Friday, August 28, 2009

Learning verses Mastering a Language

For many years, I have taught grammar classes, and I often teach advanced-level students. However, in many cases, although students have passed their previous classes to reach the advanced level, they still make many mistakes with basic grammar they should have "learned" in other classes. In other words, while they had a passing score to get to the next class (let's say, 75% or so), they were still missing about 25% of the content.

The result is that students have so many gaps in their learning that they haven't mastered the language at all. The common causes are (1) that teachers often don't recycle or test concepts that the students learn in previous levels and (2) students assume that a passing grade is sufficient for them and then they fail to review and learn the parts they didn't know in the first place.

Students just assume that since they are in the advanced class that they are advanced learners when they really lack a full, comprehensive, and solid grasp of the language.

What teachers can do to help students is to constantly recycle and test all of the gramamr points from all of the classes instead of just teaching new concepts. The more a teacher builds upon earlier grammar points, the more students can apply them better.

So, what has been your experience in studying grammar? What has helped you the most in learning or mastering the language? What can teachers do to help you? Please share your ideas.



  1. Hi there Randall,
    I must admit I don't really master the language, but I think I'm a good user of it- or as linguists would say - a successful communicator - because I can (sometimes I do fumble for words, mind you) put my thoughts into words quite well and talk to different people from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds. As to the linguistic aspects (grammar/vocab.), I do a lot of reading, observe how English is used in different communicative situations/texts, do a lot of structural exercises in grammar books, vocab. building books, review and revise language content I've studied and try my hand at using the language in every opportunity I have.
    I think the Internet has helped me a lot to brush up on my English. There are lots of webpages (like yours :-)) where learners of English can use as sources of information.
    Thanks for doing a great job, Randall. You've helped a lot with our English.

  2. Bruno,

    You are FAR beyond just a good user of the language. An excellent one if I say so. Some of the activities that you are the constant practice that all language learners need to be in engaged in to see noticeable and life-long improvement.


  3. Hi, Randall!
    I'm learning english in one universty of Costa Rica, Is a free lesson,it is not a degree, it's one lesson for week of four hours, but I study at home around four to six hours more for week, with this site I learn a lot of vocabulary and speaking, and I practice too in other sites for grammar, visit and read sites of my interest in english, so I read travel magazines of my country that always are in english and finally my husband help me talking me in english.
    I think the practice is full for learning any lenguage!

    Note, if you are help me correcting my post, I will thanks you very much!

  4. I want to study english online. I'm from Switzerland. Hopefully I can enhance my grammar. :D


Thanks for posting a comment. I appreciate your interesting in sharing your ideas.



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