Can you confidently explain infinitives? Do you know what passive voice is? And do you know your present perfect continuous from present perfect simple?
English grammar can be intimidating for native and non-native English speakers alike. Whether you’re learning English or aiming to teach it as a foreign language, getting to grips with grammar is essential.
Native speakers can easily tell when something doesn’t sound right, but they may not have the understanding of how English grammar works in order to effectively explain why something is incorrect. Many native English speakers have never studied grammar in great depth, which is why it’s such an essential part of a TEFL course. When you’re teaching English language learners you need to develop a sound understanding of how English works and grammar terminology.
If you aren’t feeling too confident about your grasp of English grammar then here are five tips to help you on your way to becoming a grammar pro!
Take a grammar course
A structured course is a great option for anyone lacking in grammar confidence. It will help you to develop a thorough understanding of English grammar, covering the basics to much more complex aspects.
If you’re aiming to teach English as a foreign language then such a course is an absolutely essential part of your training. Our 30-hour grammar course is included in all our 120+ hour TEFL courses and can also be bought separately – so it’s also suitable for those just looking to improve their English grammar.
Get comfortable with the basics
There’s no point fretting about phrasal verbs and gerunds if you haven’t first nailed the basics. By reviewing rules about nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. and gaining a solid understanding of the basics you’ll build your confidence. From there you can work up to more complex areas of grammar.
There are so many great resources online to help improve your grammar, including websites, guides, videos and phone apps. See our post about the best grammar websites for EFL teachers as a starting point.
Top tip: YouTube is a really great resource for learning about English grammar and can be a more engaging and effective way of learning if you’re a visual learner.
Set aside time to revise
Spending even just five or ten minutes a day to go over specific areas of grammar and complete a few exercises can make a big difference. English grammar is so vast it can easily feel incredibly intimidating if you’re approaching grammar study for the first time, so break it down and practise little and often.
You can find a huge range of exercises on all areas of grammar over on EnglishGrammar. Revising concepts and completing exercises regularly will help reinforce what you’ve been learning and, eventually, you’ll find that it all comes naturally.
Read, read, read!
If you’re not much of a reader then you might want to try becoming one. Evidence suggests that those who read extensively have a better grasp of grammar – as well as vocabulary and spelling. According to Stephen Krashen in The Power of Reading, reading for children is so beneficial because it builds grammar skills without effort:
“When children read for pleasure, when they get “hooked on books”, they acquire, involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called ‘language skills’ many people are so concerned about: they will become adequate readers, acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style, and become good (but not necessarily perfect) spellers.”
Reading for pleasure is enjoyable, so it’s a great way to support improving your English grammar without feeling like you’re studying!
Invest in a good grammar book
Having a comprehensive grammar book at your side is a must whether your focus is on improveing your English grammar or going on to teach it. Whenever you – or a student – get stuck and need a refresher you can simply pick up your trusty grammar book and find the answer you need.
There are many grammar books and guides out there, but there are two books our experienced tutors recommend to students on our TEFL courses. Practical English Usage is one that most teachers use, and English Grammar in Use is of a more intermediate level, so if you’re new to grammar it can be more suitable to begin with.
Check out our 30-hour Grammar course to improve your English grammar and let us know your tips in the comments!
One thought on “5 tips for improving English grammar”
Improving your grammar skills through reading is a great tip and I would add that you read books that are aimed at teenagers first if you’re not that confident at reading or reading English, as the format will be slightly simpler than launching straight in to books for the adult market. Some children’s books are very well written and great stories to boot. Also, watch out for books written by American authors versus UK authors as the grammar and vocabulary will be different. I am currently reading a fictional story written by an American author in which the police character “badges” her way in to the crime scene to show she is with the police. I wince every time I read that as badge in my vocabulary is a noun and never a verb. I think of it as lazy English. Ha! Ha!