in your mind)
- To strike a balance (13:02) – To find a balance between two things
- To tweak (16:13) – To make a small change to something