If you are having trouble learning the Chinese language, it might be that you have committed a major mistake – the mistake of focusing too much on the grammar.
You heard that right! While many people think that learning a language means getting grammar down pat, this is rarely the case. In fact, even native speakers get their grammar wrong sometimes.
Of course, this is not to say grammar isn’t important. It is! But what we’re here to tell you is that grammar shouldn’t be your primary focus as a beginner language learner. We’ll explain why below.
Grammar is best picked up naturally
You are a fluent speaker of your own native language. However, have you ever stopped to wonder if you became so because you studied its grammar?
Even as young kids, most people become fluent in their own native language even without explicit grammar instruction. Toddlers who haven’t even begun to go to school already know how to use verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and so on, without knowing exactly what a ‘verb’ or ‘noun’ is. The fact is, language learning takes place naturally and implicitly, without the need for knowing the hard and fast rules.
So, let nature take its course as you learn Chinese! You may need some reminders for tricky structures, but otherwise, you should be able to pick up the grammar gradually over time without too much fuss or stress.
Learning it early can hinder you
When you are caught up learning the grammar, it can take up the precious time you could have used to pick up more vocabulary or phrases in Chinese. Some learners will also get frustrated that they cannot remember all the grammatical rules straightaway, and feel like giving up on the language altogether.
That is a big no-no! Language learning takes time, and grammar learning is one of the most time-consuming components. If you don’t want grammar to get in the way of your language learning, you can take a step back and just learn through trial and error, like kids do! Learning through practice, making mistakes, and correction is far more effective than memorisation when it comes to grammar.
Beginners should focus on speaking
One of the main goals of learning a language is for communication. As a beginner learner, what will benefit you most is picking up words and phrases that you can use easily with your minimal knowledge. Thus, your beginner language-learning days should focus on mastering these common words and phrases.
From these common words and phrases, you should be able to pick up the most fundamental of grammars of the language, like how to form a basic sentence. You can also learn these sentences in a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ way, so that you can construct different sentences easily without having to learn complicated grammar rules.
This way, you can have the boost of confidence knowing that you are able to communicate in basic Mandarin, and the rest of language learning will feel much easier.
So, does learning Chinese sound less like the insurmountable goal it was, now that grammar is put aside? Hopefully, by recognising that grammar shouldn’t be something to be stressed over, more learners can feel more confident and encouraged to learn the Chinese language, and discover all of its wonderful benefits.