I have studied English grammar for too long,so the last thing I need is more grammar.
Chinese students attribute their lack of communication in English to an overemphasis on grammar and thus resist grammar practice and reviews in their self-study programs. They tend to want oral English vocabulary,phrases,expressions,and pronunciation practice. Above all,they want an English environment. However,it soon becomes apparent that students struggle when they try to create sentences and their grammar is typically riddled18 with errors. Nevertheless,students want to have nothing to do with grammar structures while doing self-study. They ignore it completely,and concentrate instead on other aspects.
A good knowledge of grammar rules and patterns is absolutely necessary because the transfer of structures from one language to the next is anything but smooth. It is true that direct written grammar exercises,where students merely manipulate sentence structures to fit a pattern,may be unnecessary if you are aware of the pattern already. However,grammar definitely is an important part of your self-study program when it is used for communicative purposes.
What students often fail to do is to integrate grammar study into the process of creating English,rather than just manipulating sentences in exercise books. For example,with the structure “If I were you,I would…” a student should be thinking of the occasions he can use this structure and create as many sentences as possible that might be appropriate. Using English requires knowledge of the rules and patterns,just as a painter needs some conventions and boundaries before he can start his work,but ultimately both need a creative process before skill is developed.
Advice for the Self-study Learner
What then can I offer as advice for a motivated self-study learner？ For starters,if you have no English environment,then create one. Find q partner to speak with regularly and do not worry if that partner is from China,Korea,Africa,or Europe. It is often better if your regular meetings can center around a topic or theme. For example,you could both read a different book and use the time to talk about the book you are reading. Perhaps you could use the time to exchange information about something you both want to learn.
You may also wish to become accustomed with19 the types of clubs and activities that expatriates here in Beijing like to get involved with and join them. English corners are also funny ways to link with others who share your desire to learn English. Chat lines in English and pen pals20 are also great ways to interact in English provided that you do not rely on them exclusively for your English development.