Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pronunciation or Grammar: Which is more important?

In this poll, I asked visitors this question: "If, by magic, you could change your English language skills overnight, in which situation would you prefer to find yourself?":
  • You would have perfect pronunciation like a native speaker, but you would still make a lot of grammar mistakes.
  • You could use English grammar perfectly in all situations, but you would have a noticeable accent.
Interesting enough, it appears that visitors are almost equally divided on this issue. But why? Which skill do you think affects a native-speaker's impression and reaction to ESL/EFL learners? Share your ideas on this topic.



  1. it is a very good question!!! most students in morocco suffer from english pronouciation and english grammar? but which one is important? to me i geuss that mastering grammar is more important than having a good pronouciation. you may pronouce english words correctly but make a lot of grammar mistakes, so the question how am i supposed to understand you? how am i supposed to understand you if you dont master grammar? mixing tenses up would be hard for me to get what you want to say. anyway, mastering grammar would be , for sure, usefull concerning writting englisn - tests for example- not having a good pronouciation and having a good english grammar would slightly effect your speaking skills. so learning english requires a good knowledge of grammar and a good pronouciation too, am a student of english and i am trying as hard as possible to achieve these two goals. by the way, i am a student of english in morocco, and i would love to share ideas with people from different countries that would be really really a good thing.

  2. All students who are studying in english will think about this question.To me I think that mastering grammar is as important as a good pronouciation.Of course people cannot understand me if i use wrong grammar, but if i donot pronunce right they still cannot understand me.I have the experience about it.One day ,i went to supermarket and was going to buy some lemmons.I didnot find where they were,so I asked a lady.she just only looked me when she heard what i said. I believed my pronunciation was wrong. It was so embarrassing.

  3. I would prefer having no grammar mistakes to pronouncing awkwardly. However, I think the key factors within a conversation are attitude and perspective. Once I can make an enjoyable talk in English and that both of us like the way to communicate each other, that is better than having perfect accent and grammar. There’s no doubt that we try to speak right and good English. Nevertheless, language is always a tool that helps to a better understanding. You need add more fun in a communication with something else such as humor, logical thinking, and patient.

    Robin, from Taiwan

  4. In my country, Japan, everybody starts to study English at juniour high school. But only writing and reading, not "real conversation". Of course it's better than nothing, but having native English speaker as a teacher is difficult because here's in Japan! We don't have enough chances to hear the right pronounciation. If people speak fluent English without any accents, I must think "How well she or he speaks!" I definitely choose Pronouciation.

  5. Grammar is key to communication, given that your pronounciation is close enough that the listener can make a not so tasking effort to understand the words. When you speak grammatically correct, the brain of the listener will fill in some of the words that you may not pronounce well, or actually know ahead of time what is the most likely word or words that will follow and that makes it easier for him or her to understand your way of enunciating.

    It is a lot easier to work later on your pronuncitation than it is correcting your grammar, which I think, is seated much deeper in the brain.

  6. I believe some sts give too much attention to accent as if just by having a native-like accent would improve their communication skills.
    Ultimately, they seem to neglect grammar knowledge (not the tradional prescreptive knowledge of it), which I think is the most important aspect of language learning. Native speakers may have a difficult time trying to get used to someone's heavy accent, but they may find much more troublesome to understand poorly formulated sentences.


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



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